Author Topic: Atonal and tonal music  (Read 28828 times)

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Offline some guy

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #660 on: May 18, 2017, 01:17:56 PM »
There may be human psychology at work.
Most assuredly yes.

Consider a piece with no set tonality and no set  meter.
Every day, Jeffrey! Well, perhaps "listen to" is more accurate. But listening is a type of consideration, no?

The lack of tonality can often be noticed immediately, but the lack of  meter takes a bit longer to notice.
Ah, about that I wouldn't know. I don't usually notice lacks, only presences. Sounds. Directionality, volume, timbre, rhythm, motion (or the illusion of same), frequency, and any structural cues, if they're there. I appear to have successfully trained myself not to have expectations, eh? At least I think that's what's happening. :)

Much of what I listen to comes across as random on first hearing, but (if only because I'm human) on subsequent hearings not so much.

Generally, though, you are of course correct. Tonality does seem to be more noticable than meter. Not sure why that should be. Seems counter-intuitive to me. I remember my freshman theory teacher advancing the proposition that rhythm is the most important element of music. He seemed unsure that that would be received well by the class as he had an exercise all ready to demonstrate it. I only thought, "yeah. It's true."

Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #661 on: May 18, 2017, 03:01:33 PM »
The obvious point to make is that you're busy analysing the music and not in any way considering the people or the personalities.

The other point is that you're assuming a bigger difference in the music ought to get a bigger reaction, and that's not how human beings work either. Doing a similar thing "wrongly" often gets a bigger reaction (as a threat to integrity) than doing an entirely different thing. One good example being the way religions regard their "own" heretics.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 03:07:11 PM by ørfeo »
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Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #662 on: May 18, 2017, 03:46:10 PM »

Completely False (you obviously haven't read any of my comments previously in this thread  :'( )

Sure I have. The post immediately above mine discussed things "on a musical level". It didn't discuss the personality of Stravinsky, or the personality of Schoenberg's rivals, or the fact that you can't even assume Varese's music would have the same reception in Vienna as in Paris. Musical history is full of examples of differing receptions; Prague is still making a big deal out of its immediate liking for Mozart.

You talked about the psychology of people in general, but that's not what I'm referring to. I'm querying the assumption that a general description of the whole population (people responding to rhythm versus harmony) is sufficient to take into account the reactions of the real, individual human beings that first heard this music and shaped the initial response to it.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 03:51:08 PM by ørfeo »
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Offline jessop

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #663 on: May 18, 2017, 05:39:36 PM »
The obvious point to make is that you're busy analysing the music and not in any way considering the people or the personalities.

The other point is that you're assuming a bigger difference in the music ought to get a bigger reaction, and that's not how human beings work either. Doing a similar thing "wrongly" often gets a bigger reaction (as a threat to integrity) than doing an entirely different thing. One good example being the way religions regard their "own" heretics.

I think this is pretty much right, as far as I can tell. If anyone wishes to understand the kinds of reactions different styles of music receives its best to look at the culture of the time and place, what has been in existence and what different people have become familiar with.....it's an interesting area to explore as it deals very much with all the elements around the music rather than the music itself, and I'd say this is something equally as important as understanding the elements of music itself, especially for a composer of musician.

I have no time or use for this kind of "politically correct" argument you are trying to conjure up, I'm just not interested.

Some Guy brought up something that has bothered me for a very long time, I am only stating my thoughts on the matter, if you don't like it; that's fine.

I'm sitting here with a whole bunch of counter-thoughts to that but I'm just not interested.

Recently though, I actually wrote a whole essay against the idea of historical/social context overriding the music itself.
I think Orfeo is being pretty respectful to you here so maybe you could do the same for him? I would be interested to hear your counter-arguments if you would care to share them.....


Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #664 on: May 19, 2017, 01:08:50 AM »
I genuinely have no idea how political correctness came into it.  ???

So far it feels like someone said "I don't understand how this response makes sense, given the music".

I said "let's consider other things besides the music, that can provide the explanation".

To which the response is "HOW DARE YOU!"

Seriously, that's what I get. A comment that the theory doesn't explain the data, followed by a heated refusal to even attempt to change the theory.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 01:14:21 AM by ørfeo »
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Offline jessop

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #665 on: May 19, 2017, 01:21:28 AM »
I think Alien seems to be someone who is rather insecure, though. Doesn't mean he's necessarily a bad person......although he has apparently taken a lot of thought into his viewpoint and must know a lot about music history and contextualising music for him to have written an essay on it. It would be more interesting to read those thoughts than see him becoming extremely defensive and putting his shields up again.  :-[

Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #666 on: May 19, 2017, 05:27:44 AM »
Okay. That does make more sense. However...

Being in the 21st century doesn't automatically free us from the memes that developed earlier on. If received wisdom is that Schoenberg wrote something nasty, a lot of people are going to end up with that idea floating around in their head before they ever actually seriously listen to Schoenberg.

It's obviously "better" in a lot of ways if we listen to new things with a genuine clean slate, but that's actually quite difficult. More often we have to fight past preconceived notions, whether positive or negative, and some people do that much better than others.

I often wonder how much my perception of a famous landmark piece depends on the fact that so many people have told me it's famous and landmark. Rite of Spring being an excellent example of the conundrum.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #667 on: May 19, 2017, 05:54:11 AM »
Being in the 21st century doesn't automatically free us from the memes that developed earlier on. If received wisdom is that Schoenberg wrote something nasty, a lot of people are going to end up with that idea floating around in their head before they ever actually seriously listen to Schoenberg.

