Author Topic: The five myths about contemporary classical music  (Read 6977 times)

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Offline James

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #80 on: April 30, 2012, 08:44:32 PM »
The music of the Electronic Age does not necessarily have to be Electronic Music.

It really is the future direction as I see it. Traditional instruments won't go away or anything but .. electronics and technology will play a much greater role in how music is conceived, realized & presented - at all stages. It already has for awhile now and continues to do so, for the most part .. certain facets of the "institution" (including performance spaces) perhaps have to upgrade .. to accomodate

All the recordings in our collections are electronic music essentially, not to mention the systems & speakers we play the stuff on ..

AND PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOTHING MORE.

You're entitled to your opinion and all my friend, but it doesn't seem that experienced or informed. Anyway, I have to hit the sack it's getting late. Good night.
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Offline James

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #81 on: April 30, 2012, 08:57:40 PM »
i agree completely!  truly contemporary composition will be unlike any composition of the past 600 years in that there need be no players nor conductor just an audience....not there yet of course and this does not diminish the concert experience.

where have you been? this has been happening for awhile now with electronic music .. an elaborate sound system installation for the ultimate surround sound experience. turn off the lights, sit back, listen. 1 man required at the controls though.
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Offline albedo

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #82 on: May 01, 2012, 02:00:03 AM »


Quote from: James on April 30, 2012, 08:57:40 PM>
where have you been? this has been happening for awhile now with electronic music .. an elaborate sound system installation for the ultimate surround sound experience. turn off the lights, sit back, listen. 1 man required at the controls though.


 8)
lol...i am more familiar with em then i am with classical! em is still in its infancy; the unrealized potential is enormous and untapped imo.

i say this as there has been no bach, no beethoven, no mozart, no accessible, brilliant compositional force that shines so brightly that all others must squint to see, and that may be because the technology is still coming along.  The communities are still developing, the rules still forming. Part of it could be the difficulty is quite high and usually, not shared among many.

Offline jlaurson

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #83 on: May 01, 2012, 02:36:41 AM »
I interpreted his pt. another way, besides the influence KS had (studio as instrument etc.) ..  the young lads simply "got it" .. and heard things in Stockhausen that they liked, as do so many (myself included). It's really not inaccessible.. total myth. It's inspirational. He's also tying things back to the source(s) throughout which is nice. I thought Service was direct, passionate, genuine & spot-on .. summing things up broadly quite well.

Well, the argument is still crap. "The Beatles heard something in  Stockhausen. The Beatles are accessible. Therefore Stockhausen is accessible."

Now even if we could agree on what a concept like "accessible" means (frankly, accessible is in the ear of the beholder - for better or worse), that's still not the argument as to whether (or why) Stockhausen is accessible. That's just the "Stockhausen is hugely influential" argument, which no one can deny. Stockhausen is accessible for his own merits (to the extent he is).  It's only a side-show argument why, if he was so influential on others (Zappa is a much better example in any case, because Zappa's music is closer in spirit, playfulness, and occasionally complexity to KS than what my admittedly Beatles-ignorant ears hear in the Liverpudlians), we ought also invest some effort and await the eventual, possible surprise.

And then there's the thing where in your spirited defense of all things modern you begin to generalize and refuse to make concessions. I'm not sure if it helps your argument in practical terms if you seemingly insist that "all" avant-garde music has merit. Or even that all Stockhausen is similarly accessible (or good, which is an even trickier concept). Something truly mesmerizing like Gesang der Jünglinge (even Stimmung or Tierkreis) or Mantra which -- with the right setup live or even canned -- I could maybe get a dozen non-KS-predisposed classical music listeners out of a hundred to appreciate and enjoy) simply cannot be compared to the Wednesday Helicopter Quartet (which I couldn't get a dozen out of a thousand to enjoy in any meaningful sense  -- that is: excluding enjoyment-as-conceit). 

I think the argument should be re-framed as: Contemporary music is worth listening to (especially for the 3rd and 4th time; a one-time listen often doesn't do anything. That it's worth exploring, and that it is worth at least some effort. Really the same arguments why we should listen to 'modern classics' like Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Weinberg, Birtwistle, Ives -- which are just as much a closed book to the vast majority of casual classical music listeners.

At the same time there's no point in not admitting that some of it will never yield, no matter the effort... that not all of it is for everyone. That much isn't worth the effort. But we can't know that until afterwards... a few exceptions apart. (If we knew how some works got composed, we could predict failure occasionally.)

Most, if not all the criticism voiced here, has some merit and deserves being addressed, rather than flat-out denied. None of the criticism, as far as I am concerned, is sufficient to suggest that we ought not try to appreciate contemporary classical music. Especially since there are fewer and fewer excuses to do so, with the styles of contemporary music having unprecedented breadth... from the Zamfir-goes-Kenny-G style of Ola Gjeilo to complexity-for-its-own-sake Brian Ferneyhough.

