The 54th annual Grammys were recently held this year with winners including Adele, Foo Fighters, and Taylor Swift. Although the main categories remain the same, the Grammy’s eliminated 28 percent of their categories this year. Russell Shelley, Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music, comments on the generalization of music and our current musical epoch.
What is the current state of music?
We have been stuck in the romantic period since the 19th century. There have been attempts to move out of this current epoch but the attempts have failed. Music is currently a melting of forms. For example, there are no pure forms of country anymore. Everything we hear on the radio is fundamentally the same. Each form of music is consequently borrowing from each other.
What evidence is there that music is generalized?
The Grammys eliminated many categories this year. There was even picketing outside the building because of the eliminations. The categories eliminated at the Grammys were focused on pure forms of music. This is further evidence that society does not know where music is going.
Have musicians attempted to come out of this current epoch?
The next viable epoch is very reluctant to appear. We have been trying for many years to reach that point. Music has instead been going in circles for the past 150 years. The time frame between each epoch is becoming shorter as well. The Renaissance and Baroque eras lasted approximately 150 years and the Classical era lasted approximately 70 years. In our current epoch however, society has not been given a viable option to move out of the romantic era.
What happens when musicians attempt to enter a new epoch?
There have been attempts to enter a new epoch. The 20th century introduced atonal music. However, no one liked it or could emotionally attach to it. Stravinsky’s atonal piece titled “Rite of Spring” caused riots in the street. People rebelled against this type of music like people rebelled against rap when it first came out. Musicians attempted to create a new epoch, but since no one liked it, it was never adopted.
What is next in music?
No one can imagine what the next epoch will be. It is utterly inconceivable to imagine. The music industry is hoping for a brilliant individual to come along and bring us out of this epoch. At the moment, music fundamentally all sounds the same. It appears that creativity has run out.
~Kayci Nelson ’14 Online Journalist