Monday, August 2, 2010

a little more detail

I did like the music.
Since classical music is disappearing from media perhaps its a smart move to diversify.

I am. 

What stumps me is why do the authors insist that this work has something to do with "classical music"?  Especially as it's a song based music theater work. Of course the authors may feel that way but only the hugely successful, as in Lady Gaga, get to define how their music should be understood-whether it fits that description or not.   To me its another "discrete avant-garde" in this case pop music which in the end turns out to be simple new music theater. Anyway technical skill is not just the reserve of classical music.  

As new music theater I have some reservations about the presentation. The NY rock and roll ensemble  and others have covered this sonic territory--but the new wrinkle is the music video.  Since this is a new music theater type production the visual is built in--the NYR n' RE were instrumental performers.  Yet when they performed they performed as accomplished musicians and performers. This is different and unlike operas of Ben Johnson which feature professionalism. 

Here is the thing; as a music vid it's amateurish. Perhaps it's understood this is all ironic subtext, because naturally professional singer/actors could have been used  (Perhaps they were I only saw the vid). Or they are creating ironic commentary on music vid acting, which can be wooden.

Since this is a stage show it unfortunately looks like a vanity production with all it implies.
Why do I say that? 

It seemed to me that the only way that a mainstream musical (which this is) could be understood as alt.classical is with irony.  As irony is not a musical value but a text based value its no wonder that its the new music theater folks and songwriters  and multimedia types make up the alt. classical world.  Classical music may be privileged but literature and literary theory are privileged even more.

Further there is also seems a need to appear unprecedented.  That is that other song based "progressive" popular music or new music theater (or any song that aspires to be more than entertainment) simply never existed.  Not to mention literally any roots culture that may have direct influence.

As I have mentioned before  the problem with irony is that it can and will pass as the real thing. 

I just saw a documentary called the  "Yes Men".  About folks who set up look-a-like web sites to industry associations and then snag invitations to speak at events and on TV as industry spokes people. They then present ironic "official industry viewpoints".   It had the same problem, that is, for all the supposed outrageousness, their presentation mostly passed for the real thing.  Besides a few good gags their masquerade was just as dull and indistinguishable from the views they wanted to skewer. Otherwise their media coverage would dry up.  Rather than expose hypocrisy they simply lowered the level of discourse.  Otherwise the game is up.  That was done on purpose.

Back to topic.

What does this have to do with classical music? Why is it important that classical music be invoked??? 
Especially as this work has much more to do with Broadway, "spring awakening" than classical music.
There are many who see the rise of the many, many, discreet avant-gardes  (avant-garde country music, avant-garde MOR etc.) as base-line competence mixed with amateur features. That is an aggressive display of lack of ability in some area by choice or lack of training.  There is a difference between those two.  

Here the music production is fine--the presentation lacking. Yet that is exactly what we are suppose to admire. We are to admire the combination of bad acting/singing and lyrics with competent production values.  Perhaps this was done to save money--yet bands like and need to be the center of attention in their own vids.

Rewarding incompetence has a long tradition, perhaps this is what is meant by referencing the classical music tradition.  Yet I was never aware that just by putting a self knowledge spin on incompetence ("you see I know what I'm doing -- its on purpose")  made it something else --- avant-garde. 

The problem is that irony, as done today, has no commitment. 

Nam June Paik  said that for him nothing much must happen as mainstream entertainment is all about what happens. This seem to have morphed into something can happen if its badly done or done without commitment. 

I just don't feel commitment from these performers.
So sometimes bad acting is just bad acting.  That too has a tradtion.

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