A Salonen Piano Concerto, Jefferson Friedman Quartets, the workd of the NOW Ensemble, the super-gorgeous modern romanticism of Fabio Maffei, Udo Zimmermann's Cello Concerto (a conversion to consonance), much of Thomas Adès' work, Avner Dorman Percussion Concerto, Philippe Manoury ("Abgrund"), Daniel Brewbaker's Violin Concerto, most anything by Kaija Saariaho (Not everything perhaps ("Katja Saariaho’s Spins and Spells for cello ... sounded like creaking pipes in an old apartment building during winter. Or, as the modern music maven in me would want to exclaim: it explored in fascinating intricacy the resonant and textural properties of the cello (scordatura – custom tuned – no less!) while spreading a holistic sound-cloth, tightly woven of metal strands over the audiences’ audile receptors. Take your pick." ... but L'amour de loin especially). Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs... Paul Moravec is another of my favorites... ditto B.C.S.Boyle and I love what Michael Nyman does with his de- and re-constructions of Mozart.

All of these composers are alive, a lot of them are not scary at all... none are flawless (if Beethoven wasn't, why should they?), a few others are ostensibly 'difficult' and need a different approach (just like Bartok needs a different approach than Mozart, if one is to get anything from his music). I could, with some time and effort, and given willing ears, make a good case for all of them (not that they need me to do that) and they make a great case for the wonderful diversity there is. Point is: Much of this repays the investment of effort manifold... just like other music, too. And half of it doesn't take as much effort as Wagner does.

Offline James

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #84 on: May 01, 2012, 03:10:33 AM »
Well, the argument is still crap. The Beatles are accessible. Therefore Stockhausen is accessible."

I don't think he was meaning it that way, I wasn't reading it like that  .. and I'm not defending anything or saying all music has merit (though many of the name's mentioned do, and are worth exploring i.e. Stockhausen), I just think Service rebuked a lot of the very common myths and cliches. So I was in agreement with a lot of what he was getting at.

I think the argument should be re-framed as: Contemporary music is worth listening to

Ultimately that is what Service was getting at, passionate advocacy  ... something I resonate and agree with. There is something for everyone .. of course, we won't like it all. I can attest to that myself. He's now started this ..

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/series/a-guide-to-contemporary-classical-music
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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #85 on: May 01, 2012, 04:28:45 AM »
The only influence I've heard from the avant garde is revolution 9, which is the song that most people skip so I don't know.  The Beatles were also very adventurous in their instrumentation, but the same is also true for The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.  It was just a good time to be making music.

Online karlhenning

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #86 on: May 01, 2012, 05:02:30 AM »
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
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.

As Davey said, well done, Jens!

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

Another excellent point.
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Online karlhenning

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #87 on: May 01, 2012, 05:05:50 AM »
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.

I should draw the distinction (and I think, Jeffrey, you would be apt to agree . . . I think it's an accident of phrasing here) that the judgement of barren may fall upon a branch of music from that era, but that there is music from that time which will endure.
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Online karlhenning

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #88 on: May 01, 2012, 05:08:46 AM »
The only influence I've heard from the avant garde is revolution 9, which is the song that most people skip so I don't know.

Mine is certainly a minority opinion, but I actually think “Revolution 9” better than the consensus treats it.

Not that I think it one of the greatest pieces of music written that year, necessarily . . . .
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Offline Scion7

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #89 on: May 01, 2012, 05:17:03 AM »
Mine is certainly a minority opinion, but I actually think “Revolution 9” better than the consensus treats it.

Not that I think it one of the greatest pieces of music written that year, necessarily . . . .


Yeah but it got a lot of attention when the THE BEATLES came out - I remember it coming on while I was going over the poster that came inside and immediately thinking John's been into the acid again.  :-)  And at school everyone was talking about it, and of course, many of the other songs. 

I'm glad you made the point of separating the noise/tape loop experiments from the rest of the 20th century music, Karl.  Before M.I. came in and went postal about Shostakovich or others.  :P

Varese will survive.  Stockhausen was an influence on early Tangerine Dream and Can and others, but I don't see the record companies moving many units of his works!  And John Cage's stuff should be burned, the ashes stirred, and burned again - just to be safe!
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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #90 on: May 01, 2012, 05:22:06 AM »
Yeah but it got a lot of attention when the THE BEATLES came out - I remember it coming on while I was going over the poster that came inside and immediately thinking John's been into the acid again.  :-)  And at school everyone was talking about it, and of course, many of the other songs.

There was a time when I thought that the problem with the track was, that it interrupted the flow of the album, that it brusquely subverted expectations.

