Author Topic: A little history  (Read 7592 times)

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Offline some guy

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Re: A little history
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 08:34:20 AM »
So your claim is that indiscriminate anti-new-music sentiment didn’t start with Schoenberg, but it suddenly started dictating concert programming at the same time as Schoenberg, but that change had nothing to do with Schoenberg.
Um, no, that is not at all my claim. Anti-new-music sentiment didn't evince any change at all as Schoenberg's music was being written. If it grew, it was because it was already growing and just continued to grow.

How did you come up with "suddenly started dictating concert programming at the same time as Schoenberg" as something I have claimed?

What I'm claiming is the opposite, i.e., that Schoenberg's activities had no discernable effect on anti-modernist sentiment.

The only thing I've ever seen alleged about 1910 is that that is roughly when composers all rose up en masse to alienate audiences. That's not the only date that's been put forth, either. Note that that allegation is about composers, not about audiences. That's the allegation I'd like to destroy not promote.

As for Florestan's point, yes, lots of composers have enjoyed enormous success in their lifetimes, in spite of anti-modernist sentiment. So the successes of Beethoven, Paganini, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Dvorak are to be taken as evidence that the sentiment did not exist? Did not grow in strength and nastiness throughout the century? I've seen the same "argument" used to claim that racism and sexism were never as bad as some people said they were. Well, maybe you could have thrown in Cage and Stockhausen and Boulez, too, who also enjoyed popularity ranging from huge to remarkable. If you simply leave out the bad bits, if you include only the good bits, you can make a case for almost anyone enjoying enormous success. It's a gross distortion of reality, but since it feeds the narrative, I guess it will have its proponents. Oh well.

One thing is for sure, someone should have told Berlioz and Liszt that Beethoven was hugely successful, everywhere. Would have saved them decades of tireless promoting of his music in places where he was unknown or almost universally excoriated. But they never knew. Whatever could it have been that prompted them to do all this useless promotion?

For Jo498, that's what Weber's book does, looks at printed concert programs, at letters, and at critical reviews. In Haydn's time, the ratio of new to old was roughly 90 to 10. By 1870, the ratio had flipped. New music accounted for 10 percent only--this is looking at programs in the capitols of music, Paris, London, Vienna and so forth.

In any event, if recordings are any indication, Messiaen and Ligeti are hugely popular, as classical music goes. Classical music is generally speaking hugely unpopular in all its manifestations.

Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 09:36:45 AM »
Bottom line, Michael's indignation is directed not at an alleged 19-th century conspiracy against new music and living composers but at the fact that today not all people like the music he likes (actually, most people have never heard of a good deal of his favorite living composers).  He seems to be unable --- or unwilling --- to get over it and move on. That's all.  ;D >:D
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Offline Pat B

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Re: A little history
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 09:56:50 AM »
As for Florestan's point, yes, lots of composers have enjoyed enormous success in their lifetimes, in spite of anti-modernist sentiment. So the successes of Beethoven, Paganini, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Dvorak are to be taken as evidence that the sentiment did not exist? Did not grow in strength and nastiness throughout the century?

There is a middle ground between “boycotting living composers was the usual pattern for the 19th century” and “anti-modernist sentiment did not exist.”

Offline Pat B

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Re: A little history
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2017, 10:03:36 AM »
Um, no, that is not at all my claim. Anti-new-music sentiment didn't evince any change at all as Schoenberg's music was being written. If it grew, it was because it was already growing and just continued to grow.

How did you come up with "suddenly started dictating concert programming at the same time as Schoenberg" as something I have claimed?

Second paragraph of Reply #15, where anti-modernist sentiment was not largely accepted in the 19th century, but the battle was later won, just in time for atonality.

I now see that your belief is that the change in programming was gradual, which wasn’t clear before.

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What I'm claiming is the opposite, i.e., that Schoenberg's activities had no discernable effect on anti-modernist sentiment.

That’s not the opposite of my paraphrase at all, as should be clear from the third clause.

Anyway, I won’t argue with this specific statement. I don’t know whether it’s true or not.

