What is the difference between "academic" and "popular music"?

March 12, 2019, 2:44 PM ·

Replies (49)

March 12, 2019, 3:55 PM · I'd need a lot more wine to answer that
March 12, 2019, 5:09 PM · You might as well ask for a definition of music.
March 12, 2019, 6:21 PM · Huh?
Edited: March 12, 2019, 7:06 PM · Sounds like terms a musicologist may have come up with. Note that they are arbitrary, as evidenced by the fact that no one here seems to know the answer, or even recognize the question itself.

My guess is that "academic" music is most likely considered more high-brow and has stood the test of time, whereas "popular music" is whatever is trending in the present.

Edited: March 12, 2019, 10:43 PM · No, they aren't arbitrary.

Terms for music style are almost always promoted by people selling the stuff. So, "academic music" is an apparent exception, created by composers who were hired in universities and conservatories, supposed free of any sort of commercial agenda. Which is bogus, of course, since these people were in an entirely Eurocentric context, shooting for lifetime appointments (that is... $$$) in institutions to pay them decent money to teach and create music that was approved by their tightly-knit group of academics, using a "peer-review" model that they borrowed from the rest of the academic community. If you wonder why most music composed in universities is wretched unlistenable stuff, this paragraph will help you understand. Peer-review has been an unqualified disaster for the arts, in my opinion.

Pop music is just that which sells enough so that record companies and others in the entertainment industry can make money from it. Lindsay Sterling is an example of someone making music, who--if you look at the content there--is making incredibly empty superficial stuff--what does she call it? "Dub step violin"--yeah, like that was ever a thing. But... she can sell records, therefore she can be successful. Pop music often sells 'way better than Lindsay, and isn't necessarily lightweight, either. Kendrick Lamar won that Grammy (and that sure irritated some of my old academic buddies, much to my delight). I think the best of American songwriting stands at a same artistic-quality level as European classical music, for example. The quality of the music isn't actually a factor, so long as it sells, but it isn't a foregone conclusion (IMO) that it isn't as powerful and deep as anything else.

If you are thinking that "pop music" = any kind of coherent style, you are missing the point. Whatever sells is "popular." In the past, there were styles targeting particular audiences, say "race records" or "rhythm and blues" targeting African-American audiences in the US in the mid 20th century. "Country music" targeted rural white audiences in the US. Etc. etc.

Anyway, maybe this helped answer your question.

March 13, 2019, 3:43 AM · Paul, Just out of curiosity, in what setting are these "academic music" are usually presented to the audience? Does university set up annual/monthly/weekly recital for "like minded" people to cheer for each other?
March 13, 2019, 4:50 AM · Intonation?

;) Boom - tish!

I'll get my coat and see myself out....

Edited: March 13, 2019, 6:00 AM · Sivrit asked, "Does university set up annual/monthly/weekly recital for 'like minded' people to cheer for each other?"

I realize you were addressing the other Paul, but the answers is, "Yes, they do."

One of the great pleasures of working at a university is that you get lots of faculty recitals and such. And yes, university professors sometimes compose music and we are "subjected" to that, and you know what? Sometimes it's good! More often they do arranging and I've heard beautiful arrangements done by my colleagues who are professors of music performed by our regional orchestra, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, in addition to university musical groups like the symphonic band. Once in a while a special piece composed by a faculty member or student will be performed at a commencement exercise or such. I have attended such kinds of events and enjoyed the music played there.

The faculty recital series, which is on Monday evenings, is free to the public and music students are required to attend a certain number of them -- not sure how many. Of course the anti-academic cynics among us will say that this is how we indoctrinate the next generation with liberalism and other isms, but nearly all of the music performed was written by revolutionaries of the past like Beethoven and even by a few ultra-conservative Christians of the past -- guys like JS Bach.

March 13, 2019, 10:49 AM · "Academic" for me means that music which appeals to the intellect rather than the emotions. It tends to be found almost entirely in academia, which has become the sole promoter and conservator of 12-tone music.

It sneers at things like traditional melody, common-practice harmony, sentimentality, or 18th and 19th century orchestration methods. Academics prefer to create and solve musical puzzles with a nod to traditional authenticity. So, in the program, the composer will go on and on about all the different permutations of their 12-tone row in a 6-voice fugue: they are bragging about their intellectual prowess for constructing music that appears to the audience to have no formal construction at all. All the better if it is set to some weird poetry to make it "meaningful." It justifies their superior intellect and yes, helps to justify their tenure requests and European sabbaticals.

