To the audience of music 2


Gunnar Colding is a former professional cellist who for 25 years has been employed by chamber orchestras as well as symphony orchestras of Sweden. This is an exceptional article he wrote for us.

To the audience of music

There was recently given a concert in New York mainly consisting of works by Mozart. When a soprano afterwards would perform some songs by Webern (music soon a hundred years old but Atonal) the audience BOOED her out! OPUS, the leading musical magazine of Sweden, therefore put the question, why Swedes don’t boo at concerts.

The short answer is simple. They are brought up not to, and whoever violates the pattern therefore risks “making a fool of himself”. The longer answer is somewhat more complicated, but still logic to those who have the energy to look a little deeper into the crystal ball.

All avant-gardists who have advanced to some level live in some kind of symbiosis with the culture knowledgeables of the media. Together they form a hype and a trademark. This trademark is in most cases equivalent to the personal name of “the artist”. After a number of times in the limelight they are suddenly celebrities.

Then it’s especially important to remember, that this celebrity status has only been reached by “State sponsorship” and clever (culture) lobbyists who all pull in the same direction tonally. All this, however, has been done over the heads of the audience, which, at a first night, has no choice but to join in the collective ritual of applauses.

The only alternative would be to boo or to refuse to applaud, that is civil disobedience, which most people lack the civil courage to carry through in for instance a direct transmission. If the audience would be disinterested, it wouldn’t come to a first night at the town concert hall? Oh yes, it certainly would.

The programme committees always place the new work together with great acknowledged music on the same concert. So the audience gets force-fed in the same way as by water chlorination. The audience has no possibility to drop the newwritten piece by going home in advance, although they would want to. For then they would miss also the rest of the repertoire for which they bought an expensive subscription!

Certainly there are many who are curious about “novelties”, but how many would return, if the work is given a second or a third time, to a separate concert, without tickets paid for in advance? If in spite of all the audience would hear this novelty one more time, it would for sure be allocated by quotas by some State financed institution or commission, for instance the music radio channel, only acclaimed by the Modern Music Ghetto people themselves.

Just look at for instance the statistics of the radio Concerts by Request for the last 30 years. In this sole instance, where the audience decides the programme, yours truly can not recall one single Atonal work, although it must have occurred in later years, as a particular exception…

European and especially Swedish musical audiences have thus become reduced to a kind of “cattle voice”, the acclaim of which seldom marks the quality of a piece. The applauses have become more concerned about the celebrated soloist, conductor or symphony orchestra and their performances!

To complete the hypocrisy, all reviewers then write about “standing ovations” and “the critically acclaimed work” etc. etc. Do you think they ever disclose, that the “voluntary” demand in the record shops by the audience is completely absent? All contemporary known composers have lobbyists and pushers everywhere in every single musical institution. Together with the media they constitute today a formidably heavy group.

They have succeeded in the trick of forcing commissioners to also view the matter as an issue of equality between Atonal and Tonal music! At the same time the audience is indirectly accused of being rigid and to have prejudices that have to be broken. So, all natural processes of selection have been eliminated, just like they are in the world of the wars between the sexes by quota allocation.

By this system and evolutionary science, nothing will then be created fit for life. Men and women do have most in common in their constitution and are therefore of equal value as human beings. This is so to say scientifically proved. But it is equally scientifically proved, that the language of the Atonal music has nothing in common with its Tonal counterpart!

Atonal music lacks a grammar understandable to the ear. Therefore everything sounds like undefinable dissonances with no possibility of memorization. Tonal music (pop and classical) on the other hand has a very well defined grammar consisting of major and minor keys, which can be perceived by anyone except the deaf.

In that kind of music both consonance and dissonance are intermixed according to an accepted grammar. In a study from ”Brain – A Journal of Neurology” the researchers even arrived at the conclusion that only brain-damaged people could have preferences for music mainly consisting of dissonances.

Contrary to what avant-gardists with interpretation monopolies advocate, the Tonal music language is neither culturally nor socially determined. Preferences to Tonal music have, hark well, a purely biological explanation in the brain.