But earlier you said that the reaction to his music “has very little to do with the music itself.” That’s what I disagree with. The popularity attained by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky suggests that the response to Schoenberg has little, if anything, to do with his relative newness.

And since your claim now is that the change in programming was gradual, it is also relevant that composers working shortly before 1910 — Mahler, R.Strauss, Rachmaninoff — became quite popular.

Where you and I disagree is that I think the response to Schoenberg’s music is primarily because of the music.

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The only thing I've ever seen alleged about 1910 is that that is roughly when composers all rose up en masse to alienate audiences. That's not the only date that's been put forth, either. Note that that allegation is about composers, not about audiences. That's the allegation I'd like to destroy not promote.

Who made this allegation?

Offline Scarpia

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Re: A little history
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2017, 10:07:43 AM »
I maintain that 12-tone music, and serial music, meaning generally 'music that is based on non-harmonic principles' has always sounded different by its very nature. It is non-harmonic and not based on the way we hear, which is harmonically.

We hear bass notes as being on the bottom, and higher notes as being on top of that; in other words, a harmonic 'model' of sound.

In addition to the harmonic factor, highly chromatic 12-tone and serially-based music, the chromatic is distributed more or less evenly and constantly, so no distinct tonal center emerges which lasts for any substantial time.

This subject is so general and vague that nothing will be 'proven' by any argument, since no 'facts'  exist, but at least I have identified some general characteristics of such music, namely Schoenberg's later 12-tone works, and have posited some logical reasons why this music often poses problems for listeners.

I don't think your argument is valid. It is true that how dissonant an interval sounds depends on how simple its relationship to the harmonic scale is. It is true that scheme of harmony in Western classical music incorporates this into its harmonic structure. It is not true that atonal music somehow ignores or contradicts this. There is more than one way to organize music based on consonant and dissonant intervals. Atonal doesn't "resolve" dissonances to consonances using the rules of common practice harmony. Atonal music organizes dissonant and consonant intervals using different schemes. It is not necessary to reference music to a fundamental tone in order to utilize the contrast between consonant and dissonant intervals to make music.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 10:12:56 AM by Scarpia »

Online jessop

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Re: A little history
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2017, 07:07:34 PM »
I'm curious to know why a composer as well known as Lachenmann hasn't had many performances in the USA, where the music of Eckardt, Ferneyhough (not American but certainly worked there for a while), Crumb etc seem to be/have been fairly big deals in New Music in that part of the world.......


Also, Aaron Cassidy is a big deal over there too from what I have noticed..........forgot to mention him

Offline Jo498

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Re: A little history
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2017, 04:42:33 AM »
I could only get some glimpses online of Weber's book. But his main point seems entirely different from some guys claims. It's that the popular mixes of late 18th and early 20th century concerts were transformed in to "serious" programs containing a certain number of "classics" and of course the establishment of such classics. This is of course true.

But it has almost nothing to do with rejection of difficult avantgarde music, even less a prejudice against any new music.

To the contrary, I'd say that precisely the transformation of music from transient entertainment into a serious art with a "canon" of classics and also the establishment of the concert as a space for such serious music (not mainly for virtuoso showing off) is what made difficult avantgarde music possible in the first place.
It seems  doubtful that without the transformation into a serious concert and the stressing of traditions from Bach through Beethoven to the respective contemporary "serious" composers there would have been any Schoenberg in the first place. Or if, he would have had it much harder to find any public audience. His music would have been like the Musical Offering, a piece of theory distributed by mail to the members of a learned society.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2017, 06:42:34 AM »
One thing is for sure, someone should have told Berlioz and Liszt that Beethoven was hugely successful, everywhere. Would have saved them decades of tireless promoting of his music in places where he was unknown or almost universally excoriated. But they never knew. Whatever could it have been that prompted them to do all this useless promotion?

The funny things is that by the time Berlioz and Liszt championed his music, Beethoven was already a dead composer, not a living one.

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For Jo498, that's what Weber's book does, looks at printed concert programs, at letters, and at critical reviews. In Haydn's time, the ratio of new to old was roughly 90 to 10. By 1870, the ratio had flipped. New music accounted for 10 percent only--this is looking at programs in the capitols of music, Paris, London, Vienna and so forth.

