Author Topic: A little history  (Read 11122 times)

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Offline Alek Hidell

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Re: A little history
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2017, 05:51:35 AM »
There are a few things that get often overlooked in discussions of "new music," which are the crucial changes that coincided with its beginnings in the early 20th century. It was Schoenberg's lot (along with, naturally, Berg and Webern and everyone who has followed in their footsteps) to be composing his music at just about the same time these changes were occurring.

  • The emergence of the recording industry and, a short time later, mass media such as radio; and
  • The emergence of "genres" of music for popular consumption.

The second of these is very much related to the first, of course. Prior to the 20th century, classical music was the only form of music considered worthy of intellectual or aesthetic attention (at least AFAIK). There were other forms, of course, such as folk/work songs and dance music, but these were considered "mere" diversions. No one organized or attended concerts of these kinds of music. Classical music was popular music, in the sense we think of it today.

But in the early 20th century the technology was developed to record performances of music and to sell such performances on record. And, a little later, to broadcast performances - either live or recorded - over radio. Jazz and the blues emerged (at least in the U.S.), followed in later decades by related genres such as country, bluegrass, R&B, and rock.

So "popular" music became much more diverse. There were many other musical "products" out there demanding public attention. So the popularity of music gets diffused. The same thing happened in jazz: as it moved into its own "modern" period in the early 1960s, rock & roll took off - so the "difficult" "new" music of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and the AACM, et al., suffers.

And it continues to today. What's "popular" in rock music today? In times past, everyone who liked the music had to have an opinion about the Beatles and the Stones and Dylan. Today, and for a long time heretofore, there is no artist about whom that can be said. There are genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, each of which has its own devoted audience. Our man some guy will tell you that there is no shortage of audience for the kinds of music he likes (and the same situation pertains in "avant garde" jazz or free improvisation). Yet a lot of us have never even heard of most of the composers and/or musicians. "Popularity" itself has become a rather amorphous term.
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Offline some guy

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Re: A little history
« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2017, 07:16:40 AM »
Only one slight alteration to point number two, "re-emergence."

Concerts in Haydn's time were called "miscellanies," with good cause. There'd be some glee and some arias and some chamber works and a movement of a symphony or two and maybe even a choral work. The lines between "popular" and "serious" were not at all distinct, and the two types, so to speak, were all jumbled together in concerts. Mostly those concepts were solidified in the nineteenth century.

Once "classical music" was coined, there was a new concept to fill, and oddly enough, opera arias and songs did not make the first cut. Mendelssohn's string quartets, yeah. Mendelssohn's lieder, naw.

The emergence of recording technology was inarguably crucial to how music would develop.


millionrainbows

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Re: A little history
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2017, 12:16:21 PM »
@someguy: I don't feel comfortable with the perception that we are discussing "ideas" which are "true or false", or that there is much logic involved here. I think this has more to do with human nature, which is far from logical.

There are a few things that get often overlooked in discussions of "new music," which are the crucial changes that coincided with its beginnings in the early 20th century. It was Schoenberg's lot (along with, naturally, Berg and Webern and everyone who has followed in their footsteps) to be composing his music at just about the same time these changes were occurring.

  • The emergence of the recording industry and, a short time later, mass media such as radio; and
  • The emergence of "genres" of music for popular consumption.

The second of these is very much related to the first, of course. Prior to the 20th century, classical music was the only form of music considered worthy of intellectual or aesthetic attention (at least AFAIK). There were other forms, of course, such as folk/work songs and dance music, but these were considered "mere" diversions. No one organized or attended concerts of these kinds of music. Classical music was popular music, in the sense we think of it today.

But in the early 20th century the technology was developed to record performances of music and to sell such performances on record. And, a little later, to broadcast performances - either live or recorded - over radio. Jazz and the blues emerged (at least in the U.S.), followed in later decades by related genres such as country, bluegrass, R&B, and rock.

So "popular" music became much more diverse. There were many other musical "products" out there demanding public attention. So the popularity of music gets diffused. The same thing happened in jazz: as it moved into its own "modern" period in the early 1960s, rock & roll took off - so the "difficult" "new" music of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and the AACM, et al., suffers.

And it continues to today. What's "popular" in rock music today? In times past, everyone who liked the music had to have an opinion about the Beatles and the Stones and Dylan. Today, and for a long time heretofore, there is no artist about whom that can be said. There are genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, each of which has its own devoted audience. Our man some guy will tell you that there is no shortage of audience for the kinds of music he likes (and the same situation pertains in "avant garde" jazz or free improvisation). Yet a lot of us have never even heard of most of the composers and/or musicians. "Popularity" itself has become a rather amorphous term.

