Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


© Basil Tschaikov 2006
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Popular music, the music played for dancing, heard in musicals, listened to on records and later on the radio, continued to be ‘dance music’, really a form of commercialised jazz. The jazz big band/swing era is generally considered to have begun in 1935, when Benny Goodman’s band played jazz in Los Angeles to a large enthusiastic crowd of dancers. The best of the big and swing bands in Britain and America dominated the record charts and air-waves and were also very successful on stage and when touring. Through the 1930s and 40s the Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Glen Miller, Stan Kenton, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey bands and a number of others were all tremendously popular. In the 1940s, with the beginning of bebop and then free jazz and jazz-rock, jazz, which had been primarily music for dancing, started to be listened to by an increasing number of musicians and their audience as an art form, music for its own sake. 1947 saw the beginning of the end for the big bands. Though Goodman, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and others were unable to continue to be full-time bands, they did re-assemble from time to time. Big band/swing music continued to be popular in Britain much later with Ted Heath, Lew Stone and several other bands continuing well into the 1960s – John Dankworth has continued recording and at the end of 2005 he received a knighthood, the first time a jazz musician has received this honour.

As popular as the bands were their vocalists. Most of the singers, to begin with often called ‘crooners’, started in one or other of the successful bands. From Bing Crosby onwards the best of them tended to leave the bands and create a career for themselves as solo artists. Generally they continued to be successful for much longer than the bands did. The very best of them were outstanding artists to be compared, in my opinion, with the finest lieder singers. If one listens carefully to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole and, nearer our own time Tony Bennett, one can hear subtlety of phrasing, articulation and colouring of the finest quality. Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee seem to me particularly outstanding. Their interpretation of the words often disguises their banality and their use of dynamics, emphasis and artful changes of crescendo, diminuendo and timbre could serve as a lesson for singers and instrumentalists. I quite recently heard a very fine recording of a song by Hugo Wolf, one of the greatest of the lieder composers, without knowing who was singing: I was astounded to find it was Barbra Streisand.

I was born in 1925, three years after the Marconi Company had set up the British Broadcasting Company in May 1922, and so radio has played a very important part in my life. It has given me both the opportunity to learn from hearing performances by great artists in all fields of music and endless hours of pleasure. And by providing well-paid employment for my father it allowed me to have a comfortable middle-class childhood. The Marconi Company having recognised the commercial possibilities of broadcasting brought together a consortium of radio manufacturers with the aim of establishing radio stations around the country. In 1922 a new company, the British Broadcasting Company, was established with a radio station and studio, 2LO – this was its calling signal – in Marconi House in the Strand, London. From the start the government had been opposed to this scheme but later that year it decided to grant the company a licence to operate. Funding for the programmes was to be provided by a tax collected from the sale of wireless sets and an annual listener’s licence fee of ten shillings (50p). The following year the number of licences had risen to 500.000 and the studio moved from Marconi House to Savoy Hill, also in the Strand. When at the end of 1926 the British Broadcasting Company licence expired a government committee decided that the Company should be replaced by a public authority and in 1927 the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, was created.

Broadcasting, which had started in America in 1920, had already become extremely popular by 1922 when it commenced in Britain. To begin with there were crystal sets that relied on a ‘cats whisker’ to find the right spot on the crystal for the station one wanted, but it was not long before sets with valves and an accumulator ( an acid-lead battery) became available. I remember going with my father, it was probably 1931 or 1932, to the radio shop or garage to get the battery recharged, and then a day or two later a boy from the shop would usually bring it back. By then my father was in the BBC Symphony Orchestra but he used to tell me about his experience of broadcasting in the old 2LO days. In 1923 the station formed an orchestra on a part-time basis in which a number of the players who were later to join the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1930 as principals played – Sidonie Goossens (harp), Eugene Cruft (double bass) and Frederick Thurston (clarinet) for whom my father used to deputise. Then in 1927 the Wireless Military Band was created with B. Walton O’Donnell as conductor and my father as Solo Clarinet (the equivalent of leader of an orchestra), until he joined Thurston in the BBC Symphony Orchestra as co-principal in 1930. This was a remarkable band and had its own arranger, Gerrard Williams. The programme for their first broadcast gives some idea of the diversity of their repertoire: the March from the Crown of India suite by Elgar, the second and third movements from Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony, A Folk Song Suite by Vaughan Williams, a selection from the opera Cinq Mars by Gounod, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and the Symphonic Poem Le Rouet d’Omphale by Saint-Saens. A number of pieces were especially written for the band including those by Gustav Holst and Vaughan Williams.