Popular music is constructed to appeal entirely to the emotions. It requires little long-term memory for formal structure because of its repetition. Its appeal is melodic.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 11:33 AM · I think the OP meant "popular" vs. "serious" or "popular" vs. "classical". The word "academic" has been misconstrued, ironically, by those with (too much?) exposure to academe. (And of course you can't say "classical" as a generic term because then people will get on your case because "classical" only refers to a certain period and so on.)

It's interesting that Beethoven allegedly wrote his late string quartets such as the famous Op. 131 not to be performed but as pure music -- museum pieces -- examples of compositional beauty. One might describe that as a purely academic goal. Later others found beauty in them -- great beauty indeed.

Whether any of the 12-tone stuff will enjoy a similar fate is anyone's guess, although it really is hard to imagine.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 11:41 AM · Dividing music into "popular" and "serious" categories is, I'm sorry, uninformed. It implies that popular music isn't serious, and that is foolishness. One kind of music I play is traditional Irish music, and while it is very popular in Ireland, it is also very serious. And it is barely academic, so... how do those categories work again? The fact is that without vast support of new classical music through... wait for it... academia, there would be no new classical music. Calling it academic, since everyone doing it was trained in academia, and it is supported by those institutions, is far more accurate than calling it "serious."

There is music written in academia that does work on an aesthetic/emotional level, but it's unusual, and Scott's comment that it appeals to the intellect rather than the emotions is valid, while his specifics are a bit weird--no one is writing 12-tone music anymore, for example, and Bach wrote 6-voice fugues, so that's not such a new thing. However, I was trained to be able to come up with a good explanation/argument for whatever I composed, I was evaluated on it, and while I found that to be ridiculous, I did in fact jump through those hoops, and then go back to why I was making music in the first place. As you can imagine, my academic composition career has not been stellar, but I had other options.

I like to present this issue using a food analogy. We all love to go to a restaurant and have something we've never tried and have it be wonderful, right? Newness takes a certain amount of intrepid adventure, but because the final arbiter is whether we think the food tastes good or not, the menu description is not nearly as important as what's on the plate, though it can help you appreciate what's on the plate. In academia, the menu (or even the recipe) is the dinner, and this has gone on for a century, so we have composer/chefs whose teacher's teacher's teacher had promoted a music based on the recipe and the menu, and if an audience doesn't like it, that is to some degree secondary--the composer is supported by their peers (who are doing the same thing) and the institution that has given them tenure.

So, if an interesting menu/recipe gets you attention, and did the same for your teacher, that's what you focus on. Essentially, we have a situation where the new thing in restaurants are menus/recipes focusing on petroleum products. These are sometimes very interesting recipes in the way they use crude oil, and the fact that it tastes awful and makes you sick is secondary to this cabal of chefs, competing with each other to use petroleum in innovative ways. No matter how innovative, though, it still tastes like motor oil, and all the explanation in the world won't make it taste better. They can point to innovative pioneers who used just a hint of motor oil and because it sort-of worked, now they are going whole-hog into petroleum. And that's how Kendrick Lamar got the Pulitzer.

Scott's last comment, mostly dismissing "popular" music, sounds like many of my colleagues in academia, who feel justified in ignoring music which actually reaches audiences. Their ignorance of what is out there and how good it can be is an obstacle to making better music in academia, IMO. It's not necessarily lightweight fluff; in fact, in my experience, the people I have worked with in various genres of so-called "popular music" over four decades in the music biz are as talented, focused, and dedicated as any classical European musician in producing the best music they can. The attitude dismissing them is a symptom of the same elitism that promotes unlistenable modern classical music, in my opinion.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 11:47 AM · I didn't find Scott's description of "popular music" elitist or dismissive at all. I think popular music is important and useful, even if there is a lot of it I don't care to listen to. But I think Scott description of it is actually pretty accurate. It's repetitive, it appeals to emotion, and the melody is what you take away. Those are pretty solid observations if you ask me. They don't apply especially well to hip-hop, which one could argue is less music and more poetry -- but also something that's hard to pin down in the end.
March 13, 2019, 11:50 AM · So, you don't care to listen to "popular" music, but you feel comfortable describing it in simple terms that you feel are solid observations (if I ask you). But you think it's "important and useful." And then you choose a major style of popular music and say that this whole shtick doesn't apply. Forgive me, but you are not making much sense here.
Edited: March 13, 2019, 12:06 PM · Paul:

' I think the OP meant "popular" vs. "serious" or "popular" vs. "classical" '.