I agree with most of this, but come to different conclusions. The proliferation of recording, and of technology in general, ushered in changes to "art" music, i.e. music which was supposed to be created apart from commercial, popular, considerations as a commodity.
The same thing happened in visual art;
with photography, realistic art was not needed;
with faster news, radio communication, newspapers, and telegraph, and faster travel, art no longer became a chronicler of events;
with cinema, art was reduced to a lesser form of still pictography;
So Picasso and Braque realized that visual art and painting had to re-define itself, so it became abstract.

The same with music; classical music was no longer the only game in town, so Schoenberg and other modernists knew that it had to re-define itself. "Art" music was no longer the ubiquitous monopoly it once was; with all the other flood of recorded music obscuring the landscape, "art" music, in order to remain "arty" and unique, and apart from the rest, had to be "special' and different.
Thus, the abandonment of tonality was a sure way to create this new difference. Popular music was tonal, and always would be, and tonality was the new "wallpaper" of the media and masses.
And atonality, and strange new pseudo-tonalities became the new, modern decor of modernism, and all that was "not popular."
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 12:24:56 PM by millionrainbows »

Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2017, 11:25:56 AM »
Hey, already in the middle ages you gotta have your recently invented polyphony "in the limits of moderation"... to keep god's approval, of course.

Quote
With polyphony, musicians were able to achieve musical feats perceived by many as beautiful, and by others, distasteful. John of Salisbury (1120–1180) taught at the University of Paris during the years of Léonin and Pérotin. He attended many services at the Notre Dame Choir School. In De nugis curialiam he offers a first-hand description of what was happening to music in the high Middle Ages. This philosopher and Bishop of Chartres wrote:

When you hear the soft harmonies of the various singers, some taking high and others low parts, some singing in advance, some following in the rear, others with pauses and interludes, you would think yourself listening to a concert of sirens rather than men, and wonder at the powers of voices … whatever is most tuneful among birds, could not equal. Such is the facility of running up and down the scale; so wonderful the shortening or multiplying of notes, the repetition of the phrases, or their emphatic utterance: the treble and shrill notes are so mingled with tenor and bass, that the ears lost their power of judging. When this goes to excess it is more fitted to excite lust than devotion; but if it is kept in the limits of moderation, it drives away care from the soul and the solicitudes of life, confers joy and peace and exultation in God, and transports the soul to the society of angels.   

Source https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pérotin

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: A little history
« Reply #44 on: October 19, 2017, 01:30:15 PM »
Hey, already in the middle ages you gotta have your recently invented polyphony "in the limits of moderation"... to keep god's approval, of course.

Source https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pérotin

The history of the audiences and critics of the arts is like a compendium of complaints from the plebes and petite bourgeoisie, each and all of them evidently whining about too much excitement.

Frail lot, they.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #45 on: October 20, 2017, 12:35:59 AM »
The history of the audiences and critics of the arts is like a compendium of complaints from the plebes and petite bourgeoisie, each and all of them evidently whining about too much excitement.

This is especially true all throughout the 18th century, but the 19th had its share, too, which such darlings of the aristocracy and clergy as Paganini, Liszt, Thalberg, Moscheles, Ernst, Herz, Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps being the target of much criticism and misunderstanding from the petty bourgeois and plebeian audiences and critics.
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and upon which it is impossible to remain silent." - Victor Hugo

Offline Jo498

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Re: A little history
« Reply #46 on: October 20, 2017, 02:25:29 AM »
For the benefit of John of Salisbury it is to be said that the step from monodic chant to early polyphony was maybe the steepest and most decisive step in western music and as the music in question was music for worship within a sacred service it was also a plausible concern that it would distract from the religious content. Of course this problem has haunted religious music for the ca. 900 years since then...
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2017, 06:20:48 AM »
For the benefit of John of Salisbury it is to be said that the step from monodic chant to early polyphony was maybe the steepest and most decisive step in western music...

Indeed... my point was that, in line, I think, with was @some guy was saying, negative reactions to new developments in music have been here since... well, the birth of western music itself!... and not something "intrinsic" to some "obscure force" in 12-tone music...
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 06:28:46 AM by aleazk »

millionrainbows

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Re: A little history
« Reply #48 on: October 20, 2017, 01:04:54 PM »
Indeed... my point was that, in line, I think, with was @some guy was saying, negative reactions to new developments in music have been here since... well, the birth of western music itself!... and not something "intrinsic" to some "obscure force" in 12-tone music...

