Why Classical Music Is Imperiled—sort Of

“We want to be Nashville’s new hot spot,” Senita said. “We’re going to have Southern comfort food and classic cocktails mixed with music and sports.” Barlines will book a variety of bands and have a weekly songwriter night on Tuesday, said Senita, who said the venue is booking its October calendar. Additionally, performances will be recorded and broadcast on the Barlines channel for hotel patrons. “We’re going to have music seven days a week from open to close, with sports mixed in as well for big games, featuring Titans games,” she said. “Our music will range from country honky-tonk style to country-rock, bluegrass, rockabilly. We have a good variety of artists that we’re going to bring in.” Barlines is on the first floor of the west side of the 800-room hotel behind the Country Music Hall of Fame at 250 Fifth Ave. S. Omni actually links up with the Hall of Fame and even incorporates items from country music legends such as Tammy Wynette and Johnny Cash along its main hallway leading from the lobby. Barlines has two full bars at opposite ends, a Southern-style menu and a “Tennessee whiskey trail” with 21 in-state whiskeys. Outdoor seating is available with a view of Music City Center across the street. ALSO ONLINE: A spirited journey along Tennessee’s Whiskey Trail Already, Omni has 390,000 confirmed bookings, said Tod Roadermel, director of sales and marketing. The rack rate is $359 per night and, in addition to Barlines, the hotel features Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which Roadermel said he expected to compete with the city’s top steak houses, and a Bongo Java coffee shop.


Grade-three teacher at the Tarrant Primary School in Kingston, Gloria Simpson, gives some special attention to students (from left in front row) Anthony Johnson, Demario Phinn (and in the background), Tatyana Hobbins, Deniesha Cox and Shaweek Thompson, during a language arts session in which music is used to aid in the learning process. The verdict is out: grade-three students at the Tarrant Primary School in Kingston are learning better since music has been incorporated in their curriculum. Gloria Simpson is a grade-three coordinator, who supervises three other teachers across four classes at the grade-three level. Simpson says she can attest that the inclusion of music in the daily curricular activities does have a positive bearing both on children’s behaviour and their educational development. She was one of 50 principals and teachers from across nine primary schools in Kingston, Mandeville and St James who benefited from a series of music workshops since October 2012, equipping them with the knowledge of how to infuse music within the classrooms to enhance learning among their students. These overall project falls under the Music, Perfect Pitch for A Sound Education programme – a joint undertaking between First Global Bank (FGB), First Global Financial Services (FGFS) – subsidiaries of GraceKennedy, and the Ministry of Education. The programme commenced in October, 2011 but Tarrant Primary joined in February. “Having attended the workshops, I find the methodology to be very effective, and I am seeing where music can enhance literacy and numeracy not just at Tarrant, but throughout Jamaica,” Simpson said, supporting her reasoning with theoretical and statistical data from renowned psychologists Howard Gardner and Lev Semenovich Vygosky. “We really appreciate First Global for sponsoring this project.” The school’s principal, Thelma Porter, agrees that the inclusion of music into the educational mix has been better enabling students’ learning ability. “When I heard about the programme I got very excited. I am big on literacy and over the years I have done research which tells me that music enhances literacy, so I thought I must have this programme in my school,” she said. “Once the children get involved in music, they are moving, touching and singing …

First Global makes sweet music at Tarrant Primary

28, unless a sugar daddy with deep pockets shows up unexpectedly. The Minnesota Orchestra and New York City Opera are simply the latest victims in a long-running classical music recession. The long list of recent orchestral crises includes the San Francisco strike of 2013, the Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy filing of 2011 (it emerged from bankruptcy in the final days of summer 2013), and the Detroit Symphony players strike of 2010. The Great Recession exacerbated the already troubled finances of many symphony orchestras, opera houses, chamber groups and other institutions dedicated to playing the classical repertoire with highly-skilled, well-compensated musicians. Attendance is down, with 8.8 percent of adults going to at least one classic music event in 2012, compared to 11.6 percent in 2002, according to the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts. The classical music business seems locked in a state of terminal illness, staggering from crisis to crisisespecially symphony orchestras, the crown jewel of classical musics ecology. By other measures, the classical canon seems healthy, if not downright vibrant. The NEA survey notes that 18 percent of adults listened to classical music on TV, radio, and the Internetmore than heard Latin music, Spanish music, Salsa music, or jazz. While writing this column, I listened to Bachs Brandenburg concertos playing in the backgroundthe version by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Neville Marrinerone of more than 180 such albums available for download on iTunes ( AAPL ). (A Brandenburg Concerto search in the music section of Amazon.com ( AMZN ) came up with 1,510 possibilities.) Classical music lovers can get their Chopin, Sibelius, and Beethoven on public radio in most markets. Fact is, if the Minnesota Orchestra never plays another note, there will be no shortage of competitive offerings locally. I could cross the Mississippi to listen to the nearby St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (recently back from its own strike), attend any number of concerts in Minneapolis by visiting musicians, or download favorite recordings. Classical music shares a problem afflicting all entertainment these days: fierce competition for eyes, seats, and dollars.

An inconvenient truth: Why music sounds bad

That way the listeners can hear it well enough in the noisiest of places. That’s why engineers compress music, compression boosts the softer sounds, and flattens the really loud bits, so it all comes out sounding the same. From a whisper to a scream, it’s all equally loud. Adding a little extra zing to the mix helps it cut better over the lowest-fi Bluetooth speakers, especially when there’s lots of competing sound on the beach or park or other settings. And since most BT speakers are just one speaker, mono is well on its way to replacing stereo over speakers. They haven’t figured out how to lose stereo over headphones just yet, but given enough time I’m sure it will happen. Of course, folks who occasionally listen in quieter places, over decent speakers or headphones, are rightfully appalled by the sound. They voice their outrage on various forums , including this blog , but we more attentive listeners are just a tiny minority. Most folks happily consume overly compressed and processed music, and sadly, I can’t see that changing anytime soon. That’s reality; the engineers will continue to skew their mixes by pumping up the midbass and adding sizzle to the treble, so the sound cuts through the murk. Subtlety doesn’t make sense anymore. The brightest ray of hope for good sound is the continuing vinyl sales boom, but again, the overall number of vinyl listeners is small. We can be pretty sure that those lucky few are listening to their LPs at home, and not on a bus, plane, car , or on the beach.