Author Topic: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music  (Read 237 times)

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Offline arpeggio

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Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« on: April 30, 2021, 07:08:14 PM »
In another forum there was a discussion concerning whether or not Common Practice Tonality peaked with Brahms or Rachmaninoff.

To my ears I am familiar with many living composers that sound like they exploit Common Practice Tonality.  On a few occasions I actually premiered a few works that I thought sounded like Common Practice Tonality.

I took a lot a grief over my observations.  One person took the position that since he never heard of the composers I mentioned my position was bogus.

Am I wrong? Is Common Practice Tonality really dead?

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2021, 11:15:30 PM »
How can it be, as long as popular music is being produced?

In the original discussion, by what strict terms was Rachmaninov excluded?

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2021, 11:45:51 PM »
Common Practice Tonality is not dead. It is just not dominating anymore in art music.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2021, 03:26:17 AM »
It’s quite a complicated question and I’m not sure I know the answer.


A part of CPT was the idea of home key, and that brought with it a conception of long range musical structure. So CPT music is typically a journey away from home and back, of just a journey away.

This idea may indeed be dead, but I’m not sure. Indeed it seems to me that one element of contemporary music plays with this, that’s to say, the composer sets up expectations of a typical narrative of common practice music, and then confounds it. (This may be mainly a British thing.)

Lots of music sounds modal to me, but is this really an example of CPT? (Lovely music I think, whatever it is!)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/MDXxQsEhWWk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/MDXxQsEhWWk</a>
« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 03:32:43 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2021, 03:54:06 AM »
How can it be, as long as popular music is being produced?
Popular music written according to the principles of common practice tonality? I don't think I've ever come across any.

Offline amw

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2021, 04:16:02 AM »
Popular music written according to the principles of common practice tonality? I don't think I've ever come across any.
You used to get that in musicals a good deal, and probably still do, but the increasing popularity of rock and hip-hop musicals is reducing that. Film scores often incorporate common practice tonality as well, along with every other musical genre they can buy the rights to.

But yes most other genres of popular music are modal (based on scales), rather than tonal (based on key relations). The only place common practice tonality remains about equally common as other forms of harmonic organisation is in contemporary classical music, most of which rely on the sort of extended CPT one encounters in e.g. Bartók or Prokofiev but still has audible "functional dominants" and "functional subdominants" etc. Some would argue the difference between contemporary classical music and film music is just a matter of venue of course. (Experimental and avant-garde classical music is the exception, but the differences among it, experimental/avant-garde jazz, and electroacoustic improvisation are also mostly just a matter of venue.)

Offline arpeggio

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2021, 07:43:17 AM »

In the original discussion, by what strict terms was Rachmaninov excluded?

Rachmaninoff was not excluded.  The question was did Common Practice Tonality peaked with Brahms or Rachmaninoff. 

Offline Uhor

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Re: Common Practice Tonality and Contemporary Music
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2021, 03:32:11 AM »
I don't think old common practise, as a language like system based on sentences, periods, repeating sections, tonic-dominant polarity which vocabulary and grammar spins around relations upon major and minor triads, the dominant seventh and some other chords which goal is to resolve into either of the latter is alive anymore.

You can do "neotonality" in many ways, depending on which elements of old you reuse, recreate and reinvent but just writing like Chopin or whomever from CP is like reciting in Latin.