You're right.

I think I got lost in translation. In my native language some people often talk of what I translated to be "academic" music to refer to "classical" music in general, and they don't use the word classical because they consider "classical" refers strictly to the classical period.

Here is an example of how it is used: Música popular, ¿música académica?

March 13, 2019, 12:47 PM · The discussion here freely mixes the terms "academic" and "classical" because the main source for musicians performing classical European music is in fact institutions of higher education-- "academia." There is the problem of "classical" being a particular period, as has been mentioned, but also that there has been a split in the audience between the majority who like the old stuff and lose interest in most music in the tradition created after, say, 1920, and the professional class who have continued to develop descendant musical styles within the same tradition that have required institutional support (hence, "academic"), and reach a much smaller audience, in spite of enthusiasts' passionate advocacy.

When I was teaching a World Music survey course at just such an institution, I had to come up with a definition of "classical" music, because it's a useful term. I used it to describe any music made by a professional class of musicians, performed for the upper classes of society who fund the enterprise. One interesting component is the creation of a specific pedagogy to support the training of musicians. On one extreme you have gagaku in Japan, the world's oldest continuously-performed traditional "classical" orchestral music which was made exclusively (until fairly recently) for the Japanese emperor and the imperial family. Then there is classical music in European churches, which was funded by the elites but everyone could hear it in church. Also, in Europe, an increasingly-wealthy upper middle class plays a gradually-more-important role as a supporting elite across European music history, so we start with the Church and aristocracy supporting classical music, and then that role gets handed to academic institutions in the 19th century. Mande classical music in West Africa was also like this--supported by elites, but heard by everyone. Still it was and is performed primarily by highly-trained professionals, called "jeli," who have passed this tradition down for ages.

It gets pretty complicated, actually.

March 13, 2019, 1:07 PM · Legend has it if you say that popular music must be "catchy", you will invite Baba Yaga onto the boards.

As a learning violinist who isn't actually very good, I wonder if we can make a distinction on the repertoire level between "popular" works and "academic" works that are taught to students (at least in the modern pedagogy).

For example, Vieuxtemps are academic works. They aren't typically performed, and frankly there really isn't much to them. This is vs, say, Tchaikovsky, which is learned after many different "student" concertos are played, and is performed very often.

But that is just a learning violinist's interpretation.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 2:03 PM · Some violinists of perhaps "questionable" music taste would disagree with Vieuxtemps oeuvre being "academic works"-they were meant to be singing-violin, (sometimes virtuoso) works. That students are often made to play the Ballade et Polonaise, Concerto #2, and Concerto #5 (among others) doesn't make them "academic works". Vieuxtemps himself played his 5th Concerto beyond the confines of a Music Conservatory, and it was quite well-regarded among "serious" composers and musicians, along with the 4th.

While it's a rather unfortunate pejorative, "academic" does seem to apply to much atonal music out there, even if it's meant *not* to be deemed in that manner. Along with other more complex (or sometimes, overly simplistic) music that could sound more like musical experiments or better tailored for an advanced 20th Century+ music university course.

It's kind of a false dichotomy, however, as "popular" can be used academically, and previously considered "academic" music can become popular with the fates of time.

No offense to contemporary music lovers and composers intended at all. Write and enjoy whatever you like.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 2:16 PM · the difference? one word: catchy! ;-)
March 13, 2019, 3:36 PM · "Scott's comment that it appeals to the intellect rather than the emotions is valid, while his specifics are a bit weird--no one is writing 12-tone music anymore"

They are writing 12-tone...in academia.

"Scott's last comment, mostly dismissing "popular" music, sounds like many of my colleagues in academia, who feel justified in ignoring music which actually reaches audiences..."

I did not dismiss popular music. I don't think my comment was anything but objective. I simply defined its main characteristics relative to "serious," "art," or "academic" music.