Now, I am inclined to think that a signal virtue.  And of course, the transition from “Revolution 9” to “Good Night” is one of the (many) iconic Beatles touches.  For those of us who still remember things like the flow of an album
; )
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Offline jlaurson

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #91 on: May 01, 2012, 05:25:04 AM »

Varese will survive.  Stockhausen was an influence on early Tangerine Dream and Can and others, but I don't see the record companies moving many units of his works!  And John Cage's stuff should be burned, the ashes stirred, and burned again - just to be safe!

Agreed on Varese, who is awesome. Cage? a.) Nothing should be burned... that's the great beauty of choice. It can just be ignored. And should be, by anyone not liking it or thinking it absurd and silly. (Much of which I'd never argue with.) But then there are works like String Quartet for Four Parts ... and voila... that can be exciting music under the right circumstances.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #92 on: May 01, 2012, 07:41:46 AM »
Before M.I. came in and went postal about Shostakovich or others.  :P

Does...not...compute...

Do you know the meaning of "going postal"? It's an angry rant sometimes even leading to violence. I've never ranted against Shostakovich. I only praise him and continue to do so because he's my favorite composer.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 07:43:59 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline albedo

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #93 on: May 01, 2012, 07:45:28 AM »
the effect of listening is a great reason why no composition should be destroyed or ignored


if only to say "this is poop, this is not", every piece written, ever, from forgotten chants from 15,000 years ago--and lets face it, chants from the time of spoken language would be equivalent to literacy of today--to abstract electronic pieces, each helps push and build the total sum of human output, where the whole truly is bigger then the sum of the parts.


equally, contemporary composers, in the sense of composers being alive at the same time, can serve to push a output  forward to greatness as I imagine Beethoven would have thought of Mozart "i would like to be as good as he" or inspire a composer to produce in the first place "I can do better then *that*".


And if it takes a 100 years of poop to get the utterly sublime...I will take that trade over stagnation and nothingness.


We can still gripe about the poop however!
 
note -- I am not trying to imply that there is relative value between works, however from a composer's perspective surely they see music w/many different qualities, of more then good or bad, even if the only really redeeming quality left is the bravery of someone sharing. Might each positive creative quality change the mind, like medicine, and thus change the future of composition?











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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #94 on: May 01, 2012, 07:56:02 AM »
The only influence I've heard from the avant garde is revolution 9, which is the song that most people skip so I don't know.  The Beatles were also very adventurous in their instrumentation, but the same is also true for The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.  It was just a good time to be making music.

I think the influence shows more clearly in their solo careers, especially that of Lennon (hints of LaMonte Young etc. )

Offline starrynight

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #95 on: May 01, 2012, 08:17:48 AM »
I'm still trying to work out why it is I should care less about what stereotypes some people have.  Those who wish to make the effort will find things they like, those who don't won't.  It comes from within not outside.  This kind of music isn't mainstream and it's unlikely ever to be so.  Indeed some art music is likely to be extreme enough in it's trying of new directions that it will necessarily be derisive, it's then up to people in the future to decide if those directions can be worth further exploration or not.
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Offline James

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #96 on: May 01, 2012, 08:53:35 AM »
8)
lol...i am more familiar with em then i am with classical! em is still in its infancy; the unrealized potential is enormous and untapped imo.

i say this as there has been no bach, no beethoven, no mozart, no accessible, brilliant compositional force that shines so brightly that all others must squint to see, and that may be because the technology is still coming along.  The communities are still developing, the rules still forming. Part of it could be the difficulty is quite high and usually, not shared among many.

Not really .. in the  mid-late 1950s serious 'art music' (prefer this term to "classical") composers really took off, some in much deeper ways .. and it has been going ever since; for an example of brilliance and high artistic value in the medium start with the hugely pioneering & influencial Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) (for many the world's leading exponent on it) and the one who really realized an envisioned electronic future best. The Grand Papa, so to speak; LOTS takes root there  .. , and there are others in the decades to follow.
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Offline starrynight

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #97 on: May 01, 2012, 11:03:50 AM »
Why does it have to be a bad thing not having dominant figures?
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Online karlhenning

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #98 on: May 01, 2012, 11:48:45 AM »
Why does it have to be a bad thing not having dominant figures?

I'm not sure that's how you meant to express it.  Certainly there were (as there have always been) dominant musical figures in the 20th century. Claiming that there were not, would be blinkered. : )
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Offline The Six

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Re: The five myths about contemporary classical music
« Reply #99 on: May 01, 2012, 11:59:48 AM »
...can all be intimidating to people.
Which people? You?

No. I was trying to explain why I think audiences are turned off by contemporary concerts. I ain't talkin' 'bout me.

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