Under Sir John Reith’s direction the BBC music programmes were generally of a rather serious nature – perhaps rather too serious for a good many listeners. Until the end of1925 the only dance bands that broadcast from outside the BBC studios were the bands at the Savoy Hotel which broadcast three times a week. From then onwards more and more of the bands in other hotels and clubs were broadcast – those at the Piccadilly and Carlton hotels, the Kit-Cat and Embassy clubs. Jack Payne’s first broadcast was from the Hotel Cecil in 1925 and then in 1928 he was appointed BBC Director of Dance Music and his orchestra became the BBC Dance Orchestra with the signature tune ‘Say it with Music’. When he left the BBC his place was taken in 1932 by Henry Hall who had first broadcast in 1924 from the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. His signature tune was ‘Here’s to the Next Time’. From then on until the 1950s all the best British bands broadcast regularly: Roy Fox, Harry Roy, Carroll Gibbons, Jack Hylton, Lew Stone, Billy Cotton, Geraldo and Ted Heath, either from the venue they were performing at or in the BBC’s studios.

In the mid-1950s popular music underwent yet another major change of direction. The era of the immense popularity of the American and British dance and swing bands throughout the 1930s and 40s was starting to come to an end. However, for Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Connie Francis, Doris Day and Pat Boone – in the late 1950s second in popularity only to Elvis Presley – Perry Como, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Tony Bennett and so many others, there continued to be a considerable following.

What was to become a full-blown cultural revolution that would affect audiences and musicians alike all over the world was the arrival of pop music. Pop aims to appeal to as many people as possible and is essentially conservative. It is commercial music professionally produced and packaged by the record companies, radio programmers and concert promoters and central to the ‘music industry’. To be most profitable it is necessary for there to be a constant series of entries into the ‘Top 10’ creating million selling hits. It is unusual for a singles hit to remain in the Top 10 for more than six weeks. But there have been exceptions: Cliff Richard and the Beatles have each sold at least 21 million and several others have sold over 10 million. Albums sell in even greater numbers: 5 are listed as having sold more than 40 million, many artists have sold 20 and 30 million and nearly sixty have sold 15 million. The record is held by the Beatles who are reputed to have sold over 500 million.

By the mid-1960s the ascent of rock, which had already begun some years earlier, was in full swing. In the 1940s there was already rhythm and blues and rockabilly to be followed in 1955 by Rock and Roll, now nearly always written rock ‘n’ roll. The recordings Rock Around the Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll made in America in the 1950s by Bill Haley and the Comets, were massive hits which led to this group being the first to tour Britain. Chuck Berry (Roll over Beethoven), the pianist Fats Domino with Whole Lotta Loving, and Elvis Presley, the best-selling singer of them all with a string of successful records: Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog and many more paved the way in Britain for Lonnie Donegan, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury and above all the Beatles. From then on pop and rock music and other genres of popular music – ska, reggae, disco, heavy metal, rap, hip hop, R&B, techno, dance, punk and many more, including ‘underground’ and electronic music of various kinds – became dominant, with new groups and artists each seeking to identify themselves with their individual style of music and performance.

Often the visual element at concerts and on videos seems to have become as important as the music itself. Those attending rock concerts do not have to sit or stand silent and undemonstrative. Nor do they risk censure from those around them if they move in response to the music or show visible emotion, hum along with a tune or tap their foot in time to the rhythm. In fact they are encouraged by the often exaggerated gestures and movements of the artists on stage to be active participants in the event. Swaying, waving their arms in the air, singing along, shouting and cheering. This is very different to the way those attending any kind of classical music concert behave. A silent, more reverential posture is normal and movement of any kind or a whispered word to one’s companion quickly attracts frowns and ‘shushing’.

Whilst I was in the profession from the mid-1940s I frequently took part in sessions alongside musicians who did not play in symphony orchestras and even played with the Beatles on their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. To begin with, backing for the groups was supplied by free-lance orchestral musicians and from the late 50s this provided very lucrative employment for a fair number. But by the 1980s the groups playing pop music infrequently used any orchestral musicians and this led to many of those session musicians who would not have considered playing in a theatre becoming only too glad to find some fairly regular employment playing for the increasing number of musicals that were now successful.