What you fail to account for is the huge difference in taste from Paris to London to Vienna and so forth.

For instance, in Paris people routinely and enthusiastically flocked to hear Henri Herz and Sigismond Thalberg playing their new compositions, or to watch the latest Meyerbeer opera. How you or anybody else can claim that "boycotting living composers and new music" was "the usual pattern" in 19th century Paris is beyond me --- unless you consider that only "living composers and new music" which is to your liking qualify as such, which I strongly suspect to be the case.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 06:48:32 AM by Florestan »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2017, 06:46:16 AM »
I could only get some glimpses online of Weber's book. But his main point seems entirely different from some guys claims. It's that the popular mixes of late 18th and early 20th century concerts were transformed in to "serious" programs containing a certain number of "classics" and of course the establishment of such classics. This is of course true.

But it has almost nothing to do with rejection of difficult avantgarde music, even less a prejudice against any new music.

To the contrary, I'd say that precisely the transformation of music from transient entertainment into a serious art with a "canon" of classics and also the establishment of the concert as a space for such serious music (not mainly for virtuoso showing off) is what made difficult avantgarde music possible in the first place.
It seems  doubtful that without the transformation into a serious concert and the stressing of traditions from Bach through Beethoven to the respective contemporary "serious" composers there would have been any Schoenberg in the first place. Or if, he would have had it much harder to find any public audience. His music would have been like the Musical Offering, a piece of theory distributed by mail to the members of a learned society.

Excellent post.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2017, 08:48:08 AM »
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I have been…passionately fond of music while music was really good, and having lived in what I consider as one of its most flourishing periods. So great a change has taken place within a few years, that I can no longer receive from it any pleasure approaching that which I used to experience. The remembrance of the past is therefore infinitely more agreeable than the enjoyment of the present, and I derive the highest gratification music can yet afford me from hearing again, or barely recalling to mind what formerly gave me such unqualified delight.

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. . . The more affected the modern singer is, the more applause he meets with from the unfeeling multitude; and for these reasons you never meet with a man of fine taste and genius, at what is called in London the Professional Concert.

These quotes seem to support Michael's thesis alright --- except they're from the 18th Century!  ;D



« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 08:51:15 AM by Florestan »
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Offline some guy

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Re: A little history
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2017, 09:54:21 AM »
While I am of course grateful, and amused, that certain members who seem to be opposed to what I'm presenting are so determined to make my points for me, I have to say, really, not necessary. I can make those points myself.

But hey, continue if you must.

Otherwise, Jo498, your "glimpse" has given you a perhaps less than accurate idea of what the book is all about.

I've read the whole thing, start to finish, three times.

As I have already mentioned, I too subscribed to the notion that the negative audience reaction to "new" music began in the 20th century with Schoenberg and Stravinsky, even though my own experiences with new music were mostly quite positive. But after reading (reading is somewhat other than glimpsing), Weber's book, I had to jettison the notion, or, better, began to see it as merely a notion.

And in case it gets any traction, I should reiterate that my point (which is only retailing Weber's point) is that the anti-modernist sentiment that began around 1810 (18, Pat B, not 19) was not full-blown IN 1810. It took many decades, almost the entire rest of the century, to grow to its 20th century proportions.

I'd also, since this is also in danger of being covered over, like to reiterate that three main peaks of anti-modernism in the nineteenth century, in the 40s, the 60s, and in 1900, all preceded any "modernist" productions by either Schoenberg or Stravinsky.

The tale that anti-modernism was a result of the pieces it preceded is clearly just that, a tale.

Offline Pat B

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Re: A little history
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2017, 12:05:18 PM »
18, Pat B, not 19

I understood that from the beginning. You think the sentiment started in 1810 but that it being 100 years old in 1910 is what caused Schoenberg to not be programmed. Hence the distinction I made between the sentiment and the programming. A distinction which you have consistently ignored when responding to me.

Offline some guy

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Re: A little history
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2017, 03:11:32 AM »
Pat,

Very quickly, as it's a nice day, and I should already be out in it. I started this thread as a reaction to seeing recently on the book of faces a common idea about twentieth century music, which is that the radical musics of Schoenberg and Stravinsky and others alienated audiences.

