Arbiters of Taste
The concern for taste is as old as the problem of aesthetics itself. Aesthetics, one of the major branches of philosophy, is also its most elusive. Like ethics it reaches into the soul of the individual, but unlike ethics it is not associated with a socially acceptable and consistent code governing right from wrong. In aesthetics it is rather good and bad, but no statutes have ever been dictated by kings or compromised in assemblies to control the individual's personal convictions about the relative beauty in that which he beholds. A person is free to like or dislike anything he perceives, either natural or artificial. What he perceives in the natural world remains beautiful, such as a sunset seen from an alpine meadow or ugly, such as a hog wallow seen from the slimy bank of a stagnant stream. Since Nature supplied the scenes and the perfumes, the witness unconsciously knows his judgment not only will have no effect upon it, but also it has no mortal right to be exercised. In the realm of art, however, man is its genesis, its center, its aim, and its conclusion. The subconscious now speaks to its beholder and in addition to "beautiful" or "ugly" asks "In good taste?" or "In bad taste?"
Taste, although not governed by written law, is determined by prevailing modes of thought and behavior in a given period of time. Taste is not as narrow as fashion which fluctuates annually in women's clothing and in four-year cycles in high school students' use of language. Sir Joshua Reynolds in his Discussion of Art (1778) specifically warns: "I have mentioned taste in dress, which is certainly one of the lowest subjects to which this word is applied," showing one facet of his platform of taste. Courtiers at one time in the Middle Ages wore shoes with toe points so curled that they had to be supported by thread attached to the legs. Were not the collar ruffles of the Elizabethan court dress not a little exaggerated? Was not the chromaticism of a Gesualdo lament a trifle thick?
Fashion is a transitory reflection of some larger framework of prevailing taste, sometimes extreme. The pointed shoes of the gallants and the conical headgear with a trailing veil worn by their ladies matched the fluttering pennants on the rounded turrets of the medieval castle. The complex oratory in a Shakespearian sonnet is no less intricate than the design in a ruffled vest. Passionate expression was the aim of Gesualdo in chromaticism as intense as the counterpoint. In the twentieth century fashion has seized individuals in the field of entertainment. This year's most popular television program may plunge in its popularity rating twelve months hence. A star entertainer today may find himself without a contract next season. Statistics in these matters are more assiduously compiled than ever an education specialist could dream. Thus fashion, regardless of the frequency of its fluctuation, is within a broader frame of taste.
Taste is, moreover, governed by some group of ite. The rule is that this élite group is the upper stratum of society, a stratum with the means to indulge in the purchase of the creations of the artist. In primitive society it is the power of the ruling leader. He commands. In parliamentary cultures it is the council and the court. They support. In mercantile societies it is the wealthy burgher. He commissions. In the most recently upward leveled society the common man has accumulated means to purchase the works of art, equally downward leveled, as a salable commodity. He collects. The creative artist in turn looks for the support of the financially affluent and attempts to establish the personal connections with a benefactor who can be a person or a corporation. He does not necessarily follow their dictates and is often encouraged to pursue his individual creative instincts and develop his personal style. Yet he is aware of the general path he is expected to follow. Palestrina knew that he composed for the papal chapel. Haydn was informed that heavy opera was not appreciated at Esterháza. Beethoven incorporated Russian tunes in the E Minor Rasumovsky Quartet; and any combo migrating to Nashville knows what is expected of them.
If the relation of fashion to taste offers a problem, a greater difficulty lies in tracing aesthetic values. The universal innate sense of beauty was originally coupled in common and equality with goodness and truth. Confusion arises because of the disparate extents this trinity, usually thought to be ordained by the gods or God, has been separated. In primitive cultures and indeed in the beginning of western culture, the trinity of beauty, goodness and truth is as strongly united as the orthodox Trinity of the Christian church. But secularization and systematic study has rent this holy trinity apart. Beauty became aesthetics; goodness became morality; and truth has become controversial. With Protestantism and the Renaissance the individuality of the person was restored and the creative artist assumed the responsibility of producing beauty. Depending upon the power and influence of his patronage, the artist gained renown and not only led fashion but established foundations for a prevailing taste.
