From an email to a friend...

Obviously I am out of practice as a writer right now but diction and syntax be dammed!

"I discuss music and society quite a bit with my roommate. We speculate quite often as to the what range of dates should constitute the 'golden era' of music and, more importantly, culture, in Western civilization, and, while we generally agree that things have been going downhill for about 15 years or so, and that the last five or six years have constituted the lowest ebb in what seems like forever, the starting date was, for a while, really hard to fix. Initially, it was placed somewhere in the 1960s, but jazz and all the innovations in classical music since Beethoven make that date problematic. Coming to that realization, however, provided the insight I was looking for. Beethoven is the great Romantic composer, the guy who took pre-existing forms that had been used to mostly write either paens to god or innocuous entertainment and reinvented those forms as vehicles for conveying deep feelings about life and the world around... it's really his era, the Romantic era, that is over. Music now has the function it did hundreds of years ago - entertainment for the wealthy where the inspired re-deployment of traditional forms is appreciated on an intellectual level (ie most of underground/critic music culture), or paens to new gods (consumerism, one-night stands, shapely asses). The desire for intense and direct communication is not really part of the audience's experience."