Sounds of Music in the Twenty-First Century

A recent New Yorker story discussed prevailing trends in music composition and how they reflect a growing understanding of what constitutes “serious” music. Pointing to hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s winning of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, a prize historically awarded to white, classical composers, the author argues that contemporary composition is becoming fractured in the best possible way.

According to the article, “Composers in the classical tradition have effectively monopolized the [Pulitzer] prize since its inception, in 1943. Not until 1997 did a nominal outsider—the jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis—receive a nod. Lamar’s victory, for his moodily propulsive album “damn.,” elicited some reactionary fuming—one irate commenter said that his tracks were ‘neurologically divergent from music’—as well as enthusiastic assent from younger generations. The thirty-one-year-old composer Michael Gilbertson, who was a finalist this year, told Slate, ‘I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category. This is no longer a narrow honor.’

Learn more and read the full story here.

Published: August 23, 2018