March 13, 2019, 5:05 PM · Historically, there has been a lot of overlap between art music and popular music in the Western world; I think the gap is wider now than it has been in centuries. Remember that, from Mozart and late Haydn onward, composers increasingly relied on public concerts for their income, which meant selling tickets to Europe's growing middle class. For many, the most lucrative work was composing music for the theater, whether it was operas (which were very much entertainment for the masses in Italy) or incidental music for plays. Today we tend to think of film music and video game music as "popular" music, but I think of it as functionally identical to the incidental music composed in the past that is often performed as art music today. The practice of extracting concert suites from film, TV, and video game music today is similar to what past composers did as well. For that matter, there even seems to be a line drawn within film music... I've wondered why Prokofiev's scores to Lieutenant Kijé and Alexander Nevsky are seen mainly as art music and film music from the last 50 years generally isn't.
March 13, 2019, 5:20 PM · The difference is simple. "New" Classical 96.3 plays one and not the other.

96.3 is Toronto's local retirement home / senior death camp 24/7 ambient music station.

March 13, 2019, 5:54 PM · Brent Johnston...... I'll meet you at the pub. I've got first round.
March 13, 2019, 7:02 PM · Well in a similar vein I'll tell you a joke that jazz musicians tell:

What is the difference between a pop musician and a jazz musician?
A pop musician plays three chords to thousands of people.
A jazz musician plays thousands of chords to three people!

Edited: March 13, 2019, 8:43 PM · Paul Smith wrote, "So, you don't care to listen to 'popular' music..."

No, I said there's a lot of it I don't care to listen to. Some of it I do. Please don't go Fox News on us here. There's a lot of "classical" music I don't listen to either. Like opera.

"But you think it's 'important and useful.'"

Yes, precisely because I recognize that a lot of other people like it, and I feel I have a good understanding of why they do, and I was trying to convey that I found their enjoyment of popular music wholesome, and therefore its production is of redeeming social value.

"And then you choose a major style of popular music and say that this whole shtick doesn't apply. Forgive me, but you are not making much sense here."

Now you're just being obtuse. My point (made in exactly one sentence) was simply that not ALL "popular" music fits Scott's original description, and hip-hop is an example of a genre that doesn't fit. You missed this point willfully.

Edited: March 13, 2019, 11:07 PM · Sigh... you said that "popular music" was "repetitive, it appeals to emotion, and the melody is what you take away. Those are pretty solid observations if you ask me."

Right, except that you seem to have missed that the vast majority of American vernacular music has--wait for it--lyrics. You might think that the lyric content is entirely independent of the song, as with Schubert's "Erlkönig" or whatever, but in American popular music the lyric is usually central to the work. You said about hip-hop that "one could argue is less music and more poetry," but I would say that this dichotomy is an artifact of your Eurocentrism and not in any way intrinsic to American vernacular music--the music and the poetry are one thing. The "hook" in American popular music is based on a combination of a memorable lyric, an infectious danceable rhythm, and a memorable melodic phrase. In many ways these structures are derived not from European music, but from West African music. As with the Mande, who base songs on a repeated groove (kumbengo), a basic singalong line that everyone can sing, improvisation (birimitingo), and (potentially, not always) storytelling (sataro), that is surprisingly rap-like. It seems to me that you don't know much about popular music except in passing, but your training in European classical music makes you think that you understand music that you know only casually. That's OK, I'm sure you're a great violinist, but this is the central issue to elitism in our music culture--you don't know what you don't study in depth. You say I missed the point--I say that you didn't make a point.

Edited: March 14, 2019, 4:56 AM · Ha, John Berger! I remember laughing over his biography of Picasso in the 80s. Don't ask me why, I can't remember that. Something to do with how far he stretched the concept of vertical invasion vs. horizontal invasion.

In pop music you have hits and standards. You may have to solve that one as a lemma to the original question.
In classical music you sometimes have a hit/standard situation. e.g. Czardas, Johann Strauss. There's overlap. In the 70s some classical music was still popular with the general public, although that may have been the BBC's doing. But then Classic FM still thrives on "lollipops". Does it appeal to people who live in between popular and academic? Is the question unanswerable because there's a spectrum and not an either/or situation? Alternatively, is it a mistake to assume there's such a thing as a classical music that appeals to all classical music fans? I have a friend who loves his Wagner and hates Les Six (they probably cropped up together in conversation as examples of film music and Dalí/Buñuel). I (very vaguely) tend to swerve 19th century music, although I've been listening to more of its violin repertoire recently.

