Mike wrote: ↑
Fri May 22, 2020 7:17 pm
Of course, this position can easily be petrified and become snobbery, as Adorno himself understood. At the same time, the culture industry, mass-produced art (which Floyd did not set out to be, but inevitably became thanks to the machinery of distribution in which they were inevitably involved), is arguably the more elitist form of art, as it decides for the consumer what is valid and what is not, and excuses itself by being immediately communicable, where something like Mahler or Nono may require a little more concentration. But this communicability is a way by which the culture industry posits itself as music for the 'masses' as opposed to the 'snobby' stuff they can't understand.
For me, the best music from Schoenberg on sublimates an awareness of this contradiction into itself, and the best artists recognise that art alone cannot escape this predicament; only a radical social alteration could liberate artistic practice. And I do mean liberate -- music not as an industry or a private activity, but as a festive aspect of daily life.
The reason people struggle with serious music -- and I include the likes of Mahler in this -- is because of a total lack of education, which is something that runs deep in the constitution of a society where people's senses tend to be tied more to utility than anything else, i.e., the vast majority of people -- and to a certain extent I include myself in this -- lack what Marx called a 'musical ear'.
Interesting analysis. Though I’m nowhere near as well versed in different musical forms as you may be, I certainly understand your angle and Adorno’s perspective. The notion of classic “austere” music being portrayed as “snobbery” is deeply ironic when one considers that they do not conform to the establishment in its current state. The culture industry relies on both capitalism and populism in order to function, and sadly, populism often involves the distilling of any genuinely challenging features from any proclaimed work of art in order to make it all the more “accessible”. The likes of Stockhausen, Bartók, Nono etc don’t adhere to stereotypical variations of accessibility due to relying on comparatively avant-garde musical renditions which are seen as snobbery, yet the establishment adores shallow and populist music due to its inherent consumerist nature. Call it reverse snobbery that relies on the exploitation of mediocrity.
A prime and apt example in this case in relation to Doctor Who would be Delia Derbyshire vs Murray Gold. I adore Delia’s work immensely, especially her earlier ambient output (“Sea” is an amazing work, as are her other pieces aided by the poetic input of Barry Bermange, and Pink Floyd’s best work was clearly inspired by them), and that’s not even getting started on the original Who theme, but her output wouldn’t be considered mainstream or popular in the slightest (I think the BBC even claimed she was too esoteric or “erotic”). Murray Gold, meanwhile, is infinitely less pioneering or intellectually stimulating given that his works are basically half-arsed renditions of Tchaikovsky and John Williams, yet he receives a prom in his honour and is far more well regarded and recognised. Then again, that argument could be applied to TruWho and NuWho in general. The neoliberal media adore shallow populism, and comparing Classic and New Who certainly demonstrates the cultural emphasis on such.
Utility is prided above the arts partly due to the ever-growing presence of neoliberalism, where art is commodified and conservative politicians care less about the treasures of the arts and more on utility (as reinforced by twats like Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan). As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been reading Honoré De Balzac’s “Lost Illusions” recently (as well as getting into Dostoyevsky and Zola) which draws these parallels very well, mainly through Lucien’s decisions to turn down the group of intellectuals he initially joins to embrace the crass, decadent and ultimately decrepit world of journalism as a means of seeking glory. The same applies to music. Mediocrity is definitely treasured above genuine musical or literary integrity in today’s society, and it is incredibly saddening. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy some popular music, of course (I will have likely enjoyed a few things B hated by the sounds of it!).
Anyway, that’s my ramble out of the way. I’ll turn to Biroc in the future for musical discussion as you recommend.
Let me know if I’ve just talked a load of shite above, by the way.