Go out and listen to something…

March 27, 2006

Glossary: Upbeat

Filed under: music — burnett @ 9:19 am

originally posted March 12, 2006When performing in public, every musician eventually hears the request:� “Uh, can you play something more upbeat?”� This is at first puzzling if not indecipherable to the neophyte, but after awhile, one realizes that the request is for some rock’n’roll.� I have heard this request directed to� jazz bands, string quartets, pianists, violinists, swing bands, ballroom dance bands, and orchestras.� At the heart of the matter is that the listener does not recognize the music and style of music that the performers are playing.� The listener has been groomed by their own lifetime of listening to hear and recognize a thin slice of music that was probably offered on a few radio stations over their lifetime.� The average income of this listener is $100,000 to $700,000 per year.� The average education is a masters degree, LLD, or� PhD.In his autobiography, conductor Erich Leinsdorf addressed this issue on a more refined level.� As a Viennese artist serving in New York and Boston for the Metropolitan Opera and Boston Symphony Orchestra, he confronted a crippling issue when dealing with the Board of Directors. � � These civic leaders were highly educated individuals in matters of business, visual arts, architecture, the sciences, and possibly the theater.� But unlike their European counterparts, they did not address music in the same way as they did the other arts.� Whereas art, literature and architecture were welcomed in there most progressive forms, music was encouraged in the forms of its past.� The board members were not versed in the singular musical languages that developed after World War I, and hence it was impossible to project a vision of the future of music with them.� In other words, music was not recognized as an intellectual pursuit at the level of literature and the visual arts.

Whether it is a cabaret performer singing Sondheim, a jazz artist performing his own composition, a string quartet playing a late Beethoven quartet, or a bluegrass band playing Beautiful Dreamer, someone in the room will say, “but can you play something upbeat?”

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