A passage from Shakespeare's Hamlet is particularly revealing in reference to the confusion of this transition and the restoration of the creative artist, speaking his own cause as a playwright. At the end of the famous soliloquy "To be or not to be" in the first scene of the third act, Ophelia enters. After bantering a few words of greeting, Hamlet asks her if she is honest and fair, to which she replies "Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?" His observation is more than a play on "Words, words, words," and indicates that there is "method in his madness." It is historically significant.
Aye, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof.
A contemporary observation might be added. In the march of western history, with the gradual acceleration of time required for communication, travel and cultural intercourse, the given period for any general phase of its civilization seems to become shorter. This phenomenon is not only observed in taste but in social organization, economics and education. Is it shorter because the record is fresh and detailed and thus invites attention to small particulars? Does it seem shorter because the earlier trends are eroded of their detail and have assumed an integrated whole that we see in larger perspective? Or is it, in fact, shorter? Do we live at an accelerated pace compared to the life of the Athenian in the Golden Age, the burgher of the Middle Ages, and the gentleman of the eighteenth century?
The aspect of duration of an identifiable mode of thought or discernable trend in expression is directly related to the point intended in this article. In these last decades of the twentieth century when communication anywhere on earth is instantaneous, when travel between cities foreign and domestic is a matter only of hours, and when radically diverse cultures are no longer isolated, what are the forces that determine taste? In these final years of the twentieth century when, as some claim, technological accomplishment has been greater than in all the previous years of human history, what influences aesthetic values? Are the questions raised applicable to the United States? Are they limited to the cultural and social traditions of the European world? Or are they universal? Are they transitory or are they timeless? In sum, who or what in this contemporary world determines taste?
We have scanty evidence of taste in the venerated years of classical culture. The extant writings of the earliest philosophers indicate that they were mathematicians working with amazingly accurate observations in astronomy and geography. Beauty was in the order of the universe and proportions in geometrical designs. What appealed to the public? The comedies of Aristophanes were downright bawdy and full of four-letter words. The tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles were drenched in blood, although the bloody act was never done on stage. Vase paintings with persons playing lyres, auloi, and dancers are unashamed scenes of the most sensuous delights. The usual subject matter of vase paintings, however, was mythological scenes in all variations of the basic legends. In the eyes of the enlightened public of the nineteenth century, which were in "good" taste and which in "bad"?
Aristotle was more concerned with taste than Plato because he was more concerned with linking the individual with the universal. Plato asked about the essence of beauty; Aristotle attempted to explain how it could be achieved. Aristotle's Poetics is fundamentally an essay on the proper use of elements used in artistic expression; balance and proportion are to him the most important.
What we know about the mind of the sophisticated medieval person would lead us to believe that taste was part of religious criticism. Extant fourteenth- and fifteenth-century references are to a sermon delivered in good taste, psalms read in good taste and at the turn of the sixteenth century an instance where a negative observation indicating personal quality is recorded as "and he had no spiritual taste."
In the seventeenth century a slow shift began whereby artistic sensibility, as Webster's dictionary initially defines it, was replaced by artistic judgment. Its use in the eighteenth century straddles both definitions. Particularly in music "taste" became a veritable password and its double meaning was implied by the theorists who then were also practicing musicians. A quotation from a dictionary published in 1829 reflects an eighteenth-century conviction. (Incidentally the word is not to be found in a twentieth-century music dictionary.)
Taste, that exquisite and refined feeling by which a composer or performer gives grace and elegance to his composition or performance. Taste is acquired by often hearing good performers, and practising classical compositions, not by any fixed rules.
Rousseau wrote that taste was "the most felt but least explained" and that "Genius creates, but taste makes the choice."
An escape clause was never needed more in the history of music than in the compositional and performance practices of the eighteenth century. "Taste" aptly served. The word was most often applied to the art of improvisation, both in the realization of the figured bass and in the adornment of adagio melodic lines with their attending cadenzas. The mechanical rules for harmony and examples of flourishes having been dutifully tabulated and explained in true Enlightenment order, the conclusion by all theorists writing about composition and performance was always the same. The intangible principles of taste must be employed to make the composition or the performance successful. Indeed, Dominico Corri stated in the preface to his Singer's Preceptor (1810) that were all the rules of thorough bass observed faithfully, an accompanist could ruin a song by employing them in bad taste. In the final analysis what are Quantz and C.P.E. Bach trying to tell us in their famous essays of 1752 and 1753? Simply how to perform music in good taste. Charles Avison's 1752 essay An Essay on Musical Expression was expanded in a second printing a year later to include a critical letter written by one of his readers and his 63-page reply to that letter. The crux of the entire essay and the polemic is taste: how to employ it in composition and how to execute it in performance. He used the word several times. The rigors of discipline imposed by Leopold Mozart on his illustrious son are evident in his treatise on violin playing (1756). He too concluded several sections covering different aspects of performance with statements about the application of the principles of good taste with an inevitable remark that the successful performance was not solely dependent upon the tabulated rules, but in the exercise of good taste. The ticklish problem of the tonal answer in a fugue statement always receives more attention by theorists than their discussion of the subject or of any of the contrapuntal devices to follow. It also invariably finishes with some general words to the effect that the ear, experience, and the good taste of the composer will combine to solve the problem of tonal adjustment.
