Do you think it is a bad thing that musical genres are fragmenting? In the past there were clear movements in music, Baroque, classical, Romantic. As time goes on, movements seem to become more specialised, with the Beatles and rock then split into punk, metal, indie, dance, hip-hop, soul, nu-punk, nu-metal. Each movement seems to be targeted at a sub-section of the population, and so music is losing some of it universal themes. Music created with less artisic merit and effort is reaching the public. Is the inevitable result of new technology, or the rise of an instant gratification cuture that wants to listen and create without any serious effort?

I'm not convinced that European music ever had the clear periodisation that you describe. 'Baroque', 'Classical' and so forth tend to be descriptions applied by historians of music after the fact. In fact, at any one time, there were thousands of composers, working to specialised markets, with different players (large, small, amateur, professional, private, or public) and publishers in mind, with regional styles, and so forth. It may well be that the music scene you describe will, a generation from now, be seen as much more simple and homogeneous than it now appears. History naturally simplifies music just as it naturally simplifies philosophy. Is there more variety now, do genres ‘fragment’ more quickly? Probably, but this may be only a matter of degree, rather than an essential change.

Nor am I convinced by the argument that the pursuit of a public, or the employment of new technology, are new phenomena. There were, and still are, ‘artists’ more concerned with making music than with having it widely heard – and there were and still are artists who judge themselves by their public. There were, and still are, artists using the latest instruments, styles, and technologies, alongside traditionalists. (A good example would be the rapid evolution of the piano, and those who did or did not take advantage of it, during the period that we now see as homogenous: the classical.)

All this is philosophically interesting for at least two reasons. First, the simplification of a historical picture seems to be a condition of innovation: one must lump the past together in order to move on. The dependency of innovation and creativity on the act of repudiating the past is a principle that might be worth investigating. Second, it suggests that the concepts that aesthetics might wish to put forth such as ‘disinterest’, 'attention' (what you term 'serious effort'), ‘communication’, or ‘tradition’ do not easily accord with the historical record.

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