Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 83 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
2,892 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
No snobbery intended here folks, but does jazz, and art in general, have a place in the mass culture?
This question is inspired by the thread on whether non-musicians listen to jazz. Bear in mind that yours truly is a life long musician, a "true believer" in art and yet works commercial gigs all the time. I see a huge disconnect between the music biz and art, (Duh! :) )
The masses here in the US don't want to listen to music. Adults don't listen. Teenagers do, college kids do, but it's rare with adults. And even with those who listen, they don't listen with the dedication required to get jazz......I mean you have to listen to the choice of notes. Any form of music that's artistic and, well, musical, requires careful and to a degree, informed, listening and that's a skill that requires developing. It doesn't matter that you don't know the scale choices for a F7#9 or not, but can you feel the tension of the chord in that musical moment? Do you listen intently enough to let the music carry you? An appreciation of harmony and melody and timbre and phrasing is necessary to "getting" instrumental music---even if you don't know the terms--and that requires paying attention.
I think most people buy music for all the wrong reasons with little intention to actually listen to it. It's something to buy to impress your friends, a statement about your socio-economic status, an accourtrement to a life style.
But who says art is really for the masses? Do we expect that really? Maybe it's different for all y'all in the EU and elsewhere, but it's not that way for the most part here in the States. Comments?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,316 Posts
I think responding to art is inherent in the human condition, so art is for the masses. OTOH, I don't think that what I regard as jazz is for the masses. The music people listen to is driven partly by the musical grammars and idioms they are accustomed to, and partly by technology and life style. Technology today makes music ubiquitous, so people take it for granted in the background (me included). Any piece with a wide dynamic range isn't suited to this, which cuts out most of classical music and a lot of jazz. I've heard it said that Motown Records deliberately mixed their 60s tunes to play well over car radios of the era, with tons of bass. IMO, jazz requires at least some undistracted, dedicated listening. So it will not fit in well with most modern life styles and not be for the masses.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,528 Posts
Boy, am I going to get into trouble with this.....

But it really depends on what you mean by "jazz".

To me, jazz is that incredible music best played by old black guys down in the Delta country. It breaks all cultural, racial and economic boundaries and is definitely 100% for everybody. Every type of modern musical genre in the world today had borrowed from this music.

Then on the other hand, there's the kind of "jazz" created and played by people with more than an eight-grade education and probably even a formal education in music. It's multi-layered, rich, sophisticated, and even thought provoking. At least in my very ignorant and humble opinion, that kind of jazz is really only for a select few that either "get it" or were lucky enough to have naturally acquired a sophisticated nature that lets them actually identify with it. And unless popular culture just happens to swing back to it for a short time, this type of music will always be for those lucky few. And maybe that's one of the things that makes sophisticated jazz more special. You get to really enjoy something that most folks just don't understand on a deep enough level.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,316 Posts
Enviroguy said:
Boy, am I going to get into trouble with this.....
Yes, I think that may be accurate. Incidentally, by "old black guys", I assume you mean people like Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, and Mimi Fox. Is that correct, or did you mean people like Stacey Kent, Artie Shaw, and Jim Hall?

Peace, my brother (and don't forget to duck!). :D
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
2,892 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Enviroguy said:
Boy, am I going to get into trouble with this.....

But it really depends on what you mean by "jazz".

To me, jazz is that incredible music best played by old black guys down in the Delta country. It breaks all cultural, racial and economic boundaries and is definitely 100% for everybody. Every type of modern musical genre in the world today had borrowed from this music.

Then on the other hand, there's the kind of "jazz" created and played by people with more than an eight-grade education and probably even a formal education in music. It's multi-layered, rich, sophisticated, and even thought provoking. At least in my very ignorant and humble opinion, that kind of jazz is really only for a select few that either "get it" or were lucky enough to have naturally acquired a sophisticated nature that lets them actually identify with it. And unless popular culture just happens to swing back to it for a short time, this type of music will always be for those lucky few. And maybe that's one of the things that makes sophisticated jazz more special. You get to really enjoy something that most folks just don't understand on a deep enough level.
Which incredible music played in the Delta country? Are you referring to Dixieland? Sounds like you're pointing to New Orleans, but last time I was there, a variety of jazz styles were played.....no offense, just need clarification......also, while there is no doubt the huge contributions that African-Americans have and continue to make in jazz, there is probably a better way to say this than referring to them as "old black guys", don't you think?.....daryl
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor
Joined
·
4,379 Posts
I believe most people like art. In visual arts, that could be Norman Rockwell or Salvador Dali. And most people like jazz, but they may not realize it. Some like the tamest swing, some like free jazz.

In any art form there are those who insist that only the most sophisticated examples are worthy, and only the most sophisticated viewers or listeners can appreciate the "real thing". Those people are commonly called "elitist snobs".
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
The masses need a proper education to "get it" about the arts.