The nineteenth century turned its philosophical worries to matters of moral conduct. The word "taste" developed two meanings. The lesser and simpler was a synonym for "style." It was common to speak of things in an "Oriental taste," architecture to be in "Gothic taste," for example. The other meaning became part of criticism, mainly as music was concerned, of the librettos of opera and the texts of songs. Program music such as symphonies with titles, descriptive sonatas and outright imitative music of battles and storms were particularly vulnerable to the journalistic critics who had assumed an important role in a public that had learned to read and was now in regular attendance in the theater and concert hall. The literature of the nineteenth century ultimately became sentimental with good triumphant over evil, even if it required a tragic end. The focus of taste shifted from the composer and performer to the listener who, with the help of the journalist critic, was expected to form his own opinion in matters of good and bad. Berlioz, Schumann, and Saint-Saëns were composers and performers, but also were serious critics who tried to communicate through the written word their judgments to an enlarging enlightened musical public. Schumann created the Davidsbund that marched against the Philistine purveyors of bad music. Berlioz spent many Evenings With the Orchestra of the Paris Opéra to compare the great music with the poor. The very title of Saint-Saëns' criticism, Outspoken Essays, indicates his honest concern over the perpetuation of the bad, and even the fallacious, heard in both the concert hall and the operatic theater. Debussy's alter ego, Monsieur Croche, was not only a "dilettante hater" but upbraided in words as caustic as his cigar even the tendency towards bad taste. The professional critic, such as Eduard Hanslick, exerted a different influence through the daily press than the critic of the present day. He was not obligated to meet an eleven o'clock deadline to report a concert or opera that had begun at eight and of which he had heard only half. Instead he took his time to prepare a thought-out article, the concentration of which was on the work, not necessarily the performance. The issue of taste was not for the musician and composer but for the reader by the way of the journalist.
In the nineteenth century when creative artists became self conscious of their endeavors and studied philosophy and history in order to understand themselves, the dichotomy of classicism and romanticism became one of the accepted comparisons so characteristic of the age. The interpretation of classicism as an opposite pole to romanticism was standard romantic method at the outset. It explains little about classicism but reveals much about romanticism. In the self criticism of their acknowledged excesses nineteenth-century thinkers pitted their works against the classical models of Periclean sculpture, Acropolis architecture, and Sophoclean plays. It was assumed that all ancient Greeks lived in moderation and that all of them understood the order and balance in nature that Pythagoras and Euclid had demonstrated. Great and good beauty was in the past, and the past could be revived. Individual expression without slavish imitation was possible within the established form, and art in the best avenues of taste could emanate from works inspired by the great innovators of the distant past. The artistic efforts of. the nineteenth century were not all "bad," but polarity was the mode of critical thought. Thus if the models of classical antiquity and a misunderstood eighteenth century were "good," where did that leave Wagner, Puccini, Debussy and Charles Ives?
Moreover, to the nineteenth century art was a language intended for the moral uplift of man. Beethoven was convinced that he was a messiah divinely appointed to deliver an ennobling message of humanism in the language of music. Schubert made an exquisite setting of Schobert's text "An die Musik." Schopenhauer concluded that music was unique among the arts in that its message was conveyed directly rather than as a reflection of the will.