Well, the trend in Western music goes from simplicity to complexity, from monody to polyphony, from simple to prolific, from OMMMM to 12-tone chromaticism. Likewise, this is demonstrated by Minimalism's return to simplicity. This seems like an obvious "elephant in the room" which nobody wants to admit is there.

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: A little history
« Reply #49 on: October 20, 2017, 08:38:23 PM »
Well, the trend in Western music goes from simplicity to complexity, from monody to polyphony, from simple to prolific, from OMMMM to 12-tone chromaticism. Likewise, this is demonstrated by Minimalism's return to simplicity. This seems like an obvious "elephant in the room" which nobody wants to admit is there.

A handful of composers working in the stylistic vein of minimalism (and only a handful) -- out of thousands of composers working in various other styles -- is not an elephant in the room.  It is just one of many critters jaunting about in the room of multiple styles, all plates spinning in the air at the same time.  If there is any 'signature sound' of our times within the classical arena, it is a multi-ring circus of a myriad of various styles, approaches and aesthetics.
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Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #50 on: October 21, 2017, 05:53:06 AM »
Last time I saw a score from a so called "minimalist" composer, was full of rather complex polyrhythms and polymeters... also, the changes are not even that slow... the people that know the music judge it by what it is, not by its easy name... i.e., I don't see any return to simplicity more than in a rather superficial way... if you are talking about something like A.Paart... I don't consider it as interesting music to be honest... and, probably, it only appeals to some wider audience precisely because of its soporific simplicity...

Also, I don't think the historical trend is about complexity... I think it's about ampliation of the musical vocabulary and what is allowed in music and what is not.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 10:45:48 AM by aleazk »

Offline Jo498

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Re: A little history
« Reply #51 on: October 21, 2017, 06:58:43 AM »
Indeed... my point was that, in line, I think, with was @some guy was saying, negative reactions to new developments in music have been here since... well, the birth of western music itself!... and not something "intrinsic" to some "obscure force" in 12-tone music...
But "it's always been like that" is very different from some guy's disputed claim that in the beginning/middle of the 19th century there started a particular aversion to new music together with a canonization of "old" music and that this development was mainly responsible for the special hostility towards the modernists around/since 1900.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #52 on: October 21, 2017, 07:14:35 AM »
What @some guy says is, I think, just a natural consequence of what I'm saying once the term and idea of classical music appears in history.

Offline Jo498

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Re: A little history
« Reply #53 on: October 21, 2017, 08:34:38 AM »
The whole point of some guy's claim and the book he refers to is that the development in the 19th century was something new, not some standard "dialectic" that was played out every generation or three since the 12th century.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: A little history
« Reply #54 on: October 21, 2017, 08:46:54 AM »
The whole point of some guy's claim and the book he refers to is that the development in the 19th century was something new, not some standard "dialectic" that was played out every generation or three since the 12th century.

+1 !!!!!
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #55 on: October 21, 2017, 10:23:41 AM »
The whole point of some guy's claim and the book he refers to is that the development in the 19th century was something new, not some standard "dialectic" that was played out every generation or three since the 12th century.

I said "in line"... this because I think there's a bit of that... but also a bit of what I said...  and that the two feed each other.

@Some guy speaks of a movement that became widespread when the term classical music was coined... I agree with that... and I'm just saying that an important contributor, among other many things (like the birth of the Romantic movement in the arts at that time and their anti-intellectualism), to this is the thing I mentioned... seems rather obvious to me.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 10:29:39 AM by aleazk »

Offline aleazk

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Re: A little history
« Reply #56 on: October 21, 2017, 10:30:44 AM »

millionrainbows

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Re: A little history
« Reply #57 on: October 21, 2017, 01:36:15 PM »
Last time I saw a score from a so called "minimalist" composer, was full of rather complex polyrhythms and polymeters... also, the changes are not even that slow... the people that know the music judge it by what it is, not by its easy name... i.e., I don't see any return to simplicity more than in a rather superficial way…

...So Minimalism is not really "minimal?"or simple? That's a direct way of disposing of that comparison, but misleading, because it is myopic. Simplicity has more dimensions than that. Minimalism is simple, harmonically, by comparison to Wagner or Schoenberg, and Philip Glass makes up for this with rhythmic complexity. You're just looking at those aspects which contradict my assertion.

