Author Topic: The Postmodern Thread  (Read 4199 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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The Postmodern Thread
« on: April 07, 2019, 02:38:03 AM »
I've started to read Judy Locchead and Joseph Auner, Postmodern Music and Postmodern Thought, (Routledge 2002), and so I thought I'd create a thread to where people can share thoughts and questions about this topic.

The first thing I note is that the book is now rather old, so references to more recent ideas would be appreciated.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 02:51:28 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2019, 02:41:01 AM »
And I'll first note that one possible aspect of postmodernism is to challenge the idea that a piece of music should exhibit unity and coherence, to show it as a value imposed by a culture rather than anything essential. Here's a purported example (though it doesn't seem to be as incoherent as all that to me . . . see what you think.) Jon Zorn's Forbidden Fruit.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/RzONZYE8voo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/RzONZYE8voo</a>

And here's another one, William Bolcom's Third Symphony

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/36IQGuN-D-w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/36IQGuN-D-w</a>

« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 02:52:08 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline amw

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 02:54:47 AM »
I mean that idea all more or less goes back to this
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/JPde80v-af0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/JPde80v-af0</a>

but arguably all of the music we usually categorise as the "second wave of modernism" in Darmstadt etc from the 40s on is postmodern, depending obviously on how one views the definition.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2019, 04:29:22 AM »
Of the three piece we now have around for discussion, the Zorn seems to me the most interesting because it's the most pluralistic, and yet the music flows. I like it very much -- it's my discovery of the day!

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2019, 12:38:17 PM »
So pursuing the idea that pluralism is a criterion (in Wittgenstein's sense -- something like X is a criterion for y iff x is necessarily good evidence for y) of postmodernist music, here's George Crumb's Makrokosmos III, which creates a collage which apparently randomly juxtaposes tonal, atonal, noise, vocal grunts and squeaks etc. Is it fragmentary, or is there a unifying idea?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Et8pUMm0VE8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Et8pUMm0VE8</a>

One thing I like is the thought that postmodernist music is egalitarian, refusing to rank for value different styles, or indeed times (the past (in quotation)  is just as real as the present.) This is an idea which I think you get in the Nouveau Roman too -- which is a nice.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 01:04:51 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 03:03:09 PM »
For me, this is a Postmodernist classic:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/lO2NB8LJu_s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/lO2NB8LJu_s</a>

But also this:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/l2OQbA3r78M" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/l2OQbA3r78M</a>
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline arpeggio

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2019, 05:20:15 PM »
At one time I thought I knew what post-modern music was.

Then I started participating in various classical music discussion groups.

Now I have no idea what it means.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2019, 08:16:12 PM »
For me, this is a Postmodernist classic:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/lO2NB8LJu_s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/lO2NB8LJu_s</a>

But also this:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/l2OQbA3r78M" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/l2OQbA3r78M</a>

Ah yes but you know, you’re not playing the game, you’ve got to say why they’re postmodern! Otherwise a thread like this will just end up a rag bag of YouTubes and no one will be any the clearer.


Now I have no idea what it means.

Well there’s an idea for a necessary condition on the table: music that’s a collage of disparate styles.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 08:20:35 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2019, 06:44:53 AM »
Ah yes but you know, you’re not playing the game, you’ve got to say why they’re postmodern! Otherwise a thread like this will just end up a rag bag of YouTubes and no one will be any the clearer.

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure what exactly makes these works from Ligeti and Xenakis ‘Postmodern’ since I lack the musical training to explain how they’re achieving their sounds. Based on what I hear, however, I get a feeling that the music is outside of the idea of early Modernism, which is was a movement made up of such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg (and The Second Viennese School), Stravinsky, among many others. Xenakis and Ligeti sound nothing like any of these composers obviously, but you can tell that their music goes beyond the confides of harmony or any kind of strict compositional method. But, then again, I may just be sounding like a fool, so that’s a very high probability as well. ;D
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 10:20:19 AM »
Well, to be honest, I’m not sure what exactly makes these works from Ligeti and Xenakis ‘Postmodern’ since I lack the musical training to explain how they’re achieving their sounds. Based on what I hear, however, I get a feeling that the music is outside of the idea of early Modernism, which is was a movement made up of such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg (and The Second Viennese School), Stravinsky, among many others. Xenakis and Ligeti sound nothing like any of these composers obviously, but you can tell that their music goes beyond the confides of harmony or any kind of strict compositional method.

Sure I can see that, and you could try and say that post modernist music is anything that comes after modernism.

The word is often used in other fields, literature and architecture, and I just wonder whether there are any common traits. So for example I remember when this building shot up in Southwark, I walked past it with a friend and we both saw it as an example of postmodern architecture, with its quotation from earlier styles, without parody.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 10:37:10 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2019, 10:33:22 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/7n_HKbyeVbE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/7n_HKbyeVbE</a>

In the mid 1970s George Rochberg was writing music which juxtaposed past styles, as far as I know without direct or modified quotation, and to my ears he's achieved a sense of unity I think, at least in this quartet. I think I can hear sounds inspired by Romantic Beethoven, Bartok, maybe even the occasional brief glimpse of atonality.