One curious reactionary result of the moralist standpoint developed at the end of the nineteenth century, the school of "Art for art's sake." A Greek philosopher would have wondered why such a tautology. But the nineteenth century—Dickens, Goethe, Ibsen, Mrs. Shelley—were concerned with a demonic evil in contrast to a Christian good that Plato and Aristotle never considered. The idea that art could be for itself alone tried to avoid the problems of morality. It changed the milieu wherein the general public, having attained literacy and in attendance in the opera house and concert hall, was squeezed out of its privilege to make artistic judgment. The élite became the closed circles of artists, both creative artists and (in music) performing artists, who communicated only with themselves. Impressionist painters and symbolist poets in France discussed their aims amongst themselves. The literary circle in England dissected the works from their illustrious past in esoteric, deliberately clouded essays that in themselves were literature. America had its Harvard or New England group of composers, all thoroughly trained in Europe. Rouen Cathedrals, haystacks, London bridges, and lily ponds were openly advertised to be the fleeting and highly personalized impression of one artist. Elgar's Enigma Variations is an indication of the tight circle to which a composition could be dedicated and "understood." The editors of the Denkmäler, in their project to bring German musical heritage to the public, were a group whose names appear as though a chancery on the title pages. This is not to say that the quality of art declined. To the contrary, perhaps the quality was better because it was created and produced by the highly critical for the highly critical. Nor is this to say that a high degree of personal reference is not to be found in art throughout the ages. But it is to say that the élite in whom taste is invested, shifted to the specialized artists and out of the hands of the general public with its ideals of democratic enlightenment. Such an attitude could not have developed without an abrogation of a moral obligation of the artist to society.
The extreme of art for art's sake and for the sake of the artist himself came in the second decade of the twentieth century in the expressionist painters, the da-da poets, and in avant-garde music.
In countries that became socialist after the second decade of the twentieth century, the school of art for art's sake settled into the waiting laps of a different kind of élite. Any compunction of morality, even to the creative and performing artists, was eradicated. The revolutionary social realists, in their reaction to bourgeois control, demanded that art serve the state. They argued that if artistic expression could be narrowed to serve particular personal functions, it could be narrowed to serve a particular social function.
Statistical method, so much in vogue during the middle half of the twentieth century, has been applied to determine qualities Plato tried to define and western philosophers since have tried to fathom. A mark of our age, accumulated data sifted through precise channels, is transformed from vague opinions and usually misunderstood instructions on the assumption that everybody thinks alike and holds all experience exactly in common to tabulated numbers, and thence charts, which can be seen at a glance and interpreted in any devious conclusion. This method produces truth because it is "scientific." Taste is one of the attributes that can be transformed from base metal to pure gold. Instead of Plato asking the members of his Academy about the nature of attributes seemingly innate and universal in man in a free discussion adroitly guided by him, the school teacher and university professor now supply soft-leaded pencils to larger segments of the population trapped in a classroom and ask them to mark one and one only of a limited choice of answers on a paper to be scanned by an electronic machine as a response to a cunningly fabricated question.
A serious question arises from the statistics gathered in the public school systems. The élite, although not flattered by that description, are the grammar school children and those in the adolescent years of their early teens. The results of such studies, often in the disguise of "preferences," as published in education and psychological journals and as the substance for dissertations and grant-spending studies, pose as an indication of taste. Although honestly presented with elaborate descriptions of control in the experiments and the surveys, and carefully written to assure the reader of the mental and maturity levels of the subjects, the conclusions stop short of their real aim. The mechanism of the study overshadows the deeper aspects of aesthetics even at the childhood level. However in any case it is a bit presumptuous to consider the findings from this group when the best of the world's mature minds have grappled unsuccessfully with this complex and fascinating aspect of human thought. The twentieth century does not rely upon judgments of children in matters of state and business.
America is dangerously enmeshed in the cult of youth. But is it necessary to condone this worship by asking children what they prefer? One recalls the significance of the biblical verse, "When I was a child, I thought as a child . . ."