At least in the US, what passes for pubic education is vocational training to make one an obedient but unhappy cog in the corporate machine.

Until the arts take their proper place in the rearing and educating of young people, the only adults who will appreciate the arts are those fortunate enough to have a natural affinity and/or an extra-curricular exposure.

If the society promoted music and art education with even a fraction of the time and money spent on football, the arts would flourish.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
467 Posts
wersax said:
But who says art is really for the masses? Do we expect that really?
Maybe art is just out there, a treasure trove to be experienced, for all people to connect with if they get the chance, and have the good luck. 'Course, people are less likely to get that chance if they're very sick, very poor, very busy, or very distracted by any number of other things. From what I've seen, I'd say opportunities are not equally available to everyone on this planet.

But I do agree with those who've said (or implied) that you don't need a specialized education to enjoy or experience jazz--you just need an ear or two, and a brain.

By contrast, there was a time in Western Europe (15th C.) when Ancient Greek literature was only available to people who could read Ancient Greek, and there weren't many of those. Then people started translating it, but only into Latin, so you had to have gone to school (where 16th C. schoolboys, and not many girls, all learned Latin--but the majority of the population didn't go to school at all; they worked their butts off all day in a field somewhere). Today, anyone who speaks a European language can read Sophocles and Aeschylus in their very own native language. (I guess translating it kind of messes it up, though, if you're a purist.) Anyway, jazz is pretty accessible, by comparison. I mean, do you really need to know the chords and scales to enjoy listening to it? I'll agree you need to hear those chords and scales (which might take some wide-awake effort and a little desire), but I'm not sure you need names for any of it. Which means you don't need a school or a teacher, and it's not such an elitist thing.

As others have said in these threads, most people (the vast multitudes) will probably always prefer vocal music (and I heard somewhere that Nora Jones first album's sales constituted something like 75% of the total so-called "Jazz album sales" for the year it came out), and if the music is going to be instrumental, most will prefer to hear the melody played more-or-less straight, as opposed to all those darn solos! But art is out there, and jazz is out there, and people can turn in that direction if they choose to do it. There's a lot to enjoy and experience, for those who make that choice.

It's like choosing to read Faulkner's novels instead of Tom Clancey's. You've got to sit up in your chair and concentrate sometimes, instead of just laying back on the couch and letting it wash over you, like a TV show. But anyone, or almost anyone, can do it; you don't need any special certificate or anything like that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
467 Posts
saintsday said:
The masses need a proper education to "get it" about the arts. At least in the US, what passes for pubic education is vocational training to make one an obedient but unhappy cog in the corporate machine.Until the arts take their proper place in the rearing and educating of young people, the only adults who will appreciate the arts are those fortunate enough to have a natural affinity and/or an extra-curricular exposure.
This is well-put, and maybe it's true (although it says the exact opposite of what I just wrote!). But sometimes I think students are turned off by what they are taught about the arts in school, when they're taught anything. I know people who love literature and hate English classes.

I guess you could say that the teaching has to be done the right way, but it's a little tricky.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
5,076 Posts
Capitalist models create false dichotomies for art. The model says: either art (or anything else for that matter) makes a lot of money or it's worthless, money being the sole, or the main, criterion defining "value." The model also says: either art is "available" to everyone (many many people "like" it -- so that it will make lots of money) or it's elitist and therefore suspect. Neither of these either/or propositions is true, IMO.

Here's a metaphor that helps me think through this: is penicillin (say) for everyone? It's there for everyone who needs it, but just because you don't need it -- and just because the majority of the population doesn't need it at any given moment -- doesn't mean that it's elitist, and also doesn't mean that it does no good. Art is there for the people who need it. If only a few need a particular art form, that fact does not make the art form either worthless or elitist. It serves a need.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
Mcudahy, your point about teaching is exactly right.

There are lots of teachers whose raison d'etre is the exercise of authority in the only venue that will allow it. There are others who never had any real passion for their discipline or burned it out beating their heads against a system that teaches that order and obedience are more important than discovery. Just when they have managed to snare the attention of most of the class and casting great teaching spells, the bell rings and the class disappears. What does that teach?

I think most of us have had a few teachers so outstanding that they were able to truly teach anyway. Thank you Tony Nader, Jay Gradischer, Tony Vitez, Ruth Kerr, Christine West, Murline Gatewood, Dan Kirk, Ben Giamo, Charlie Raymond, Andy Smith...
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
Reedsplinter said:
Capitalist models create false dichotomies for art. The model says: either art (or anything else for that matter) makes a lot of money or it's worthless, money being the sole, or the main, criterion defining "value." The model also says: either art is "available" to everyone (many many people "like" it -- so that it will make lots of money) or it's elitist and therefore suspect. Neither of these either/or propositions is true, IMO.

