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Saeculumnal Overlaps in Music: What's next?
#1
It's no secret that 2010's is a repeat of the 1930's, but does it also do that in Music? Who's our "Benny Goodman" that we Milennials will resort to in isolation in the 2040's and 2050's? What kind of musical development awaits us accoring to the Saeculum? And what music will our coming Prophet generation revolt with? These are my questions here.
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#2
It's likely that "our music" in the years ahead is going to be so varied and specialized, that there won't be any such thing as "our music." It's already the case, except that pop music still has tremendous pull on you tube and digital sales. But how much of real "musical development" is evident in today's pop music?
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#3
A possible analogue in serious music is the great Dmitri Shostakovich, what one would expect in a repressive order in which one must register dissent subtly -- perhaps presenting it as a struggle with something that one is permitted to have a struggle with (like drugs, alcohol, or organic disease). If one is clever enough one might put some dissonance into superficial praise of political and economic leadership. Much unlike the 1930s, which America got through with its democracy intact, I cannot be sure that democracy will survive the Trump era.

Light-hearted, superficial entertainment might be exactly the pap that the elites offer as the 'opiate of the masses' -- maybe with some sports thrown in. Gladiatorial games? Maybe if things get nasty enough we could have the Roman spectacle of damnatio bestiae   for people seen as the worst of the worst. Getting to watch some wretch devoured by a crocodile? If we go that bad, then we deserve the Huns.

But back to music. The elites do not want the masses to think. Anti-intellectualism is essential to any dictatorial regime. I can imagine conscience-informed  music by the likes of Pete Seeger or Woodie Guthrie forced underground, if not formally banned. Perform such music, and there just might be no places in which to perform it. I expect the economic elites to foster a sentimental, mindless mass culture that befits a scenario like Fahrenheit 451. Nobody needs to burn books, but people will have to be content with tabloid fare. There might be some ironic promotion of diversity -- to divide and conquer by region, sect, and ethnicity. Count on the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez being relegated to the scrap heap of culture once they are gone (they are now old): conscience is the nemesis of an undemocratic order.

We need remind ourselves that the mass culture of the late 1930s in America was really, really good. Big Band music may have been the best popular music ever. American cinema  of the late 1930s and into 1940 and 1941 holds up well. The omnibus entertainment of the late 1930s had to be accessible to children and not offend the sensibilities of smart adults, sophisticated atheists and religious fundamentalists, people of New England and of the Deep South at the same time.  The family typically went together to the movie house and had only one radio. Can you imagine that if there were but one source of entertainment for a whole family that whole families would listen to the comedy of the late Sam Kinison?

I see some trends toward homogenization of culture and omnibus entertainment. It may be possible to splinter the movie audience with low-budget fare (often direct-to-video) -- but contrast Pixar and Studio Ghibli. Disney can sell its animated fare at a premium while slasher fare goes from full-price to bargain-bin quickly.

We do not have the political reality of American life in the late 1930s. This time the monsters are on Main Street.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#4
Something I've noticed is that an honest 1990s revival is yet to come. There's still some 1980s nostalgia yet to overcome. What's fascinating here is that the 1990s and 1910s was the decades of snark. The kind of snark that during the eras we're now in was yearned after but never got until the crisis was over. So "Retrowave" will definitely be the music of this era and will continue to be a winning formula until the crisis is over.
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