Pop wavers between dance and ballad. Different dance styles evolved 120 years ago to distinguish the different social classes. In dance the rhythm is the most important thing (and the waltz isn't going to catch on any time soon, although compound time is often there), and new ways of providing rhythm get devised during balladic phases?

It's all the Mansa Musa's fault.

March 14, 2019, 3:29 AM · Academic music is for musicians, popular music is for everybody else.
March 14, 2019, 4:41 AM · Paul Smith--EXCELLENT description of "American vernacular music." I'd hit the like button, if I had one.
Edited: March 14, 2019, 11:28 AM · Paul I agree with you about lyrics in popular music. They're inseparable from the tune -- to the extent that the term "melody" should be seen as encompassing both. You don't hear folks humming the tune without the words, and you don't hear people reciting the "poetry" without the tune.

Congratulations on your profound erudition with respect to African music. I know nothing of this except insofar as it has influenced jazz, the main type of music that I perform regularly and which I seem to be relatively adept despite the obvious gaps in my formal musical education. I confess I do not think about or wonder about West African musical traditions while I am playing gigs.

I'm sorry that I said you were obtuse and also sorry that you felt you had to misquote me and also sorry that I and others had to be labeled with various "isms" (elistism, Eurocentrism) along the way. I made the fatal mistake of trying to defuse some of that acrimony early on, which seems the inevitable outcome of any such discussion on internet forums these days.

Nevertheless, I concede defeat. You may now enjoy the rest of this thread without further interference from me.

You're wrong again by the way -- I'm not actually a very good violinist. :)

Edited: March 14, 2019, 12:08 PM · The question is rather vague. What do you mean by popular music? Is jazz popular music? What about Pop, Bebop, New Age, Rap, Folk, Heavy Metal etc. Classical music (or what you seem to refer to as Academic music) refers to yet another genre of music. Classical as other pointed out also refers to a time period, then you have baroque music, romantic music also referring to a time period but classified in the classical music genre. Popular vs Academic taken out of context mean entirely different things, which are characterizations; one meaning "liked, admired, or enjoyed by many people or by a particular person or group" and the other (amongst several other definitions) "not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest", such as meant in "this discussion we're having is purely academic"!
March 14, 2019, 12:46 PM · I honestly think this is too deep a subject to cover here in a thread on it.I see some points made that struggle to see light while I get the jist of the statements.It's just too difficult to cover in this format.

In art everyone has their own reality aside from any construct either of natural origin or as a thing propped up over hundreds of years.Some things are absolute. Some things aren't. I believe we can become entangled in the terminology in attempting to describe our reality. Those invested in academia will most certainly have an attachment to it and are mostly predisposed to a certain way of reacting to it. In some ways I find this a limiting factor. Like someone else has stated here, I know what I like and I know what I don't like. You can call it anything you want to, you can back it with every resource at your disposal. In the end
if I don't like it, I don't like it. I don't often listen to music as an academic exercise. Isn't music intended for relaxation, mind expansion, a reflection of the soul, maybe a glimpse into somewhere else? Here again is a difference between the pursuit of construction using formula to gain a result, or did the music flow from you with those considerations coming later?
There's a statement in the Bible that says something like this- " He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise". You may take from that maybe many different things. To me it says that the world is turned on it's ear. How did a song like Amazing Grace last for so long? You don't really get any more simple than that melody. It should have died long ago.
I prefer not to use terms like complex/simple or classical/academic or popular/traditional when exposed to music.If it sounds like computer gibberish it never gets to first base with me. If it has a 1/2 hour introduction and is only played by certain people it means nothing if I don't feel it. To me music should be felt in some way other than deconstructed and value based on that.Who played it, where it was played, what they used to play it.....doesn't mean anything to me on the primal level, on the entry point into my initial feelings about it. I might like it so much I later on attempt to dissect it to see what they did, but not initially.
Life is too short for me to sit around clapping to something I don't really like with shallow people who are only involved for social reasons. If I like it I like it. If I don't nothing will change that.

