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Author Topic: The five myths about contemporary classical music  (Read 8374 times)

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Philoctetes

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2012, 08:44:52 AM »
Music is organisation of sound; commercial goals or lack thereof and "context" have nothing to do with that. In what ways has Pärt gone beyond Darmstadt?

Well I don't know where the commercial part comes in, but I would strongly disagree with you that context doesn't matter, as I pointed out with Levine.

Beyond? I don't even know what that phrase is supposed to mean here.

Part is simply composing in his vein, how he interprets the contemporary scene. I'd wager that all composers see their times differently than other composers who also might be composing in their era.

Offline Sequentia

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #41 on: April 30, 2012, 08:54:20 AM »
Well I don't know where the commercial part comes in, but I would strongly disagree with you that context doesn't matter, as I pointed out with Levine.

Beyond? I don't even know what that phrase is supposed to mean here.

Part is simply composing in his vein, how he interprets the contemporary scene. I'd wager that all composers see their times differently than other composers who also might be composing in their era.

It seems to me that we are having a misunderstanding. I'm using "contemporary" to mean "modernist", not "done recently". Modernism would be a rejection of the past - the syntax of various works by Cage or Stockhausen would fall into that realm, while Pärt would not. How about that?

Philoctetes

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2012, 08:58:49 AM »
It seems to me that we are having a misunderstanding. I'm using "contemporary" to mean "modernist", not "done recently". Modernism would be a rejection of the past - the syntax of various works by Cage or Stockhausen would fall into that realm, while Pärt would not. How about that?

You're completely free to constrict definitions so that they suit you. I think I mentioned that in a previous post, but I don't even think you could support the definition that you've offered yourself, especially with the claims of beyond and progress, which I think are simply bollocks.

Offline Sequentia

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2012, 09:26:10 AM »
You're completely free to constrict definitions so that they suit you.

"Suit"? In what way? Am I becoming famous? Winning the lottery?

I think I mentioned that in a previous post

Mentioned what?

I think are simply bollocks.

Your problem.

Offline Sammy

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2012, 09:41:04 AM »
It seems to me that we are having a misunderstanding. I'm using "contemporary" to mean "modernist", not "done recently".

Then you should dump "contemporary" and use "modernist". 

Offline albedo

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #45 on: April 30, 2012, 12:03:37 PM »
Quote from: DavidW on April 29, 2012, 08:42:18 PM
No because it's untrue.


Would you have nice examples? I was generalizing, so simply one composer once (glass)...more looking for bodies of work across multiple composers.

Could part of the modernist issue be similar to watching  a five minute clip of a live Phish or Greatful Dead concert?  That unless audience is 'there' from ground zero, the impact is a little lost? That unless we know, and have watched, a composer grow, all we hear are door squeaks, violins tuning, windows slamming, having missed the process that brought us to that point?



contemporary to me is kinda zzz

Offline The Six

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #46 on: April 30, 2012, 04:23:05 PM »
I think the "inaccessible" thing about new music doesn't just refer to the music itself. Audiences have no context to put it in, which is the same problem contemporary music has always had. Even if you're not a Berlioz aficionado, you know what you're getting into if you're going to a performance of his music. Who knows where Joe Microtones is coming from when listening to his Meditation on the Colour Purple? Most people don't want to have to read a novella of program notes just to get grounded in a piece. Call it laziness, stubbornness, or whatever, but it's a preemptive roadblock that inhibits acceptance of new music.

Concerts of modern music are full of unrecognizable names and pieces with complex titles. Simply titling a piece by its medium ("String Quartet") is not fashionable. And if the program has works from five composers, it's likely you'll get five completely different-sounding pieces.

Offline jlaurson

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #47 on: April 30, 2012, 04:29:10 PM »
Funny how Schoenberg is still "contemporary".

There is some good new stuff amongst the academic dreck, but the time and money you need to spend to find it isn't worth it, from my point of view. Especially as there's so much "old" music I haven't heard yet.

I had a wonderful conversation with a 90 (!) year old woman after a performance of the Berlin Philharmonic (Webern-Berg-Schoenberg) in Salzburg. http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/09/notes-from-salzburg-festival-15th-and.html
Quote
Outside the Festspielhaus an old but sharp lady approached me, shaking her head about that ‘modern, newfangled music’, and how she could not be expected to like it, or applaud after it. Since I wasn’t going to pretend to agree, I tried to make the Second Viennese School slightly more palatable to her in the gentlest terms possible, suggesting that if she—by her own admission—could find it impressive or even rousing, just not beautiful, she was already three quarters of the way down the road to appreciating it. ‘Beauty’, in the conventional sense, isn’t the point of these works, but then that isn’t the point of something like Le Sacre (which she likes), either. And I couldn’t help point out that, and I went about this tactfully, the music she just heard and found so awfully ‘new’ was older even than she. There we are: A century later, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg are still poster boys for “New” music.

