Modern vs Postmoden Music

Started by vers la flamme, July 24, 2023, 03:10:11 PM

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vers la flamme

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 24, 2023, 08:26:13 AMI'll always find modernism more free, wild, and bombastic than postmodernism.

Luigi Russolo's, futurist-laden, Intonarumoris (played live):


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BYPXAo1cOA4&pp=ygUNTHVpZ2kgUnVzc29sbw%3D%3D


I used to think I knew the difference between modernist and postmodernist music, but now I have no idea. Care to elaborate on that thought a bit more?

vers la flamme

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 24, 2023, 03:16:36 PMFor me, at least - and I will admit my schooling likely influences this - I view postmodernism, primarily, as focusing more on fragmentation and silence (but not silence as a dynamic, but silence as an aim).

I think I follow. Who do you see as examples of important postmodernist composers? Fragmentation and silence makes me think of the post-Cage school, but I don't think I ever really thought of Cage as a postmodern.

vers la flamme

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 24, 2023, 03:33:35 PMFor me, I think think one of the heights of postmodernism is Kurtag's Kafka Fragments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEjFN9uGwEI, but then I also think that Schoenberg's short, solo piano pieces are an excellent display of postmodernism, or pretty much Webern's entire output.

Someone like Cage, I feel is closer to the experimental minimalists like La Monte Young (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59qHcvM5lrI).

Webern! To me he could be the arch-modernist, but I will have to listen to his music with new ears keeping your perspective in mind. He's one of my five or ten favorite composers.

Henk

#3
Postmodernism in music to me coincides with what Nietzsche called 'guilty music'. Just another perspective among many ones. I recognize the silence/fragmentation perspective too. Someone like Andriessen would fit into that or Ligeti, maybe less strictly though than the ones mentioned. I would say however that dissonance isn't the real point of distinction. Or maybe a radicalisation of dissonance affecting the idea of harmony. It has to do with another sense of aesthetics, another soundscape breaking with conventional ones, beginning with, following from and after serialism. A different technique of composing, experimenting, inventing techniques of composing, for the sake of the new and maybe even survival, postmodernism seems to be born by experimentation and stays in that kind of creativity, like going towards new horizons, where before every style had the same horizon. Other examples I think of are Aperghis, but more towards silence/fragmentation sense, Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino. It goes into the direction of ceasing to be music, exploring it's limits, creating space for music.

vers la flamme

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 24, 2023, 03:49:09 PMAs I noted earlier, it may be due to my schooling, but for me, someone like Hindemith or Reger feel more modernist to me, but I still feel that even they are lacking that sweeping sense of grandeur I associate with modernism. Like I view Berlioz as very modern in his ideas, but very romantic when it came to his music. Maybe Bruckner might fit that slot best for me, but I am on shaky grounds.

Sorry, which slot would Bruckner fit? I have a very hard time placing him within any movement myself.

Regarding Berlioz, I can agree with that, and I can agree with the assessment of Modernist music as possessing a sweeping sense of grandeur—like Modernist literature (especially things like Ulysses, The Waste Land etc)—something that places Modernism as a kind of continuation of Romanticism, or to paraphrase Jan Swafford, "Romanticism with the brakes cut". Then, I find Mahler to be almost an inverse: very Romantic in his ideas, and very (early) Modern in his music.

Actually, I overall find it very difficult placing the vast majority of 20th century composers into any movement or school, beyond certain instances in which very obvious sweeping categories can be used, often based on compositional techniques (Serialism, Spectralism, Minimalism, Electroacoustic etc).

vers la flamme

Quote from: Henk on July 24, 2023, 03:47:45 PMPostmodernism in music to me coincides with what Nietzsche called 'guilty music'. Just another perspective of many ones. I recognize the silent/fragmentation perspective too. Someone like Andriessen would fit into that or Ligeti, maybe less strictly though than the ones mentioned. I would say however that dissonance isn't the real point of distinction. It has to do with another sense of aesthetics, another soundscape breaking with conventional ones, beginning with, following from and after serialism. A different technique of composing, experimenting with it, postmodernism seems to be born by experimentation and stays in that kind of creativity. Other examples I think of are Aperghis, but more towards silence/fragmentation sense, Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino.

Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino I think I can get behind as postmodernists, likewise Ligeti as a progenitor of the movement. Something I seem to recall as a touchstone of aesthetic postmodernism is a rejection of overarching meta-narratives. This would disqualify the likes of Boulez and Schoenberg.

vers la flamme

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 24, 2023, 04:14:01 PMI'm thinking that Bruckner might be my arch-modernist.

You put it much better than I could with that second paragraph. That is exactly where I am at.

Agreed, I mean any category system is useful only to a degree. I mean think of composers like Bach, Liszt, Schubert, and the list could go on and on, or pick someone "constricted" like Vincent D'Indy, and even there you'll find a pretty wide swath of genres. I think it is very rare to find someone who is consistent throughout their lives, unless they composed very little (which is not a knock, as many of the greatest authors ever only wrote one book).

"Bruckner the Modernist" is definitely a musicology dissertation waiting to be made ;D Certainly something I'm going to be thinking about the next time I listen to a Bruckner symphony, which is hopefully soon (I've been taking a break from him, though he's one of my favorite composers).

That is true too. I am fascinated by composers who embody a purity of intent and aesthetic purpose throughout their career—usually people whose complete works fit on two or three CDs. So far, all I've got is Carl Ruggles, Anton Webern, and Edgard Varèse (and a handful of others that I'm surely forgetting). Even within these not-so-prolific artists' careers there is a variety of style, but I think they are all quite singular.

Henk

#7
Quote from: vers la flamme on July 24, 2023, 04:03:31 PMSorry, which slot would Bruckner fit? I have a very hard time placing him within any movement myself.

Regarding Berlioz, I can agree with that, and I can agree with the assessment of Modernist music as possessing a sweeping sense of grandeur—like Modernist literature (especially things like Ulysses, The Waste Land etc)—something that places Modernism as a kind of continuation of Romanticism, or to paraphrase Jan Swafford, "Romanticism with the brakes cut". Then, I find Mahler to be almost an inverse: very Romantic in his ideas, and very (early) Modern in his music.

Actually, I overall find it very difficult placing the vast majority of 20th century composers into any movement or school, beyond certain instances in which very obvious sweeping categories can be used, often based on compositional techniques (Serialism, Spectralism, Minimalism, Electroacoustic etc).

To me it makes sense to distinguish a few influential composers of the 20th who affected greatly what came after them: Stravinsky, Boulez and Ligeti and Bartok too (as far as concerned Europe), who breaks more with modernism than Stravinsky imo. From these music stayed what it is, music, whereas postmodernism sometimes seems to escape from music.

vers la flamme

Quote from: Henk on July 24, 2023, 04:44:28 PMTo me it makes sense to distinguish a few influential composers of the 20th who affected greatly what came after them: Stravinsky, Boulez and Ligeti (as far as concerned Europe) and Bartok too, who breaks more with modernism than Stravinsky imo. From these music stayed what it is, music, whereas postmodernism sometimes seems to escape from music.

I understand that certain composers who might be seen as postmoderns seemed to have affiliations with certain "anti-art" movements: like Ligeti who dabbled with the Fluxus movement, which inspired his Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes; and of course John Cage, possibly the key musical influence on that whole movement. Is this the kind of thing you had in mind by postmodernism escaping from music?

At present, I decline to speak on John Cage and his connection to Modernism, Postmodernism, Postpostmodernism or anything else, simply because it's been far too long since I've spent any time with any of his music.

Henk

Quote from: vers la flamme on July 24, 2023, 05:04:41 PMI understand that certain composers who might be seen as postmoderns seemed to have affiliations with certain "anti-art" movements: like Ligeti who dabbled with the Fluxus movement, which inspired his Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes; and of course John Cage, possibly the key musical influence on that whole movement. Is this the kind of thing you had in mind by postmodernism escaping from music?

No I rather tried to refer to Sciarrino, Scelsi and Lachenmann, if they would be very influential, classical music would have become a kind of desert or an ocean, a huge surface for sounds that would hardly take the form of what we call music. That they aren't very influential (? somewhat in contradiction to previous arguments I made) is imo a consequence to the unmusical character of their music, what doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed on it's own terms.

Henk

Quote from: vers la flamme on July 24, 2023, 05:04:41 PMI understand that certain composers who might be seen as postmoderns seemed to have affiliations with certain "anti-art" movements: like Ligeti who dabbled with the Fluxus movement, which inspired his Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes; and of course John Cage, possibly the key musical influence on that whole movement. Is this the kind of thing you had in mind by postmodernism escaping from music?

