I'm going to be concise about this. No foreplay. I am just going to tell it like it is. But before I do, understand that this is a conclusion I came to after years of "open-minded" thought. How I think now is not subject to any challenge; I have come to this conclusion in my professional opinion. The powers that be would have you believe that if you say what I'm about to say, it means you simply don't understand enough about the issue. Well, I understand. And, again, this is the conclusion I have come to after very careful considering everything for years now.
Milton Babbitt is not a musician. That's right, I said it.
Milton Babbitt was a mathematician, not a composer. He was a genius, to be sure, but he was not musical in the least. Bold statement, I know.
Milton Babbitt's music is, by its very design, devoid of all musicality and soul. He filtered out all the humanity from his "music." I respect serialism, but his method of total serialism is a waste. And the article "Who Cares If You Listen?" is a crock. Google it, and read it for yourself, because it's not even worth my time to fully analyze it. No, I've wasted enough of my life on Milton Babbitt; I don't need to spend all the wee hours of the morning convincing you why.
The sad thing is, this school of thought has become dogmatic for any scholarly composer. If you disagree, you're narrow-minded. Hm... doesn't that sound a teensy bit like hypocrisy? This is what I'm absolutely fed up with. We spent a whole seminar discussing this article in January, which quickly got heated. The faculty nearly bit the heads off of anyone who remotely insinuated anything anti-Babbitt. So... what's the point of discussing, if we're not going to really discuss anything? They don't want discussion; they want conformity.
John Cage is not a musician.
According to Cage, everything is music, and a composer is simply someone who is in love with sound. Pal, it takes more than that. I agree with Brahms: composing is part inspiration, part craftsmanship. Cage has mayyyyybe half a wit of inspiration. Mostly he's just an experimentalist. I always said "John Cage is not a musician; he's a philosopher." It turns out I was still giving him too much credit. That is, he doesn't really have a grip on his own philosophy. Last week, we wasted another seminar watching a documentary on John Cage. I learned nothing from this. I already knew all about Cage. I just hate him more now. He was nothing more than a new age hippie, and I have absolutely no respect for him. I loathe his entire "career." And I deeply resent the entire movement.
Here, now, nearing the end of my academic road, I have come to this conclusion that would greatly upset the faculty. Ironically, it was essentially because of them that I turned so strongly against Babbitt and Cage. I can only reiterate that I fully understand all the facets of their philosophies and techniques. I once was open to it, even embraced it. Now, I have completely rejected it. That is my conclusion. After a long road, this is where I stand. Those who cannot appreciate that are being closed-minded themselves. If you truly examine something, considering everything about it with an open and accepting mind, and ultimately reject it, that means your conclusion is perfectly valid.
I feel like I've been on a philosophical crusade the past two years. I'm not alone on this, though. There are other soldiers and generals riding under the same banner.
This academia is a waste of my time. Instead of helping me grow as a composer, I'm constantly force-fed the same "mind-expanding" propaganda they give to sophomores. The thing that really bothers me the most is the blatant hypocrisy of it all. If I don't see things a certain way, it's because I'm either closed-minded, or not well-read enough, or I don't fully understand the movement. Hmmm... doesn't that sound a bit two-faced? Transparently so? Thanks, professors.
The fact that these two "composers" have become historical giants--gurus, even--is a travesty. Some days I wake up and can't believe their practices have become dogma.
Milton Babbitt is not a musician. John Cage is not a musician. There you have it. Bold statements, I know. And not just general condemnations uttered in a moment of ire; this is the end result of literally hundreds of hours of careful thought and debate with dozens of other people throughout the past 6 or so years of my life.
Stop the ride, I'd like to get off.