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Film Music night at the Proms

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Messages: 1 - 3 of 3
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Mr_Lightning (U15450350) on Monday, 26th August 2013

    I was not as astonished as perhaps I should have been when the interval talk for tonight's film music prom contained wonderment at how popular film scores are, "even" among classical music audiences.

    These pieces were written in the 20th and 21st centuries, but unlike almost all classical music from that period, they have a widespread and persistent appeal. The participants in the interval discussion mulled over the many possible (and mysterious) reasons why that should be the case, but magically avoided stumbling over the economy-sized elephant in the room. Why have these pieces of music become popular when virtually all purely classical output over the last 70-odd years hasn't?

    [Spoiler alert]

    Film music has tunes in it.

    That's pretty much the reason. I don't deny that film can sugar the bitterest of atonal scores, so that lots of filmgoers grow to love pieces that they would run a mile from in the concert hall. But a lot of film music has tunes in it, and that's what a lot of classical audiences are yearning for and not getting. You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, even a perfect one, but she'll keep coming back. Audiences want tunes, with chords underneath that make sense to them, even if they're not diatonic: West Side Story has a lot of Stravinskian and Bartokian pitch-organisation in it, but it isn't atonal, and it can be appreciated in real time - you don't have to do any analysis in order to enjoy it.

    So, good luck to the film composers, but spare a thought for the many living composers out there who aren't writing film scores, but who are writing tunes. They are just around the corner from audiences who would appreciate them hugely, but that corner is very difficult to negotiate.

    Imagine a musical landscape in which, alongside all the music that's getting first performances at concerts like the Proms, there's a healthy and fertile scene turning out strong melodic pieces that speak as directly to audiences as film scores do. Not all of its output will turn out to have lasting appeal, but in that way it would be no different from any other area of music-making.

    But imagine if it turned out something that appealed as much as The Planets. Or Sibelius's 2nd. Or the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings - all pieces that may conceivably owe their appeal to something quite unrelated to melody, but at the same time, and quite by coincidence, are absolutely bristling with strong melodic ideas. Imagine such a scene. Imagine what it must have been like at the premiere of one of those pieces - hearing something that clearly connects to what you already know but nevertheless brings something to the party that is both blisteringly new and at the same time inevitable and perfect.

    Imagine that.

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by MAY-DAY (U14316705) on Tuesday, 27th August 2013

    Hi Mr Lightning,

    I would hate your thoughtful post - which I enjoyed reading - to be lost on the grounds that this is (so far, since it ain't gone out on telly yet) a Radio comment.

    Could I (very politely!) suggest you transfer your post to the main Proms thread?
    (As I remember you did with your first, excellent Proms post.)

    When I've heard the Proms in question (which I'm looking forward to; and I'm also intending to hear the R3 interval talk) I'll be happy to respond to some of your thoughts.

    (I would usually have been listening Live; but I decided to have a R2 Pink Floyd evening, culminating in the new Stoppard play.)

    I'm honestly not being a "busy-body"!
    It would just be a genuine shame if this thread was closed and your post "lost" before anyone on the Proms thread got to see it and reply.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Peta (U24) on Tuesday, 27th August 2013

    Please join the main proms discussion thread, here


    Report message3

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