...if you are talking about something like A.Paart... I don't consider it as interesting music to be honest... and, probably, it only appeals to some wider audience precisely because of its soporific simplicity…

I hope not, and I hope the beauty and simplicity of human voices harmonizing never loses its appeal, and that we don't become so skeptical that we lose the capacity to appreciate it…but I don't want to "appreciate" art, I want to love it, so I sympathize.

...Also, I don't think the historical trend is about complexity... I think it's about ampliation of the musical vocabulary and what is allowed in music and what is not.

Well, I consider that a form of increasing complexity. 12 notes is more complex than 7 notes, and that's a fact, jack.

Offline Jo498

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Re: A little history
« Reply #58 on: October 22, 2017, 12:34:55 AM »
I have not read the book some guy mentions but from what I can glimpse online of the concert programs analysed there I disagree with his conclusion.

It is without a doubt true that the "miscellaneous programs" of mostly contemporary music slowly fell out of favor and that there was something close to the typical modern program established although in the 19th century these still contained a lot of contemporary music, such as Clara Schumann playing a recital of music by Beethoven and her husband or Brahms. (It was also recognized that music could not be fully appreciated at once or after only one listening; I think von Bülow sometimed conducted the same new Brahms symphony twice in one concert with a concerto or shorter piece in between.)

It is also true that some older music became "canonized".
[As far as I understand it the book mentioned shows the historical evidence and development of these two points.]

But all of this has very little to do with resentment or prejudice against modern music per se. It has far more to do with a prejudice against music as light entertainment dominated by virtuosos, divas and fleeting fashions and the resulting distinction between light music (dances, operetta, virtuoso paraphrases etc.) and serious music (symphonies, quartets, musical dramas etc.) that had not so clearly existed at the time of Mozart.

On the contrary, it is precisely the establishment of both the idea of "serious music" within a tradition that spans several centuries as well as the establishment of a concert/recital that was the proper place for the presentation and appreciation of such serious music that made the seemingly hermetic music of the modernists possible in the first place.
Or at least it is a very important factor. There was serious and hermetic music long before that, e.g. ars subtilior or late Bach, but this was not presented in commercial public concerts and while there was a peaceful coexistence between light and serious possible at the time of Haydn and Mozart, with Beethoven it became obvious that there was some music that is not ideally presented between an aria from the latest Rossini opera and a showpiece for fiddle turned upside down. [I don't think late Mozart and Haydn is ideally presented in such a frame but it had to manage at its time and it did. In Beethoven's time the older framework still dominated but its problems became more obvious.]

As almost always there was a co-evolution: You have a headstrong, serious and very influential composer like Beethoven who clearly shows that he is aware of his position in history, i.e. who is consciously putting himself not up against Rossini [if LvB did not explicitly call it "wälscher Tand" (cf. Meistersinger) he certainly thought along such lines] and the like but as an heir of Bach, Handel and Mozart and at the same time the most daring contemporary who claimed that his music would be played in 50 years. (Here it seems unclear if this refers to the technical and musical difficulty for his contemporaries (he talked about his op.106) or to its longevity, i.e. Beethoven [never very modest, except when comparing himself to the likes of Bach] basically claims that he will become a classic like Bach and Handel were at his time.) And you have the development of forms of presentation and ways of listening to music and thinking about music in historical context that fit this composer's music. They both influence each other and this gives rise to a historical context of music appreciation that makes the difficult music of some modernists possible.
(Cf. a similar discussion wrt Beethoven in the "unpopular opinions" thread.)

Look at the programs of "contemporary" (as opposed to "canonized") music of the 1820s (or better 1790s), "translate" that to the 1920s and imagine Berg's Orchesterstücke or Schönberg's violin concerto in a mixed program with hits from Léhar operettas and a pianist playing jazz improvisations (and maybe the audience drinking and dancing while the music plays). This is how concerts of the "contemporary" 18th/19th century music that were gradually abolished were like. Does anybody really think that this would be the better mode of presentation for the difficult avantgarde music by the 2nd Viennese school or even by Debussy, Mahler or Stravinsky?
(This is not to deny that in this time period there was some then contemporary music, such as Weill, Milhaud, Schulhoff that could have been done in such a context. There is nothing wrong with peaceful coexistence. But one cannot demand that every music must be appreciable in such settings.)

[edited for some grammar, clarity and more italics]
« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 01:19:12 AM by Jo498 »
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: A little history
« Reply #59 on: October 22, 2017, 01:00:19 AM »
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and upon which it is impossible to remain silent." - Victor Hugo