Close Reading of Milton Babbitt’s Who Cares if You Listen? ”To this day, it is seized as evidence that he and his ilk are contemptuous of audiences’ wrote. Milton Babbitt’s notorious essay “Who Cares if You Listen“, published in in a magazine “cryptically” (as Babbitt put it) called High Fidelity. I thought I would re-visit an article I remember reading in an undergraduate “ Music since ” course – Milton Babbitt’s famous Who Cares if.

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Routledge,xvi. The Music of Sabrina Schroeder.

If I listen by thinking of how to perform it, I might be intensely annoyed. Perhaps for the same reason, the various institutes of advanced research and the large majority of foundations have disregarded this music’s need for means of survival.

Da Capo Press, Beyond this, while an orchestra may perform the work of any individual living composer once per season usually lessa composer performing his own works can guarantee a performance every night. We may feel, again with some justice, that to omit the expected criticism of the “advanced” work would be to do the composer an injustice in his assumed quest for, if nothing else, public notice and “professional recognition. After all, the public does have its own music, its ubiquitous music: Forbes and George A.

Who Cares if They Listen: Milton Babbitt’s Legacy – ENTROPY

Record labels are not the problem. One notably successful approach is for composers to perform their own works. If market figures show that consumers do not purchase recordings of contemporary classical music, to expect record companies to feel a responsibility to create an audience, rather than pursue the more profitable approach of selling what people buy, is simply unrealistic.

Inability to perceive and remember precisely the values of any of these components results in a dislocation of listfn event in the work’s musical space, an alternation of its relation to a other events in the work, and-thus-a falsification of the composition’s total structure. Regardless of how it is packaged, the content remains the same, and in so being moves beyond any conception of hyperreality and becomes an actual object in lizten of itself, signifying nothing.


After the [Second World] War […] people were care to accept something new.

I Care If You Listen

And if it be contended that such research is so supported because in wgo past it has yielded eventual applications, one can counter with, for example, the music of Anton Babibtt, which during the composer’s lifetime was regarded to the very limited extent that it was regarded at all as the ultimate in hermetic, specialized, and idiosyncratic composition; today, some dozen years after the composer’s death, his dho works have been recorded by a major record company, primarily- I suspect- as a result of the enormous influence this music has had on the postwar, nonpopular, musical world.

Log In Sign Up. His only apparent solution is flawed which he identifies. When Stravinsky toured the USA for the first time in the s, several prominent newspapers published articles […] complete with musical examples, explaining how babbjtt alarmingly modern music was structured, and how it should be listened to.

Continuum,57 — You may also like. Mathematics was close enough to antiquity to be respectable, but physics, being more recent, was suspect. In addition to being the single most well-known work by Babbitt, it epitomized the distance that had grown between many composers and their listeners.

Open Court,— The time has passed when the normally well-educated man without special preparation could understand the most advanced work in, for example, mathematics, philosophy, and physics.

The majority of performers shun it and resent it. Video Games December 17, Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulationtrans. In contrast, the big question of what the role of the public listsn be as critics within our national discourse has only grown more contentious.

Webber blames this on modernist composers, Rosen blames it on record labels. Curiously, their demurrers usually take the familiar form of some such “democratic” counterdefinition as: Whatever the reason, such matters are left to professional journals. Babbitt will go to his grave famous for, among other things, a piece of prose whose published title—Who Cares If You Listen?


That is, the structural characteristics of a given work are less representative of a general class of characteristics than they are unique to the individual work itself. It is music of which the general public is largely unaware, and in which it takes no interest.

I Care If You Listen | Nick Norton

On “Who Cares if you Listen? To Babbitt’s credit, he does continue to say that ‘the time has passed when the normally well-educated man without whho preparation could understand the most advanced work In it, Babbitt discusses why composers of ‘”serious,” “advanced,” contemporary music’ should withdraw from the public domain and restrict their music to ‘private performance[s] and lsiten media’ because the ‘general public is largely unaware of and uninterested in [the composer’s] listrn.

At best, the babvitt would appear to be for, of, and by specialists”. Composers should instead realize their progressive musical ideas in economically and practically viable formats. In politics, the protest movements of the s, the conservative ascendancy of the Reagan era, and the growth in popularity of large events like the presidential election cycle has both brought many more people into whho of policy but has dumbed down the level of discussion.

In the simplest possible terms. We’d love to receive a contribution from you too. Straus conducted a research study that considered six questions about American compositional activity from the s and s: But many composers still imagine a divide between themselves and those listeners. Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist brother of the composer of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatvoiced the symptoms of the situation and his resent for modernist contemporary classical music in a speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in Classical music is in bad shape.

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