The opera singers and solo instrumentalists who wished to follow the famous artists of the past and perform popular music had found from the 1940s that they had increasingly to draw on compositions by jazz influenced composers such as Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers. The use of microphones by popular singers and the different vocal technique this required presented problems for an opera singer accustomed to singing in large opera houses and projecting their voice and emotions. Very few have been really successful: as a rule they have lacked the right vocal quality or diction and the correct feel for the rhythm. A notable recent exception is Bryn Terfel, a wonderful operatic baritone who miraculously seems to be able to combine singing the major Wagner roles in the principal opera houses around the world and recording popular melodies.

World Music

As early as 1898 the Gramophone Company and a few years later Odeon started sending engineers to almost every country in the world to record the local folk music. Their motivation was to sell as many gramophones as possible. Essentially they wanted to sell their machines into the domestic markets everywhere they could. For most of the early companies, the manufacture of records themselves was not the first consideration, but was found necessary in order to maximise the sale of the machines. A great many recordings were made in each country because it was thought that the availability of recordings of their own music – relatively cheap to produce – would create new markets and increase the sale of gramophones. These recordings were not made to preserve the local folk music and there was seldom any attempt to ‘Europeanise’ the performances or issue them outside the country of their origin. However, they did create an enormous volume of recordings of ethnic music of which most of us are entirely ignorant.

In 1966 David Lewiston, who had been a student at Trinity College of Music in London but was then living in New York, decided to take off and start recording the ethnic music of peoples in the then still more remote parts of the world. He was not an ethnomusicologist nor an academic and was, it seems, motivated solely by his interest and delight in all the new musics he discovered. The first of these recordings of the Nonesuch Explorer Series was released on vinyl in 1967. Over the next twenty years more of his recordings were issued. One of the records containing excerpts of Bulgarian songs, Javanese Court Gamelan and Japanese shakuhachi, was sent into space by NASA on a Voyager spacecraft in 1977 with a message attached from the then US President Jimmy Carter: This is a present from a small distant world. This record represents our hope, our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.

It was not until The World of Music and Dance (WOMAD) was conceived in 1980, inspired to begin with by pure enthusiasm for non-western music, that people in the West other than ethnomusicologists and those who had bought the records made by David Lewiston became aware that there were so many other very different musical languages. It was often said ‘music is a universal language’. But, to anyone accustomed only to what we in the West call music the music of the Sámi people, the music of the Australian Aborigine or the Noh theatre music of Japan, nohgaku and many other musics will sound as strange and as incomprehensible as their spoken languages.

My own introduction to world music had by chance occurred long before 1980. While I was a member of the Musicians’ Union Executive Committee one of the benefits of attending the often very boring meetings of the committee was that from 1967, when it was first published, I received at each meeting a copy of the International Music Council (UNESCO) quarterly journal The World of Music. Through reading the articles in The World of Music I became acquainted with music I knew very little about and a great deal I had never even heard of: the music of the Orient, Africa, Japan, Islam, Turkish classical music, the Gamelan music of Bali, to mention only a few. I found that I enjoyed the sound of Chinese, Indian and Gamelan music though I understood nothing of the cultures they came out of.

At just about the same time I started reading about the music of other cultures I had the opportunity to attend a performance of the Japanese Noh theatre given by a visiting Noh company from Japan. This was my first experience of hearing music that was completely foreign to my ears: it was a unique experience. The Noh plays, mostly written six hundred years ago, still attract large audiences in Japan today. In fact there has been something of a revival in recent years and for the first time female actors have taken part in what has always been a wholly male preserve. The actors wear elaborate costumes and masks to identify whether the character they are portraying is male or female, a ghost or a demon, and all their movements are highly stylised. A remarkable element of the masks is that they are constructed so that as the actor tilts his head backward or forward the facial expression can change from fierce to smiling, happy or sad.

The performance is accompanied by music played usually by four musicians and a small chorus. The musicians, who are also elaborately costumed, sit on one side of the stage and remain very still except when they are playing. Their instruments are the nohkan – a flute which makes strange whistling sounds, varied according to events and characters in the play and three types of drums: the Ko-tsuzumi, a small drum held at the shoulder, the O-tsuzumoi, which is larger and held on the left hip, and the Taiko, a large drum placed on the floor and beaten with two thick sticks. The smaller drums are played with the finger tips. At various times the drummers shout out what are called kakegoe, calls that are signals between the drummers and between the drummers and the singers.

