Making classical music relevant… and fluffy slippers

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Sex & violins

 

Our mission is to make classical music relevant today!

Do you get a queasy feeling when you hear that phrase? Classical music is already relevant. It's as relevant today as it always has been.
 
So the phrase is code for something else. What might that be? Well, it depends who says it. If it's the CEO of a CD label then he means:

Our mission is to turn a profit from classical music!

Further examination reveals additional messages:

Our mission is to turn a profit from classical music by taking lessons from popular culture, e.g. Lady Gaga, and applying them to, say, Bach!

You then look at the cover of the CD he's just dumped on the classical music 'market' and find:

  • a fruity girl*
  • with bare feet
  • wearing lots of lip gloss
  • clutching a violin
  • pouting and/or simpering in a 'sexy-but-artistic-posh-totty' sort of way

 

Fair enough. The phrase can now be further unpacked:

Our mission is to turn a profit from classical music by smearing Bach with the softest of pornography!

But what if the phrase comes from a commercial classical music radio station? That's easy:

Our mission is to make classical music make you relax!

Further unpacking reveals:

Our mission is to make classical music a substitute for Valium and fluffy slippers!

Leading to:

Our mission is to make classical music a substitute for Valium and fluffy slippers while, simultaneously, seeking to flog you snobby consumer products, e.g. luxury cars!

One thing these approaches has in common is money. Classical music is a commodity to be branded so it can be sold at a profit and attract advertising.

People aren't stupid. They know what's going on. Some may even stop for a moment and imagine a Lutheran peasant walking to church through the mist on a Sunday morning in 1720.

He's got a life expectancy of about forty. Many of his children will have died in childbirth or shortly afterwards, and possibly his wife also. Marriage was a dangerous business in 1720.

He hears a Bach Cantata coming from the church, growing louder as he approaches. He's living in a quiet society – no aeroplanes, TV, radio, hi-fi systems, or Lang Lang. Consider the effect on him.

Might he have found the experience 'relevant'?

 

* Or bloke — the men are at it too!