Today, across South America, one finds dozens of tourists from all over the world (including many from the United States) who wish to explore the richness of the region. But within the world of notated music, the situation is the opposite. In fact, we can no longer talk about Latin American as a single unit, given the lack of information that exists between its different countries.
En cualquier lugar de Sudamérica uno se encuentra con decenas de turistas de todo el planeta (incluyendo muchos estadounidenses), que buscan explorar las riquezas de la zona. Ya está claro para ellos que no todo es selvas impenetrables, ni pequeños poblados de madera. Pero en el medio de la música de tradición escrita, también debemos hablar a la inversa. Incluso no podemos hablar de Latinoamérica como una entidad unitaria, ya que existe desinformación entre lo que hace un país y otro.
It is the history of music, forever communicating—what, exactly? But forever communicating, nonetheless, even as the message gets hopelessly lost in the translation to music. And it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.
Composers need to control their materials and, to an extent, their musicians. This is true for the murderer Gesualdo and the gentle John Cage, more so for the latter. Most composers are autocrats; Cage was totalitarian. And autocracy and totalitarianism, in their view of and relationship to human beings, are the political equivalents of malevolent psychopathology.
Music people, in general, have always seemed to possess a higher level of character and integrity in pursuit of a particular calling. But it seems that now, even in the new music world where we are all essentially in the same boat, so-called professional courtesy is no longer a given.
Institutionalized jazz is safe, museum-piece jazz, but the music still happens in basements and lofts and living room performance spaces. These are the alternative venues and institutions for a music that, by definition, is outsider music, counter-culture music.
The big point that critics of college teaching fail to understand is that teaching music is more than just teaching music. A good teacher connects the great musicians and musical works of the past with the present, while paving the road for the future.
There’s a lot of blame to spread around for our music appreciation downgrade, but I think there’s a single phenomenon that’s working harder than all the others: the constant bombardment of music functioning as an aspect of an environment.
Whether you’re a composer or a musician or an enthusiast, I know you’re probably pressed for time, but chances are your perspective is not being represented. If you don’t share it, who will?
New music proponents are uniquely qualified to stop worrying about the Major Symphony Orchestra in favor of much more productive—and yes, more American—channels.