September 08, 2006


What we need to keep in mind is that those taking part in performances of different kinds are looking for different kinds of relationships, and we should not project the ideals of one kind of performance onto another. Any performance, and that includes a symphony concert, should be judged finally on its success in bringing into existence for as long as it lasts a set of relationships that those taking part feel to be ideal and in enabling those taking part to explore, affirm, and celebrate those relationships. Only those taking part will know for sure what is their nature.
from Musicking, by Christopher Small

I can't remember the last time I've felt like I needed to lie down after reading a book. "Why do people do music?" is the broad and non-trivial question asked by Small. Its provocative nature comes mostly from its formulation: do rather than like, listen to, play, etc. He presents music not as a thing, but as an activity in which composer, performer, and listener play equal roles. It is a ritual where the ideal relationships of a community are lived out before its participants. The symphony orchestra is used as the main example.

Anyone prone to engaging in "whither classical music?" debates really should read this book.

In other news, Zoilus has a lovely round-up of conflicts in copyright law brought on by the "digital age."

1 comment:

Daniel Wolf said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I've ordered the book and look forward to reading it.