The musicians sit motionless with their hands tucked into the wide sleeves of their costume and each time music is required, with one accord and without any obvious sign having been given, assume a playing position and start to play. The music is a combination of eerie whistles on the nohkan, different each time, and drumming, interspersed by the kakegoe calls from the drummers and a hishigi, which is a very sharp tone – the highest note the nohkan can produce. If these musicians had been giving a recital at the Wigmore Hall wearing traditional evening dress and had created a similar ‘soundscape’ even those who enjoy the most avant-garde music would find more than a few minutes of this music hard to take.

The first WOMAD festival, held in England in 1982, and subsequent festivals played a big part in increasing the demand for recordings of non-western music. WOMAD’s aim was ‘to excite, to inform, and to create awareness of the worth and potential of a multicultural society and to celebrate the many forms of music, arts and dance of countries and cultures all over the world.’ A few years later those record companies that were issuing Indian, African, Latin American music and the music of many other countries decided that it would be much easier for customers at music and record shops to find all these recordings if they were put on one rack under the general heading ‘World Music’. By 1994 these recordings and the world music festivals held around the world had become so popular that a Rough Guide to World Music was published. The Guide includes virtually every music culture, national, regional and local and provides details of commercial recordings (now available in various formats) of the traditional and contemporary music of the people living in places as remote as the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, Bioko (formerly FernandoPo) a tiny island off the coast of Cameroon, and the nomadic horsemen of Outer Mongolia in central Asia.

The World of Music was published by UNESCO in association with the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation and was in fact intended essentially for those concerned with ethnomusicology. Thomas Edison’s invention in 1877 of the phonograph enabled ethnomusicologists to listen to repeated hearings of the on-site folk music recordings they had made. A few years later Alexander Ellis devised a way to divide the octave into 1200 equal parts, which he called cents. This allowed a proper recognition of the many non-western scales and an understanding of music that used other tonal systems than the diatonic scales. They came to realise that the Western system was not superior, only different.

At the beginning of the 20th century Cecil Sharp, Percy Grainger, Béla Bartók and Zoltan Kodály were all recording folk musicians in Europe and elsewhere. Many scholars were also busy recording folk music all over the world. The earliest recordings of the music of the many Native-American Indian tribes, had been made in the USA in the 1890s by Jesse Fewkes. None of these recordings nor the folk music recordings reviewed in The World of Music in the late 1960s and during the 1970s were intended for commercial distribution. It is clear from the reviews of the music being studied at that time that the sound quality of some of the early recordings was not very good.

But while the ethnomusicologists were concerned with understanding the music of cultures other than those of their own western tradition, those who have been attracted to World Music have enjoyed it for its own sake because, as Beecham put it in another context, ‘they like the noise it makes’. The record companies quickly realised that here was another music for which there was an ever growing audience. The 1994 edition of the Rough Guide to World Music has 697 pages and is a treasure-trove of information with articles about hundreds of different musics and details of recording that are now available for each of them. Because of the expanding reach of the recording machine it now has to be published in two volumes. If I were obliged to choose one book to have if I were left marooned on a desert island it would be the one volume Rough Guide to World Music.

The arrival of the pocket-sized transistor radio in the mid 1950s, and to an even greater extent since 1979 the availability of the Walkman portable transistor cassette tape player have, in the same way as Coco-Cola, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, played their part in creating what is now a ‘borderless’ world’. In effect the world’s musics have become borderless – they have all been thrown into the melting pot. Of course, there are still groups of aficionados who continue to love and protect their own music and maintain it in as pristine a condition as possible. Lovers of western classical music are one of them, probably the largest. To say, as it frequently was little more than 25 years ago that ‘music is a universal language’, was not true; now, to a great extent, it is.

The phrase crossover in music seems to have come into use first in the 1960s and 70s, in the first place mainly as a marketing tool. As music became increasingly commercialised – became an industry – the record companies were constantly seeking to extend and increase their sales. One way was by appealing to more than one audience. By combining country (or country and western) music with elements of pop the multimillion-dollar music industry centred in Nashville created a music attractive to a much larger audience. Another early form of crossover in the 1960s was jazz-rock. Soon there were so many styles and types of crossover that the process becomes very difficult to follow. Before long the Top 40 charts were full of recordings by crossover artists, and albums – the aim being to get into the Top10.

