When I learned that my friend Chris Rotolo ran a very popular music mega-site, Speak Into My Good Eye, I immediately wanted to contribute something. However, given that I am not so musically inclined (I never fully learned how to play an instrument; I stopped playing guitar and trumpet when I was around twelve, a major life regret), I really did not know where to begin or what exactly to write about. In need of a topic, he suggested that I write something, perhaps, from a classical musician’s point of view on the current state of music. I got to thinking, and what better way to present an opinion of the not-so-great music we now have at our disposal than by interviewing the legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself! I must tell you, he is extremely difficult to track down, but luckily, I was able to get a hold of him to conduct this brief interview. Below is a sample of our conversation, held via an SB-7 Spirit Box last week:
GC: First off, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy celestial schedule to conduct this interview.
WM: No, no, let me thank you! It is not often I get a chance to converse with mortals. While I do observe from my concert hall in the sky, and much to my pleasure, continue to hear my rather old music still being played, actual conversation is rare.
GC: Since the basis for this interview is what you have observed of current music, let’s start with that. What can you tell us?
WM: Putting it bluntly, I am glad I died when I did. Don’t get me wrong, music has gone through many excellent periods since my untimely death, which, for those who are wondering, was not caused by Antonio Salieri, but the state of music now could leave someone like me speechless. I cannot believe how low the human race has degraded in terms of what is actually considered “music” and “art”.
GC: What would you say is the biggest difference between composers and musicians of your time compared to today?
WM: Not to sound arrogant, but to make it in the music world back in the 1700’s, one actually needed to have talent. Music itself, such as a symphony or concerto, needed to be carried on its own, since elegantly dressed viewers had to sit quietly in lavishly decorated concert halls to listen to the orchestra, which was always stationary, play the composer’s music. If they were lucky enough, they would even get a chance to see the composer himself conducting, but that is besides the point. What matters, and this is what people take for granted about what you mortals call “classical music”, is exactly how much work went into a particular piece. The music just does not appear like magic. In order for me to write something so simple such as a symphony, I needed to compose every single note on every single stanza for multiple instruments. To be a composer meant exactly that, to “compose” a grand sound, where different instruments, and many of them at that, come together in a perfect harmony. Therefore, I need to sit down and write what the violins and other strings are doing, then the brass, then percussion, and woodwinds. Is there a harp? Are there any backing vocals? If so, do we want a light female voice or a deep male tenor? Or maybe a half tenor? A whole choir is an option too. This entire scheme needs to be mapped out, and then, one at a time, I write every single note for all of these instruments while keeping in mind what it will sound like when they are playing simultaneously. And what if I am composing an opera? Ha! All of that plus dialogue cues, opening and closing of schemes and the volume level you want it at, and then you have to meet with a librettist! Have you ever tried working with a librettist?
GC: I think we’d refer to them as screenwriters.
WM: They always have such egos! And after all of that, sometimes audiences would deride and sneer a certain work, because we were held to such a high standard. But what about now? What do audiences consider to be a standard?
GC: Not to interrupt, but I think a better question would be, are there any standards?
WM: That is a good question. It does not appear that there are. These people called “rappers” come out on stage waving their hands in the air and making all kinds of gestures, some of which did not even exist when I was alive, and then talk so fast and sloppy that no one can understand what they are saying, except for the profanities. And the music behind them bumbles out of the speakers like a toxic noise. And they call that music? A form of art? Made even more insulting are when they lip-synch, holding the microphone in front of their mouths so close that you cannot even see their lips move. Is that what the audience paid for? An opera or concerto in my time could have went on for four hours, with each page of a musical notebook painstakingly set, aligned, and made ready so that the performance was continuous. Today? It’s a symphony of horse manure! And then the women come out, hardly wearing anything, nearly stripping on stage. Is that what people want to see? Is that what people want their young, impressionable children looking at as being alright? These parents, I’m sure, would not want their own sons or daughters peddling such rubbish on a stage in front of an equally brainless audience gawking at them, so why do they let such music and, dare I call it, “entertainment”, be viewed in their houses? When I was their age, I listened to Vivaldi and Bach played at the grandest of halls, and my father Leopold made sure I worked hard so I could even come close to such talent, practicing for hours on end every day. Today, all you need is a mouth and a microphone.
Please click here to read the rest of this interview, featured on Speak Into My Good Eye.