On length/brevity / by Paige Brunton

So, Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize. Probably not a bad decision, considering that music and poetry have belonged together for thousands and thousands of years. The question if pop culture needs prestigious literary prizes like this one is another one, which I don't intend to answer here.

But what really struck me during the last week (I spent it in Sweden) is the general tendency in favor of art forms that are short and easily chewable (or at least, not too al dente). I see it in the concert programs of orchestras ("come and listen - short concert with no intermission - no difficult or demanding music - we promise!"), I see it in the hollow and dull short messages people send each other with their smart phones, I see it in literature, in the way we go to museums, in the way we surf the internet.

I believe in lengthy art. I need the Wagner operas and the Tolstoy novels just in the same way that I need cathedrals and Roman or Greek ruins. For me they symbolize continuity, effort and stamina, make a manifestation of what we humans are and can achieve. I think that we, people working with art, should be cautious of not stripping it down too much, taking away a branch here and there, leaving a clean and sleek forest with lots of room but little content.

I would be curious to see if there is a way of reaching out to more concert-goers in actually fully believing in our legacy of the lengthy and demanding, in presenting full pieces. The Bruckneresque state of meditation, the endless flow of a Bach oratorio. I think it's a matter of showing that we can, that we want to and will present our art this way. Because we're completely convinced that it stands the test, and will stay effective until the end barline.

Who knows if this theory is valid or true in the case of Dylan, it will be interesting to hear what he says in his Nobel speech. As always, we'll stay awake and see where the journey takes us. The answers are blowin' in the wind.