From the Archive: Aaron Copland on the Phonograph
When thinking about the unprecedented accessibility to music that we have today, it is interesting to return to the reflections of the composer Aaron Copland in his article “The World of the Phonograph” from our Winter, 1937 issue of The American Scholar.
Here are some of his insights.
“The phonograph, moreover, enjoys the inestimable advantage of giving the listener what he wants when he wants it. Pity the poor radio adept who craves the intimacy of a string quartet past midnight. Via the phonograph a variety of musical fare can be obtained which not even the concert hall can rival.”
“An intelligent use of all this material can mean a broadening and deepening of one’s entire musical experience – broadening in the sense of opening up ever-widening horizons of musical enjoyment and deepening in the sense of the more profound knowledge that only repeated hearings can bring.”
“Passive listening to phonograph music brings with it the danger of over-familiarity. Not even the greatest masterworks can withstand endless repetition without finally surfeiting the listener.”
But on the other side, what dangers do you think we encounter with the ability to skip over any amount of music with a single click?