Close Reading of Milton Babbitt’s Who Cares if You Listen? ”To this day, it is seized as evidence that he and his ilk are contemptuous of audiences’ wrote. Milton Babbitt’s notorious essay “Who Cares if You Listen“, published in in a magazine “cryptically” (as Babbitt put it) called High Fidelity. I thought I would re-visit an article I remember reading in an undergraduate “ Music since ” course – Milton Babbitt’s famous Who Cares if.

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Who Cares if You Listen – Wikipedia

He also points out the successes within art circles lixten certain late-modernist composers: For Babbitt to effectively exclude the public from new compositions by suggesting that composers babbtt to private performances is effectively running away from the issue that perhaps the public does not understand as he suggests ; maybe a more mature view would be for Babbitt to have produced something 5 Babbitt, M.

Babbitt was a practitioner of integral serialismwhich in his hands could be a highly technical mode of musical composition. The scene was even worse at an Ionian Singers concert in Brighton this past June, when, after sinking a substantial amount of money into advertising and promotion, a whole crowd of seventeen people showed up. With these contradictory forces in mind, it makes sense that the extremism expressed in the intensely intellectual music and writings of Milton Babbitt would fall right in the center of arguments over the merits of mass culture.

I do not wish to appear to obscure the obvious differences between musical composition and scholarly research, although it can be contended that lizten differences are no more fundamental than the differences among the various fields of study.

And if it be contended that such research is so supported because in the past it has yielded eventual applications, one can counter with, for example, the music of Anton Webern, which during the composer’s lifetime was regarded to the very limited extent that it was regarded at all as the ultimate in hermetic, specialized, and idiosyncratic composition; today, some dozen years after the composer’s death, his complete works have been recorded by a major record company, primarily- I suspect- as a result of the enormous influence this music has had on the postwar, nonpopular, musical world.


This is clear in the stock of a record store: Here he finds conclusive evidence for the proposition that “music is music. Silent Hill Shattered Memories: Concert attendance within this realm is disgustingly low and continuing to diminish, but not without reason. Where did this conception come from?

We listened to the piece. Standard old classics are already abundantly available, so to keep profits up Sony must continue to find new works that sell. Neither does it mean that a highly educated yoy must enjoy the music, even if they understand and appreciate its genesis. Schenker managed to develop a method of reducing any piece of music so that it was intelligible, for want of a better word, so why should the music that Babbitt is writing about be any different; he has given lisren an undeserved reverence in my opinion.

In the simplest possible terms. Interestingly, those who do amplify performances of their work Steve Reich, David Lang are increasingly playing to venues sold out far in advance.

Who Cares if You Listen

Advanced music, to the extent that it reflects the knowledge and originality of the informed composer, scarcely can be expected to appear more intelligible than these arts and sciences to the person whose musical education usually has been even less extensive than his background in other fields. Bands like this have found wide commercial success while maintaining their technical means and artistic integrity.

Or those well-meaning souls who exhort the public “just to listen to more contemporary music,” apparently on the theory that familiarity breeds passive acceptance. He lives no longer in a unitary musical universe of “common practice,” but in a variety of universes of diverse practice.


Who Cares if They Listen: Page 3 of 3. This respect which was never quite as great as many like to recall extended as far as institutional support from contemporary music festivals and the University, but rarely spread into the concert hall or radio. In his book Music: Towards this condition of musical and societal “isolation,” a variety of attitudes has been expressed, usually with the purpose of assigning blame, often to the music itself, occasionally to critics or performers, and very occasionally to the public.

Granting to music the position accorded other arts and sciences promises the sole substantial means of survival for the music I have been describing.

Who Cares if You Listen?

In fact, some years earlier, he stated that the title he sent to High Fidelity was “The Composer as Specialist” Babbitt17notwithstanding the article’s opening line. Video Games December 17, I Did Not Come to Conquer: I doubt that scientific research is any more secure against predictions of ultimate significance than is musical composition.

Just put on your headphones and get freaked, or amazed, or shocked, or blissed out or whatever.

Forbes and George A. Eliminate all expectations about musical form and genre. Immediate “practical” applicability which may be said to have its musical analogue in “immediate extensibility of a compositional technique” is certainly not a necessary condition for the support of scientific research. Milton Babbitt dared to write music in which the virtuoso is not the performer, but the listener.

Continuum,87 —