Thoughts about – Toward new Music by Carlos Chavez
Carlos Chavez was a renewed composer, pianist, conductor and music educator and he wrote this book where we can know a little more about his personality and ideas.After reading Toward New Music by Carlos Chavez, some thoughts started to come to my mind, and to explain a little about his work and my thoughts, I am going to start with the first chapter called “Seeing the Present in Perspective.”
In this chapter Chavez explains what he thinks about the present time. For example when he says, “The present is a very difficult period for us to observe because we are inside it” that occurs because it is easy to talk about the past when you know everything about it and since it is over already you can philosophize about it. But what would it be like if you were living at that time ? Things would be different.
Carlos Chavez says “Masters of music always were considered ahead of their time” but for Chavez, it was actually the opposite. The masters were not ahead in the time, but their public was too behind, and to explain why this occurs Chavez says, the “public like to live in the past” and that is why the composers of yesterday are recognized over artists of today, but not in their times. That makes me think how many more geniuses and artists are not being recognized right now, and won’t be until after they die. It is like the case of Mozart, he suffered so much during his life, with so many problems and now everyone loves him. I feel bad for Mozart; how would he feel seeing how important he became to the world ? And I feel bad for the new composers that after so many years still the same, still being Mozarts years after years. I don`t really think the audience is behind the masters, but I do think it is too difficult for the audience to admit that a living person like them is a genius.
In the chapter “Music and Physics,” Chavez explains how all the arts have physical phenomenon happening, music soundings and vibrations, and he says “ No art exists without physics happening all the time.” He says with the new technologies we were able to get better and develop great instruments. In my opinion he gives to much credit to the physics and rational things and forgets the most important thing: it doesn`t matter if you have the best violin in the world and the better tools for it if you don`t have a good violinist. Chavez thinks too much about the tools but forgets who is using the tools. As humans we are not as precise as the physical reactions; we are extremely inconstant living beings following our emotions all the time and a study about the humans felling’s using their instruments would be more creative in my opinion.
In the Chapter “Production and Reproduction” Chavez explains that humans have developed music as the languages for necessity. In my opinion we for sure got better with the evolution and new possibilities, but music is not only about that. We are not only animals that got better than the others, we are much more than this; we have different conditions by nature that others animals don`t have and never will. We want to try to get better, we want to impress and give our best always, and animals just want to live with only instinct.
In the chapter “New Music” Chavez explains that new music didn’t exist in many cases, and the only one who really created music was Bach, who was able to bring something new to life . Bach was able to take advantage of the instruments in his time and create new things, similarly to Chopin, who changed the piano world. It is very curious when Chavez says it music doesn’t exist without an artist. That made me think, what is an artist today and In that time ? I would say many people can make music today without being an artist so it is a very relative word nowadays. He also explains the difference between commercial music and educational music. The first one is always a success and the second delayed because it is new and shocks people. Chavez finishes by saying “Don`t be afraid of doing new things because the new is always a surprise and can be brilliant since is new”.
To conclude, I would say it was very interesting to read this book that was published in 1937 and now we are reading it in the 21th century in 2017 and we can see exactly the same things happening. Last week I went to a lecture of this professor from Juilliard and he just said exactly the same “ Classical Music can be reborn”. Before reading this book or going to the lecture I already knew about “new music” with my own experiences as a musician. Chavez says nobody recognizes the composers now, only when they die and nowadays this is still happening. Two weeks ago I went to Portalles to perform my professor’s composition quintet; he is a genius and all the musicians recognize this, but unfortunately we didn`t have much of an audience to listen to one of the most beautiful quintets written nowadays. Will we have to wait for my professor to die for him to be recognized? How can we still permit this to happen? We can clearly see a repetition with what happened with Mozart, it happened with Carlos Chavez, and it happens with my genius professor; nothing is really changing even after trying hard to create new things, so maybe besides knowing we need to be new, we should try go more to the media and explain why these people are geniuses. In my opinion, musicians should invest more time divulging in media such as Facebook, Youtube, TV, and radio, and convince people to go to concerts and recognize the new music.
Chavez,CarlosToward a newMusic:Music and Eletricity Published in New York,1937.