Author Topic: Classical stupidities  (Read 18016 times)

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Offline rappy

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #40 on: November 25, 2008, 02:04:18 AM »
Doesn't primitivism show the opposite, that tonality is a sophisticated system, and not something that comes naturally to humans?

No, you can even find major scales in other cultures. Of course not everywhere - but then I'm not speaking about major/minor tonality. But all cultures I've read about built up their scales if done naturally by singing and not randomly, fitting to the proportions of their instruments, beginning with the a fundamental tone and then reaching the fifth / fourth.

Again, dissonant and atonal music is not the same. I'm not against dissonant music, in fact, atonal music - the one which is based on a arbitrarily constructed system - has been composed only by a small group, it's just that the group caused more a stir than others.
And even there some composers have written really great works when they listened to their inner voice and contradicted the rules (A. Berg as the most prominent example).

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #41 on: November 25, 2008, 05:22:25 AM »
Speaking of tonality, serialism, etc., that was my big classical music blunder. I came to classical music largely through a college "appreciation of music" course, wherein the textbook dutifully implied that 20th century music was indeed the province of the avante-garde (dodecaphony, aleatory techniques, etc.), leading one to believe that tonality just died and the only significant composers were guys like Schoenberg, Stockhausen, and Cage. It took me a while to realize that's utter nonsense, and that all of that is just one strand of a kaleidoscopic 20th-century classical music scene, that in fact there's a vast amount of superb music of that century still beholden to traditional tonality, albeit typically with a very expanded harmonic palette compared to what came before. Sorry, folks, Romanticism and its offshoots never died but continue unabated today.

Now, much if not most of the music I listen to comes from the 20th century, but very little of it is truly, exclusively atonal, serial, etc
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #42 on: November 25, 2008, 05:30:04 AM »
a system of the past. And we aren't living in the past. We're alive in 2008. Many things have happened since 1908. You can't really just behave, as a composer, as if none of that ever happened, can you?


As an artist, you're free to develop your own way of saying things, and that might included either drawing from or ignoring past techniques. And in 2008, one could argue that Schoenberg's "discoveries" of the 1920's and 30's are, after all, almost a century old and therefore "a system of the past."
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Kullervo

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #43 on: November 25, 2008, 06:04:18 AM »
Boulez: "Anyone who has not seen the necessity of salt in their coffee instead of sugar is USELESS!"

 ;D ;D ;D

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #44 on: November 25, 2008, 09:13:42 AM »
Romanticism in music is hardly related to tonality. It may be tonal or it may not, so it's hardly surprising that it is still 'alive'.
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Offline c#minor

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #45 on: November 25, 2008, 05:32:08 PM »
a stupiditiy that i once had, and have been glad to overcome, is the need to argue whether tonality or atonality is better... ;D


and by the way, music never dies until it ceases to be played

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2008, 05:36:48 AM »
Grazioso, that's because we tend to focus on major breakthroughs, developments and achievements that are profoundly realized, though these things never make something completely obsolete (it's more of an expansion, door/path opener) it's justifiably deemed more substantial & important in the larger picture and hence more written and talked about. The 20th century was one of major innovation and experimentation. That's not to say someone can still come along and write a great piece that happens to be completely tonal but...

...and it can even be found in certain aspects of figures like Schoenberg & Stockhausen believe it or not.  :o

E.g., Verklärte Nacht.

I take your point about breakthroughs, though I think it's potentially misleading and harmful to look at artistic history as progressive or teleological since the focus tends to fall too squarely on the artists who break with existing forms and ideals. One then tends to equate the quality and importance of an artist's work with how dramatically he breaks from tradition. An artist may come up with a novel approach, but that doesn't mean the work he applies it to is necessarily rewarding to most listeners. Would you steer someone new to 20th-century literature first to Joyce and Pynchon and imply that they're indicative of or superior to everything else written during that hundred-year span?

I would certainly caution anyone new to 20th-century classical music not to be snared by the trap of thinking the avant-garde to be the indicative, dominant, or best strand(s) of music. There's a vast array of 20th-century music that's more readily approachable and conventionally beautiful. I don't imply that the latter is superior, but I do recognize that's what most listeners want, and it would be a crying shame were they to miss many riches of 20th-century (and contemporary) music because of misguided fears.

