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The Antelope

Elitist culture is diminishing the value of good music


When you study music in college, you are more or less studying the genres that your primary instrument is used in. As a trumpet player, this has mostly been classical and jazz. 

I love both genres, but getting involved has led me to hate the elitist cultures associated with them.

I believe that most musical spheres have some variation of this problem, but I mostly want to talk about jazz and classical since they’re what I am the most familiar with. 

I don’t think that I would enjoy music if I only listened to one or two genres. Variety is important and I am surprised at how many times I have heard my peers or professors say things along the lines of, “You should only be listening to the type of music you are studying.” That doesn’t only seem like a bad lifestyle choice to me but a bad way to look at music.  

So much music has inspirations from or makes direct references to other genres and not seeing that makes you far less able to understand it. I remember a professor talking about a classical musician who used different recordings of the same song to create more complex rhythms. That’s cool and all, but that’s just called sampling and it’s common in most nonclassical genres. It’s not that deep or innovative. 

The culture around jazz and classical makes it way harder to get into since the barrier to entry is too high. I am tired of hearing my friends talk badly about how other people aren’t playing “correct” or how they shouldn’t be in certain ensembles even though they sound fine. Playing technically perfect is hard and we shouldn’t be expected to do it all the time. Also, if it is a problem don’t tell me about it. Go tell the person so that they can fix it. 

On a larger scale, I see too many people talk about how some musicians or bands aren’t very good or complain that all their songs are easy. Music isn’t purely about skill. All that should matter at the end of the day is whether a song sounded good or not. Bringing physical skill into the equation feels like a fallacy that too many people fall for. 

Music snobs also create some of the worst-sounding music just because it’s harder to play. For instance, just because you can play rhythms that fall completely out of time or write in full chromaticism with chords that are over an octave long doesn’t mean that you should or that it will sound good. 

This is just me whining about a few people and ideas that annoy me, though. Most musicians are cool and don’t act like that. 

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Lucas Ratliff
Lucas Ratliff, Reporter
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