There are many and different things wrong with this idea, but the one I started with, for this thread, was that it was at the very least historically inaccurate. That is, that the alienation came much earlier and was not prompted by anything that the yet unborn Schoenberg ever did.

The sentiment did not start in 1810. Its roots go back to the first ancient music societies. But 1810 is a convenient marker for it as that is the year that the term "classical music" was first coined, thus tending to solidify the growing notion that old is better than new, which gradually, over the century, came to replace the earlier idea, which was that new is better than old.

It is difficult to keep up with all the various things that I am supposed to have said (and even the things that I am cleverly not saying but that constitute my real agenda, which only the illuminati know). I could spend all my time simply dealing with distortions and false attributions. I'd rather go wander about Zagreb on a warm and sunny day.

The connection made in Weber's book between the sentiment and the programming is that the printed programs of the nineteenth century show a persistent trend of concerts featuring fewer and fewer pieces by living composers as the century progressed, so that the ratio of new to old in Haydn's time, 90 to 10, had flipped by 1870 to 10 to 90--in some places the ratio was simply 0 to 100.

My point about programming is about the printed programs that Weber presents, what those programs show about the sentiment. The printed programs, along with all the other documents, show that the sentiment that Schoenberg supposedly sparked by writing such awful music had been around for at least a hundred years before his awfulness and for about 50 or 60 years before that.

The conclusion that Schoenberg's music caused the widespread alienation of audience and composer that we can still see today is simply a false conclusion.

That is, the programming follows the same arc as evidenced in other materials of the time, correpondences, reviews, articles, and books.


Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2017, 04:47:11 AM »
Very quickly, as it's a nice day, and I should already be out in it. I started this thread as a reaction to seeing recently on the book of faces a common idea about twentieth century music, which is that the radical musics of Schoenberg and Stravinsky and others alienated audiences.

First, you reply hastily to Pat because it's a nice day and you should not waste it; second, you confess that you started this thread as a reaction to some post(s) you saw recently on Facebook. Am I the only one to sense the incongruity?

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The sentiment did not start in 1810. Its roots go back to the first ancient music societies.

In other words, "anti-modernist sentiment" has been a constant in music history --- and one might safely add, in art history in general.

Any more truisms in your stock?

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But 1810 is a convenient marker for it as that is the year that the term "classical music" was first coined,

Who coined it? Where did it first appear in print? And in what context?

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thus tending to solidify the growing notion that old is better than new, which gradually, over the century, came to replace the earlier idea, which was that new is better than old.

You contradict yourself every two paragraphs. First, it's "The sentiment did not start in 1810. Its roots go back to the first ancient music societies.". Then it's "the growing notion that old is better than new, which gradually, over the century, came to replace the earlier idea, which was that new is better than old." Would you be so kind as to make up your mind about which is which?

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It is difficult to keep up with all the various things that I am supposed to have said (and even the things that I am cleverly not saying but that constitute my real agenda, which only the illuminati know). I could spend all my time simply dealing with distortions and false attributions. I'd rather go wander about Zagreb on a warm and sunny day.

With this I wholeheartedly agree: yours getting out more and posting less would certainly be an improvement, both for your life and this board.  >:D

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The conclusion that Schoenberg's music caused the widespread alienation of audience and composer that we can still see today is simply a false conclusion.

Once again: yours having read that conclusion somewhere on Facebook prompted this whole diatribe against the 19th century, as if it was the century that turned upside down the course of Western music...

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millionrainbows

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Re: A little history
« Reply #34 on: October 14, 2017, 09:39:54 AM »
I don't think your argument is valid. It is true that how dissonant an interval sounds depends on how simple its relationship to the harmonic scale is. It is true that scheme of harmony in Western classical music incorporates this into its harmonic structure. It is not true that atonal music somehow ignores or contradicts this. There is more than one way to organize music based on consonant and dissonant intervals. Atonal doesn't "resolve" dissonances to consonances using the rules of common practice harmony. Atonal music organizes dissonant and consonant intervals using different schemes. It is not necessary to reference music to a fundamental tone in order to utilize the contrast between consonant and dissonant intervals to make music.