Quote
Romanticism in music is hardly related to tonality.

On the contrary. While musical Romanticism has certain philosophical components that can be applied to music created with a wide variety of techniques, at the same time Romanticism is most closely associated with the great 19th-century composers/compositions who brought it to its first fruition, and they by and large wrote in a traditional tonal dialect, notwithstanding men like Wagner and Liszt stretching it to its breaking point.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 05:42:22 AM by Grazioso »
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Christo

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #47 on: November 26, 2008, 06:22:03 AM »
This blinkered Wagnerian ignored (most of) Schumann's music until 2002 (age 41)...

Here's one that ignored most of Schumann's music until 2008 (age 46) ... and still sticks to that unenlightened opinion.  :-X  (He even fell asleep during a live concert once in his life, in the open air in a park in Rome ... a piano recital of Schumann's music).  ;)

Still, no stupidity here.  0:)
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #48 on: November 26, 2008, 08:52:32 AM »
Here's one that ignored most of Schumann's music until 2008 (age 46) ... and still sticks to that unenlightened opinion.  :-X  (He even fell asleep during a live concert once in his life, in the open air in a park in Rome ... a piano recital of Schumann's music).  ;)

Still, no stupidity here.  0:)

I know for a fact you aren't stupid and I don't begrudge you your salubrious nap.  0:)

Schumann is still great, though.  ;)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Haffner

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #49 on: November 26, 2008, 09:00:55 AM »
I used to think that Mozart and J. Haydn were the last of the great composers. Eeeeewwwps!

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #50 on: November 26, 2008, 09:13:21 AM »
The tonality vs. atonality issue is in itself one of the major classical music stupidities. Schoenberg opened up a whole new chromatic territory to music, and it is understandable that some might become so intoxicated with the new possibilities as to imagine that they render the old practicies obsolete. By now, though, it's clear that this is a supplementary resource not a replacement. The total chromatic pitch space developed in the 20th century makes for wider possibilities of musical expression in which alternate formulations of tonality may develop, or not, according to the tastes of composers and audiences. Given the persistence of demand among listeners for tonally-centered music, I think it inevitable that new tonal systems will arise, systems which would have been unthinkable without concepts introduced by atonalists in the past 50 years. At the same time, truly atonal music will not go away.

It may happen that 100 years from now our understanding of harmony will have expanded so that our present concepts of tonality and atonality are subsumed into one larger unified concept.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #51 on: November 26, 2008, 09:21:14 AM »
By now, though, it's clear that this is a supplementary resource not a replacement.

My favorite sentence of your great post.  As a huge fan of atonality, I nevertheless don't see it as "the way of all music" but as "an option for some music."  And your comment predicting how we might see harmony a century from now is a prescient one; I hope you are right.

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Offline edward

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #52 on: November 26, 2008, 09:58:18 AM »
The tonality vs. atonality issue is in itself one of the major classical music stupidities.
Absolutely. It seems to be a characteristic of the human mind that makes such false dichotomies so appealing. Many of my favourite composers of the last 50 years or so have been ones who have transcended this issue in their music (Ligeti, Kurtag, Schnittke and Rihm, for example, though I think there's a strong case for saying that some kind of tonality exists in, say, late Boulez).
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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Offline some guy

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #53 on: November 26, 2008, 11:33:07 AM »
I would certainly caution anyone new to 20th-century classical music not to be snared by the trap of thinking the avant-garde to be the indicative, dominant, or best strand(s) of music. There's a vast array of 20th-century music that's more readily approachable and conventionally beautiful. I don't imply that the latter is superior, but I do recognize that's what most listeners want, and it would be a crying shame were they to miss many riches of 20th-century (and contemporary) music because of misguided fears.
And I would caution anyone new to 20th century classical music not to be snared by the trap of thinking that "the avant-garde" (to borrow Grazioso's misleading term) is less approachable or less beautiful than some of the more conservative (regressive) strands. It is a crying shame that the persistent narrative that Schoenberg, Varese, Cage, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Dhomont, Boulez, et. al. are "difficult" or "inaccessible" or "unmusical" (and other canards) does indeed put people off a lot of very fine music before they've even heard it, and continues to keep them from enjoying it even after they've heard it. (I was at a concert recently that included Schoenberg's third string quartet, a lovely piece with easily recognizable themes. The first comment I heard, from a guy in his thirties I would guess, was that this is music that's really more suited for analysis than enjoyment. He cannot have heard the ravishing sounds those four musicians had just made.)