Re: Tom Service:

 It's really a rather sloppy article... especially points 2 & 4. 

The accessibility of the Beatle's deliberately primitive pop is hardly a great argument for how accessible Stockhausen is, however much he influenced certain aspects of their (or others') music. And it doesn't make Ferneyhough easy listening, either.

Much the same goes for simply claiming contemporary music is not irrelevant and then citing non-classical music as the reason behind it. In fact, it weakens the argument.

Point 5 finally is a classic straw-man. Come up with an absurd question, then debunk it. Hooray! Victory.

"All his music was composed with social and political consciousness at its heart." Oh Gawd... that's usually the worst music. Just think Henze. Whenever he becomes political, the music turns shite. Ditto Eisler. Hanns Eisler–Music as a Weapon Or Dessau. http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/05/reviewed-not-necessarily-recommended_15.html

It takes more effort, and a bit of intelligence, and acknowledgement of the first half of your second point ("There is some good new stuff amongst the academic dreck, but the time and money you need to spend to find it isn't worth it, from my point of view. Especially as there's so much "old" music I haven't heard yet.") to make the case for contemporary music.

I agree with you that it takes time and money to wade through the stuff, but I disagree with you about whether it's worth it -- if you meant that as a general, rather than personal, statement. It's hugely important not to let classical music become a taxidermist's effigy... and contemporary music (and challenging the ears) is part of that. If that's true for any type of music, it's also true for classical. And frankly, there's so much bona-fide excellent contemporary classical music out there (especially now, that the ideological trench-warfare of the avant-gardists has become a thing of the albeit recent past) that it doesn't take that much time and effort.

DavidW

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #48 on: April 30, 2012, 05:01:19 PM »
That was a great post Jens.  Especially since you trashed the thing with the Beatles, I also thought that was just absurd.  There are compelling arguments to get people into contemporary classical, that article just didn't present any of them. >:D

Offline The Six

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #49 on: April 30, 2012, 05:54:54 PM »
Fresh blood, fresh voices, creative titles, musical variety, new experiences; ..

...can all be intimidating to people.

eyeresist

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #50 on: April 30, 2012, 06:08:23 PM »
No one here really said Schoenberg was contemporary .. he was only used to clear up a common misconception that extends to contemporary music in general; eyeresist didn't follow .. spitting out a common cliche too .. that it's mainly all "academic dreck" ..and also stating that spending time learning about the music of recent history is a "waste of time" .. 

This is what you inferred, not what I actually said.


They are not contemporary because their works are fairly conservative, when compared to compositions such as Boulez's 2nd Piano Sonata or Stockhausen's 10th Piano Piece - works that are several decades old. I was making reference to musical progress, not chronology.

So Bach and Brahms were never contemporary?

Musical progress = BS. It's not science or medicine. The new discoveries do not invalidate the old ways, they only expand the possibilities.

eyeresist

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #51 on: April 30, 2012, 06:29:35 PM »
Nice try .. but it was the gist of what you did say and meant.

Wow, so you can figure what I meant to say better than I can? I'm betting you are a big conspiracy theorist too.

Offline Scion7

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #52 on: April 30, 2012, 06:42:35 PM »
... more than ever before.

Easy, easy - I know you love the noise experiment stuff but that's just a viewpoint.
Samuel Barber-the violin concerto-Isaac Stern, Bernstein, New York Philharmonic. 1965

eyeresist

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2012, 06:48:24 PM »
I agree with your 2nd pt. in that much still can be learned from history; but the expansion of a musical vocabulary is a form of progress (in the sense that it's not static), all you have to do is look back to the earliest notated gregorian chant all the way through to today's modern electroacoustics etc.; we've come along way and there has been an enormous widening of the territory & field of music in all aspects & parameters .. and there are many, many mathematical and scientific aspects to sound & music as well; which really began to take off in the 2nd half of the 20th century which helped open up new doors to whole new areas to be explored by composers in greater depth, more than ever before.

Good Lord, a point of agreement. The world's gone mad!

I wonder if you know the music of Avet Terterian at all? His later symphonies use recordings, multiple phonographs, etc. He's a modernist I can get behind.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #54 on: April 30, 2012, 07:04:41 PM »
So if I were to sit down and compose a "Missa Papae Marcelli", it would be contemporary, simply because it was composed in 2012?