The exhaustive studies of Paul Farnsworth some 25 years ago and the admirable work continued by others whose results appear consistently in the journal of the Council for Research in Music Education carries the respectability of maturity. The statistical problem is not much altered, but the studies were based upon work done in broader circles of institutions of learning. The élite group Farnsworth picked to query was that portion of university and college faculty whose knowledge of composers throughout history was its very profession. The maturity, erudition, and experience of this group, chosen from the membership of the American Musicological Society, cannot be questioned. However, the direct aim to establish criteria for taste seemed secondary to an intermediate step of determining, through the learned judgment of this truly élite group, the lasting worth of composers presented in a long list. It is little wonder that the choices made by these specialists showed a close numerical relationship to a second élite group, the students who were in the classrooms of these same faculty members. It is also little wonder that a statistical compilation made on a group of Dutch concertgoers coincided numerically with studies made on programs played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The particulars of such statistics may indicate fashion. What accounts for the surge of appreciation for Baroque music in the past thirty years? Is it the late organist E. Power Biggs, the late conductor Leopold Stokowski, recorder societies, the Swingle Singers, "Switched-On Bach," organs and harpsichords made at home from do-it-yourself kits? Is the general taste for nineteenth-century music to be explained by the symphonic idiom as music being institutionalized in an orchestra bearing its metropolitan name, or opera associated with a particular national house? In any case, the élite chosen by Farnsworth and those that followed in studies of mature persons, always educated beyond the public school level, cannot be ignored. But perhaps this élite has seen its best days, and perhaps the influence it wielded in preserving the taste for western culture, mainly since the Renaissance, has begun to wane. Perhaps the heyday of the school teacher and university professor is passing. The American Ideal of the advantage of education has eroded from both within and without the institution—now called an "establishment."
The first half of the twentieth century with the strong influence of the press, and the second half with a stronger impact of radio and television revives the consideration of taste on a grand scale. It has become a burning issue not only in music but in all of the creative and expressive arts. With the recent abuse of language, pictorial art, and display of body motion that no longer suggests but is explicit, the problems of taste come to sharp focus. The twentieth century questions whether or not the creative artist or the equally creative performer is responsible for axioms of taste. Are there limits in expression intended for the public? The twentieth century also questions the dictums of authority. Who is to tell the individual what is right and wrong, good or bad, when obviously chaos reigns everywhere? Does the public require leadership in the esoteric realms of artistic expression that have never been determined in the first place? These questions merge into a final one: the extent of and the price for freedom.
In the eighteenth century one measure of success was the degree that expression, either intended by the composer or writer or transmitted by the performer, met one or several of the catalogued affects. In the nineteenth century one measure of success was the degree of resolution of conflict between issues of an ethical nature. The twentieth century turns to the ledger sheet and by statistics gleaned from analysis of marketing the good becomes that which sells and the bad that which does not. Freedom in creation and freedom in appreciation is limited in all ages, the difference being the nature of the limitations. These last years of the twentieth century have seen a new freedom based upon the market of goods within the purchasing abilities of the public, especially the Americans.
In these latter days of the twentieth century who is the élite group which determines the rules for success and thus fashion, ultimately on the broadest scale, an indication of taste? The common man with his collective wealth and his advantage of mass produced, standardized technological equipment, his mobility to attend programs, visit museums, see travelling shows, has become the largest audience the world has known. He has a smattering of an education, but he is rich in experience. He believes himself to be the élite group that determines taste. But pause. He is led to believe he determines taste. He and his educators are deceived. In reality they determine only the longevity of an entertainment selected for them, a longevity depending upon a "popularity rating" the criteria for which is not fully controlled by them.
A new dimension has entered the consideration. Gone with history is the royal sponsor, the municipal commission, the word of the artist, and the influence of the critic.The twentieth century is the age of the octopoda corporation whose unseen and unknown directors determine policy for one purpose only: to show monetary profit to the stockholders. Hand in hand with twentieth-century technology which it has had a lion's share in creating, are the corporations, alike in their business practices, whether state or private, and in such fierce competition with one another that their service to the world differs hardly a jot amongst them. This corporate control of communication through press, radio, and television—now called "the media"—has recently changed the social order of the entire world with an impact not fully understood and with consequences yet to unfold.
With society eager to show its acceptance of the advance in technology as a kind of symbol of having arrived in the twentieth century, the mass-produced recordings and playback equipment in both home and broadcasting stations have become a new way of life. The giant corporations involved in communication as a public "service," have selected producers whose judgments, not deviating from the financial goals, become law. Their ideas, good or not, are promoted until the public, which is not offered a wide latitude of choice, accede to them.
One facet of the change that electronic technology has made upon society is the manufacture of recordings which, instantly available for any number of repetitions, are used to fill the radio broadcasting days. Shows and "live" entertainment are a small proportion of radio time, most of which is recorded music. Between hourly news announcements, lasting only a few minutes, the canned music pours forth at an astounding rate and in unbelievable amount. The public accepts uncritically the product to the extent that it takes for granted the continuous broadcast without consciously listening to it. Because it requires no more physical effort than to flip an electric switch with the finger, the corresponding mental activity is in the same minuscule order. Knowing this mental lethargy, producers of radio entertainment, most of it recorded music, and the recordings for the millions of hi-fi units in homes, aim their business at the lowest denominators of intelligence.