He says something which strikes me as absolutely the thought behind that building in Southwark

Quote from: George Rochberg "On The Third String Quartet" 1982, reprinted in W. Bolcom, The Aesthetics of Survival (Michigan 1984)
Pluralism, as I understand it, does not mean a simplistic array of different things somehow stuck together in an arbitrary fashion but a way of seeing new possibilities of relationships; of discovering and uncovering hidden connections and working with them structurally; of joining antipodes without boiling out their tensions . .  .

He's not shy of big ideas, Rochberg, either

Quote
The twentieth century has pointed to a world of new mixtures and combinations of everything we have inherited from the past  . . . replete with juxtapositions of opposites (or seeming opposites) and contraries.


and he wants to find a way in his music to give us

Quote
a momentary insight into how it is possible to resolve the chaos of existence.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 10:47:24 AM by Mandryka »
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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 11:13:51 AM »
As I understand it, post-modernism is a reaction to the designation "modern," which was an act of pure arrogance in that it seemed to take for granted that "we've arrived, this is it, we've figured it out." Everything from now on is just modern. Post-modernism is the recognition that "modernism" was just the last in a string of silly fads that has overtaken human culture.

I would say that stuff like Schoenberg's self-conscious serialism is the epitome of modernism and the neo-classical, neo-baroque, neo-romantic stuff that followed was post-modern.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 11:15:54 AM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2019, 11:21:57 AM »
As I understand it, post-modernism is a reaction to the designation "modern," which was an act of pure arrogance in that it seemed to take for granted that "we've arrived, this is it, we've figured it out." Everything from now on is just modern. Post-modernism is the recognition that "modernism" was just the last in a string of silly fads that has overtaken human culture.

I would say that stuff like Schoenberg's self-conscious serialism is the epitome of modernism and the neo-classical, neo-baroque, neo-romantic stuff that followed was post-modern.

I think that many people who consider themselves postmodern don't see any justification for the idea that certain musical styles are leading edge and others are trailing behind, there is no avant garde, all styles are equal and fair game for the composer.
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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2019, 11:27:16 AM »
I think that many people who consider themselves postmodern don't see any justification for the idea that certain musical styles are leading edge and others are trailing behind, there is no avant garde, all styles are equal and fair game for the composer.

I don't know if I go that far. If you are an artist with ambition you probably want to do something new, not just recreate the style of Brahms, or whoever. But the model is not a "leading edge" going in a certain direction. (I.e., Mozart->Beethoven->Schumann->Brahms->Bruckner->Mahler, bigger and bigger scale, more and more dissonance.) Undiscovered territory can be found by going in any direction For example, the Bacewicz piece I recently listened to, Concerto for Strings, a sort of Baroque concerto grosso with modern harmony.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2019, 04:24:57 AM »
Undiscovered territory can be found by going in any direction .

That's a very postmodern thought, I agree. Rochberg wrote this, which I find quite striking

Quote from: George Rochberg in "No Center" (1969) reprinted in William Bolcom (ed) Aesthetics of Survival (Michigan 1984)
I stand in a circle of time, not a line. 360 degrees of past, present and future. All around me. I can look in any direction I want. Bella Vista.
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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2019, 05:11:31 AM »
The metaphor I have in mind is something like a fractal. Like the coastline of a country. You see a part of the map that looks like an east-west boarder but you zoom in it is a convoluted curve, then you see an east-west portion and zoom in and it is a convoluted curve, then you see an east-west portion and zoom in, ad infinitum. Even if, in the grand scheme of things, there is a frontier, if you look at a fine enough scale you will find undiscovered territory in any direction. Some would say the advance of scientific knowledge is like this. More things get discovered all the time, but there are still infinitely many unknown things "behind" the frontier.

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2019, 03:04:55 AM »
That's a very postmodern thought, I agree. Rochberg wrote this, which I find quite striking:
Quote from: George Rochberg in "No Center" (1969) reprinted in William Bolcom (ed) Aesthetics of Survival (Michigan 1984)
I stand in a circle of time, not a line. 360 degrees of past, present and future. All around me. I can look in any direction I want. Bella Vista.

Love this. The vantage point is still important, though. I don't think those 360 degrees – and therefore postmodernism itself – would be achievable without the rise of the information society.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2019, 08:17:02 AM »
Here's a different way in, postmodern as subversion, a challenge to the modernist institutions (the theatre, the opera house, the idea of a composition). Mauricio Kagel, Repertoire aus Staatstheater


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/IuM8sYuZPp8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/IuM8sYuZPp8</a>
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2019, 02:07:33 AM »
What do you guys make of this?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/HZZPnYnSSR0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/HZZPnYnSSR0</a>

Is it an improvement on this?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/PcS8yI4f93Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/PcS8yI4f93Y</a>
« Last Edit: October 17, 2019, 02:11:08 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Postmodern Thread
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2019, 06:26:18 AM »
What do you guys make of this?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/HZZPnYnSSR0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/HZZPnYnSSR0</a>

Is it an improvement on this?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/PcS8yI4f93Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/PcS8yI4f93Y</a>

It’s Philip Glass, so, for me, there’s always a strong gag reflex. :D
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy