Many questions and reactions, with a bit of cynical tone have come from my classical music colleagues about my pop song “Tembang Gesang” I wrote for the "Idol Divo" winners of Indonesian Idol (that’s the Indonesian version of Americal Idol TV program). Why did I do that, and will I continue doing that?
I’ll answer the first question with another question : what’s wrong with writing pop music, if you can do it? And for the second question, my answer is that I doubt if I would do another pop song. I might, why not? Anyway, I am he who would like to try as many things as possible in life. Some things I regretted doing, but others (like writing a pop song) I don’t regret at all; I just feel it’s not the thing I want to do in life, even if I could earn much more money from it.
We, classical musicians, don’t have to be arrogant. We don’t have to tell the world that we are smarter than the other musicians, just because we need years of higher education to make (and/or play) the music we love. And I can prove that we are NOT smarter than pop musicians: just think of how much money they make, and how much (to be precise : little) do we, classical musicians, make? Is it because classical music is better music, so that it becomes too exclusive? Is our music only destined to a select, distinguished audience? “Culture which is exclusive is determined not to last long”, said Mohandas Gandhi, and I couldn’t agree more.
And why is classical music considered "better" music? Is it because our harmonies --and their progressions- are much more sophisticated? Is it because contrapuntally it's much more complex? Is it because great music needs a much more elaborated form and structure? If so, to who does it matter? Who has the right to determine the "better" and "worse" things?
And is it because there has been numerous researches and analysis in classical music ? Yes, of course future Ph.Ds are writing their thesis based on Britten's or Beethoven's or (I have the honour of which I don't think I deserve) my music, but do you know that there is a faculty of music in Liverpool now where you can study the music of the Beatles ? You can be a university graduate and be a Beatles scholar now. Yes, yes, perhaps its importance in the history of music is more on its social aspects, but that is also important, right ?
"Classical" style (whatever that means) is the music I love doing. If I write pop songs it would be betraying what I really feel I should do. Besides, I write pop music because I can, not because of artistic necessity. And I can, but there are many more people who can do it better, and even studied and educated in it thoroughly.