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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000716.txt from 2004/10

From: (Ormondtoby Montoya)
Subj: Re: [kl] Appealing to the superficial
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2004 19:02:12 -0400

Aren't some of us debating different ideas here?

If we were to take the original suggestion literally --- namely, to add
a steady 'thud-thud-thud' to K.622, the result would be unenjoyable even
for a rock-and-roll youngster, I'm sure. Such an audible mess wouldn't
convince a youngster of anything except that "Something's wrong here."

We must give even the most classically-inexperienced child credit for
being a human being who has some sense of what is 'musical' and what is

The rhythms and phrase lengths and dynamics in K.622 (and in most other
pieces of classical music) are too varied and too complex to appeal to
anyone if there's an unending thud-thud-thud of constant loudness in the

At the other extreme, however, it would be ridiculous to ban all
performances of K622 because we don't know exactly what Mozart wrote!
Thus every performance must (most likely) alter Mozart's original
composition to some small extent.

The question thus becomes: What is appropriate given your audience?

For example, I've recently expressed my own mix of approval and
disapproval of "Five Seasons". However I can imagine that Five Seasons
could stimulate some high school kids to listen, and then to try
playing, classical music themselves. I can imagine that PDQ Bach has
convinced some children to investigate classical music in more depth,
even if Bach never recommended that the tuba player roll on the floor.

Here's an anecdote from my own education:

One of my English teachers assigned the class to read Shakespeare in its
original language. One of the passages mystified me. I couldn't
figure out what the character was saying. So I raised my hand as we
were reading aloud, and I asked "What does this mean?"

The teacher mumbled and stumbled and finally admitted that he didn't
know. Since I had asked in front of the entire class, and since some
of the students had already complained about being required to read "a
dead language", it was not a happy moment for me.

So once again the question is: Exactly where do you draw the line when
it comes to making a great work "understandable" to kids at school?
Should we have read Lamb's Shakespeare first?

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