Someguy should write a book called "The History of Anti-modernist Sentiment".

@Scarpia: I'm not arguing against atonality. I like it.

What you say is true; Western classical incorporates integrated system-wide harmonic relations into its structure.

However, these harmonic relations and structures are comprehensive, and have more connected levels of relationship than atonal music, or music based on sets.

The consonances and dissonances in atonal music are comparative and relative, not comprehensive.

In tonal music the entire scale and all the triads built on those steps, and their functions, are based on relation to the tonic pitch.

In atonal and serial music, there is no unordered scale, so each note relation applies only to the preceding or following note, and this is based on intervals, not actual pitch identities (such as "G" as tonic). The sets can be transposed to any pitch, and still retain their intervallic relationship. This has nothing to do with a single tonic pitch center.

So, yes, in a good atonal composition, there can be comparative consonance and dissonance which can 'build tension' or 'resolve' it, so to speak, but this does not, as you seem to imply, make atonal music 'as harmonic' as tonal music, because it is not.

Atonal music, meaning 12-tone and set-based chromatic music, is not based on the same harmonic principles as tonality is.

Tonality means pitch identity, as cardinality, where the tonic pitch has primacy due to its identity as a specific note, such as G, C, and so on;

Atonal set music is based on quantities, not identity relations, and this means interval distances between pitches. This is purely relational and quantitative, not based on pitch identity, pitch centers, or key areas as such.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 09:52:29 AM by millionrainbows »

Offline Pat B

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Re: A little history
« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2017, 05:43:07 PM »
Pat,

I’d like to point out that I explicitly stated, in rough agreement with the point you’re rehashing, that resistance to new music did not start with Schoenberg, my first sentence in this thread, Reply #12. As far as I can tell, everyone in this thread agrees. If people on Facebook are the ones who disagree, then maybe you should take that up with them.

What I disagreed with, as I tried to make clear in Reply #23, is your belief “that audience alienation to the avant-garde in the twentieth century has very little to do with the music itself.” I think some new music is more alienating than other new music.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: A little history
« Reply #36 on: October 15, 2017, 06:41:35 AM »
I’d like to point out that I explicitly stated, in rough agreement with the point you’re rehashing, that resistance to new music did not start with Schoenberg, my first sentence in this thread, Reply #12. As far as I can tell, everyone in this thread agrees. If people on Facebook are the ones who disagree, then maybe you should take that up with them.

What I disagreed with, as I tried to make clear in Reply #23, is your belief “that audience alienation to the avant-garde in the twentieth century has very little to do with the music itself.” I think some new music is more alienating than other new music.

Some new music is more alienating than other new music.  Just like Wagner was more alienating than Liszt, and Liszt more alienating than Berlioz, and Berlioz more alienating than Mendelssohn, who was himself far more alienating than the countless mediocrities who regurgitated the past.

I'm surprised by how many people say the roots of Schoenberg's difficulty lie in his lack of melodies or lyricism, because those people who inveigh against the music so strongly clearly don't know it very well.  Schoenberg's music is very consistently melodic and lyrical.  I'm also surprised that people think atonality is something Schoenberg was trying to accomplish, because he never said that he was trying to do anything of the sort.  Atonality is a name given to music like that of Richard Strauss, Debussy, Mahler, Reger, Berg, Bartok, Stravinsky, and so forth.  Anything incomprehensible, dissonant, too modern, unmelodic, and so forth.  Music like that of Wagner, where if you exchange the flats and sharps at random, no one will be able to tell the difference.  Sometimes the name sticks around, sometimes it doesn't.  For reasons that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the music itself, Schoenberg has become uniquely saddled with it.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 06:45:33 AM by Mahlerian »

Offline San Antonio

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Re: A little history
« Reply #37 on: October 15, 2017, 09:55:58 AM »
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As most pre-WW II music pisses off fewer and fewer people, the new date for music that alienates audiences has moved for some people to the late 1940s. I've even seen some, comfortable with 1947 to 1970, attribute audience alienation to some unspecified thing that happened in the 1970s. That one has not gotten any traction, yet, and the Schoenberg idea still manages to survive as the one true ur-alienation.

