Saturday, March 04, 2006

There Is Hope

Today I participated in a church group sponsored talent contest as a judge for students displaying their music talents. It was a good day. The contest includes catagories in preaching, piano, voice, drama, and instrumental music. I judged instrumental solos and ensembles. There were a few participants who tried to perform arrangements of contemporary songs. I say tried, because looking at the sheet music one Jr. High clarinet duet submitted I realized they were going to be interesting. And as I suspected, they completely butchered the syncopation playing more free form with absolutely no sense of rhythm. But, there is hope. Several participants played some nicely arranged hymns of high quality, including "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee", taken from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. So, our kids are being exposed to excellent music and learning it. Maybe in several decades when they are my age they will be judging in a talent contest making some of the same observations I made today.


Michael Dodaro said...

I've tried to sing some of those scored reductions of music that is played from charts by musicians who improvise the actual notes and rhythms. It's nearly impossible to read from score. You're right. There's hope. We can hope that none of this stuff will survive because it can't be reduced to notation that anybody will be able to play after it is forgotten for the next wave of "contemporary music".

scribe said...

I've been encouraged by seeing some of our young folks (grade school and teens) occasionally standing with the choir and trying to sing chant. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of good Orthodox chant CDs produced by various English-speaking parishes. It really helps us learn this music--what's nice is that every parish singing the same music we do isn't so studio-polished and professional. It makes our little choir feel as if we can do the same someday.

What might help kids learn to appreciate the older forms of music is if their parents invested and listen to classical CDs. If the parents listen to rock as if that's all there is, then their kids will listen to that exclusively also. When I was growing up, there was a great deal of 50s rock (most of it really awful), 40s swing music that was well past its prime, and Kingston Trio style folk. As a child, I do not remember ever seeing any adult play music (outside of church) because so much popular music was canned. I think all the canned music had really dampened, if not almost eliminated, much of the family/community playing of music that had characterized previous generations. So we don't get a chance to hear what WE would have sounded like, only what New York, Motown, or Los Angeles sells to us. I think this lack of creativity and participation has affected church music as well.

Ray said...

Good points, Scribe. I'm amazed and encouraged when I come across young adults who appreciate classical, or serious music. We have a good number of 20-somethings in the orchestra I play in.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

It's one of the unfortunate traits of our musical culture that it's always either/or with improvsation and playing written music. Local Seattle music journalist/composer Chris DeLaurenti has written several times that the people who improvise COMPLETELY improvise and the people who write things out completely write things out. In earlier musical eras, though, this sort of bifurcation didn't happen the same way. Some have suggested that the absence of a cohesive and accepted style is the reason for this but I'm not sure I entirely buy that. A person can learn to improvise in the style of Haydn or Joe Pass with enough dilgience and study.

I like Bob Dylan and I like Durufle. Well, I'm trying to make up for lost time but I still need sleep. I've been sick for the last four or five days.