November 13, 2009

Please stop

I got a press-release e-mail this week with the subject line "Survey Reveals People Love Classical Music During Tough Economic Times". Curious? I was. (I mean, does that mean they hate classical music when the economy picks up again? Because that would be kind of weird.) Turns out, it's an online survey by the mp3-dealer Classical Archives. The question was this: "Why do you think you love classical music?" And, sure enough, 20.3% of the respondents clicked on "Relaxes me when life is stressing me out". Now, they didn't specify just what was stressing those respondents out specifically, but OK, bad economy is pretty universally stressful, fair enough.

But here's how the press release spins that: "The survey suggests that classical music, more than rock and pop, is able to calm the nerves in tough times." COMMENCE COMEDY SPIT-TAKE NOW! I sure hope somebody at Classical Archives is frantically looking under the cushions for some longitudinal data to support that conclusion, considering they forgot to even mention rock or pop—or jazz, or musical theatre, or polka, or Sacred Harp, or Pansori, or anything else—in the wording of their survey. More from the press release:
Nolan Gasser, Artistic Director, Classical Archives, notes, that “Are the results surprising? Hardly."
I wouldn't think so, given that the sample pool consisted exclusively of customers of a classical music website.

Of course, 60.2% of the respondents love classical music because "It is simply the best music there is," an statement of such impressive intellectual vacuity that I'm guessing it could liquefy nitrogen. Me? I love classical music because the majority of it doesn't characterize the relationship between life, art, performer, and listener as "simply" anything, but as an opportunity to acknowledge and explore that relationship's complexity, because there are still some of us who think that complexity is fun and rewarding. That's probably too long for a multiple-choice poll answer, isn't it? Yeah, I thought so. OK, fine—I'll take "I'm a freak for culture."

12 comments:

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