Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Mohler's commentary on bookstores

Earlier this year, I mentioned Albert Mohler's column on the demise of bookstores. It made me ask a few serious questions considering the tastes of us.

Serious Music? The iPod and other portable media players have led to the demise of bookstores and music stores. But the seriousness of music had me wondering how it affects the music that we appreciate, enjoy, play, and sing. The 99-cent download of songs is cheap when you consider a typical commercial popular music album will carry between ten and twelve songs that are usually three to five minutes per album, and that is between four and six dollars cheaper than an album that costs $16. But that is the genre of the majority, and unfortunately, we are not of the common type.

There is a reason. A few years ago, I purchased a two-disc set of Händel's Messiah, which as I have seen from my songbook, carries 53 selections. The record label reduced it to 44 selections by merging a few recitatives into one selection. The album cost less than $16, and if I purchased it on an online music store, that would be $43.58 for the entire masterpiece, versus the $16 cost, and music companies can punish classical music more by making all 53 selections separate in order to maximise costs. As I mentioned last year, a 15-minute piece by the Upton Trio is not available as a download of a single song. That's clearly punishing serious music for rewarding the short attention span of the latest Bieber, Bridges, Sebert, Spears, Aguilera, or the latest pop starlet of the day. It is sad to consider our favourite pieces will be considerably more expensive than the latest pop starlet because our long pieces are not suitable for the modern four-minute trends as digital downloads replace albums, the costs will lean favourably towards the pop industry, and the serious music that we learn is not accepted. Even some rock stars have objected, stating entire works are to be purchased in their entirety, not piecemeal.

Over forty 99-cent downloads for Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten will not allow the vocalist to study the entire work when one album that costs $20 is much cheaper for the entire work and carry notes that are necessary for the work.

And The Demise of Classically-Oriented Music Stores? This post had just been sent for publishing when word came to me of the closing of a college bookstore that sold printed classical music where many of us (my voice teacher, and a few colleagues included) have trusted. It seems to me that the trends in music featuring the demise of the organist, the rise of karaoke pop in churches, a lack of respect to the piano, violin, woodwinds, organ, and classical voice, and the push back of classical music to mostly government-owned media has kept the MTV influence on this society on a tangent far worse than I imagined, I cannot see how a musician can use an e-book reader to replace individual sheets on music stands. Seriously, how will it be possible to purchase a collection of Messiah, Die Schöpfung,or any masterwork for a choir anymore when churches are now purchasing karaoke pop from the secular giants? This trend disturbs us, but does it disturb others?

E-Books Favour California and Costs More? The Californication of textbooks in an attempt to force schools to accept the weird liberal agenda that is being imposed by the anti-industry, anti-American, pro-Mexican, pro-deviant, and supporter of every wicked agenda by California's education standards bureau. Furthermore, as a report on Fox Business' Stossel noted, e-books are an easy way to nickel and dime students more because after their class ends, they cannot sell the books back to the school as they are just disposed. I remember as a young boy having hand-me-downs from siblings for my textbooks. Will the hand-me-downs for younger siblings fade as e-books will force new purchases every year and abolish the time-honoured way? Where will the local textbooks for local studies be? When a few monopolise the market with California standards that are failing compared to the standards of more conservative standards, and the e-books are set for California, and local studies are ignored, what will happen?

In our march forward to e-books and e-commerce, and the demise of the local stores, sometimes I wonder if the standards of pop music and California's failed education system will become standard, and the classical standards and better education will fade away as e-books and digital music will force the farce of the lowest common denominator replace what is correct, beautiful, and strong.
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