General Question

ragingloli's avatar

Why has humanity lost its musical talent and ability?

Asked by ragingloli (49487points) March 15th, 2014
55 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

It is an indisputable fact that Classical Music is far superior to anything produced in the last 100 years.
What is the reason for the modern world’s complete and utter inability to produce music of high calibre?

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elbanditoroso's avatar

Indisputable fact in your mind, perhaps, but others might choose to dispute it.

Keep in mind that classical music runs a very wide gamut, from Beethoven and Bach, to Mozart, to Mahler, to Debussy and a whole pantheon of other composers. I wouldn’t put Mahler, for example, in the same genre of classical as I would Bach, although they both wrote classical music that is performed by orchestras.

And can you really put Saint Saens in the same box with Mozart or, for that matter, Grieg?

And where do you put Stravinsky, Ravel, and Prokoviev, who were 20th century composers who weren’t strictly speaking like any of the older guys?

My feeling is that your assertion is essentially too broad and too all-encompassing. Some 17th and 18th classical stuff was crap, and some 20th century stuff is truly excellent.

Perhaps you can focus your question a bit more?

hominid's avatar

@ragingloli: “It is an indisputable fact that Classical Music is far superior to anything produced in the last 100 years.”

Really? I think classical music sucks. Hard.

ragingloli's avatar


Silence04's avatar

It’s because your indisputable fact is actually just an opinion.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Indisputable according to who? You? Then it must be true!

I hate classical music.

hearkat's avatar

Classical music compositions are far more complex than most musical compositions produced in other genres. There are still people composing orchestral pieces, although most newer classical work is commissioned for film, television, and other special events.

Some might argue that the more innovative and abstract works of jazz are more complex than classical, with their obscure time signatures and discordant melodies.

Taste in music, like taste in foods, is entirely subjective. Music, like language, transportation and fashion, has evolved — we no longer speak, get around, or dress the same way that Beethoven and Mozart did, either. Like all creative and technological pursuits, we build on the experiences and the works of others to create and develop newer forms of those things.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Not sure if you’re trolling or not (although you appear so), but I’m going to answer sincerely.

It is an indisputable fact that Classical Music is far superior to anything produced in the last 100 years? Really? Where’s the source?

Different people have different taste of music. There are people who think classical is perfect and other kinds of music sucks, but there are also ones who regard classical music as “horrible”.

If music has gotten worse over the last 100 years, so why the hell were composers/singers like Nat King Cole admired so much?

In fact, music in the last 100 years doesn’t get shittier, they just gets more understandable, therefore loses some of the intellect of classical music and gets more listeners.

Perhaps you hate modern music because it doesn’t have much intellect. So, go and listen to your more “intelligent” music, Einstein.

Community_watchdog's avatar

Actually, there are quite a few people who really have a distaste for classical music. I consider it to be very uninteresting to be honest.

hominid's avatar

@ragingloli – I am curious in hearing your defense of the an objective standard in art. Are you suggesting it is related to complexity? We could write an app that could evaluate complexity and therefore rate the “superiority” of a piece of music. Would we be forced to reference this superiority rating when evaluating our appreciation for music?

Is this what art is? Math?

And does this apply to other types of art, such as painting and sculpture?

But back to my lack of appreciation for classical music. I just don’t get it. It could be my unrefined taste (or some horsesh*t). Or it could be the fact that when I hear it, it stimulates none of the parts of my brain that are f*cked silly by other types of music. Classical music doesn’t even register as music in my brain. I get the same feeling hearing Mozart that I do when doing my taxes.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Community_watchdog quite a few people? You don’t say.

Community_watchdog's avatar

….quite a few, actually many!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Ahh, classical is still alive and well. It may be even more alive now. Secular music has not changed too much either. It’s just not really remembered while classical historically has been archived and preserved. Old secular music seems to suck worse. It’s much more subject to taste and style changes. Most people don’t realize that a good bit of classical music is context related. Classical guitar is very appealing to me.
For example: Tarrega

1TubeGuru's avatar

Classical music is not dead. Frank Zappa just made it smell funny.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

In a country where people praise how so called “talented” people like Beyonce and Lady Gaga are what the heck do you expect?

Cruiser's avatar

I think music throughout the world is at it’s most diverse and expressive as it ever has been in the history of civilization. If you remove the filter of what is played on the radio or YouTube you can find all sorts of amazing and diverse musical compositions and performances and anyone who states that musicians today are not talented has their head deeply buried in a sandbox with earmuffs on.

filmfann's avatar

I will add George Gershwin and Thelonius Monk to the list defending the 20th Century.

and if you piss me off, I will add John Williams

ragingloli's avatar

Mozart in diapers would wipe the floor with all three of them.

GloPro's avatar

Next time Josh Groban sings I hope it will remind you of what musical talent and ability truly sound like. Humanity is a big word, so your indisputable fact has no merit.

ragingloli's avatar

His screeching would be drowned out by me vomiting furiously.

zenvelo's avatar

False premise on this question, your “indisputable fact” is in quite a bit of dispute.

