E and light music

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The division of music into serious and light music ( serious music and light music ) is a classification scheme for evaluating musical phenomena. Based on the distribution practice of the collecting societies , it has played an important role since the beginning of the 20th century: There, the level of remuneration is partly dependent on whether the title in question is to be assigned to serious or popular music. The distinction is just as controversial as the inconsistent remuneration.



E-music is an abbreviation for so-called “serious” (sometimes also “serious”) music. Art music was equated with this serious music , which was synonymous with classical music . Since clear definitions of the terms light and serious music and their differentiation from each other are not possible, their use can only be traced on the knowledge of the historical development, especially since such attempts at determination are based on "value standards and ultimately also the mostly pejorative evaluations " that appear to be arbitrarily set. Equating “serious music”, “art music” and “classical music” has also become problematic, because these terms each have their own changing meanings. It is no longer possible to equate the terms art music and classical music today. Equating classical music and serious music is also ambiguous. There are cases in which the “artistic significance” of contemporary music is recognized as art music, but it is still assigned to popular music. There are other situations when the classical music ambience is marketed in the popular music industry. Today, musicology is skeptical of the multiple attempts at determination, because “the imaginary division of musical culture [is] ultimately unreal”.

Underground music

Light music for "light music" summarizes popular and commercial music genres ( popular music ), e.g. B. Pop and rock music , hits and folk hits , partly also jazz , folk music, etc. a. Since the end of the 19th century, these styles of music did not claim to be “art” in the sense of classical music. This division did not yet exist at the beginning of the 19th century and only began with the broad marketing of music in the course of the century (see salon music ).

The first use by Johann Strauss (father) in an advertisement for a masked ball in the Berliner Zeitung on November 8, 1845 is the earliest evidence of the term “entertainment music” for dance music as audio and concert music .

historical development

In terms of conceptual history, the connection between the terms “Ernst” and “Music” can be demonstrated for the first time in Arthur Schopenhauer . The "seriousness" meant here initially refers to the entire phenomenon of " sound art ". Schopenhauer wanted to use this link to refer to the dignity or "real meaning of this wonderful art". However, he was far from splitting music into two opposing areas.

The musical collecting societies in Germany distinguished early on between serious and popular music. In particular, it was already in line with the practice of the Establishment for Musical Performance Law (AFMA), founded in 1903 , the commercial business of the German Sound Composers' Cooperative (GDT), to divide music in this way; In this respect, AFMA's approach differed from that of its French model, SACEM . AFMA calculated the composers' performance remuneration according to a point system, with higher scores being awarded for the performance of “serious” music; The number of points in the entertaining section was also based only on the type of music and duration, while in the serious section the difficulty of the cast (unaccompanied pieces, oratorio pieces for orchestra, etc.) was also taken into account. The decisive criterion for the classification into "serious" or "entertaining" was ultimately the place of performance: an opera overture could fall into the entertainment category when performed in a beer garden, but into the serious category when performed in a concert hall. The factual betterment of serious music was motivated by various considerations of those responsible (economic, cultural, aesthetic and other kinds); In any case, it was also logical in terms of personnel - the initiative for the GDT came predominantly from representatives of serious music, which was also reflected in the composition of the board.

After distribution disputes arose - also between composers of serious and popular music - the “Cooperative for the Exploitation of Musical Performance Rights” (“old GEMA”) was founded in 1915 as a competitor of the GDT. She made no distinction between serious and entertaining music in her distribution schedule. The area of ​​popular music dominated there, mirroring the GDT.

When radio broadcasting began in the 1920s, the category of serious music was adopted to roughly classify music in broadcasting and played a role there in program planning. For the easy symphonic ( upscale entertainment music) as a melting pot between classical music, salon music and early jazz , there was a separate orchestra and a constant need for new compositions. This was the light music in the real sense (like " memory of a ball experience "). In terms of airtime, it was preferred to the repertoire of symphony concerts and opera houses, for which there was increasingly less need for new compositions, as the classical repertoire became more firmly established. Peter Raabe , Richard Strauss's successor in the office of President of the Reichsmusikkammer and connoisseur of Schopenhauer's philosophy, spoke highly of “serious concert undertakings” in 1928 and emphasized that there were friends and enemies of serious music. After all, one would be completely powerless in the face of the enemy of serious music, because it could regularly be doused with the "pathetic jazz broth". In 1938 Raabe also used the serious music category to justify the eligibility of the “ cultural orchestras ” covered by collective bargaining agreements .