March 14, 2019, 2:10 PM · It depends on what jazz you're talking about, of course. I'd argue that, because of the AFM's recording ban of 1942-44, jazz started to make a hard swerve toward the "academic" lane beginning with bebop. Ornette Coleman and free jazz seem to appeal mostly to academics.
March 14, 2019, 8:15 PM · "...not ALL "popular" music fits Scott's original description."

Well of course it doesn't. We're all talking in broad strokes here. It's a big world out there.
But generally, the most popular music is melodic and emotionally appealing, in contrast to academic music, which is basically compositional m---erbation.

Wait--am I allowed to say that?

March 15, 2019, 7:41 AM · @Scott Cole It gets the point across and I agree. Shows that you are objective coming from your background. I have heard some of it that I liked,not much though. It's sort of like AI before there was AI.It fits but how does it SOUND? Other people simply LOVE it. Who am I to say?

I have to wonder what the composer is thinking. "I'll take this key and morph in that key slowly or maybe I'll mix the two . Then I'll throw in some color that will momentarily go to another mode. I won't resolve it".........wait, that's jazz.

Edited: March 15, 2019, 8:12 AM · " He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise", which today could be interpreted as, "never argue with a drunk in a pub, you won't win".

[edit added: " He has chosen ... etc" 1 Corinthians 1:27]

March 15, 2019, 8:01 AM · Lol. Trevor I don't think I've ever won an argument. I just hold a position:)
March 15, 2019, 9:23 AM · I really, really didn't want to get involved in this, but I do attempt to abide by the mantra "never publicly disrespect another person's taste in music"
March 15, 2019, 3:18 PM · @Scott "But generally, the most popular music is melodic and emotionally appealing, in contrast to academic music, which is basically compositional m---erbation."

But don't you think most music in the romatic period was composed to be emotionally appealing? It seems to me that the revival of program music in the XVIII century, while to some extent compositional m---erbation, also attempted to appeal to emotions.

March 16, 2019, 10:22 PM · "I had to come up with a definition of "classical" music, because it's a useful term. I used it to describe any music made by a professional class of musicians, performed for the upper classes of society who fund the enterprise."

How do you define "upper classes of society"? Presumably there is an element of wealth. Popular music generates its own significant wealth, which in turn funds a professional class of musician who continue that production. And while there is certainly a degree of upper classiness funding what we term classical music, that funding is at a subsistence level if that in the current circumstances, with symphonies pandering to film music for survival for example. So I think then that that supposed means of differentiation is inadequate, as we all know it to be intuitively, because it doesn't really say anything about the music itself, which one would assume matters in this question, as it about music, not just the means, circumstances, geographies and cultures in which they come about.

But then we're back to the problem of definitions of music, which of course tends to be problematic and essentially futile in any medium other than music, which is where all the fun happens, in all forms.

March 17, 2019, 6:01 AM · Demian should be awarded "jelly bean of the month" for stirring the possum so beautifully.

Blimey: who was sucked in?

Oh, and Paul ("Smith), I have some breaking news to share: Irish music is not popular in Ireland.

People, do what you want to do, just do it as well as you can.

March 17, 2019, 11:11 AM · "But don't you think most music in the romatic period was composed to be emotionally appealing? "

Demian, of course. It's one of the hallmarks of Romantic music. But it was rejected by many modernists, and especially today by academics.

By the way, I was in a local grocery store yesterday and was treated to Loverboy's classic "Hot Girls in Love."

I realized that this was "classic" defined: sometimes a work of music is so good, it can't possibly be improved!

March 18, 2019, 11:36 AM · Maybe 'types of music' depends on the listener.'Music can be a birds call to a tribal drum,to a harmonic chant IMHO
Edited: March 18, 2019, 8:15 PM · A couple of points...

J Ray asked-- "How do you define "upper classes of society"? Presumably there is an element of wealth. Popular music generates its own significant wealth, which in turn funds a professional class of musician who continue that production..."

Indeed, I covered this issue and discussed with my classes whether the big-money music industry transformed popular music into what was essentially a "classical" music. I think the case could be made. Kendrick Lamar's Pulitzer would seem to confirm that. As for traditional European classical music now having to struggle for funding, there is still a lot of resources thrown at it.

Graeme Webster... Irish traditional music thrives in Ireland, in the sense that there are many, many performers and a dedicated audience for it; there are institutions that cultivate and support it; there is a thriving educational aspect. It's doing pretty well actually, and illustrated my point. It doesn't make much money, but that wasn't the point.