Indeed, I would caution anyone new to 20th century classical music not be cautious.

Otherwise, I do wish our discussions could get out of the tonality/atonality pit. God, there's so much more to 20th century music than that distinction! There are rhythmic explorations, instrumental explorations, at least three separate explorations of "noise," the most recent called simply "noise music." There is indeterminacy (giving up control) and aleatory (giving up some control in carefully controlled ways) and multimedia and mixed media and danger music and anti-music and Fluxus and minimalism (which itself has several distinct strands--think Young, Reich, and Feldman, at least) and polystylism and spectralism and electroacoustic and live electronics and improvisation and concept music and soundscape music and computer music and turntablism and what I like to call "tafelmusik," music created by playing miscellaneous items--acoustic, electric, electronic--spread out on a table.

In most of those, pitch is not the primary component (as it is in tonal and serial musics). Indeed, I often wonder if anyone talking about the contrasts between tonal and "atonal" (a mostly meaningless term) and serial realizes how close these are--they all use relationships between pitches to construct musical compositions.

That's my sermon, and I'm stickin' to it!!

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #54 on: November 26, 2008, 01:09:14 PM »

While musical Romanticism has certain philosophical components that can be applied to music created with a wide variety of techniques, at the same time Romanticism is most closely associated with the great 19th-century composers/compositions who brought it to its first fruition, and they by and large wrote in a traditional tonal dialect, notwithstanding men like Wagner and Liszt stretching it to its breaking point.
You are confusing romanticism in music with the Romantic movement (or period if you prefer). Perhaps I should have clarified this by not beginning the sentence with the word so that you could see it was not capitalised. In later forms of romanticism, the means is variation of interval to build up or release tension. I have written this kind of music myself. It is entirely atonal though not serial. All notes are equal, as are also chords, although in my system a chord can only have three different notes plus 'accidentals'.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #55 on: November 26, 2008, 10:57:46 PM »
It may happen that 100 years from now our understanding of harmony will have expanded so that our present concepts of tonality and atonality are subsumed into one larger unified concept.

Already done to some extent with Dalbavie and his notion of "metatonality".

DavidW

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #56 on: November 27, 2008, 06:22:58 AM »
Replying to the original post-- my newbie stupidities:

* I thought that Beethoven's late string quartets were atonal.
* The Appassionata was too strange to be listenable.
* Amadeus is a factual account.
* Handel was English.
* Schoenberg, Berg and Webern revolutionized music because they were sick of music sounding good.
* Mahler must be a great composer just because his symphonies were so LOOOONG and the cds so expensive.
* Nobody listens to Haydn because he's boring and tedious.

Those were the times! :D

mn dave

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #57 on: November 27, 2008, 06:26:52 AM »
Mostly pronunciations of composers' names. I still have some wrong probably.  ;D

Offline Florestan

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #58 on: November 27, 2008, 07:06:15 AM »
Mostly pronunciations of composers' names. I still have some wrong probably.  ;D

That's probably because of the bad habit Germans have of spelling Schoenberg and pronouncing Stockhausen...
Chopin, mer de soupirs, de larmes, de sanglots
Q’un vol de papillons sans se poser traverse,
Jouant sur la tristesse ou dansant sur les flots,
Reve, aime, souffre, crie, apaise, charme ou berce.
- Marcel Proust

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Classical stupidities
« Reply #59 on: November 27, 2008, 07:06:56 AM »


  At one point in the past I stupidly went looking for complete recordings of Schubert's 7th symphony  ::)  ::)!  There is a 6th Symphony for Schubert and the 8th is the "Unfinished" so logic says that there must be a 7th  ??? ??? No??  Maybe they should call that "The Missing" symphony  ::) ::) ::)!!!!!!

  marvin

 

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