On Now

Listen to the Stream
  • Symphony No. 88 9:36 Franz Joseph Haydn
    La Petite Bande
    Sigiswald Kuijken
    Buy Now
  • Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah 9:25 Traditional
    Essential Voices USA
    Judith Clurman
    Ron Raines, baritone
    Buy Now

You can now listen to Classical and Choral Music on your iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) or Android device.

Blog Archive

June 2006
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Master Archive

Contact Us

Purchase the Music

  • Buy the music you've heard on-air! Your purchase helps support our classical service.


Classical Notes

When is appropriation appropriate?

Posted at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2006 by Don Lee (38 Comments)

The other day I was arguing with my college-age daughter about "cultural misappropriation"--indiscriminate or exploitative adoption of elements of another culture's tradition. We disagreed about the best response to uninformed, but sincerely motivated curiosity, debating a question raised by an illustration in an essay she showed me: Is a Lebanese woman justified in feeling angry that an American buys a derbake (a Lebanese drum) only because he wants to take it home and tap on it a bit?

It's a complicated question. Much depends on the American's awareness (or lack thereof) that the derbake might be a potent cultural symbol. Knowing that, if he did, how should he behave?

I was reminded of the issue today when I came upon a comment by Daniel Barenboim, who has just conducted the Chicago Symphony for the last time as its music director:

In the hotel where I stay, they think that it is very culturally minded to play classical music in the elevator, or in the foyers of concert halls before the concert. And I have been on more than one occasion subjected to having to hear, because I cannot shut my ears, the Brahms violin concerto in the lift, having to conduct it in the evening. And I ask myself, why? This is not going to bring one more person into the concert hall. It is not only counter-productive, but I think--if we are allowed to speak of musical ethics--it is absolutely offensive.

Barenboim is alleging cultural misappropriation. I'm sure he's right that Brahms in the elevator won't send anyone to the concert hall…not directly anyway. But I wonder how his charge that the practice is "absolutely offensive" would fall on the ears of Daisuke Takeuchi. In a comment posted here one week ago, Mr. Takeuchi described himself as "a new fan" who, until recently, had "stayed away from classical music because I did not understand."

Comments (38)

I listened to all 5 of Barenboim's Reith lectures, thanks to you mentioning it here a while ago. After listening to them all, I am still not sure exactly what he wanted to say. I could not get his message such as music explains some of political situations and 9/11. But I kind of agree with his point of having been exposed to Muzak everywhere. Although I do not mind hearing classical music being played in an elevator or elsewhere.

I said I could not understand classical music to your post last week. I could not understand why Mozart piano concerto, for example, is supposed to be so great. Like looking at some paintings, I do not understand why certain painting is supposed to be a masterpiece because it does not touch me on a personal level. This was true with classical music. Another example is, I would have no idea that in Beethoven's famous 5th symphony, it is supposed to be a battle between C minor and C major and in the end C major triumphs due to my lack of music education. For a naive listener like me, it just sounded like an intense muic until I really took some time, reading about it, and with repeated active listening, I somehow come to appreciate and enjoy it.

I wrote that seeing Osmo Vanska conduct really turned me into a fan. To me just listening to CDs at home was not enough to really enjoy that particular music. Seeing and hearing it performed live by a fantastic orchestra led by a dynamic conductor is neccesarry for me to really enjoy that music more.

Posted by Daisuke Takeuchi | June 22, 2006 2:20 PM

I'd like to add one more thing. Suppose that Kabuki is the highest form of art, and since you are such an open minded guy, you decided one day to give it a shot to this thing called Kabuki although being an American you were not thrilled about music written by some dead Japanese men centuries ago, but bought a CD of the famous Kanjinchou. You were never brought up by a musical family nor had music education about Kabuki, but you loved Rock N' Roll. After all only elite class or people with music education could enjoy and understand a highly formalized art form like Kabuki.
So, you listen, and instead of being moved to tears, you fell asleep. Next day, you still try to listen, and you are left with questions, like why do they sing like that? why do they play the instrument like that? What's the reason for that extensive virtuosic performane? and why is this supposed to be a masterpiece?
I do not know if this is a good example, but this is how felt about classical music.

Posted by Daisuke Takeuchi | June 22, 2006 8:28 PM


Posted by cylzno | January 2, 2008 12:50 PM


Posted by orvarvial | January 19, 2008 8:41 AM


Posted by c4tcotat | January 19, 2008 8:43 AM


Posted by boeltervar | January 19, 2008 8:43 AM


Posted by orsitc4ts | January 19, 2008 8:44 AM


Posted by taracdela | January 20, 2008 1:12 AM


Posted by ricelac | January 20, 2008 1:13 AM


Posted by coeroloe | January 20, 2008 1:13 AM


Posted by licapas | January 20, 2008 1:15 AM


Posted by elleto | January 20, 2008 1:16 AM


Posted by elleto | January 20, 2008 1:17 AM


Posted by domtrocv | January 20, 2008 1:17 AM


Posted by getacacel | January 20, 2008 1:18 AM


Posted by dronc4talrel | January 20, 2008 1:19 AM


Posted by rolalolopas | January 20, 2008 1:19 AM

Interest sours, and design. My sorce is sale preparat blit'. Ya naxyu sp@mer BLIAT!

Posted by Ben afflec | January 28, 2008 6:39 PM

Purchase the most popular ED medication
from the privacy and comfort of your home - [url=http://us-viagra.us/]viagra[/url].

Posted by Martin | February 2, 2008 3:47 PM

Posted by ccl-onlinetr | February 3, 2008 5:34 PM

http://index1.coohl.com >extreme funny sports pics

Posted by popirus77 | February 11, 2008 4:38 PM

http://index6.fberg.com >massivecocks pictures http://index2.fberg.com >is tweety bird a boy or a girl http://index4.fberg.com >oldsexygrannys http://index10.fberg.com >friday movie poster http://index8.fberg.com >browardsexofenders http://index9.fberg.com >poster of movie husbands http://index3.fberg.com >history of glass windows http://index1.fberg.com >basset toys cute cltohes http://index5.fberg.com >camshaft lifter kit dealers http://index7.fberg.com >boulder high myspace sexual assault

Posted by ccl-onlinetr | February 12, 2008 4:43 AM

http://index1.sghas.com >wichita falls tx xxx

Posted by ccl-onlinetr | February 13, 2008 12:32 AM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 16, 2008 9:45 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 16, 2008 9:45 PM

is it sin?
[url=][/url] (c)

Posted by kdlbg | February 19, 2008 12:01 AM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 2:39 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 2:40 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 3:26 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 3:26 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 3:27 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 3:27 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 19, 2008 3:27 PM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 22, 2008 12:22 AM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 22, 2008 12:23 AM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 22, 2008 12:36 AM


Posted by ISHMAel back | February 22, 2008 12:37 AM

The change of our climate is, is not natural

Posted by gaybearshardcore | March 29, 2008 8:18 AM