Classical Newcomer

I don’t think I could ever like classical.
What am I really missing?

Have you ever wondered what the big deal is about classical music? Why would thousands of people, from the young to the old line up to sit still together in silence, just to listen to long, soft, ancient, confusing instrumental music? What do the young or non-white people attending experience that you aren’t? Your mileage may vary, but deep listening is a different way to participate, a way in which we feel an emotional journey internally and which often leads to a secular and spiritual transformation. Want to take a ride?

 

With all the amazing music available to us LIVE and thru the internet, there are more performers and styles to discover than we have time left on Earth. We surf radio, streaming, iTunes and videos that our friends post constantly. We check out bands at clubs, meet up with friends, see big names play shows, drink, dance and chill to DJs with smokin’ bass & drums. Life is this series of parties around music and fun. Having music everywhere lubricates our outer lives— and sometimes stirs our inner lives.

Classical is a different use of musical language that connects all kinds of music, people and experiences to articulate our thorniest internal and existential struggles in amazing ways. Can CutTime make such serious music easy? Perhaps. We can provide a fun introduction.

CutTime Players at Detroit Institute of Arts 2012

CutTime Players at Detroit Institute of Arts 2012 by Bernie Beutel

 

We start by accepting that instead of encouraging us audience to sing or dance along, a classical concert is more like watching a movie about a singer or dancer— only the motion and pictures are vague and slow to fully emerge. That’s why repeated listening is rewarded. When we finally start to hear and like the musical character, we imagine what they might be doing, saying or feeling. We bring the same suspension of disbelief we bring to any play, movie, TV or music video. Taken as fantasy, corniness is a medium for the transformation.

With written music, contrasting themes (moods) can be strung together for the sake of building and releasing dramatic tension in a series of waves that climax near the end. We listen for the main character’s adventure and progress. By closing our eyes, in fact, we can best see this invisible drama unfold. Because there’re usually no lyrics, no narrator and no plot necessarily, we get to decide for ourselves what happened. There’s a lot going on. But by listening hard, we catch more details, draw more conclusions and find more words.

Check out this 1810 review by E.T.A. Hoffmann about Beethoven’s 5th Symphony:

Beethoven’s instrumental music unveils before us the realm of the mighty and the immeasurable. Here shining rays of light shoot through the darkness of night, and we become aware of giant shadows swaying back and forth, moving ever closer around us and destroying within us all feeling but the pain of infinite yearning, in which every desire, leaping up in sounds of exultation, sinks back and disappears. . . . Beethoven’s music sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain.

These literary images tend to inspire us to hear, learn and play better. Words give us personal context— lyrics even; just not in the body of the music. These words describe the potential of the music to describe what can’t be written. It is a cycle that continues.

But that doesn’t mean music lovers can’t enjoy classical on the surface, nor that we musicians can’t also enjoy bringing classical to you and your friends in clubs and restaurants. It just won’t be as vivid. Classical is all natural, acoustic music, recorded in writing so that musicians and the audience can forever take ownership after the composer is long gone. It is beauty, contrast and meaning meant for everyone: what is universal in art Classical Revolution Detroit event playing Brahms Clarinet Quintet 2011belongs to all of us.  The real hook occurs when good musicians (interpreters) bring these markings on the page to full life with character, shape and fireworks. CutTime and Classical Revolution Detroit are hot to share our license to love classical with you. Thanks to amplification and new funding, we could be near you very soon!

The biggest hook for musicians is the endless ways that we can make this music our own. We borrow the genius of Schubert— wear it, in fact, like some fantastic overcoat— and strut around in it for awhile. And in a series of waves, we whip it up to a sexy climax that surprises even ourselves! While the harmonies and rhythms that drive it stay the same, we play with a variety of attacks, energies, time-cheats and dynamics.

The various styles of classical mean that sonatas can be powerful like songs; but only when it’s made fresh. CutTime wants to pull you into the center of this music— adding context, demos, activities, interviews and laughs.