As a result of the crossover phenomenon there is scarcely any music that has not been affected by crossover or fusion. The classical music of India, China, Japan and Europe and other cultures, folk music and jazz, have all been increasingly influenced and in some cases virtually supplanted by rock and pop. Indigenous musics that had flourished for hundreds of years now only have a specialised audience of enthusiasts. The most recent to feel the effect of crossover has been western classical music. We now have classical crossover music, crossover artists, crossover albums.

On recordings of the music of three relatively small local communities one can listen to their music, unknown outside their own community until recently, as played and sung before and after the effect of crossover and fusion. Good examples of what has happened everywhere are the Celtic music of Ireland, the music of the Sámi people, who live in ‘Lapland’ a region in the most northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and the Australian Aborigines, each with very different musics and each belonging to a minority community.

To hear how great a change has taken place in the performance of Celtic traditional music in little more than fifty years first listen to the classic recordings made by Johnny Doran, the great player of the uillean pipes and Michael Coleman the Sligo fiddler made in the first part of the 20th century. Then to the music of the Pogues, one of the most successful of the Irish folk rock bands of the 1980s and 90s, who combined Irish folk with Latin and Balkan rhythms, or the Moving Hearts, a band which included in its line-up such diverse instruments as guitar and bodhran (the large Irish frame drum), bouzouki (the long-necked lute from Greece), the Irish bellows-blown uilleann pipes, alto sax and bass.

The music of the Sámi people who are nomadic and number in all only about 45,000/50,000, is a good example of what can happen to a local music with an extremely long tradition. The most important element in Sámi music is the joik or yoik, an improvised style of singing, sometimes accompanied by a drum and fadnu (the Sámi flute). The joik songs often illustrate the close relationship the Sámi people have with their environment. There are very few recordings of the genuine Sámi joik. There are two or three commercial recordings, the British Library Sound Archive has seven field recordings made in 1997, but by far the best opportunity to hear this rare music sung is on the Internet at The Sámi of Far Northern Europe. On the web site Sáme.etnam one can hear a short clip of the Sámi flute, the fadnu.

However, there are now a great many crossover and fusion recordings of this music. Most well known and popular is Mari Boine who, like the Pogues and so many others has combined her own native music instruments and style with those of other cultures: jazz, rock, joik – the traditional Sámi chant. Her band will at times include bass, keyboards and guitars, Sámi and African drums, Indian flutes, the Peruvian charango (a small guitar) and the Arabic fiddle. In the past the Sámi, or Lapps have been discriminated against and made to feel worthless. When Mari Boine, an ardent protester, was asked to perform at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer she refused because she felt she was just being used as an exotic decoration. In fact, another Sámi artist, Nils-Aslak Valkiapää, from Finland did accept and his performance is included on an album on which he is accompanied by keyboards, saxophone and flutes.

The traditional music and culture of the Australian Aborigines is so different from our own that it is difficult to take in just how dramatic a change has taken place in the last thirty years. Ever since the European settlers arrived in the late 1800s the Aborigines have suffered dispossession of their land and the suppression of their language and culture, which is at least 40,000 years old and believed to be the oldest still extant. In the 1900s separation from the White man and from their own Aboriginal culture was official government policy, even to the extent in the 1930s of separating them from their children. To understand how great the change that has taken place has been it is necessary to know something of their past.

To the Australian aborigines (‘the people who were here from the beginning’), music was an integral part of everyday life and a unifying force in their culture. Aboriginal mythology recalls a time in the remote past in the Dreamtime, when totemic spirits wandered all over the continent singing the names of birds, animals, plants and the things around them. These songs brought the world into existence and the totemic spirits left emblems across the continent. The paths between them are called songline. The music is very rhythmic with a lot of hand clapping, body slapping, stamping and clapping bilma (ironwood clapsticks) or boomerangs. The only ‘instruments’ were the digeridoo (digeridu) or yadaki, a hollowed out branch of a tree, blown at one end and unique to the Aborigines, a ‘bull-roarer’ (there is no translation for the Aboriginal instrument, a slat of wood whirled around on the end of a piece of cord) and the gum-leaf, which was blown in rather the same way as children blow a piece of grass held between the thumbs.