Schoenberg may never shake off that prejudice.
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Offline jessop

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #668 on: May 19, 2017, 06:40:34 AM »
Okay. That does make more sense. However...

Being in the 21st century doesn't automatically free us from the memes that developed earlier on. If received wisdom is that Schoenberg wrote something nasty, a lot of people are going to end up with that idea floating around in their head before they ever actually seriously listen to Schoenberg.

It's obviously "better" in a lot of ways if we listen to new things with a genuine clean slate, but that's actually quite difficult. More often we have to fight past preconceived notions, whether positive or negative, and some people do that much better than others.

I often wonder how much my perception of a famous landmark piece depends on the fact that so many people have told me it's famous and landmark. Rite of Spring being an excellent example of the conundrum.

Kinda reminds me of the time non-existent book got on the New York Times bestseller list....only through people talking about the book rather than actually buying any physical existing copy! It's always a bit funny to know that what we think of anything is influenced so much by the what the people around us say about it as well as by the culture we directly experience.

One example of people trying to create from a completely clean slate would be efforts made by the New York School composers in the mid twentieth century....obviously it was impossible for them to ignore the past and ignore any kind of contextual influence on their work.....but it is an interesting thing to try to do because some wonderful music did come out of it. Wonderful music and some fascinating new approaches to composition as well.

Offline Uhor

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #669 on: May 21, 2017, 12:14:37 AM »
Somehow the more a presenter insists in the "genius" of a work, the less I believe it. It is enough to point out guidelines for listening a work, whether it does or not better be left to the listener. Then again (in the real world) marketing is a lot, so there has to be a compromise. Yet, it is difficult for people on a budget to think hard and try.

Offline some guy

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #670 on: May 21, 2017, 03:16:41 AM »
It's obviously "better" in a lot of ways if we listen to new things with a genuine clean slate, but that's actually quite difficult.
Impossible, I would say. But that's OK, I also don't think that the whole "clean slate" idea is any more than chimerical. Which is also OK, as if it were genuine, it would be undesirable.

More often we have to fight past preconceived notions, whether positive or negative, and some people do that much better than others.
I cannot imagine that positive notions need to be fought past. Negative, sure. But positive? (I don't think that positive and negative are in any way equivalent. Well, except for in the context of electricity, maybe.)
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 01:20:35 AM by some guy »

Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #671 on: May 21, 2017, 05:27:22 AM »
I cannot imagine that positive notions need to be fought past.

Imagine that you hear a piece that everyone keeps telling you is wonderful, and you don't really like it, but feel that you're meant to like it otherwise there is something wrong with you.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #672 on: May 21, 2017, 07:45:38 PM »
Imagine that you hear a piece that everyone keeps telling you is wonderful, and you don't really like it, but feel that you're meant to like it otherwise there is something wrong with you.

That's not "fighting past positive notions", though, is it? That's being embarrassed to not like something everyone else apparently likes. To me, "fighting past positive notions" suggests that you like the piece but are actively trying not to like it, which must be the most bizarre way to spend your listening time I can think of.

Offline some guy

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #673 on: May 22, 2017, 01:34:53 AM »
Imagine that you hear a piece that everyone keeps telling you is wonderful, and you don't really like it, but feel that you're meant to like it otherwise there is something wrong with you.
I can do that, that imagining thing.

And what I get out of that exercise is that I would have to be very insecure to feel that there was something wrong with me for not liking that piece because everyone tells me it's wonderful.

Of course, I also think that "wonderful" does not describe the object so much as it expresses what happens when the subject engages with the object. So "everyone" is having a wonderful experience; I am not, not with this particular piece.

Also, if I dislike a piece, disregarding anyone else's experience with it, I do try to figure out what it is about me that is keeping me from enjoying it. But I don't beat myself up about it. But a disliked piece--I'm with Copland on this--is for me a piece (!) of unfinished business.

Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #674 on: May 22, 2017, 02:49:51 AM »
That's not "fighting past positive notions", though, is it? That's being embarrassed to not like something everyone else apparently likes. To me, "fighting past positive notions" suggests that you like the piece but are actively trying not to like it, which must be the most bizarre way to spend your listening time I can think of.

And given the context (all of which pointed to the notions belonging to OTHER PEOPLE), that is the most bizarre interpretation of what I wrote that you can come up with.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 02:54:13 AM by ørfeo »
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #675 on: May 22, 2017, 10:46:31 PM »
And given the context (all of which pointed to the notions belonging to OTHER PEOPLE), that is the most bizarre interpretation of what I wrote that you can come up with.

In the quoted example, other people's notions have nothing to do with whether or not the listener likes Piece X, only with their fear of going against the consensus. The listener's natural reaction to Piece X is not going to be affected by a fear of being "wrong", but it may lead them them to avoid stating their opinion. Maybe I'm just being dense, but trying to fight one's own natural like of Piece X is the only interpretation of "fighting past positive notions" I can come up with that makes any sense to me.

Offline ørfeo

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #676 on: May 23, 2017, 02:03:20 AM »
Listen, bud, if you walk in and read a single post out of context from the conversation that preceded it, I don't have any time for you and I'm not going to attempt to discuss this any further. Everything you want is there if you lift your eyes higher up the screen.
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Offline jessop

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Re: Atonal and tonal music
« Reply #677 on: May 23, 2017, 05:14:33 AM »
Orfeo is a bit high-strung; don't worry about him, Crudblud. ;D

I do get what Orfeo is saying here though, and I do believe it can come across as being embarrassed by something one creates that others particularly like. It happens to everyone, I guess, but it's just something to shrug off rather than get hung up about, right?

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