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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The unprecedented divergence between contemporary serious music and its listeners, on gabbitt one hand, and traditional music and its following, on the other, is not accidental and- most probably- not transitory. Selling records is simply their chosen means to do so.

Who Cares if They Listen: Milton Babbitt’s Legacy

He lives no longer in a unitary musical universe of “common practice,” but in a variety of universes of diverse practice. This is apparent in everything from the focus of political news coverage to the size of vocabulary used by candidates, even as overall educational attainment in the US has risen. Da Capo Press, This music employs a tonal vocabulary which is more “efficient” than that of the music of the past, or its derivatives.

Even the previously discussed concert-going experience plays into this, as the image of a more enjoyable venue is more likely to attract listeners, who can then have a genuine, aural experience.

University of California Press, Creeping Cedar July 1, After the [Second World] War […] people were prepared to accept something new. Yet the critics of Milton Babbitt and his music, though they are in the majority, often display a certain defensiveness in their own right.

Who Cares if You Listen?

Copland, Barber, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Britten. Yet, Babbitt’s suggestion in the article for the composer of “advanced music” is “total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance”. 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 liisten the postwar, nonpopular, musical world.

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Tommasini was not the babbittt one to have pointed out that Babbitt’s protests about the title “may sound like revisionist spin control” Tommasini History has decided on a few aho Separate myself as a listener from myself as a performer.

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. He has been obliged to recognize the possibility, and actuality, of alternatives to what were once regarded as musical absolutes.

Berg, 60 — Even fewer could begin to describe new Western art music. Like all communication, this music presupposes a suitably equipped receptor.

I Did Not Come to Conquer: Routledge,xvi. The music critic admits no comparable differentiation. A Conversational Review August 7, Goehr, in making this statement, hits the nail on the head. At the end of the fourth paragraph when he is setting these priorities up Babbitt makes it clear that he is not providing an example however as readers, we are entitled to provide our own; the insult comes as Babbitt suggests that if the reader cannot think of an example, which ‘is a very real possibility’ we can be ‘assured that such music does exist’.

New approaches to recording also must be taken, especially as a result of developments in technology and distribution in recent years. Compositions so rooted necessarily ask comparable knowledge and experience from the listener. His interlocutor understandably disqualifies these reasons as irrelevant to the content and value of the lecture, and the development of mathematics is left undisturbed. This is not necessarily a virtue in itself, but it does make possible a greatly increased number or pitch simultaneities, successions, and relationships.

His interlocutor understandably disqualifies these reasons as irrelevant to the content and value of the lecture, and the development of mathematics is left undisturbed.

This is the ultimate lesson that composers of art music today need to learn. This cycle is of slight moment in a world where circularity is one of the norms of criticism. Or those, often the same well-meaning souls, who remind the composer of his “obligation to the public,” while the public’s obligation to the composer is fulfilled, manifestly, by mere physical presence in the concert hall or before loudspeaker or- more authoritatively- by committing to memory the numbers of phonograph and amplifier dares.


Here he finds conclusive evidence for the proposition that “music is music. Composers should instead realize their progressive musical ideas in economically and bsbbitt viable formats.

Close Reading of Milton Babbitt’s ‘Who Cares if You Listen?’ | Samuel Winter –

Lords of Waterdeep in Conversation February 25, A casual listener with a forgivable, of course skepticism of contemporary classical music—or perhaps a disinterest in or disapproval of modern art in general—would hear this kind babbit music as essentially random notes without any discernible melodic or harmonic structure.

Perhaps we should not have overlooked those pockets of “power” where prizes, awards, and commissions are dispensed, where music is adjudged guilty, not only without the right to be confronted by its accuser, but without the right to be confronted by the accusations.

But for whp music to get anywhere outside of its tiny cult of adherents, and actually matter again, it must catch up with and take advantage of the conditions losten modern life- most importantly, independent action and marketing simulacra. It is as if these authors have shown the value of a little known artifact in a forgotten wing of a museum and dodged the larger issue: Interestingly, those who do amplify performances of their work Steve Reich, David Lang are increasingly playing to venues sold out far in advance.

Fitter, Happier, More Deductiveed. The scene was even llisten at an Ionian Singers concert in Brighton this past June, when, after sinking a substantial amount of money yyou advertising and promotion, a whole crowd of seventeen people showed up. Rosen instead points out that all new ilsten music enjoys this decline and, citing the fact that conservative composers, such as Samuel Barber and Virgil Thompson, have no more mass appeal than the extreme modernists, blames the mindset of the record industry and the attitudes of promoters for the ailing health of the classical music scene.

Neither does it mean that a highly educated listener must enjoy the music, even if they understand and appreciate its genesis.