Author Topic: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?  (Read 3448 times)

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millionrainbows

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Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« on: September 10, 2017, 01:10:54 PM »
Do you think music has 'developed' through history, or that this is simply a modernist myth?

Offline Est.1965

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 02:36:20 PM »
Do you think music has 'developed' through history, or that this is simply a modernist myth?

It hasn't developed at all, methinks.  It has flourished this way and that down history, but in terms of music 'developing', there is more musicality in Bach with his sometimes fiendishly complicated counterpoint and crossing melodies than there could ever be in modern minimalism (for example).  But, having said that, modern minimalism (for example) can say in fewer melodies and complications something more profound than even the most death affirming Requiem or love affirming sonata.
So.  In answer to your question, er,...I don't know... ;D  But a darn interesting thing to look into!!   :)
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Offline Brian

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2017, 03:10:16 PM »
I don't understand the question. Of course it has developed. Of course it has evolved.

Do you mean "has music gotten better?" Because that might be a controversial topic to discuss. But the fact that music has changed is obvious.

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2017, 04:25:27 PM »
Do you think music has 'developed' through history, or that this is simply a modernist myth?

Yup.  And, Million, I think you've chosen le mot just for what it has done, i.e. develop.  "Development" holds within a much greater possibility for the odd turn of events, sea changes in taste, whether for a lot of accountable reasons or those matters more the fluff of caprice that have all affected composers and their audiences.  Too often when this Q comes up the writer uses "Progress." Progress leads to an expectation of things going according to some organic set of laws that can take but only a few shapes or directions, or 'less than a few,' like minerals or flora ;-)


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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2017, 08:32:38 PM »
  But, having said that, modern minimalism (for example) can say in fewer melodies and complications something more profound than even the most death affirming Requiem or love affirming sonata.
)

If this is right it is interesting, so please can you support it a bit more?


(It feels along the right lines to me, when I think of Feldman, Nono and Luc Ferrari, though I'm not sure what you mean by "minimalism")
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 08:35:48 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 06:51:43 AM »
The funny thing is, the modern extended techniques have always been there. So why didn't Beethoven deploy tone clusters or instruct the pianist to pluck the strings inside the piano? At what point in history did someone just say "Screw the rules" and just go with what they wanted to hear?

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 07:03:46 AM »
The funny thing is, the modern extended techniques have always been there. So why didn't Beethoven deploy tone clusters or instruct the pianist to pluck the strings inside the piano? At what point in history did someone just say "Screw the rules" and just go with what they wanted to hear?

For both of those two things, it would have been Henry Cowell, in the 1910s.

There was a progressive loosening of musical syntax throughout the 19th century.  The reason why no composer before the early 20th century would have used a tone cluster as a basic element is that it wouldn't work grammatically within the musical "language" of the time.  Dissonances required specific treatment.  Then you had Wagner and Bruckner, then Mahler and Strauss, then Debussy and Schoenberg and Stravinsky, each set of names employing fewer of the "rules" strictly, until the last where any rules become merely personal.

As for development?  There are two separate ways to answer, because the word has different possible meanings.

- Yes, of course, music developed over time in the sense that it has continued to change, and will continue to change.

- No, development does not imply superiority of one period over another.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Parsifal

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 07:14:21 AM »
The short answer is, of course.

All art involves a struggle to find something beautiful and original with a set of explicit or implicit rules, conventions and forms. In the "classical music" tradition we have begun with an exceedingly restricting set of rules (Gregorian Chant) where only the unison or octave was regarded as a consonant interval. That was succeeded by ever expanding ideas of what sounds good and what is acceptable. I.e. the 5th or 4th being accepted in organum, leading to medieval counterpoint, pre-classical counterpoint, classical, romantic, post-romantic, serial, modern, post-modern, neoclassical, minimalist, etc.

In many successive styles, what was "allowed" expanded and composers enriched their styles to push up against a wider boundary, in some successive styles the constraints became more restrictive and composers were challenged to make something that sounded new within a more restricted language. There is a hysteresis to it as well, because even if neoclassicists wanted to return to the virtues of Mozart's and Haydn's era, they couldn't "un-hear" Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, etc.

It doesn't mean that composers became better. Mozart and Haydn showed us what was possible within the relatively restricted musical language of their day, and later Bruckner and Mahler showed us what was possible within a much less restricted musical language. In each case they were masters of the field of play they found themselves on.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 07:16:02 AM by Scarpia »

Offline nodogen

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 07:20:36 AM »
I'd have to say yes music has developed; until the fiendish trickery of the question is revealed.

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 07:42:58 AM »
 ;) ;) ;) Sorry .... childhood memories.