In the unified collecting society STAGMA (state-approved society for the exploitation of musical copyrights) , which was established after the NSDAP came to power , into which GDT and old GEMA essentially merged, serious music generally enjoyed a preferential position. The GDT co-founder and now President of the Reichsmusikkammer , Richard Strauss , was able to prevail early on with his demand that a third of the STAGMA income from concert performances be reserved for composers of symphonic music, chamber music as well as choral and church music (so-called "Serious third"). The betterment of the serious sector initially corresponded to the cultural and political ideas of the Nazi leadership. However, the mood within the Reich leadership soon changed. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and President of the Reich Chamber of Culture , Joseph Goebbels , saw the broadcast of light music as an opportunity to win over broad sections of the population for the government; In the meantime, Adolf Hitler himself increasingly took a liking to operettas, especially those by Franz Lehár . At the same time, an increasing part of the STAGMA distributions went to the field of popular music. Against this background, representatives of the entertainment sector such as Norbert Schultze felt encouraged from 1940 to advocate the abolition of the serious third. In November 1940, Goebbels finally ordered a temporary change in the distribution plan while retaining the division into serious and popular music, but renouncing the serious third. Strauss' fierce opposition was unheard of.

In the federal republican discussion of the 1950s about a law regulating collecting societies, some parties called for the reintroduction of the serious third. This ultimately did not happen; the Copyright Administration Act of 1966 (UrhWahrnG), which incidentally did not explicitly take up the E / U terminology, stipulated, however, that the distribution plan to be drawn up "should correspond to the principle that culturally significant works and services are to be promoted" (§ 7 Sentence 2 UrhWahrnG). This (should) principle was also adopted in the new collecting societies law (VGG) in 2016 ( Section 32 (1) VGG).

The GEMA is different in its distribution plan since its establishment between serious and popular music. Like AFMA, it also evaluates points, with different allocation keys applying to serious and popular music. The differentiated methodology does not, however, allow a general assessment of whether works of serious music are in a better or worse position than their entertaining counterparts.

In 1999, the category “E-Music” was abandoned for German radio stations; Since then, the corresponding programs have been sorted into the new Classic category. The Austrian Composers Association (to this day) divides its members into the working groups for serious music and light music.

Classification problems and distribution conflicts

The division into serious and light music is controversial because it

  • is mainly common in German-speaking countries (there are occasional classifications such as popular music , light music and serious music , art music in other languages ).
  • brings in an evaluative connotation ("E-music is culturally valuable, but light music is not.").
  • has proven to be of little practical use for the systematic classification of music.

The boundaries between serious and popular music are fluid and only justifiable in the context of time; while, for example, operettas or the music revues of the Gershwin brothers were typical representatives of popular music at the beginning of the 20th century, today they are more likely to be attributed to serious music - especially when they are performed by "serious musicians" in institutions of serious music or according to the aesthetic norms of serious music.

The distinction between serious music and popular music has been of economic importance since the beginning of the 20th century due to the fundamentally higher remuneration for serious music in the collecting societies' distribution plan.

The controversially discussed division is still being carried out by the German GEMA and the Austrian AKM . The policy of GEMA still means that a composer of serious music receives eight times the royalties of an underground music composer on publication . This practice was to be abandoned by the German GEMA's supervisory board in 2003, after all six seats had gone to underground musicians by election. However, this was not implemented. The Swiss SUISA abandoned the distinction between light and serious music as early as 1983 after a composer submitted the same work twice under different titles and it was classified once as E and the other time as U. To this end, SUISA has given preference to longer musical works.

Music sociology and musical aesthetics

The above discussion largely relates to classifications by collecting societies, i.e. to economic aspects that rarely contain artistic aspects. The evaluation of the music has tended to give way to the evaluation of the framework in which it is played. For example, GEMA has forms according to which the music samples that are used in a lecture are settled under "entertainment", regardless of the music genre they were taken from.

The artistic content is examined in art or music philosophy or aesthetics . The composer, philosopher and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno criticizes the possible “splitting of music into two spheres” when talking about serious and popular music, as these are “separate and intertwined” at the same time. From a sociological point of view, he emphasizes the musical “ function ”. He examines the relationship between quality and demand, of contexts of use and distinguishes recipients of music, who have the status of experts and have the ability to “structure hearing”, from “entertainment listeners.” These different types of listeners allow “the differences between the serious ones and the entertaining sphere of music ”.