You can't control how people think, and I would be horrified if anyone could.  While there are those that may be alienated by new music (I think most simply don't listen and don't care) there is a small but devoted following for living composers.  As you said in a later post, classical music of all styles makes up a fraction among all music listeners.  Which is okay with me.  Fine art of any kind is similarly situated in the marketplace.

I am not sure I understand what you are worked up about.

Offline some guy

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Re: A little history
« Reply #38 on: October 15, 2017, 11:34:45 AM »
You can't control how people think, and I would be horrified if anyone could.  While there are those that may be alienated by new music (I think most simply don't listen and don't care) there is a small but devoted following for living composers.  As you said in a later post, classical music of all styles makes up a fraction among all music listeners.  Which is okay with me.  Fine art of any kind is similarly situated in the marketplace.

I am not sure I understand what you are worked up about.
I am not sure that I, in my own echt self, am worked up about anything.

Some of my detractors seem to be worked up. Some of my detractors have been portraying me as worked up.

Otherwise, false ideas are bad if only because they're false. True is better. If you need more, then how about this: false ideas make it difficult to live genuinely or responsibly. The particular false idea at issue here may not seem like any great shakes, though certainly the ordinary struggles of a contemporary artist aren't made any easier by ideas like this. Other things, like racism, say, are much more worthy of discussion and of being countered. I wouldn't argue with that, only point out that the little falsehoods are maybe easier to combat than the big ones. And maybe fostering an atmosphere in which falsities, no matter how small, can be recognized is an atmosphere in which falsities, no matter how large, can be successfully combated.

I dunno, sanantonio. I don't really understand what you want. Promoting one point of view over another does not seem like "controlling how people think." If it were, then no one would ever put forward any point of view about anything. And my point isn't even about whether or not any individual person will or will not (should or should not) like any particular piece by, say, Xenakis or Yoshihide. It's about what the historical record says. It's about simple logic: if an idea was current a hundred years or more before Schoenberg was born, then nothing Schoenberg did could have possibly engendered that idea.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: A little history
« Reply #39 on: October 15, 2017, 01:38:27 PM »
I dunno, sanantonio. I don't really understand what you want. Promoting one point of view over another does not seem like "controlling how people think." If it were, then no one would ever put forward any point of view about anything.

Putting forward a point of view is not forcing anyone to accept it, and nor is making a reasoned argument.

Imagine this situation:

A speaker at a party tells a story with a very distinct running refrain, appearing in various guises throughout, but always easily related back to the common theme.  Episodes and anecdotes consistently relate back to it.  One of the audience members, however, does not speak or understand the language of the speaker.  When they meet afterwards, the listener tells the speaker that he is sorry that he was unable to follow her story.  She understands, knowing that the language was unfamiliar, so of course the story's recurring motifs wouldn't be prominent.  Pleasantries are exchanged and no ill will is aroused.

Now imagine that after the story was told, the audience member is angry, and goes around the party telling everyone who will listen that the speaker is a fraud.  Furthermore, when others describe to him the running motifs and import of the story, he ridicules them as self-deluded and pretentious.  After all, he is sure that what the speaker was using was not only not English, it was no language at all, but rather some kind of gibberish meant to sound important.  If he is given the chance, he even goes up to the speaker to challenge them directly and test them, trying to prove how much of a charlatan they are, to which the speaker reacts with a mixture of dismay and irritation, which the audience member assures himself is proof that she is in fact lying.

The latter is how people who rail against modern music as nonsense sound to people who enjoy it.  They insist that something that they did not follow cannot be followed by anyone, in spite of evidence to the contrary.  People don't generally do this with language because there is an understanding of the existence of other linguistic cultures.  People DO do this with music because there is something of an unconscious expectation that music should always follow patterns that are known, or at the least imitate them.  Even though the door is always open to become familiar with new patterns, the unfamiliar is often dismissed as inherently unpleasant or even frightening.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 01:45:30 PM by Mahlerian »

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