Here's a metaphor that helps me think through this: is penicillin (say) for everyone? It's there for everyone who needs it, but just because you don't need it -- and just because the majority of the population doesn't need it at any given moment -- doesn't mean that it's elitist, and also doesn't mean that it does no good. Art is there for the people who need it. If only a few need a particular art form, that fact does not make the art form either worthless or elitist. It serves a need.
Pretty wise for a wolf in goat's clothing.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
Joined
·
8,322 Posts
Reedsplinter said:
Capitalist models create false dichotomies for art. .
That first sentence made me chortle, Reedy, but i generally agree with the your viewpoint . The fact that "art" is not enjoyed by a majority or does not make large amounts of money does not, in itself, invalidate it. On the issue of whether art is "needed" or not, i always liked that bit from "King Lear", which went something like..

"Allow not Nature more than nature needs -
Man's life is cheap as beast's."

:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Art is like cars and alcohol consumption.

Think about it; cars have been created for the masses to help us get around. Only a portion of the population buys a lamborghini. The rest settle for the Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Dodge, etc. Alcohol is consumed by the masses, however only a few will buy a bottle of one hundred year old scotch while the rest settle for a beer, JD, wine, etc. Art and jazz is around for the masses, to what extent they appreciate and understand it is based on their preference.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
2,892 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Reedsplinter said:
Capitalist models create false dichotomies for art. The model says: either art (or anything else for that matter) makes a lot of money or it's worthless, money being the sole, or the main, criterion defining "value." The model also says: either art is "available" to everyone (many many people "like" it -- so that it will make lots of money) or it's elitist and therefore suspect. Neither of these either/or propositions is true, IMO.

Here's a metaphor that helps me think through this: is penicillin (say) for everyone? It's there for everyone who needs it, but just because you don't need it -- and just because the majority of the population doesn't need it at any given moment -- doesn't mean that it's elitist, and also doesn't mean that it does no good. Art is there for the people who need it. If only a few need a particular art form, that fact does not make the art form either worthless or elitist. It serves a need.
Yeah man! Nail on the head.......d
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
375 Posts
Art is subjective--case closed.

That said, art is a very broad subject. In terms of music, some like bop while others like even more abstract forms of jazz. What is sophisticated? There really are no limits to what the mind might perceive as sophisticated jazz. Art is meant to appeal to certain tastes; whether it is designed to appeal to the masses (ex. modern rock, movies, TV shows, commercials, etc.) or exclusive groups (hard bop, acid jazz, heck, neo-swing, electronica, you name it) is up to the artist.

If you decide to play bop, you're likely to get a small crowd. You play some 70s rock and you're going to turn heads. That's just how it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
832 Posts
jnewmann said:
Think about it; cars have been created for the masses to help us get around. Only a portion of the population buys a lamborghini. The rest settle for the Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Dodge, etc. Alcohol is consumed by the masses, however only a few will buy a bottle of one hundred year old scotch while the rest settle for a beer, JD, wine, etc. Art and jazz is around for the masses, to what extent they appreciate and understand it is based on their preference.
The problem with this is that your examples, particularly the cars, have price limitations that have nothing to do with taste, education, exposure and the other factor discussed in this thread. I might go for a Lamborghini, but I don't have the $500,000 laying around, whereas the price difference between a Sonny Rollins CD and a Brittney Spears CD is minimal to nonexistent. Which one I buy is dependent on all the factors already dicussed.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,528 Posts
LampLight said:
Yes, I think that may be accurate. Incidentally, by "old black guys", I assume you mean people like Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, and Mimi Fox. Is that correct, or did you mean people like Stacey Kent, Artie Shaw, and Jim Hall?
wersax said:
while there is no doubt the huge contributions that African-Americans have and continue to make in jazz, there is probably a better way to say this than referring to them as "old black guys", don't you think?.....daryl
No.. You are missing the point. I'm not talking about famous musicians on some albums from the past. I'm talking about actual old (over sixty) black guys that I have seen play music at clubs, festivals and churches in over in the Delta Country. They know how to play jazz that everyone can relate to along with some really good blues too. Old white guys that listen to Hank Williams Sr. will often even tap their feet that say "Why don't the jazz they play on the radio sound like this?" Most of the music that makes it onto albums nowdays is not what the old guys play.

That.. is the idea I'm trying to convey.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,316 Posts
No, I don't think I'm missing the point. I'm disagreeing with the point. Playing music, jazz or otherwise, "that 'everyone' can relate to" has got nothing to do with being black, male, over 60, or from the Delta.

(Here we go again.)
 
1 - 20 of 83 Posts
Top