Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Women in Music

Prior to reading the articles Mr. Huntington had selected for us, I assumed women always had a place in music (in particular classical). To me, classical music was music that anyone could take part in if you were good enough. Since there were no lyrics, I assumed the gender of the performer was not a issue. I was wrong. After reading the articles I learned that in history, music was yet another field that women were repressed in. In the nineteenth century a woman conductor was unheard of, and Clara Schumann was one of the only popular performing women in the industry. Even today, women are discriminated against in the industry. Marin Aslop became the first women to conduct The Last Night of the Proms just two years ago! I was shocked that it took this long for a woman to take on that role!

After reading about Nicola Benedetti and Tine Thing I was also very surprised by their comments that they don't want to be deemed a sex symbol in the classical world, and don't want "sex to sell." I never associated classical music as sexy. To me, it was relaxing and rather conservative in the sense that at the Boston Symphony Orchestra I see the performers wearing rather conservative clothing. I always figured that if you could play, you could play. It never occurred to me that you also had to be attractive. I understand how this makes sense with pop music because in a lot of cases, sex does sell with that genre, but classical music? I was rather surprised.

Something that Mr. Huntington kept pointing out in his presentation was that the women who were somewhat able to have a career in performing were all from families of status. They were allowed to pursue this career because their families were "noble" and held some sort of power in society. Also, this meant they didn't have to work as much as a woman who was less wealthy might. Since they had more free time, they could master their talent and thus have more opportunities.

I also found it interesting how when we voted on the classical piece, almost no one got the answer correct. We all thought the one composed by a woman was actually composed by a man. Today in music, we learned with the Katy Perry and Taylor Swift songs you cannot even tell who wrote what. People are writing what will sell, and for Katy Perry that seems to be sex. Women have come a long way in the music industry, but is at the cost of being sexual objects?

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