And it is ignorant of much, including Bernstein and Copland. And also Classic Rock!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Classical music is overrated. The music of the Troubadours beats Mozfart by light years.
Why is post-Troubadour music so bad?
In all seriousness, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is beast

SavoirFaire's avatar

Pop music and art music have always existed side-by-side, and the market for the former has always been larger than the market for the latter. Even if we accept the premise that “classical” music is superior, then, we do not have to accept that there has been any change in the musical talent and ability of humans. Modern marketing techniques have perhaps made it seem that only pop music exists anymore, but there are still music conservatories producing full-fledged composers (not all of whom write strictly in the modern style).

Here are a few examples:

Sonata for Viola (by Rebecca Clarke)

Double Music (by John Cage and Lou Harrison)

Lux Aeterna (by Clint Mansell)

hominid's avatar

^ wow. That’s Clint from PWEI! I had no idea.

Vincentt's avatar

Also do realise that, while it is certainly very much true that you can’t really argue about taste and there is no objective standard of what makes certain music “good”*, you hear both the great and the not-so-great music of today, whereas you’re only likely to know the best music of the past.

I’m sure there’s a psychological term describing humans’ tendency to overvalue recent events, but in any case: in the future, people will listen to the great music produced nowadays and compare it to the shitty music produced then, and wonder why the music of their day is not as good as it used to be.

*Although I would argue that “makes a lot of people happy” might be a fine qualifier for quality music, objectively speaking.

cookieman's avatar

So you’re feeling trollish today. I get it. However, as others have said, I would argue that some 20th century jazz is more complex and, by your definition, more superior than some classical music.

And I would not argue against John Williams as a modern classical composer.

bolwerk's avatar

@ragingloli: it’s Germany’s fault. :(

Judi's avatar

Back in the olden days I think people were more in tune with their musical talent. They didn’t have radio or any recorded music. If they wanted to re-live a musical experience they had to sing it or play it themselves. In the pubs everyone sang. I would guess that the atmosphere was similar to Karaoke when people get tipsy and the whole bar sings along.
Today, music is more of a passive activity and not near as many people are attuned to their own talent and don’t hone their skills like they did back then.
Sure there are some that do, but I would hazard to guess that the percentage of people who live their music is fewer. I know that in this hustle bustle life I abandoned the passion for music that I had as a child. It’s not like riding a bike. It’s a skill that has to be practiced.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
futurelaker88's avatar

i think a better way to phrase this question (from what I can tell by its’ authors intent) would be:

“Why are we OK with (and/or as impressed with) such simple (and often talent less) music? Making a club beat can literally be done by a cat. Why is the younger generation impressed with, and worshiping musical “artists” who are not really artists. Back in the day, we praised those who did things we COULD NOT, because they had something we DO NOT. Today, someone gets on youtube and talks, and they are a celebrity, they have a good body, so they qualify. A hit single has nothing to do with talent, it has to do with marketing and exposure. THIS, is a fact. Music should be hard work, not computers and auto-tune. Or at least…“why are we ok with it being so?”

pleiades's avatar

There are still classical composers… Haha.

Maybe stop listening to the radio and start doing your own search for music and you won’t be so angry, there is a shit load of great musicians that are walking this earth. Don’t forget classical era was preceded by romantic era for a reason. Not everyone wants to fuck around with strings, the romantic era practically birthed pop music with it’s simplicity and structure overall…

pleiades's avatar

@futurelaker88 Haha you display typical elitist pretentious attitude.
“Yeah yeah I could’ve done that easily…”



Negative nancy much? :sad face:

Oh yeah just wanted to say I totally disagree with your opinion. Just in case people are reading your OP as fact.

LostInParadise's avatar

Classical music has gone the way of monarchies, sonnets, the minuet and representational painting. Over time, art has become less structured. It is freer in form and more improvisational. That does not make it any worse, just different.

1TubeGuru's avatar

@ragingloli Mozart in diapers would wipe the floor with all three of them.

Strauss's avatar

I, too, dispute your “indisputable fact”. As was stated above, what we consider “classical” music (not exclusively from the “Classical” period) is what has survived and is considered the best. How many Salieris were out there for every Mozart? I don’t think that what we consider classical today was necessarily the popular music of the day. How many platinum albums have been won by, say, Theo Jörgensmann, or Reinhard Febel, for example.

turtlesandbox's avatar

It’s not lost. Here you go

1TubeGuru's avatar

Michael Hedges was as talented as any guitarist in the golden age of classical music. it could be argued that some of his own guitar compositions were better than anything done on guitar in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries.

filmfann's avatar

@ragingloli I don’t doubt that Mozart is head and shoulders above every other music composer ever, but Gershwin was better than most from 200 years ago.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Beethoven was considered quite the radical of his time, many audiences said his music was too busy, confusing. I would argue that composers of times past would be quite into some more modern work, especially Beethoven. I totally picture him bangin’ hard tunes on a mean axe! Go LVB!

