Author Topic: Despair in music?  (Read 4452 times)

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Offline relm1

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Despair in music?
« on: May 25, 2019, 03:36:18 PM »
Sometimes I am in a very dark place.  The music I typically use to connect with this mood doesn't always fit.  Shostakovitch, late Mahler or Tchaikovsky No. 6 are sad but not where I might be at.  If the greatest examples of dark music don't quite match what I need, has music failed me in it's ability to express certain emotions?  Maybe it is too limited.  This is why I compose but one can hardly survive writing what serves their need adding to the despair.  So my question...is art futile in certain expressive needs?  If so, what is the alternative?  Alternatively, perhaps their are works that better encapsulate this mood so what are those??  If poetry, literature, music, art all fails at expressing the most extreme emotions, then it is insufficient as a medium. 

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2019, 05:15:08 PM »
My first impression about some of your thoughts is an apparent overfamiliarity with certain repertoire. Maybe you should try other composers or works. Have you ever tried any Schnittke or Pettersson for that matter?

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2019, 05:25:36 PM »
Have you tried:

Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead, just a masterpiece of tone painting, death personified in the music.
Strauss' Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings
Wagner's Die Walkure, the closing moments starting with Wotan's Farewell, probably the single most moving and unforgettable piece of music in opera.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2019, 06:43:51 PM »
Personally, I find it strange that a person would seek out music that is ‘dark’ or ‘troubling’. You will find that there’s a whole plethora of composers that have written angry, brooding, and disturbing music, but are these types of emotions worth pursuing or going out of your way to find? Not for me really, because hunting music that’s dark isn’t important to me. What is important is enjoying the music for what it is and not really trying to form some kind of preconceived notion about what the music could or should be. It’s all about perception and how you personally perceive the music. Every listener feels the emotional element of music differently, so this why I couldn’t even begin to recommend something based off an emotion that may or may not be within the music.
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NikF4

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2019, 07:04:40 PM »
Personally, I find it strange that a person would seek out music that is ‘dark’ or ‘troubling’. You will find that there’s a whole plethora of composers that have written angry, brooding, and disturbing music, but are these types of emotions worth pursuing or going out of your way to find? Not for me really, because hunting music that’s dark isn’t important to me. What is important is enjoying the music for what it is and not really trying to form some kind of preconceived notion about what the music could or should be. It’s all about perception and how you personally perceive the music. Every listener feels the emotional element of music differently, so this why I couldn’t even begin to recommend something based off an emotion that may or may not be within the music.

That's a good point. We're all liable to projecting our thoughts and feelings, and in my opinion music can often return a particularly efficient reflection to the source.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2019, 07:21:45 PM »
That's a good point. We're all liable to projecting our thoughts and feelings, and in my opinion music can often return a particularly efficient reflection to the source.

Yes, indeed. Good to see you around these parts again, Nik. 8)

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NikF4

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2019, 07:29:13 PM »
Yes, indeed. Good to see you around these parts again, Nik. 8)

Good to see you too mate.  8)

Online vandermolen

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2019, 07:42:09 PM »
Yes, indeed. Good to see you around these parts again, Nik. 8)

+1 we wondered where you were.
 :)
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Online vandermolen

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2019, 07:49:51 PM »
Sometimes I am in a very dark place.  The music I typically use to connect with this mood doesn't always fit.  Shostakovitch, late Mahler or Tchaikovsky No. 6 are sad but not where I might be at.  If the greatest examples of dark music don't quite match what I need, has music failed me in it's ability to express certain emotions?  Maybe it is too limited.  This is why I compose but one can hardly survive writing what serves their need adding to the despair.  So my question...is art futile in certain expressive needs?  If so, what is the alternative?  Alternatively, perhaps their are works that better encapsulate this mood so what are those??  If poetry, literature, music, art all fails at expressing the most extreme emotions, then it is insufficient as a medium.

Well, I'm sorry to hear that you are sometimes in a very dark place. I can relate to that but tend to prefer 'despair turning to defiance' in music as it gives one a bit of hope and I find it very moving. Walton's Symphony 1 works for me as does Shostakovich Symphony 11 'The Year 1905'. I wonder if you've tried symphonies 3 and 4 by Stanley Bate Karim? I think that both are excellent and you might relate to them. I'd also agree with Cesar's Allan Pettersson suggestion. As far as I'm concerned (and Canadian Andre as well I think) his Violin Concerto No.2 is one of the greatest, possibly the greatest, ever written. It is certainly despairing but the final few minutes are heartbreakingly beautiful and incredibly moving. I'd also recommend his symphonies 6 (described, accurately I think, as 'a long struggle towards the sunrise'), 7 and 8. Bruckner's 9th Symphony also comes to mind.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2019, 08:45:54 PM »
Sometimes I am in a very dark place.  The music I typically use to connect with this mood doesn't always fit.  Shostakovitch, late Mahler or Tchaikovsky No. 6 are sad but not where I might be at.  If the greatest examples of dark music don't quite match what I need, has music failed me in it's ability to express certain emotions?  Maybe it is too limited.  This is why I compose but one can hardly survive writing what serves their need adding to the despair.  So my question...is art futile in certain expressive needs?  If so, what is the alternative?  Alternatively, perhaps their are works that better encapsulate this mood so what are those??  If poetry, literature, music, art all fails at expressing the most extreme emotions, then it is insufficient as a medium.

Try Orlando Lassus, The Tears of St Peter.
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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2019, 09:12:16 PM »
My relationship with music is different. I listen to music to allow the composer to project various moods into my mind, which I might experience vicariously. I don't listen to music to match a mood I am experiencing.

When I think of despair in music, I think of the scene in Madame Butterfly where the main character sends her child away, intending to commit suicide.

