Sunday, March 8, 2015

A new openness in music

I was planning on responding to Juhani Vesikkalas guest blogged text from earlier.

But rather for now I will continue on what my mind has been on lately and what I was planning on writing before our interesting exhange, more on that later!

I would like to address somewhat the concept of openness and transperancy in music. Simply put it is more then time for us to change our attitude towards it in classical music infrastructure. But rather then talk about the need for transperancy in the political sense, I would like to focus on openness as it is this shift in attitude that can only really bring about real transperancy.

The first question that comes to mind is a general one, what is transperancy in music? Transperancy at it's most simplest could be considered "the ability to interact with critique," in the sense that one is able to listen, digest and either reject or accept it (and it is important to remember that both rejecting and accepting are important). Here I make the distinction between transperancy and openness in that even if in transperancy one must accept scrutiny, only if we are open are we able to make change, on both a subjective and wider social context from this scrutiny.

Public politicians are great examples in this that they are required to face open scrutiny but are not themselves needed to have any personality features which enable them to empathetically respond to it. In fact quite the opposite seems to be the case.

But we in the arts are not politicians, and should not act that way, even if someone of us hold public positions as members and empoyees of public institutions. And yet, focusing exclusively now on classical music institutions, most of them appear opaque. Why is this? Is it because the legacy of classical music is tied so strongly with aristocratic ideas and thus a hierarchical and secretive idea of society? Is it because public institutions (most of them around here are largly public, I can imagine private institutions are only more opaque) tend towards a beaurocratization, and thus another form of stratifying of the social? Here both of my answers point towards the same, i.e. that the formation of what we know as classical music is tied to specific ideological positions in society.

Perhaps this is the point where I should address what is the second function of critique. That is, to create alternative scenarios. The easiest argument against change from critique is the "how do we do it?" And if you have no answer to that, how much is your critique really worth? In other words, what are the practical measuers we must take to achieve that change that you now point out to? That you have showed us this, what do we do now? And as such it is a question one must be able to aswer on some level for the critique to take affect.

My aswer here is towards a generalisation, how else could one say with so many specific cases? And that is simply openness. We must start to find out. Now in a sense this answer is not an aswer, but it is a practical solution and the difference here is important because it points to a different way of conceiving problem solution in the socio-political sphere. In it we accept that we do not have the answer (if there is one in the first place) but that we recognise that one must act in this world in order for change to occur (I would add that we should do it without pragmatic ideology behind us).

Openness in this sense means the ability to stay aware of the prevailing situation we are in, critique it, learn from this critique and practiacally apply this knowledge on the problems as we are experiencing them in this moment. In music this is called improvisation.

But how is this to work in an institution that runs its projects from several years behind the event in terms of financing and planning?

The two obvious solutions are the total and radical reforming of classical institutions, in itself highly unpractical and problematic. And a half-way point of denying content from planning, thus forming structural nodes and ways in which things can appear locally in terms of self organising forms and action, coagulation, events. A much more interesting proposal I think, lets call it facilitizing.

The question that really sticks out for me, is why should any art institutions run as copies of governmental beaurocratic institutions? Do we really need them to be driven so much by an office ideology that is modelled for creating surplus value, especially when all these institutions run on deficit? What and who are really benefiting from this type of practice? Do we need really need to be driven so much by the desire to know beforehand what is to occur at a specific moment in the future?

Artists already predict the future, why do institutions need to?