Is Art Music Still Relevant? Essay

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Western society references musical instruments for the purpose of dancing and creating praiseworthy music and dates as far back as ancient Israel, where King David’s Psalms encouraged followers to praise the lord with strumming of strings and the clashing of cymbals (Psalms 150). Music has only become more complex and integrated to culture since then, playing unique roles from era to era. As a whole, today modern and post-modern music is as important to societal functionality as it ever was, but in recent eras easier access to music itself has blurred the lines between what would have been known as accessible and egalitarian, and what is complex and dangerous. Certainly a modern analysis of the broad trends of music would reveal that social and political movements have motivated this progression, and composers are evidently now able to communicate their art through expression rather than the narrow metanarratives found in politics, complexity for the sake of complexity (The Composer as a Specialist) or beauty for the sake of beauty. If postmodernism rejects these narratives, the lines become nuanced and this might suggest an end of history for music – or perhaps a new development completely incomprehensible to today’s ear. Either way, the post-modern movement rejects metanarratives in society by blurring the lines between complex and accessible and even art music and pop. This study attempts to analyze a number of historic composers that have had a significant impact, or have been significantly impacted by society and politics. While parallels can be made through time, and indeed make for interesting analysis, this is not the concern for a study of where music is today in the hearts and minds of the people. Musical influence on society has increased but the art music influence is far more vague and multifaceted. If the Baroque age, for example, stemmed from a new

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