March 19, 2019, 4:58 PM · When we visited Ireland a year and a half ago, we were able to find traditional music, but we had to look for it. Most people seemed to be listening to the same sort of pop as the rest of the western world. One B&B was playing Motown, the next Michael Bolton. But we did find a couple of good pubs...
March 20, 2019, 7:12 AM · I was going to withhold comment because I think it's pretty obvious that Ireland is a big place and vacation there isn't likely to yield a true picture of the country, especially if one only frequents tourist destinations. I can't claim to have seen anywhere near all of the country, but I've been there and traveled quite extensive.

Irish Traditional music is passed down to succeeding generations. I'm sure that musicians and listeners have all kinds of tastes there just like anywhere else. You might be in the pub playing traditional with a group of friends and go home to turn on another genre or play something else. I think both of these statements are limiting-
"Irish musicians don't listen to Irish music."
"Irish musicians play mostly Irish music."

"Irish Musicians" are varied and both statements limits them in some way. Irish music in Ireland will never die and I suggest getting around more in the country only proves this out. Non Irish musicians
also play (or attempt to play) Irish music...I am one of those. My genetic test reveals I'm only 15% Irish, the rest is mostly English. This is no surprise. I'm a white dude with descendants from Europe.It didn't stop Kevin Burke from becoming one of the most famous Irish musicians ever. Kevin is from England.Never made much sense to me anyways, The genetic pool doesn't seem much different between those countries. Just a few guys hopped the pond to Ireland.

Over simplified statements like the Irish don't do this and the Chinese don't do that etc etc. are just pointless. What does a classical musician listen to? Can we say "Classical musicians only listen to classical music"? This is another rabbit hole.

Edited: March 22, 2019, 7:18 PM · There has been some words on contemporary styles of music in this thread. Well, here is my two cents on that:

Contemporary exitement, music touching your soul, beauty, poetic depths, emotions, music inspiring the creative mind to make great stories. Lots of fantastic inspirations can be born with this kind of music. Here are some great examples:

Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima" for 52 string instruments, performed by Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Krzysztof Urbanski. This music is not tonal neither is it 12-tonal, I don't know what you could call it. The music is indeed intense:

Arnold Schoenberg's "Six little piano pieces", op. 19 performed by Michel Beroff. This music predates Schoenberg's later dodecaphonic development. The six pieces are sometimes rather delicate, at other times dramatic, humouristic moments surface and there is mystery and beauty:

Anton Webern's "Variations for piano", op. 27, performed by Glenn Gould. 12-tonal music. Here we have music that is a dance of life, passion and poetry with surprising odds and ends:

Anne Sophie Mutter: The Importance of Contemporary Music. This is a short video where Anne-Sophie Mutter discusses the importance of contemporary music. A great contribution to this subject:

March 23, 2019, 7:58 AM · You UNDERSTAND academic music.
You ENJOY popular music.
You do both if it's classic music.
Edited: March 23, 2019, 12:35 PM · @Sander Marcus I don't know what kind of music you should understand and not enjoy. Anyway, there is a lot more to music than understanding and/or enjoying it.

I compose music myself. If I play a piece of music which I have composed myself I am certainly not concerned about "understanding" it. I can of course understand how it is built since I made it myself, but performing it is not about that, it is about making the music alive. That process can evoke all kinds of emotions and feelings which is beyond the control of the composer.

As a matter of fact I can get a new idea of the music as a performer which I didn't think of as a composer. The magic of music evokes experiences that are far beyond an intellectual level of understandning. There is an irrational touch to it and that is wonderful.

As an example: Some say that 12-tonal music is about intellectual understandning. But Glenn Gould's performance of Anton Webern's "Variations for piano" in the video I posted in my former reply shows a musical performance that you can enjoy and/or appreciate without having any knowledge of what a 12-tonal series of notes is.

Edited: March 23, 2019, 1:29 PM · I'll have a go.

Popular Music, whatever the style or genre, gives instant pleasure, and often makes us want to sing along or get up and dance.

Art Music ("musique savante" in French) makes us want to stop and listen, and follow and savour every note right to the end.

Academic Music has programme notes that are often more captivating than the music itself..

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