The political correctness movement, while often criticized for being too extreme (and often rightfully so), helped to remove a multitude of absurd stereotypes from our language. Terms like “Indian” for those people whose land we stole 300 years ago (and who are very much not Indian), and “Oriental” for the multitude of cultures and nations along the Asia Pacific Rim (Oriental, or “eastern”, being a relativistic term that could just as easily be replaced with Occidental, or “western” — we live on a sphere after all).
I have a similar gripe with the term “Classical Music.” The name seems to imply that the music is of another time. Yet the music continues today. New composers, new music. We live in a world of reductive categorizations and, unfortunately, with “classical” it’s often difficult to quantify its distinguishing characteristics. Perhaps it’s another Turning Test: try to identify music as “classical.” It gets further confused when you mix in classical-like music (i.e., some faux-classical film scores) just as jazz gets confused by Kenny G (and by confused, I mean ruined).
I made a playlist tonight of this classical-but-not-classical music. It contains both old and new, from Bach and Handel to Mansurian and Feldman. Here’s the rundown with dates:
Bach (1720’s): French Suite #1 d-moll, BWV 812 – I. Allemande
Mansurian (1980’s): String Quartet No. 1: Allegretto
Lieberson (2005): Si no fuera porque tus ojos tienen color de luna…
Handel (1720’s): Suite No.2 in F, HWV427 – IV. Allegro (Fugue)
Mozart (1780’s): Clarinet Quintet, Eb Major, K.498: Andante
Shostakovich (1950’s): Prelude #27, Largo
Feldman (1950’s): Illusions
Scriabin (1900’s): Prelude Op. 11 – No. 9 In E Minor
Feldman (1970’s): Rothko Chapel: 1st Movement
Brahms (1890’s): Drei Intermezzi Op. 117, #3: Andante con moto
Here’s a link to this playlist on 8tracks.com:
Notice the dates, from 1720 to 2005! Throughout these selections, it’s hard not to marvel at the detailed melodic and harmonic development, the enormous dynamic palette and the use of instrumentation for timbre effects (“color”). It’s extremely beautiful music. I should note that in general I try not to rank or discriminate music by genres (though I have my limits). Today I’m really enjoying “classical,” or whatever we call this stuff. Tomorrow, I’ll probably be back to Johnny Cash and Fela Kuti.
P.S.: I still have no idea what to call it. I’d just hope we can modernize the terminology. Performance music? Orchestrated music? No clue. Labels never work in the end.