Monday, September 10, 2012


I shall start out with two quotes.

"We live in a society of commodities - that is, a society in which production of goods is taking place, not primarily to satisfy human wants and needs, but for profit."

"If no attention is given to the song, it cannot be sold; if attention is paid to it, there is always the possibility that people will no longer accept it, because they know it too well. This partly accounts for the constantly renewed effort to sweep the market with new products, to hound them to their graves; then to repeat the infanticidal manoeuvre again and again."

If music (according to Adorno) has fallen from the realms of artistic expression to that of a commodity for profit, and has been meticulously broken down into its parts and completely "understood", only to be restructured and resold, then perhaps the breakdown of a painting or a sculpture into its constituting parts, colours, lines, curves, surely is but a commodity too? And it is. Mass produced high quality paintings for cheap, sculptures of all shapes and sizes for any environment, are all on sale.

Adorno critiqued the commercialisation of music in 1941? And 70 years later commercialisation has spread to anything that can be bought, and we do buy many things. It makes you wonder how humanity has as a species through its ability to adapt to its environments, form societies, create arts and culture, end up but slaves to the enormous economic circle jerk we call capitalism. And who do we have to blame for that?

But I digress, if all Adorno saw as serious music (what I would generalise and simply refer to) was "classical music", what would he have thought of modern "classical music" or has all serious music already been created and anything thereafter is but just a copy/popular music in his eyes? I guess what I'm really trying to say is, is Adorno's classification for serious music/ "classical music" nothing more than an old git wallowing in the nostalgia of a bygone classical era who's unable to accept the emergence of a new "uncivilised" era/culture?

But I digress again....

Serious or popular?

1 comment:

  1. Your extrapolation of Adorno's arguments to other media (in this case sculpture and painting) actually anticipates a video that I'll show in section tomorrow, one of my favorite Portlandia sketches called "Bad Art Good Walls."

    Let me also add to the mix a list of the many popular songs that have taken classical music as their melodic base.