Sunday, March 8, 2009

Presented without comment

A letter to the editor of the American Organist, taking aim at every value I stand for: inaccessibility, charlatanism, and contempt for the audience!

The letter seems to me so obviously offensive that I can't help wonder if it's actually some sort of satirical parody. Tallying the many problems with its argument is left as an exercise to the reader.
My heartfelt thanks to Lothar Bandermann for his great letter regarding dissonant organ music. My definition of "dissonant" is music that I never want to hear again, and wish I had not heard the first time. I, too, have walked out of organ concerts because of "music" that is totally unpleasant to hear. I have a three-year-old grandson who can press on keys to make the organ do what some call music.
I love great organ music, and never tire of listening to great compositions. We all know what pleasant organ music is, and that is what the vast majority of listeners enjoy. If we can't wait for the piece to end, and can't tell if a wrong note is played, that is a perfect example of "dissonant." Would a non-musical person ever want to return to another organ program after listening to an organ concert where dissonant music is played? I think not. Just because a selection is written by a well-known composer doesn't mean it is good. Some is very unlistenable.
At our facility, we provide weekly pipe organ concerts in the summer, and I request that dissonant music not be played. That is the reason that we have an overflowing attendance at our programs. The listeners really like the music!
If we want to attract the average person to organ concerts, organists need to play what listeners like, not what the organist necessarily likes. If an organist wants to play dissonant selections, then he/she should do it in practice or at home where no one can hear.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what enjoyable music is. Let's get with the program and play wonderful, fulfilling music, and attract more listeners who will be glad they spent an hour or so at an organ concert!

8 comments:

Frank said...

What a great letter! I like it when things that are pretty obvious to the general music listener are expressed by scholars. The emperor has no clothes!

Osbert Parsley said...

I've edited my original post to make it more clear that I, in fact, disagree with the premise of this letter. I somehow doubt the writer is a "scholar" - you'd be trounced out of any serious academic debate for using the technical term "dissonance" to refer to music you dislike.

Andrew W. said...

I wonder if both that letter and your first commenter are satire...

MICHAEL MONROE said...

I think Andrew W. is being satirical. I also think Osbert probably wrote the letter to the editor, and probably the one by Lothar Bandermann as well. Oh, and Osbert probably is Frank too. He's created a whole series of strawmen, so that he can then bury them in dissonant prose. Or perhaps Lothar is the strawman, the letter writer is the tin-eared man, and Frank is cowardly lyin'. I just wish I had a cool name like Lothar Bandermann or Osbert Parsley.

Osbert Parsley said...

What I want to know is what all of you are doing leaving comments. The post is clearly titled "Presented without comment."

MICHAEL MONROE said...

no comment

Andrew W. said...

No, I wasn't being satirical at all. I genuinely wondered that. Well, maybe wonder is a strong word, even though it's the word I used in the comment.

Why is it so hard to be taken seriously in Internet comments? Man!

MICHAEL MONROE said...

My apologies, Andrew. I did take you seriously, but was lamely attempting to be satirical myself. I was just finding the satire-chain to be amusing and started free-associating. And Osbert, I didn't mean to insult by saying you were propping up strawmen - I'm sure you'd be the first to agree that the AO letter writer isn't the most articulate defender of his own cause.