Musical Tourism?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On pondering the status of Upstate New York tourism, Mr. Mecomber (a musician) pondered, "What's missing is music."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Music," he said. "New York tourism is promoting art, fine art, historic events, and now 'agri-tourism,' but where is the music?" The husband loves music and can sit for HOURS listening to music or learning about the latest Dean gadget. Me, not so much.

Hm. But his remark got me thinking. Before there were DVDs and video games, before there were VCRs and museums and amusement parks, what was there? Why, operas. Plays. Orchestral concerts. Dances.

Music was an integral part of our leisure time then. Today, it had definitely moved to the background, or disappeared entirely. I wonder why? From a very objective viewpoint, you could consider that culture has largely moved away from participatory pastimes to spectator pastimes. This is very obvious in sports, but it is obvious in our entertainment culture today.

A century ago and for hundreds of years before then, a time of leisure usually involved social (real social) events like dancing and listening to music together. Today, it is watching stuff-- movies, sports, video games. Some have said that music is a reflection on society while others say society is a reflection on music. Music has become less of an art form today and more of a tool, a tool for social engineering, marketing, altering behavior, etc. Music for music's sake seems largely absent from our culture. I can almost remember some one quoting something about music and culture, that the presence of refined music has a softening effect on the harshness of society or something like that.

 As far as tourism-- well, what musical outlets can you think of? There's the Grand Ol' Opry in the South... here in Northeast we don't have anything like that, unless you count Woodstock (which was repulsive, IMNSHO). There are musical concerts, but how great a percentage of our population goes to these?

What do you think? Is music an incremental part of your life? Do you think our culture has shifted from a more participatory society to one that prefers spectator events?

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