„Uncertainty was yesterday, today is chaos”. This was the title of an article that I read last week in the Harvard Business Review. The author speculated that today we had such a great variety of influence factors for making decisions. These factors have unpredictable correlations that make it almost impossible to come to a clear conclusion. Our lives are influenced by giant forces such as mobility, globalisation, non-conformism, cultural and social diversity. No wonder we feel that the complexity is increasing.
Does the increasing complexity in life have an influence on the way the composers of today write music? When I am playing the music of contemporary composers, I ask myself – does this music express the feeling of modernity? When yes, what is it? Can it be captured in words? The search for the feeling of modernity is not new. Let me share with you the thoughts of Charles Baudelaire who was a great poet, an art philosopher and a deep thinker. He believes that any artist is a “spiritual citizen of the universe“ by his or her very nature as a super sensory sensitive person who is very inquisitive and who has an immense yearning for knowledge and understanding. Baudelaire had an interesting thought that the way of artist’s reacting to the world would eventually lead to some cultural progression – in other words, an artist is forever in search of modernity.
There is one more thought by Charles Baudelaire that fascinated me. He says that the hardest part of being “contemporary” artist is to love the present times, embrace them, and not search in the past. He wanted the artists to live in present and enjoy it. To discover the beauty of today and listen to the present. To hear “today” and understand it! That is how artistic motto of Moving Classics TV “Discover the beauty of contemporary piano” and “Listen to our life” was born.
What is contemporary piano? Just by listening quickly to our “Fantasy notes” playlists, your impression will be a mixture of every conceivable genre: from the distant Bach polyphony and Lisztian harmonies to the jazz rhythms, ethno sounds, ambient, minimalism, lounge, pop, to name just a few. It is hard for purists to find a certain sustainable line. But the compositions are just like our life: multi-stylistic, extreme diverse, non-conform, flexible, still fresh, and childishly pure. There is a reason for it too: composers are able to draw their inspiration from a practically limitless array of sources, from Palestrina singing to Lady Gaga viral songs. The absence of limitations nourish the composer’s soul and bring more creative ideas. It is more a question of making a well-thought choice and being loyal to one own beliefs.
The contemporary composers have a much more complex society to deal with. They are trying to meet the taste of a society that is influenced by breaking news and the thoughts of flexibility, comfort and entertainment. Our society is also highly performance-oriented. Internet made music available to everybody at no cost and if people are in search of inspiration or just want to relax or get entertained, they will be listening to music. To be the source of inspiration for the society, contemporary composers compete with the genius of the past. It is often the case that if our society wants to get more “culture”, they go to the concert featuring the 19th century music. Just look at the program of any concert hall in the world. Or just type in Beethoven & Chopin in Google line or YouTube and listen online. It still works. The genius of the past still inspire us.
In a world that seems to be more and more unpredictable and sometimes chaotic, there is a wish to reduce the complexity of life. No wonder new age, ambient or just relaxation music grew in popularity or just any background-oriented music to support our multi-tasking activities. I think an important role of the contemporary music today is to reach new upcoming milieus in the society. A new type of listener needs a new kind of music. A new listener does not want to invest much time in trying to accommodate his or her ear to the music. They are inpatient, they want to be either immediately carried away or they just leave, they want music that allow them to lean back and let the mind wander. Having said that, I would like to conclude with the words of Charles Baudelaire: “Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one-half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable.”