Meaning In Music

Friday, December 15, 2006

NYC has always seemed to me a place where a lot of very abstract music was made. By that I mean music such as serialism or the sound art of Cage. Why has so little significant political music come from the city?

Do you think sound without meaning (which might be thought of as apolitical music,) might be a part of the city’s culture, because its extreme social dichotomies are so volatile its dangerous to even address them? And what would political music be in a city seen by many to be the center of murderous forms of global capitalism – especially when it is exactly those corporations that fund the arts? Would political music be tolerated by America’s plutocratic system of arts funding? Maybe it's no wonder New York seems to favor music without meaning. Or does “meaningless” music actually mean quite a bit.

As for the new opera, are we looking to integrate world music into classical as a form of exotica, without really looking at issues such as genuine racial and cultural integration? We ironically present someone from China, while classical music is still whiter than snow in a city with 2 million African-Americans. We are very silent about those “meanings.” In fact, we smugly say music has no meaning.

By the way, has anyone noticed that the Met has now done 8 or 9 new works by men but none by women? What does that mean?

William Osborne