It is hard for me to think of a good piece of instrumental classical music which projects unalloyed despair. Most good classical music is an abstract drama which goes through a variety of moods before reaching some sort of apotheosis. Maybe Petterson (as was mentioned above) but I don't really like Petterson much. Another thing that comes to mind is Schubert Wintereise. Again, vocal music. For instrumental, some passages from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique symphony.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2019, 09:27:42 PM »
My relationship with music is different. I listen to music to allow the composer to project various moods into my mind, which I might experience vicariously. I don't listen to music to match a mood I am experiencing.

When I think of despair in music, I think of the scene in Madame Butterfly where the main character sends her child away, intending to commit suicide.

It is hard for me to think of a good piece of instrumental classical music which projects unalloyed despair. Most good classical music is an abstract drama which goes through a variety of moods before reaching some sort of apotheosis. Maybe Petterson (as was mentioned above) but I don't really like Petterson much. Another thing that comes to mind is Schubert Wintereise. Again, vocal music. For instrumental, some passages from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique symphony.
I agree about Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique Symphony' as well.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline amw

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2019, 02:42:22 AM »
When I think of despair in music probably the first thing that comes to mind is Sibelius's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 (4 more than 6). Then the St Matthew Passion sequence Aus Liebe - Können Tränen meine Wangen - Komm, süsses Kreuz (maybe as far as Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden, but by then we are already in the "catharsis" stage of the Passion), and Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine from the St John Passion. Schubert's Winterreise has also already been mentioned. Other examples: Janáček 1.X.1905, the last few minutes of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6, probably a lot of Weinberg's late work (eg the "Kaddish" symphony No.21—not a title he gave to the work himself though), Ustvolskaya's Grand Duet and Sonata No.6 (among other works).....

In music despair can be a transitory state en route to catharsis, or it can take over a piece completely even if other emotions are initially present. As a person with major depression, panic disorder etc I'm often feeling "down" and in that state usually either seek out music expressing absolute alienation (e.g. Feldman, some late Liszt, Nono, Sainte-Colombe, Gesualdo, Finnissy English Country Tunes, Zimmermann Musique pour Roi Ubu etc) or music offering clarity and objectivity, and sometimes humour, if not necessarily comfort (e.g. Machaut, Mozart, Schubert, Cage, Poulenc etc). The composers who primarily sought to express fantasy and subjective mental & emotional states (e.g. Froberger, Beethoven, Schumann, Mahler, Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich etc) are not usually on my radar at those times.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 02:58:37 AM by amw »

Online Mandryka

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2019, 07:31:31 PM »

In music despair can be a transitory state en route to catharsis, or it can take over a piece completely even if other emotions are initially present. As a person with major depression, panic disorder etc I'm often feeling "down" and in that state usually either seek out music expressing absolute alienation (e.g. Feldman, some late Liszt, Nono, Sainte-Colombe, Gesualdo, Finnissy English Country Tunes, Zimmermann Musique pour Roi Ubu etc) or music offering clarity and objectivity, and sometimes humour, if not necessarily comfort (e.g. Machaut, Mozart, Schubert, Cage, Poulenc etc). The composers who primarily sought to express fantasy and subjective mental & emotional states (e.g. Froberger, Beethoven, Schumann, Mahler, Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich etc) are not usually on my radar at those times.

Bravo! best thing I’ve read all day (but it is about 5.30 a.m.)
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 01:18:29 AM »
There’s an old joke about despair.

A lady is throwing a party where each guest shows up as their favorite emotion. A guest arrives dressed in green. "Envy!" she says, and lets him in.

A lady comes dressed in red. She says, "Anger!" and lets her in.

Two naked guys walk up to the front door. One guy is holding a bowl of pudding with his penis stuck in it, and the other guy has his penis in a hollowed-out pear.

"Wait a minute," she says to them. "This is supposed to be an emotion party!"

The first guy says, "Yeah, and I'm fucking dis-custard."

The second guy says, "And I'm deep in dis-pear."
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 01:23:11 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2019, 01:29:04 AM »
Sometimes I am in a very dark place.  The music I typically use to connect with this mood doesn't always fit.  Shostakovitch, late Mahler or Tchaikovsky No. 6 are sad but not where I might be at.  If the greatest examples of dark music don't quite match what I need, has music failed me in it's ability to express certain emotions?  Maybe it is too limited.  This is why I compose but one can hardly survive writing what serves their need adding to the despair.  So my question...is art futile in certain expressive needs?  If so, what is the alternative?  Alternatively, perhaps their are works that better encapsulate this mood so what are those??  If poetry, literature, music, art all fails at expressing the most extreme emotions, then it is insufficient as a medium.

You may enjoy reading Emil Cioran’s book De l'inconvénient d'être né, and Albert Camus’ book Le Mythe de Sisyphe
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2019, 02:05:53 AM »
The darkest music?

My first association is the Sarabande of Bach's cello suite no. 5.

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Offline Cato

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2019, 05:26:07 AM »
Try my cantata Exaudi me: 25 minutes of cathartic despair...(it is a MIDI "choir," but gives a decent enough idea of the work)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/i9mlhnvdn88z7gv/Schulte%20Exaudi%20Me%20voix%20-%202nd%20mix%20-%2030%20Dec%2016.mp3?dl=0

Go to reply #13 for a download of the score:

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,26569.0.html
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2019, 12:18:17 PM »
The unexpectedly tragic endings of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio and Malcolm Arnold’s 5th Symphony are two of the most gut-wrenching portrayals of despair in music that I know.
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Re: Despair in music?
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2019, 12:26:51 PM »
The unexpectedly tragic endings of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio and Malcolm Arnold’s 5th Symphony are two of the most gut-wrenching portrayals of despair in music that I know.
+1 for the Malcolm Arnold.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).