Friday, January 11, 2008

Rule Zero

Thanks to Jason Heath for directing me to Seth Godin's remark(et)able blog. In this post about the music business Godin really shows us the difference between commercial music and what we don't like to call "classical music."
Rule 0. The new thing is never as good as the old thing, at least right now. Soon, the new thing will be better than the old thing will be. But if you wait until then, it’s going to be too late. Feel free to wax nostalgic about the old thing, but don’t fool yourself into believing it’s going to be here forever. It won’t.
There some wisdom to Rule Zero, but it is important to remember that Godin is not concerned with the music itself, just the market for music. In "classical music" the "new thing" (at its best) will never surpass the old because the "new thing" is just as important a measure of musical creativity and is as much a tonal "photograph" (or should it be "phonograph?) of current times as Bach's music or Josquin's music, or Haydn's music or Bartok's music was a response to the times they lived in. I believe that exposing ourselves to Beethoven's musical mind (as an example of music at its best) we tap onto something that is still challenging in the present time, whenever in history that present time happens to take place.


Lee said...

I can't help but agree with you and am always quoting Edward Hoagland in this context: 'Genius in the arts is not eclipsed, as it is in science, because artists do not investigate fixed phenomena, but bear witness.' However, there are those who argue that it's impossible to separate art from the market in its various forms throughout history.

Elaine Fine said...

Thanks for the Hoagland quote, Lee. Great art, in my opinion, is, and has always been, worth far more than money. You can put a real price on a piece of art (in all its forms) in much the same way you can put a price on love.

But artists (and musicians and writers) still need to eat, so I suppose that it is necessary to take into account the omnipresence of the market.