Part of the insidious deception is glossed over by major broadcasting corporations in their attempt to categorize radio and television entertainment. Many of their attempts are praiseworthy but they in fact are really the result of a condition in their license: some portion of their programing must be as a cultural service. The British Broadcasting Corporation has different "programmes." Its Third Programme, the most erudite, was always a sticky problem because of its few listeners, but the Corporation was obligated to recognition of the cultural aspect of life and it bowed to the wishes of powerful Lord Reith, the head of the Corporation for many years. It was supplemented by a weekly publication, The Listener, in which the major articles were the broadcast lectures given by some of the most distinguished men and women in the English-speaking world. The smaller articles were more timely reviews of the entire broadcasting spectrum, not only the other programmes but from corporations all over the world. The Third Programme gradually slipped into the Second, one devoted to "light" entertainment (on the British scale of values). In consequence, the editorial policy of The Listener went violently into reverse and ultimately settled into a periodical of little distinction. In America there are the "good music" stations, but they are confined to the larger metropolitan centers. And in America a real distinction, known at the outset of television to be a necessity, is the separation of PBS from the commercial networks.
Arturo Toscanini, the archetype of the temperamental musician—and thus useful in creating legend and attracting attention—was the "star" of one of the largest of the communications corporations. The NBC Symphony Orchestra, an aggregation of the best professional musicians probably ever assembled, was abandoned after his retirement. The weekly radio broadcast and voluminous recording was stopped. Studio "H" was remodeled for television. This great public service in recognition of culture became too expensive. Having served its purpose by giving NBC an "image," the account books were scrutinized. The cost was too high in comparison to the calculated worth.
To combat the stranglehold of the major American recording companies, European firms, traditionally more sympathetic to serious music, have expanded their sales outlets in America. Smaller domestic corporations dedicated to the best in music have been formed. But the results have not been rewarding. More and more European recordings are popular music and the smaller corporations in America continually go bankrupt.
Musical taste in contemporary America is not determined by the free choice of child or adult, but by the new "élite" of market-conscious business executives. The "public" for the past thirty years has been openly called the "consumer." Again one recalls a line from Shakespeare: it in turn is consumed by what it feeds on. The child is unaware that his training has been controlled by the industry of entertainment far more than the control of the experimenter who has entered the classroom to gather statistics for his doctoral dissertation or an article in an education journal. The perceptive adult, perhaps aware that this is the case, has little recourse except to bear what is inevitable and retreat to lesser extremes by selecting "good music" stations on the radio, tuning his television set to the PBS channel, and purchasing "classical" recordings.
Whether or not the statistical results are valid is not the fundamental argument. We in contemporary America, adult and child alike, statistic takers and statistic subjects alike, are deceived into believing we are the "élite." We are beguiled into believing that we determine taste and that we guide the cultural life of the modern world. Paul Farnsworth's group had the advantage of maturity, judgment, and expertise; but they are in the minority. The pupils in grammar and high schools are asked questions which they answer truthfully but not knowing how great the influence of radio and television broadcasting has been on them.
The pertinent statistics are gathered now from sales receipts. Cost accounting includes larger budgets for blatant promotion. The creative artist no longer satisfies a personally known patron. The performer now repeats his performance exactly a million times, unaware where. And the public, its theatrical domain a screen and a speaker, is scattered in an equal million places, not one of which is near the original performance. Music, the most noble of the arts, as perceived by Schubert and championed by Schopenhauer, is now an industry. Truth is in the sale. Beauty is in the dollar. Taste and honesty, my lord, blush at the thought of their most recent arbiters.
Expanded here, this article was first presented as a short introductory paper to the session, "Experimental Research into Musical Taste: Revival and Redirection," at the annual meeting of The College Music Society in San Antonio, Texas, October 30, 1979. Participants in the session were Albert LeBlanc of Michigan State University and Terry Lee Kuhn of Kent State University. Although not mentioned in the introductory remarks in deference to what might emerge in the presentations by the principal participants were aspects of contemporary society and its policies of business which influence musical taste in America. This concern did surface, but only incidentally to the subject of discussion, namely sources in the statistical research and methods of investigation.