The effect. of separating the Aborigines from their own culture allowed their music to be supplanted by western pop and rock.. An important development for them was the establishment of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1964, where there is an extensive archive of recordings of indigenous Aboriginal music collected over the last hundred years. Some of these recordings and a few genuine performances of traditional music are available commercially.

From the end of the 1960s and increasingly in the 1970s when the Aborigines increased their campaign for indigenous land rights and as some of them became aware of their music heritage it became a vehicle for social protest. By the mid-1980s very many Aboriginal rock bands had been formed and were playing all over the country with politics always a part of their music. There are now a considerable number of commercial recordings. Formed in 1986 Yothu Yindi’s pop success came as a surprise and helped bring many Aboriginal issues into mainstream Australian affairs. Other popular Aboriginal music bands have been the Desert Oaks Band, the Warumpi Band, Blackstorm, and Archie Roach (voice and guitar). As well as traditional Aboriginal instruments bands now frequently include synthesiser, a number of western percussion and other instruments.

The folk music of other much larger communities have all become part of mainstream popular music, in particular reggae from Jamaica, the hillbilly music from the Appalachian mountains, that became bluegrass and country and western, and the many offshoots and combinations of music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia and other south American countries that, mixed with big-band jazz, we call Latin American. All these musics had in the beginning helped primitive man alleviate the weariness and tedium of manual labour, prepare warriors to face their enemies in battle, placate the gods and give thanks for a good harvest. Most religions have always recognised the importance of communal participation and have given their congregations an opportunity to take part, with chanting and hymn-singing as an aid to escape from themselves and the real world and enter into another more spiritual state of mind.

Folk music, for many hundreds of years – in some cases thousands of years – remained the only popular music with characteristics that until recent times distinguished it from professional musical performance in that it allows ordinary people a form of self-expression and in some way involves their participation, with singing, hand clapping, dancing, singing or playing an instrument.

As a result of increasing industrialisation, first in Britain around 1850 and before long in the USA and Europe, large numbers of the rural population migrated to the towns and cities. During the first half of the 20th century this was to occur throughout the rest of the world. Urban life allowed more leisure time and provided new more sophisticated forms of entertainment. In a different environment and away from their former cultural roots it was in the Music Halls in particular that the recently created industrial working class first heard a new kind of popular song. The artist would sing a couple of verses and choruses and then encourage the audience to join in singing the chorus with them. With their easily learned catchy melodies they soon became extremely popular and within a short time had replaced the old folk tunes in their affection. It was not long before increasing affluence enabled working class families to acquire a cheap piano and purchase sheet music copies of the most popular of the songs they heard at the music hall and the bandstand. This was the first step towards an increasing commercialisation of music.

Earlier I described how the ability to record music has resulted in performers losing some control over their own performances, and how it has reduced employment opportunities for orchestral musicians; the effect it has had on audiences and their expectations, and on the actual style of musical performance itself. But above all recording made it possible for a performance to become a commercial object, something that can be bought and sold – and that can become an extremely valuable commodity. As well as the quality of both the recordings and playback equipment reaching a very high standard it has become easy to hold extremely large amounts of music on one artefact.

Wherever you go there is music of some kind. It is now difficult to avoid. It accompanies virtually every TV and radio advert and is very frequently played constantly in super markets, shops and restaurants. Mobile phones use a snatch of music – Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, the Beatles or the latest pop hit. Music is also increasingly being used in news bulletins to raise the tension (in a similar way to how it is used in films) as background when conflict of any kind is being reported. Even so it seems that many of us cannot get enough music. We choose to listen to it on our own a great deal of the time, at home, either on CDs, the radio, TV or on the Internet, and now frequently on mp3s and iPods when we are on the move – walking about, or on public transport, and even when at work.. There is one major difference in that this vast amount of music is ingested without any participation on the listener’s part – it is an entirely passive experience. Yet the many millions who have been listening to the pop and rock related music on CDs and radios, or, more recently, downloaded it from the Internet and other sources – legally or otherwise – still flock in their tens of thousands to concerts where they can see and hear their favourite performers and to a limited extent participate in the event. Perhaps this is also why the Proms continues to attract such large audiences each year, even to those concerts that include contemporary music that as a rule drives audiences away.

Chapter 26

 

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