Music was part of the quadrivium in medieval philosophy and higher education . However, it only encompassed the highly valued theoretical occupation with music, while practice was rather underestimated. This has changed since the 16./17. Century. This appreciation of practice was reflected in philosophy since the 18th century. The encyclopedists also attached some importance to the practice of music. In Jean-Jacques Rousseau's philosophy, musical genres are closely linked to values. In the struggle between musical genres such as the Buffonist dispute, social conflicts were expressed.

Practical music was central to some philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Arthur Schopenhauer , Friedrich Nietzsche and Sören Kierkegaard . For them, too, the question arose of how to distinguish respectable from less respectable music. It was always answered very differently. Against the background of the music-sociological knowledge, this distinction proves to be difficult. According to a current music-aesthetic treatment of the question, ultimately all music is “able to stimulate the cognitive powers to play freely.” It should be noted that both “the cognitive powers of the recipients and the intensity of the evoked game differ greatly, and furthermore not everything Able to entertain everyone ”. The concept of entertainment is also not very suitable from this perspective. Ultimately, “all music is entertaining (albeit in different ways for different recipients)”.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Proof of the quotation “Concerts with music to be considered serious” see Reichsarbeitsblatt 1938, VI, p. 597; see. Tariff regulations for the German cultural orchestras (TO.K), § 1.
  2. Ramona Fülfe Kulturmarketing: Impulses for a target group-oriented approach in the field of E-Music Diplomica Verlag 2011, p. 6.
  3. In current musicology, the problem of definition and demarcation is emphasized, because it is very difficult to "determine light music or entertaining music in principle" ( Andreas Ballstaedt, 'Unterhaltungsmusik', in MGG, part IX, p. 1190. ), cf. Hans-Jürgen Homann: The artist management contract - appearance, contract typology and legal investigation of the contractual relationship between artist and manager in the field of music, Berlin 2013, p. 17.
  4. In addition to the notated musical works of (European) art music, there is also the term classical music outside of Europe, whereby the non-European music is partly based on a completely different, for example, non-written musical art term that opposes the written opus term that emerged in the West.
  5. The electroacoustic music of the 1950s, classified as serious music by GEMA , is not classified as classical music on the music market, for example. Rather, a wellness definition of classical music is used on the music market that excludes electroacoustic music by Stockhausen or Ligeti: "Verdi, Bach, Haydn or Mozart - classical music for relaxing hours." Saturn advertising for classical music
  6. In the “ GEMA distribution plan ”, for example, in Section XI, 2 “contemporary jazz of artistic importance and with concert character, with the exception of standard works” is classified by GEMA as popular music.
  7. The works produced and marketed according to the pattern of classical music are perceived as classical music, but are still considered popular music by the collecting societies. These include, for example, Muzak- like sound at Christmas markets with classic Christmas carols or classic background music in luxury hotel rooms.
  8. ^ MGG, p. 1193. (PDF).
  9. cf. Irmgard Keldany-Mohr light music ‹ as a sociocultural phenomenon of the 19th century: Investigation of the influence of the musical public on the development of a new type of music Regensburg 1977 and Martin Thrun, Delight without disturbing: popular garden and hall concerts . In: Nils Grosch, Tobias Widmaier (eds.). Popular music in the urban soundscape: cultural-historical perspectives Münster, New York 2014, pp. 9–46
  10. ^ Norbert Linke: Research and Finds. Some comments on the need to sift through and evaluate original material. In: The bat. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research, Mitteilungen 7–8, 1994, Verlag Hans Schneider, Tutzing, ISBN 3-7952-0770-3 , p. 49 and with quotation of the text, precise footnote 72 (p. 52).
  11. ^ Arthur Schopenhauer, The world as will and imagination 3rd edition. Leipzig 1859, p. 312.
  12. ^ Karl Stabenow (ed.), Arthur Schopenhauer, Writings on Music, Regensburg 1922, p. 130.
  13. See Stabenow 1922, p. 119.
  14. a b c Dümling, Musik has their Wert , 2003, op.cit., P. 71.
