Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Super rich music gigs

This is great work if you can get it! There was a similar story about Coldplay recently.

I think this kind of event - the super rich paying for the most famous entertainers in the world to appear at their party - has become a lot more common over the past few years. I suspect this is tied up with the phenomenon of live gigs and concerts becoming more of a focus for artists and ensembles.

As record sales decline it's becoming easier and simpler to earn money from touring than record sales, even to the extent that some music is being given away for free to tempt people pay for gigs. As this happens and everyone listens to (essentially) all the music they want for free whilst also becoming more willing to pay money for gigs this is a way for the super rich to assert their wealth and power.

Getting such famous bands to come and play for them personally shows that they are superior to the rest of us and gives them instant cachet. This is just an extension of the move we're seeing towards live experiences to balance the increasing amount of time we spend online.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Play Abramovich Party

Monday, 2 January 2012

Stradivarius shocker

The tendency for collectors and famous violinists to spend vast sums of money on antique instruments is one of the best examples of why classical music is often labeled as old-fashioned and elitist. Often it seems as though performers have to own a note-worthy instrument to br credible at all.

As a clarinetist I've often thought this was a strange idea - why should instruments that are hundreds of years old be any better than modern ones? This research, while not perfect, strongly suggests that the idea of a Stradivarius' superiority is an artificially constructed one.

In blind tests violinists couldn't really seem to tell the difference between the antique and modern instruments they were given to play. Of course, there are flaws: every instrument is different and if the violins and players were changed the antiques might come out on top. Nevertheless, the result does go some way towards disproving what has been an extremely stubborn idea.

Hopefully soon this particular element of entrenched prejudice will disappear. Starivarius' and the like remain brilliant instruments, but it would not do any harm to recognise the craftsmanship of modern violin makers, and stop unnecessarily judging players on a such superficial aspect of music.

How many notes would a virtuoso violinist pay for a Stradivarius?