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Contents

Music in the Late Twentieth Century

DISQUIETING QUESTIONS

Chapter:
CHAPTER 1 Starting from Scratch
Source:
MUSIC IN THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

But why was all this considered desirable, or if not desirable at least inevitable? To this question many different (often contradictory) answers have been given; over it many battles have been fought. Many resented on social grounds the idea of a music that disclosed so little to an ordinary listener, associating it with the arrogant rhetoric of manifestos like “Schoenberg Is Dead,” with elitism (that is, the use of a willfully difficult style to create a social elite that excluded the noninitiated), and with the misappropriation of scientific prestige. (All of these criticisms could just as well have been leveled at the medieval troubadours, but they weren't, since the idea of social elites in those days required no apology, least of all in artistic circles.) On the other side, the music, the rhetoric, and the cult of difficulty were all upheld as necessary protections against those who would regulate art, and curtail the freedoms of artists, on social or commercial grounds. Back came the retort that there could be no greater regulation or regimentation of art than that of “total serialism” (or, more generally, any method of composing by algorithm). Yet a discipline one imposes on oneself, no matter how zealously one may exhort others to follow suit, ought not, perhaps, to be equated with a discipline imposed by political authority. Was it just puritanism, then?

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 1 Starting from Scratch." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-001011.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 1 Starting from Scratch. In Oxford University Press, Music in the Late Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 22 Aug. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-001011.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 1 Starting from Scratch." In Music in the Late Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 22 Aug. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-001011.xml
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