This has been easily proved by studies in babies and animals, after which a highly merited fundamental researcher in psychology (Diana Deutsch, USA) proved already in 1983, that not even normal, grown-up musicians’ brains could ”process” Atonal music.

Therefore I hereby nominate the modern “Atonal sect” to one of the most arrogant groups ever within culture.

All necessary research, analysis and background to these claims are presented in the book “Reverse Polka, or, Cheated of the Music”. (Yet only published in Sweden: “Baklängespolkan går eller Blåst på musiken”)

The painful thing is, that even without pressure groups, the works of the dead Tonal composers remain a hundredfold more alive than the works of their modern “colleagues”.
Classical music has only diverse “Societies” that run a sort of internal activity of meeting and sharing mutual interests.

That music has no other “pushers” than Unorganized private consumers without “votes”, commonly called the audience. My question to the modern State quota people: For whose benefit are you working? For the benefit of the audience or for the benefit of all potentially unemployed “composers”? I already know the answer. You only work by instructions “from above” as they vaguely call it…

Leave a Comment:
  • Rod 21 March, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Very interesting article!
    Indeed Schoenberg himself considered that his music should be called “pantonal” (all keys) rather than “atonal”.

    But in my personal taste I think that music is defined as “the balance between creating tension and release”.

    It’s the use of dissonance and consonance, and the balance between these two factors what creates enjoyable music. Music without too much dissonance will sound clashing, disturbing and hard to listen with no logic at all. While music with no dissonance at all and no tension whatsoever (from the different forms of creating tension that exist: harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, change dynamics, etc), will result in un-disturbing but boring music.

    The ear is seeking the resolution of the tension produced. And Tonal music provides that.

    I think that enjoyable music is the one that finds the balance between these, too as most “dead Tonal composers” have found, and many modern tonal-composers do. Relief, an increase in tension, more tension, and a final state of release- and there you have a typical musical phrase.

    Indeed there is also strong physics foundation for Tonal Music, the function of the degrees of the scale are in many ways related to the harmonic series a note produces when it’s played. The fifth of a scale is the “dominant” for a reason, which is indeed related to the physics of sound. That is why probably Tonal music sounds ‘logical’ or naturally attractive to most listeners.

    So indeed, I thoughtfully agree the language of the Atonal music has nothing in common with its Tonal counterpart.

    Still, I think that it is good that musicians research other directions and expand the theories about music.
    However, should other musicians follow or not, that’s a different question.

    Thanks for a great article!

  • Gunnar Colding 22 March, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Rod commented:
    “Schoenberg himself considered that his music should be called “pantonal” (all keys) rather than “atonal”.”

    Well, maybe Schoenberg didn´t know, that if you blend all colours in one bottle, there will be no colour at all… BUT, he indeed should have been able to hear this perfectly when same thing was done to music!

    Any way, the audience noticed it, and yet composers ignored it, why? Because now anyone could become a composer, and no one could hear if the music was good or bad. All you could hear was sound and mostly very dissonant sound… Like writing a book whith lots of words without proper grammer. You can then publish a book without any skills in language at all… Yes, this parallel is scientificly proved. It´s not only philosofical!

    Who could possibly belive in a random coinsidence, when this happens right in time for the big change of sponsorship of composers? Since the second world war for instance, State has payed for it hundred percent. Here in Sweden you even had to compose ATONAL to become a student at Royal Academy of Music! And this is still the case…

    Today you actually don´t compose at all, now you only put together different sounds and become a sound designer/artist. No problems with me, as long as you call it what it is, and it stays where it should. That means in film/data industry… But calling it a symphony or piano concerto and have a philharmonic orchestra to perform it, should quallify for hospital care…

    Yes we had in Europe some authers writing books and theater plays, while hardly could they be rankt as having normal healthy status, but did the audience stand up and “applaud” collectivly time after time when published all over the world? No they almost never did, no one mentioned and no one forgotten as we say in Sweden…

    Rod said:
    “Relief, an increase in tension, more tension, and a final state of release- and there you have a typical musical phrase”.

    So, be it sex or music, body or soul, the laws of nature don´t seem to make any difference of the two dimensions in life…

    Greetings,
    Gunnar Colding

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