Issue 6: Reader Feedback

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It was interesting to read the section in your editorial (Sportkite Issues, version 1.5) about musical selections. As the IRB states: “The music, however must be an entity and shall not consist of completely separate pieces just attached to one another. If different pieces of music are used they must be combined to give the impression of one entity.”

There are many “pieces” music that are completely separate and seem attached to one another. Handel’s music comes to mind. Not that anyone would fly to them . . .

Sherrie Arnold’s reply is very ambiguous. She says “The intent of this rule is to avoid performances where the competitor has spliced together two or more disparate pieces of music with no apparent theme.” What if the theme is apparent to the competitor, but not to the judges? Should that competitor receive a lower score? In my opinion this would depend upon a judge’s ability to understand what a flier is trying to do with the routine and also the musical knowledge of a judge. If a competitor is flying to a piece of music that is polyrhythmic, can a judge tell which beats the competitor is flying too? If a piece of music is polyphonic, can a judge tell what the competitor is trying to do? Many people cannot find a theme in the works of Picasso or the music of Beethoven. The first time Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was performed, the audience rioted. Is this because the audience didn’t understand a “musical concept”?

If as Arnold says “When a ballet routine contains pieces of music that [is] conceptually diverse, the judges have a hard time identifying these parts. This can be extremely detrimental to the overall routine – the judges are left scratching their heads about the flier’s intent rather than absorbing the performance,” is it the fault of the flier, or the lack of ability of the judges? And who is Arnold to say “. . . the judges have a hard time identifying these parts”? How can she determine the ability of a judge to identify the “parts”? This ability is based upon a judge’s musical knowledge and aptitude. What may be “conceptually diverse” to one judge, may not be that way to another judge. What if the music the competitor is flying to isn’t based upon the European chromatic scale? Will this make the music “conceptually diverse” so the judges will have a “hard time identifying these parts”?

What makes music, according to Arnold’s words “conceptually diverse”? Can the music sound different, and have a concept? Can music sound the same, and not have a theme? I think this is very possible.

I’d also like to make one point about the IRB stating “The music should end naturally, not abruptly as if edited to meet time constraints.” What if the music ends abruptly and is not edited?

This is really an issue of musical knowledge. What Arnold says about this issue is in my opinion a form of “musical prejudice.”


Larry Bush

KiteLife: Interesting opinions from Larry. I wonder how other sports that integrate music into artistic performances (figure skating, etc.) handle musical choices?