The New Music Building
by Jody Nagel
November 5, 1998
Dear Senator C---- and Representative A----,
I am writing to you regarding the university's current building-proposal for a new music facility. In particular, I draw your attention to the CD-ROM format being used as presentation material for the proposal. This CD-ROM does contain pertinent information. However, it has been "packaged" using commercial-manipulation music (i.e., mentally desensitizing pop muzac) which underlines the relevant spoken words. The CD also contains some audio clips of music from student musicians and ensembles here at the School of Music. I wish to address the former, however, the non-artistic music underlining most of the dialog sections of the CD.
The dialog-underlining music of this CD does not represent the School of Music, which is part of a College of Fine Arts, within an institution of higher learning. The music was chosen purposely, using marketing techniques, to manipulate you subconsciously into agreeing with the message presented on the CD. The CD attempts to treat you, our state leaders, as if you were 11-year-olds, with a 3rd-grade reading level, and with no awareness at all of how modern commercial anti-art music is used solely for the purpose of manipulating.
It is impossible to comprehend how a school of music within a college of fine arts can so thoroughly doubt its own objective and deny its own mission of increasing artistic awareness by using the weapons of art's enemy: blatant brainwashing, anti-intellect, non-art. If I were you, I would be highly insulted at being treated so disrespectfully, intellectually speaking, by an institution that claims to have as its mission the increase of the intellect.
I recognize that this School of Music sorely needs a new performance facility. I teach within this school. But I utterly reject the unethical notion that the means may justify the ends. The "ends," of course, is to gain a new performance facility as soon as the resources and priorities of the state permit. The "means" being used towards this end is the above-mentioned CD-ROM presentation.
I was aghast at the complete lack of reaction when this CD-ROM was first presented to the School of Music faculty. Their reaction to the dialog-underlining music of the CD was one of complete indifference and apathy. It is incomprehensible how the supposedly musically-literate professors of this School of Music can be so devoid of musical passion or respect for their own art-form. It leads me to wonder whether money would be truly well-spent by this state if a new building were supplied to a university's faculty who does not even notice its own music-artistic mission being undermined right under its own nose.
If a CD-ROM presentation-format for the music-performance-facility building proposal is relevant at all, it should have exclusively contained music by our student musicians and ensembles. To hear our students, who obviously are not yet as technically good as slick-packaged commercial "musicians," would have at least given you a reasonable assessment of where we are as a school, and demonstrate to you that we still have room and need for improving. The anti-intellectual dialog-underlining music that was used on most of the CD has only one purpose, and that is to manipulate you. . . not through reasoned argument and artistic integrity. . . but simply blatantly to manipulate you. That's what commercial music does, by definition.
In conclusion, may I urgently suggest that, at least, you do not allow yourselves to be beguiled by the CD-ROM presentation format. Tell this university's representatives to take their embarrassingly unethical attempt to manipulate you through this CD-ROM and go back home. The School of Music does urgently need a new performing facility. But they should earn it though old-fashioned honorable reasoned discourse with the state's leaders, respecting their intelligence and knowledge of the state's current resources. Tell this university's representatives to go home, and to come back without their dishonorable CD-ROM, and only when they have a representative that can look a government leader straight in the eye and clearly and rationally make a case for the needs of improved art-facilities for a world in dire need of genuine artistic enrichment. The manipulative garbage music on the CD-ROM in no way represents the School of Music. So, do not be misled. The ends do not justify the means, in the case of this particular CD-ROM proposal. Do not negotiate with someone staring at a computer monitor rather than at you.
Dr. Jody Nagel
Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Composition, and Music Technology
November 5, 1998