Thursday, November 14, 2013

Listening to New Music Is Like Loving a Platypus

Sometimes, classical music lovers (especially those of a certain age) fear that in an attempt to gain attention and win over "the masses" young composers will concede to the comparatively "vapid" style of pop music and in effect water down their compositions. And apparently a certain duck-billed animal attacked singer Billy Joel leading to Green Day's Platypus (I Hate You).  The reputations of both are hampered by misunderstanding and blind mockery, and every defender thinks they have a solution. But there's something we can learn from Perry, and that's this:

Make me beautiful. 

Be a platypus.

Yes! There's no shame in being a platypus with a fedora even if people question your existence as a joke love child of a duck and beaver, and there's nothing wrong with playing new music that people don't get right away or ever. And present fans need not worry because like Perry, new music has its diehard the Platypus Ensemble.

The Platypus Ensemble is a real group. And no, they are not Phinneas and Ferb fans out to rid the world of evil geniuses--or rather the many contraptions of one particular evil genius--but their mission is just as admirable. Formed back in 2009, they play and commision new music by composers from around the world. Their music is not "easy" nor does it have "commercial appeal".

So, how does one listen to their music? First, let me just say classical music always required a lot of attention. I love Bruch's G Minor Violin Concerto, but if I didn't pay attention to the themes or if I ignored the transitions or *gasp* the cadenzas, even that wouldn't have been interesting. New classical music is no different, it's only that our attention has to be directed to where its beauty lies. Historically, that was largely through modal mixture, but in contemporary classical music (specifically the kind performed by PE) it's through tonal texture. How those musical elements meet creates its charm. And charm only takes effect after being exposed to it for a while. 

A hypochondriac's nightmare.

And so I give you Hardbeat by Leah Muir, which is centers around the experience of chest pain. (Lovely, right?!) The textures, words, and arrhythmic beat create a feeling of anxiety. Their video (below) also plays into the sense of mortality with its imagery of EKG scans, human hearts, and the use of fading in and out of scenes.  Brought to you by the Platypus Ensemble.


Post a Comment