Sunday, March 25, 2007

dana and the decline of attention...

dana

some nice bits from a 1955 article called "living with music"...by dana andrews.

"my romance with music has brought me untold hours of sheer pleasure and moments of towering exaltation. but, as in all serious love affairs, there have been trying situations as well. i can point to the hostility of certain neighbors who stubbornly have never reconciled themselves to experiencing bartok at 3 am, a prejudice which seldom fails to astonish me...

...i'm a man who takes his music seriously. i can't combine conversation and listening. of course, i've been as afflicted as the next man with guests who ask to hear a work and then take the passage of the first few bars as a signal for social chatter... i suppose my reaction to this sort of inattention is a form of impotent rage against a doleful development which cilfton fadiman called the decline of attention. our modern technology has deluged us with such a relentless torrent of entertainments and diversions clammoring for our attention that our appetites and ability to respond are dulled. we have too much to assimilate, too much to keep up with...

...one of the most lamentable aspects of the decline of attention has been the increasing relegation of music to the position of a sort of underscore to daily activity. record companies are selling albums of music to dream to, music to love to, music to read to, music to pluck chickens to, and apparently music for every conceivable purpose except listening...

i might add that the development of the recording industry has paradoxically created the greatest opportunity for musical insularity that has ever existed... i suppose if this specialization continues we'll eventually find people whose entire record collection will consist of many different renditions of a single work..."

andrews' goes on to talk about his obsession with hi-fi gear, his taste for stravinsky, and his disdain for mozart. it seems the star of laura and best years of our lives was pretty darn cool. i have never heard the word underscore actually used as a noun to describe a music that acts as a kind of film score to daily activities... a quite beautiful thing indeed...

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4 Comments:

Blogger the art of memory said...

that is truly amazing, i never knew he was such an intellectual, he sure is good in night of the demon, battling satan.
not much of a mozart fan myself, except for the requiem. does he give good reasons?
"music to pluck chickens to" would be a good name for an lp as well.

11:09 AM  
Blogger sroden said...

yeah, i was pretty stunned when i found this, i figured it'd be cheesy, but he writes really well, and totally interesting take on things...

8:25 AM  
Blogger kclare said...

This is wonderful to read, thank you...I certainly would have never thought...

5:45 PM  
Blogger bloggsy said...

"i suppose if this specialization continues we'll eventually find people whose entire record collection will consist of many different renditions of a single work..."

one word: sweet caroline

1:56 PM  

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