Excerpt from: "Contemporary Music and Public Funding: A Bitter
Pill Served on a Silver Platter?", 9nt
International Conference on Cultural Economics, Boston, May 1996
b) The Attitude
Directors of orchestras and ensembles were asked about their attitude toward
different contemporary music styles. The results were plotted on this radar
like graph were 5 indicates a very favorable attitude and 1 a very unfavorable
The music styles were ranked in order of their accessibility to the public.
Although this kind of ranking is a strong simplification, it is more meant
to show the tendency from more familiar to less familiar music: a piece
of composer of complex music might certainly be more challenging to hear
than a minimalist piece.
The use of radar shaped graphs allows to discern patterns. Considering the
different funding systems in the 4 countries, it is likely to expect a spiral
shaped graph for countries in which public money is difficult to obtain
and art groups operate in a market like environment. In these countries
"easy-to-listen" type of music, like "Old Masters",
"Minimalists", should receive higher ranking grades than more
complex music, like "Serialism" or "Electronic Music".
The results however show a remarkable similarity among the countries. A
typical "spiral-like" pattern could not be detected. Especially
European orchestras had strikingly similar judgments on the different music
styles. However, a certain correlation between accessibility of the style
of music and the funding system becomes visible if one takes a closer look
at the segment between "Minimalists" and "3rd Stream".
These styles find a very high ranking in the US. Also the segment Old masters
to Tonal receives the highest grades. Although "Complex", "Electronics"
and "Cage" are ranked highest by US orchestras, their actual occurrence
in the performance schedule is very rare.
Graph 3: Orchestras' Attitude toward Styles
For Ensembles, the structure looks quite different. Although the "spiral-like"
pattern is still not visible yet, we can see that the attitude toward more
challenging music styles is the most positive in France, the country with
the highest public support for new music. Music that is easier to listen
to like "Tonal" or "Minimalists" is less favored.
Graph 4: Ensembles' Attitude toward Styles