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« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 07:44:37 AM by pjme »

millionrainbows

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 11:32:01 AM »
I think Western Tonality, with its major/minor diatonic scales, was a dead end, and I am a modernist who thinks that musical thinking, and the resulting music, is a development past that, and is an 'evolution' of music in the Darwinian sense, since music is part of the Quadrivum, along with arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. It's more like a science than most 'artsy' types will admit to.
This is obvious by simply listening to Gregorian chant and Renaissance music; even Tchaikovsky compared to Webern. That music sounds old. It is old, and much simpler.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 11:36:19 AM by millionrainbows »

Offline Brian

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 11:37:16 AM »
I think Western Tonality, with its major/minor diatonic scales, was a dead end, and I am a modernist who thinks that musical thinking, and the resulting music, is a development past that, and is an 'evolution' of music in the Darwinian sense,
Careful, now. If you bring in the Darwinian evolution idea, you imply that "Western Tonality" either is going extinct, replaced by the new language, or it will coexist with the new language for a time before being "defeated" (like Neanderthals). Given the fact that today's young generation of composers seem to be returning to music in recognizable key signatures - and given that 99.99% of popular music as enjoyed by 99% of "Western" people is still in "Western Tonality" - that argument is dubious at best.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 12:21:42 PM »
Careful, now. If you bring in the Darwinian evolution idea, you imply that "Western Tonality" either is going extinct, replaced by the new language, or it will coexist with the new language for a time before being "defeated" (like Neanderthals). Given the fact that today's young generation of composers seem to be returning to music in recognizable key signatures - and given that 99.99% of popular music as enjoyed by 99% of "Western" people is still in "Western Tonality" - that argument is dubious at best.

Popular music isn't primarily tonal.  It's diatonic and triadic, yes, but not tonal in the sense that Mozart or Beethoven are tonal.  The same goes for the neoromantic or minimalist conceptions of tonality.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline bwv 1080

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2017, 12:41:23 PM »
Careful, now. If you bring in the Darwinian evolution idea, you imply that "Western Tonality" either is going extinct, replaced by the new language, or it will coexist with the new language for a time before being "defeated" (like Neanderthals).

careful now that is a misreading of evolution, simple tonal/diatonic music remains successful in the same way that bacteria and insects will always remain a more successful group of creatures than humans. 
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2017, 12:54:45 AM »
I do not see how anything in artistic method can be “a dead end” when artists continue to make use of it, and find inspiration in it.

The need to apply the idea of “a dead end” to the arts, is dogmatic and wrong-headed.  Whatever nugget of applicable fact might be lodged in there, could probably be better understood and expressed.
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Offline some guy

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2017, 10:48:22 AM »
The funny thing is, the modern extended techniques have always been there. So why didn't Beethoven deploy tone clusters or instruct the pianist to pluck the strings inside the piano? At what point in history did someone just say "Screw the rules" and just go with what they wanted to hear?
The truly funny thing is that while it was always physically possible to make tone clusters or to play the piano's harp directly, it was not possible to do until it was. And it was at definite points in history, too, when things were done. And it did not take either "screw the rules" or even wanting to hear something particular. It did take ideas, though. And without the ideas, the things will not happen.

So no, the extended techniques have not "always been there." The instruments have always been there. (As it were.) The ideas about the actions referred to as "extended" have not. Of course it was always possible to prepare a piano, say, but it did not happen until certain ideas and certain circumstances conspired to that particular end. It seems so normal and obvious now, just like pizzicato does. But until someone thinks of something, that something cannot be done. As to what leads to the new idea, well that could be any number of things, probably different for each new technique.

millionrainbows

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2017, 12:43:14 PM »
Careful, now. If you bring in the Darwinian evolution idea, you imply that "Western Tonality" either is going extinct, replaced by the new language, or it will coexist with the new language for a time before being "defeated" (like Neanderthals).

No, I think Western tonality came from the same root, but branched off - like monkeys and Humans coming from the same tree. Then Modern music took off from there.

millionrainbows

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2017, 12:44:55 PM »
Popular music isn't primarily tonal.  It's diatonic and triadic, yes, but not tonal in the sense that Mozart or Beethoven are tonal.  The same goes for the neoromantic or minimalist conceptions of tonality.

That's misleading to say that pop music "is not tonal."

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2017, 04:23:52 PM »
That's misleading to say that pop music "is not tonal."

But it isn't.  How could it be misleading to describe something as not fitting into a category that it doesn't fit into?
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: Do you think music has 'developed' through history?
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2017, 09:22:51 PM »
Popular music isn't primarily tonal.  It's diatonic and triadic, yes, but not tonal in the sense that Mozart or Beethoven are tonal.  The same goes for the neoromantic or minimalist conceptions of tonality.
That's misleading to say that pop music "is not tonal."
But it isn't.  How could it be misleading to describe something as not fitting into a category that it doesn't fit into?

I have to agree w Mahlerian on this one.  "Tonal" having more than one definition muddles the very concept and premise.

As Mahlerian stated, pop music is diatonic, triadic, etc.

Its passingly paying obeisance to I,IV,V without otherwise paying jack-beans obeisance to the rest of chord function pretty much sets it apart from formal tonality and makes of it something else.  These few things, prevalent in pop music, are enough to have it not tonal in the formal sense of the term:
1.) Freely added sixths or sevenths peppered in somewhat arbitrarily and just about anywhere for color.
2.) That cliche procedure of simply dragging something up a whole step and calling it a modulation -- i.e. a modulation by assertion vs. a tonal modulation.
3.) In pop music theoretic terminology a duad with one pitch doubled is called a "power chord", when by definition a chord is comprised of three discrete pitches -- stacked thirds for true classical tonality --  is yet another tip-off that the theoretic approach and mindset of pop music is not exactly 'tonal.'

Otherwise, to call pop music 'tonal' is a bit like Humpty-Dumpty's pronouncement that when he uses a word, it means whatever he chooses it to mean, "Nothing more, nothing less." ;-)

Yes this is all nit-picking, while it is well on the side of being specific to good purpose.


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