04 December 2011

Some Interdisciplinary (but not strictly CalArtian) Observations

Go on calling music "The Social Art" if you insist. It has always seemed to me that when the occasion is ostensibly social, music (live, recorded or made on the spot) is the musicians' last choice (that is if it is accorded status as a choice at all). Attentive listening and conscientious performance, even if one's standards are not all that high, tend to preclude conversation, but even casual and/or pop-culture-oriented musical events where this is not the case tend to be non-starters when musicians hang out. This is even true among self-proclaimed universalists who belligerently insist that these settings and this music are part of their deal, too.

The top of the list, oddly enough, seems to belong to Blockbuster Hollywood movies.


Asked how much time he spends watching movies (whether for study or pleasure), a suitemate of mine here at CalArts, a filmmaker and non-musician, confesses that he spends far more time listening to music than watching films. I can't help but wonder for how many musicians (brass players in particular, and LOOOOW brass players in further particular) the inverse is true?


Being part of an "...Institute of the Arts" which boasts Film, Art, Dance, Writing and Theater programs as well as music, one is sometimes put into consternating touch with the value (abstract and monetary alike) of one's own medium relative to the others. How telling that a theater production here can nearly sell out a dozen shows whereas it is almost unheard of for music school productions at any college or university to be either ticketed or reprised.


Some dalliances with Art School functions here have reminded me of the absurdity of this world as I have (no doubt in a very limited capacity) experienced it. Concert music becomes a truly social event for the audience only before or after music happens, but visual art openings, in dealing with a silent, atemporal medium, harbor a possibility (more like an inevitability) unknown to musicians in that they are taken to permit socialization and art consumption simultaneously without one completely obliterating the other. Such it is that hardly a single person in attendance at these clusterfucks is paying one bit of attention to the work, a sobering reminder of what those of us who work with the much less forgiving medium of sound are up against.

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