The Beat Goes On...


By Steve Barton

If you're looking to hear some Chopin, your best bet nowadays is to ride an elevator, arrive early to a dentist's appointment, or call your insurance agency.The entertainment industry has forced classical music from concert halls and relegated it to the most mundane parts of our lives.

Meanwhile, today's hyper commercial- ized "music" consistently rakes in big bucks. Regular tickets to David Guetta's concerts cost exactly 14 times the price of a student ticket to the now-defunct Syracuse Sympho- ny Orchestra, which played its final note last April due to funding cuts. Syracuseans hop- ing to enjoy the brilliant work of Tchaikovsky in the foreseeable future are out of luck.

Stephen Meyer, associate professor of music history, explains that "musicians like Beethoven and Mozart weren't so different from the pop stars of today" in trying to please a widespread audience. But "the ad- vent of recorded, commercialized music has shrunk the market for their masterpieces." It wouldn't be so bad if modern artists didn't owe so much of their success to the techniques of classical composers. Have you ever heard composer Johann Pachel- bel's "Canon in D?" Indeed you have. Its chord progression has inspired countless songs like"Basket Case" by Green Day, "With or Without You" by U2, and "Let It Be" by The Beatles. When seniors walk onstage in two months to receive their diplomas and that stupid "Graduation (Friends Forever)" song by Vitamin C pops into their heads, they can thank Pachelbel.

And if they graduate summa cum laude, they ought to thank him twice.Though it's not entirely proven, academics have been relentlessly researching the "Mozart Effect," the notion that exposure to classical music may improve reasoning skills.

Classical music offers a chance to experi- ence an art form all on its own. A sonata or opera challenges its audience, offering the pleasures of counterpoint, letimotif, and dissonance as a reward for the listener's careful attention. "Sexy and I Know It," on the other hand, merely challenges its audi- ence to last three minutes and 19 seconds without suffering a cerebral aneurysm.

This under-appreciated genre offers a creative and stimulating style that deserves another listen from our generation.The next time those silver elevator doors part just as Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" reaches its crescendo, don't be too ashamed to stay on until the fifth floor.

The EditorsComment