Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 7. May 1, 1952
Modern Music ... — A Place for Jazz
Modern Music ...
A Place for Jazz
"Jazz—What a horrible word! It smacks of the milkbar, of the lower classes, and Juke boxes, and all things which we 'educated' people deteat." Is that what you think? Mayabe you like to kid yourself that you have good solid reasons for your dislike, bat these are probably rationalisations of a prejudice you feel you should have. You like to think yourself educated, but you haven't even learnt the lesson of tolerance and an open mind, which is the first requisite for any discussion.
Nobody will deny that modern music is an important part of our culture. Whether you like It or not. It is sold more, heard more, liked by more people than any other form of music. This does not make it any better but it certainly proves that we can't just ignore it. Why do most people prefer the popular to the classical? Is it because they have never had the opportunity to compare it with anything better? Although classical music is crowded out, of radio programmes and concerts, it can still be heard by those who want to listen. Sunday night programmes especially are studded with symphonies, chamber music and nocturnes in mournful procession so that is not the reason. Is it because he follows the fashion hoping to be smart and up to date? It is true than many enthusiasts—almost as many as that parallel group which likes to bask in the reflected glory of the classics—do not understand the modern movement as such. They buy and listen to the latest hits, following like sheep the accepted leaders of the fashion—to them its just an excuse to dance. Yet these are not as numerous as may be supposed, because this music is some thing they understand, and has the power to move the most sub-human of men.
Music Just Recreation
There, of course. I have put my finger on the most overworked objection to popular music. "It has nothing intellectual," the critics say. "The words seldom mean anything—it is pure rhythm, and appeals only to the animal in us." They ait back with a smile as [unclear: in] they had completely deflated those who took the opposite view. But those people miss the point completely. Classical music likes to think of itself as an inspiration to the soul, moving men to great deeds, and playing an important role in our very existence. But the popular tradition sees music as something to amuse us, to be played with and then put aside. After all, what is music if it is not just recreation? As for appealing to the animal In us, well, there is nothing morally wrong with modern music so why not enjoy it and let our passions have full sway. Escapism, yes, but only in four-minute doses.
I have tried to show that modern music exists in its own right. It makes no attempt to replace classical music completely, but merely wants to exist side by side with that older form of culture. Since it has won an overwhelming victory in the arena of popular acclaim, it seems a pretty fair request to me.