  15. Dümling, Music Has Their Value , 2003, op. Cit., P. 81 ff .; Manuela M. Schmidt, The Beginnings of the Musical Royalty Movement in Germany: A Study of the Long Way to the Establishment of the Cooperative German Tonsetters (GDT) in 1903 and the work of the composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) for improvements in copyright law , Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11650-X , p. 442.
  16. On the E / U controversy: Albrecht Dümling, "... that the statutes of the Stagma urgently need a contemporary revision": Richard Strauss and the musical copyright 1933/1934 , in: Sebastian Bolz, Adrian Kech and Hartmut Schick (eds.), Richard Strauss - The composer and his work: Tradition, interpretation, reception: report on the international symposium on the 150th birthday, Munich, 26. – 28. June 2014 , Allitera, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-86906-990-6 , pp. 73–108, urn : nbn: de: bvb: 19-epub-40081-9 , here p. 73.
  17. See the distribution-related provisions in the articles of association, printed in Schulze, Geschätzte und Schutz Noten , 1995, op. Cit., P. 24 f.
  18. Albrecht Dümling, "... that the statutes of the Stagma urgently need a contemporary revision": Richard Strauss and the musical copyright 1933/1934 , in: Sebastian Bolz, Adrian Kech and Hartmut Schick (eds.), Richard Strauss - The composer and his work : Tradition, interpretation, reception: Report on the international symposium on the 150th birthday, Munich, 26. – 28. June 2014 , Allitera, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-86906-990-6 , pp. 73–108, urn : nbn: de: bvb: 19-epub-40081-9 , here pp. 73 f .; Klauer, The mediation of music performance rights according to the law of July 4, 1933 , in: Archive for Copyright, Film and Theater Law , Vol. 6, No. 4, 1933, pp. 291–298, here p. 292.
  19. a b Ernste Musik (ARD)
  20. ^ Mathias Spohr (ed.): History and media of upscale popular music. Chronos, Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-905313-39-1 .
  21. ^ Nina Okrassa: Peter Raabe - conductor, music writer and president of the Reich Chamber of Music (1842–1945). Böhlau Verlag, 2004, p. 15.
  22. ^ Peter Raabe: City administration and choir singing. Speech at a choir congress in Essen (1928). In: Peter Raabe: Cultural will in German musical life, cultural-political speeches and essays. Regensburg 1936, p. 38.
  23. Tariff regulations for the German cultural orchestras from March 30, 1938 or collective agreement for musicians in cultural orchestras from October 31, 2009, § 1. Cf. Lutz Felbick : The "high cultural assets of German music" and the "degenerate" - about the problems of the cultural orchestra -Term. In: magazine for cultural management. 2/2015, pp. 85-115.
  24. Cf. Dümling, Musik has their Wert , 2003, op.cit., P. 203.
  25. Dümling, Music Has Their Worth , 2003, op.cit., P. 222.
  26. Cf. Dümling, Musik hat seine Wert , 2003, op.cit., P. 221 ff.
  27. Dümling, Musik hat seine Wert , 2003, op.cit., P. 224.
  28. Dümling, Music Has Their Worth , 2003, op.cit., P. 225.
  29. Dümling, Musik hat seine Wert , 2003, op. Cit., P. 224 f .; Schulze, Estimated and Protected Notes , 1995, op.cit., P. 369.
  30. Schulze, Estimated and Protected Notes , 1995, op. Cit., P. 369 f.
  31. Schulze, Estimated and Protected Notes , 1995, op.cit., P. 370 ff.
  32. Schulze, Estimated and Protected Notes , 1995, op.cit., P. 372.
  33. §§ 60 ff. GEMA distribution plan as amended from 23./24. May 2017.
  34. Riemer in Heker / Riesenhuber, Law and Practice of GEMA: Handbook and Commentary , 3rd edition, De Gruyter, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-037249-6 , chap. 8 marginal no. 241.
  35. Frieder W. Bergner : The U and the E in music
  36. http://www.akm.at/lösungen/abrechnung/abrechnungssparten/ , accessed on Feb. 25, 2017.
  37. Mandy Risch-Kerst / Andreas Kerst, Eventrecht Kompakt , 2009, p. 293.
  38. ^ Alfred Meyer: Neither E nor U - the practice of SUISA. In: Mathias Spohr (ed.): History and media of upscale popular music. Chronos, Zurich 1999, pp. 173-176.
  39. ^ Theodor W. Adorno Dissonances / Introduction to the sociology of music. Collected Writings. Vol. 14 . Frankfurt am Main 1977, p. 199
  40. ^ Theodor W. Adorno Dissonances / Introduction to the sociology of music. Collected Writings. Vol. 14 . Frankfurt am Main 1977, p. 182
  41. a b Veit-Justus Rollmann Is the internal musical differentiation between entertainment and serious music tenable from the perspective of philosophical (music) aesthetics? Lecture at the 21st German Congress for Philosophy 2008
  42. cf. also Bernd Sponheuer music as art and non-art. Investigations on the dichotomy of 'higher' and 'lower' music in music-aesthetic thinking between Kant and Hanslick. Kassel 1987, p. 130