Two essays published in The High Hat comprise an introduction to the 101 project. The first lays out the motivation behind the project and includes an earlier version of the list. The second includes the beginnings of a theory of music criticism.

Please peruse the rest of The High Hat while you are there. You will find very good writing about a wide range of cultural issues.


  1. Anonymous3:23 PM

    First, let me say that overall the articles are excellent, and I agree with you about the way out: critics and listeners should engage primarily with the music.

    About those style wars, which you are tracing to the 1970s. I wonder if I am a bit older than you. I was in college from 1975 to 1980, and believe me - the styles wars had been going on for a while by then. At various colleges in the northeast, you would be considered highly suspect unless you toed the serialist line. Anthony Tommasini has written about this in the NY Times. He was a music student (I think at Yale) in the early 70s. I was at Brandeis.

    I realize I have elided the academic world with the world of journalism, but I also know that you would not hear much modernist OR contemporary music on the programs of the big arts organizations in the 50s, 60s, 70s. (And you still don't.)

    While contemporary music is, indeed, a small part of the world of performed concert music, because of the proliferation of academic music programs, there are plenty of composers teaching theory and composition at colleges and universities out there, and graduate students composing away. Their music is not necessarily being heard outside of academia, so we have no idea how good most of it is.

    I am not necessarily convinced that tonality regained its place as the way "most" concert music is composed around 1975 or even now, because of what I noted above. Seriously, what evidence is there for it? Note that I like music written in a wide variety of styles and have no dog to hunt in the style wars. I am just curious.

    -- Lisa
    Lisa Hirsch
    Oakland, CA

  2. My belief that tonality is now the basis for most new music is not scientifically-based, just from observation and experience. My dating of "style wars" to the mid-70s is based on when it seemed to go public, in criticism.