hearkat's avatar

@Judi – Great observation about how music is more of a passive pursuit, as compared to previous generations when some degree of music training was commonplace. Kids are in soccer and T-ball instead of piano lessons.

lloydbird's avatar

Bon Iver. Live at Coachella 2012. Youtube.

filmfann's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers Have you seen this ?
Beethoven was amazing of course, as was Brahms and Strauss, but so were Getz and Lennon/McCartney.

cookieman's avatar

^^ Love Stan Getz.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@ragingloli You’re forgetting just how much horrible classical music there was as well. I’m sure there were thousands of musicians of that day that simply have been forgotten in time because they weren’t any good. Even “the greats” made some horrible stuff, for fucks sake Mozart wrote Leck Mich im Arsch . We just have a tendency to only remember the good stuff of the past while forgetting all the garbage.

Vincentt's avatar

@Judi The earth’s population has grown a lot, so even if a smaller percentage is actively producing music, that’s still a lot of people, probably more. Add to that that it’s far easier to get started and to find an audience, that makes it really unlikely that there is less quality music. Just, perhaps, that it’s more difficult to find.

@futurelaker88 You have to argue for why music is “supposed” to be hard work? How about talent for coming up with music that resonates with people, even though the actual performing of the music is not that difficult? I’m 100% sure that there’s plenty of music that’s extremely difficult to produce, took some real hard work, but that you would nonetheless dislike. Which is why you can’t argue over taste.
Also, where studio equipment of years gone by was hard to come by, it has become relatively cheap to obtain the same quality of equipment for at home. So sure, it’s easier to produce music, but that’s a good thing.

Bill1939's avatar

People have always made music. From ancient days to now, the masses enjoyed popular music. They sang songs telling tales reflecting their past and present, beat out rhythms they danced to and made simple instruments from materials available to them. Some people can conceive complex musical forms of familiar tunes. Generally, having had the opportunity to become familiar with the evolution of their culture’s musical instruments and musical structures, often because their families had the means to provide such education, they added to the progression of music.

The development of audio and visual media in the twentieth century made music more accessible to larger audiences, including those of limited means. To avoid copyrighted music, radio stations played classical music and movies incorporated them in their films. Today only a small percentage of radio stations, usually university based, play classical music. Movies have music written for them, a few of these scores will be considered as classical in some future date (“for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.” see).

Since advertisers want their products and services presented to the largest audiences, few radio stations play classical music. Because few people become familiar with this music in their youth (as I was), when they hear it they are usually unable to understand or relate to it. This seems to be to be part of the dumbing down of the populace that is making a plutocratic takeover of the world’s governments possible.

Judi's avatar

@vincentt, I’m really saying that humanity as a whole has lost something or diminished something. Losing our connection to the earth, to our food, is causing us to lose something that connects us to, for lack of a better word, the universe and I think that music is the expression of the soul. Humanities soul is dwindling, and as it does it’s losing it’s ability to express in this way.
Or I could be full of crap and it’s just expressed differently.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Judi You’re mostly be the latter :)

I really don’t think human is losing connection. It’s just human is thinking differently.

Judi's avatar

We ARE losing connection with our food, not having to
Grow, butcher, and for many of us even cook it. It’s completely different than having a hands on understanding of foot from start to finish that just a few generations before us had. I don’t know if that lack if connection with what physically sustains us (food) translates to our expression with what spiritually sustains us (music.)

Judi's avatar

(Damned auto correct! and I got new glasses yesterday too!)

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@filmfann Yes! I watched it when it first aired, and a few reruns since. I may have it in my video archives too. I still have a lot of classic SNL waiting to be dubbed to disc. I think if he could have been brought to this time, Beet would be rockin’ some axe with Hendrix,Van Halen, Joe Perry, Malmstein, Angus Young, well, you know, ALL the greats. He’d be blues cruisin’ with BB King too.

asmonet's avatar

I reject the premise of the question.

28lorelei's avatar

When asking this, there are a few things to be kept in mind, I think-
What we know of the classical canon is the work of the first-rate composers. These were, of course, not the only composers around in history, but they are the ones we know now. Even back then, there was a lot of music that wasn’t as good floating around, but the best made it into the repertoire.
Taking this into consideration, I think only a small portion of what we listen today will make it into the future repertoire of music- only the best will survive. Another good point was raised earlier in this post- art and pop music exist side by side, and have done so for ages. While we have pop artists like Lady Gaga and Beyonce, we also have composers of art music such as Kaija Saariaho, Arvo Pärt, Thomas Ades, Philip Glass and many others. If you want more intellectual music, I suggest looking into contemporary classical music- art music today covers a huge span of styles and complexities.
In the end, there is also the question of how do you measure musical talent, but I won’t go there now.

pleiades's avatar

Check these musicians…

I call it the next step after the Romantic Era, they’re all pretty important people in the “New Age” realm. Sure it’s much slower and seemingly less complicated than the classical period you may be used to listening too but I’d still call it the great grand kids of that era…

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