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 attitude.
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