The Future of Music 2013

I believe that the ears of people, both trained and simply music-loving, are becoming unaccustomed to listening to “classical” music as well as its interpretation. Atonality and the love for conscious experimentation in the past 70 years, both compositional and interpretational, have confused if not killed the natural intuition of the musician, though much less that of the music-loving public who, however, tends to listen to very little to contemporary music. Without natural intuition one is unable to understand the difference between good and bad quality contemporary music in its different styles. Furthermore, too much “light” music with its exaggerated repetition and lack of elaboration, as well as Minimalism and New Age Music, have done no good either. The main problem is the understanding of phrasing, form, and style. Furthermore, too much cerebral Analysis and Philology have done a lot to make things worse. Analysis at a more subconscious rather than conscious level is to be hoped for in the future. Amongst youth one can notice that their capacities of understanding and intuition have diminished compared to older generations, yet their capacities of learning techniques and studying many subjects contemporarily have probably increased to the detriment of artistic quality. I think this is also due to a different kind of life since childhood as well as a changing school and higher education. Too much well-fare and too little suffering have killed the capacities of looking deeper into Life and Art. Too much TV, computer, and other superficial enjoyment, too little study and appreciation of the Arts have formed unfeeling and unthinking youths apart from exceptions. To understand music in a deeper way one needs to have experienced life under all its aspects and not merely lived it in a superficial way. I cannot definitely foresee what direction Composition will take in the distant future but as regards the next decades I think things are likely to get worse. If Atonality under its various styles and forms persists with its lack of emotional communication, as seems likely in the very closed but numerous circles of Avant-garde composers all over the world, it will keep hold of all the publishers who will continue to impose their composers to all the most important orchestras and musicians of the world and continue their profitable enterprises to the detriment of Art as well as public pleasure. Furthermore, though Minimalists and New Age composers are fewer and thus a minor part in publishing companies, they will continue to propagate empty music of bad taste. This is not educational because most of the public is not capable of appreciating the difference between this music and good quality music even if it is confronted with both during the same evening. The number of styles present in our times creates confusion. Gradually during the past decades, their ears have become less and less accustomed to making distinctions through lack of compositional quality listening. The public will be erroneously but positively influenced by the seemingly pleasant and harmonious sounds, particularly after decades of dissonant and fastidious music. Fastidious even to many of those musicians who technically understand it. What of the composer who follows neither the Atonal, nor “lighter” Tonal contemporary musical styles? He will be left out of the music world and remain very much alone because his music does not reflect the stylistic tendencies of the cultural establishment. It will be impossible for him to find a publisher and very difficult to find concerts, except with minor independent orchestras and musicians not tied to the major world publishers. That is why many composers forget their individuality, if they have any, and follow the stylistic currents of their times in the hope of recognition, both financial and personal. The future of compositional teaching in Italy is mixed. As regards the teaching of all innovative, experimental subjects regarding the computer, electronic music, contemporary techniques, etc. during the 3 years Composition Majors Course, it is excellent, but as regards the teaching of classical techniques, forms, styles, and above all the oral explanations other than the simple rules (“can’t you hear that this sounds bad?”) and the musical, practical examples, the feeling and the intuition that can be passed only from a good teacher to a good pupil will gradually disappear and the situation under these aspects promises to become worse. Above all, as regards teaching, the oral explanations and the musical, practical examples, the feeling and the intuition that can be passed only from a good teacher to a good pupil will gradually disappear because they are not carried on to the next generation and thus the situation under these aspects promises to become worse. Harmony and Counterpoint lessons will become superficial, cognitive studies with hardly any written and intuitive practice. Analysis will reign over everything.  Classical Orchestration will be replaced by Contemporary Orchestration which in no way resembles the former with its “classical” rules born from the acoustic necessity to enhance harmony, phrasing, form, and style at its best. This kind of teaching will only lead to the creation of unfeeling musicians who will repel and will suffocate any independent musical thought. We have been on this road for a few decades. Let us hope that it is not a road without return.