Actually, there are living composers who do compose Latin Church music intended for liturgical use.  Here's one, who writes a capella but is not afraid of modern harmonic (non-harmonic) language: besides motets, a Mass for St. Maximilian Kolbe.  (For the non liturgically inclined, there's also a bunch of secular instrumental and vocal pieces).

http://blog.case.edu/jeffrey.quick/podcasts/index

(Just to be aboveboard: he's a cyberfriend of mine, which is why I'm familiar with his work in particular.  But he's not the only composer alive doing work like this.)
Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.
---Rossini

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #55 on: April 30, 2012, 07:11:22 PM »
I agree with your 2nd pt. in that much still can be learned from history; but the expansion of a musical vocabulary is a form of progress (in the sense that it's not static), all you have to do is look back to the earliest notated gregorian chant all the way through to today's modern electroacoustics etc.; we've come along way and there has been an enormous widening of the territory & field of music in all aspects & parameters .. and there are many, many mathematical and scientific aspects to sound & music as well; which really began to take off in the 2nd half of the 20th century which helped open up new doors to whole new areas to be explored by composers in greater depth, more than ever before.

But perhaps there's a point at which music stops being music and becomes simply (I'm calling it this simply because I can't think of a better term, so feel free to supply an alternate) organized noise.

And, since we have no idea of what the music of the later 21st century will sound like,  we have to bear in mind that much of 20th century music may turn out, in the long term, to be a detour or even backwater, and that much of what people might now declare to be progress will be fundamentally irrelevant to the course of classical music in the future. 
Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.
---Rossini

Philoctetes

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #56 on: April 30, 2012, 07:14:09 PM »
And, since we have no idea of what the music of the later 21st century will sound like,  we have to bear in mind that much of 20th century music may turn out, in the long term, to be a detour or even backwater, and that much of what people might now declare to be progress will be fundamentally irrelevant to the course of classical music in the future.

But does this really matter? Perhaps I don't care enough about the craft, but for me, as long as it is bringing enjoyment to a class of people. That makes it worthwhile. I mean most classical music is forgotten.

Edit: These are the kind of things in which I love the insights of Karl, Luke, etc.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 07:18:44 PM by Philoctetes »

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #57 on: April 30, 2012, 07:39:59 PM »
But does this really matter? Perhaps I don't care enough about the craft, but for me, as long as it is bringing enjoyment to a class of people. That makes it worthwhile. I mean most classical music is forgotten.

Edit: These are the kind of things in which I love the insights of Karl, Luke, etc.

It matters only in the sense that people shouldn't automatically slap the label of "progress" or "music of the future" on it.  James might say that Stockhausen represents the way that music will grow through the 21st century,  I think that Stockhausen will end up being as well remembered as John Blitheman or Lambert Chaumont.  (Who are they?  I have no idea, other than one piece by each appears in the Gustav Leonhardt organ budget box of which I finished the first run through tonight--the former being 16th century (English, I assume) and the latter 17th/very early 18th century (French or Low Countries, apparently)--and that obscurity is why I chose them for the comparison.)  Which one of us is right? If we're alive in a century or so,  maybe we'll know.  Until then,  the portion of your post which I bolded definitely applies.
Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.
---Rossini

Philoctetes

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #58 on: April 30, 2012, 07:44:25 PM »
It matters only in the sense that people shouldn't automatically slap the label of "progress" or "music of the future" on it.  James might say that Stockhausen represents the way that music will grow through the 21st century,  I think that Stockhausen will end up being as well remembered as John Blitheman or Lambert Chaumont.  (Who are they?  I have no idea, other than one piece by each appears in the Gustav Leonhardt organ budget box of which I finished the first run through tonight--the former being 16th century (English, I assume) and the latter 17th/very early 18th century (French or Low Countries, apparently)--and that obscurity is why I chose them for the comparison.)  Which one of us is right? If we're alive in a century or so,  maybe we'll know.  Until then,  the portion of your post which I bolded definitely applies.

I agree with all of this. I mean I would assume, safely I think, that Stockhausen will be recalled a century from now, but, of course, we can't know it. I find arguments that revolve around ideas of progress, of going beyond, of transcendence, to be quite weak, and almost always lacking a sound foundation.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #59 on: April 30, 2012, 08:15:29 PM »
Well we don't have to label anything, but the fact of the matter is things did expand and widen. We do live in an Electronic Age and which direction does that seem to be leading in the last 40 years?. Less or more? And by reading your comments, I don't think you have much experience with music of the 2nd half of the 20th century ..

The music of the Electronic Age does not necessarily have to be Electronic Music.

As for your last statement,  I'll answer this way.  AND PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOTHING MORE.
I've had enough experience to conclude that:
1)That much of the music of the period 1930-1980 is ugly,  will not survive the test of time, and much of it is based intellectual pretension.  At best, it explored new ways of making music which might or might not be fruitful for later generations, but which I think will ultimately be judged a barren era in musical creativity.
2) There has been a general improvement in the last three decades,  because contemporary composers have winnowed out much of the changes which were not worth keeping, and dropped much of the intellectual pretension. 

I have yet to find a composer of the serialism/Darmstadt mold (I'm using those terms in a very broad sense) whom I find worth listening to--the only real exception to that is Ligeti's piano and chamber music.
But I've found a good deal of music produced in the last three decades to be well worth listening to, and usually when I don't like it, it's because  I find it too accessible and too much like pop.
Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.
---Rossini

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