Trying to be more responsive to your question: I mean postmodern composers escape from previous style era's by escaping from it and in this way the create a new, possibly, vast space for music, which is influential in the sense tgat composers after them can make use of that space, which to my sense is done, while it hasn't been influential in the sense of the actual music. They created pure potential by escaping music, by transcending it and also by creating something, to my ears, very personal, and also in that sense escaping tradition.

vers la flamme

#11
I think I would agree that the musics of Sciarrino, Lachenmann, and Scelsi (at least what little I have heard) has very little to do with the touchstones of previous music, things like melody, harmony, rhythm, development of motives etc. I'm not sure whether they have abandoned timbre or made it the key focus of their works. At least to take a piece like Lachenmann's first string quartet for example, I've heard it described as "musique concrète instrumentale", with the connotation that the sounds produced by the strings are sound objects, to be manipulated similarly to how a tape artist might mix and match sound effects recorded on magnetic tape (or in the present day, I suppose, digital audio, though I have yet to hear any digital musique concrète, maybe I should try and make some with Ableton ;D ) rather than traditionally developed à la Beethoven or Schoenberg. As you say, presenting music in this manner may prove influential as it's an entirely new way to conceptualize and write music. That being said, I'm not entirely sure that this is an escape from music altogether.

Quote from: Dictionary.coman art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms

Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino do this, but...

Quote from: Dictionary.comthrough the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.

... arguable.

Edit: I don't know which mod moved this discussion into its own thread, but good call, I thought about requesting as much. :D

Mandryka

@vers la flamme Modernism seems to be used for different forms of serial composed music  - a deconstruction of some or all the elements of music and their free reassembly by the composer. Stockhausen's Plus Minus is modernist, Cornelius Cardew's Treatise is not, and neither is Steve Reich's It's Gonna Rain.

Postmodernism seems to be used for recent polystylistic music. I started a thread on postmodernism ages ago here - probably full of crap.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Mandryka

#13
Quote from: vers la flamme on July 25, 2023, 06:01:17 AMI think I would agree that the musics of Sciarrino, Lachenmann, and Scelsi (at least what little I have heard) has very little to do with the touchstones of previous music, things like melody, harmony, rhythm, development of motives etc. I'm not sure whether they have abandoned timbre or made it the key focus of their works. At least to take a piece like Lachenmann's first string quartet for example, I've heard it described as "musique concrète instrumentale", with the connotation that the sounds produced by the strings are sound objects, to be manipulated similarly to how a tape artist might mix and match sound effects recorded on magnetic tape (or in the present day, I suppose, digital audio, though I have yet to hear any digital musique concrète, maybe I should try and make some with Ableton ;D ) rather than traditionally developed à la Beethoven or Schoenberg. As you say, presenting music in this manner may prove influential as it's an entirely new way to conceptualize and write music. That being said, I'm not entirely sure that this is an escape from music altogether.

Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino do this, but...

... arguable.

Edit: I don't know which mod moved this discussion into its own thread, but good call, I thought about requesting as much. :D

You might want to think about Lachenman's Accanto and its relationship to Mozart, for example.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

vers la flamme

#14
Quote from: Mandryka on July 25, 2023, 09:44:32 AMPostmodernism seems to be used for recent polystylistic music. I started a thread on postmodernism ages ago here - probably full of crap.

Would you consider, say, Alfred Schnittke a postmodern? What about Toyohiko Satoh? (I also hate when old threads or posts of mine get dredged up—I always think "where did he come up with this shit?" before realizing it was me.)

Re: Lachenmann's Accanto, I listened to about five minutes of it and my interest is piqued. Still trying to wrap my head around the SQs, but I think I'll be spending more time with that clarinet piece in the not too distant future.

Mandryka

#15
Quote from: vers la flamme on July 25, 2023, 10:20:20 AMWould you consider, say, Alfred Schnittke a postmodern?




Sometimes. Not in the 4th quartet, or the 8th symphony or the viola concerto.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Mandryka

Quote from: vers la flamme on July 25, 2023, 06:01:17 AMI think I would agree that the musics of Sciarrino, Lachenmann, and Scelsi (at least what little I have heard) has very little to do with the touchstones of previous music, things like melody, harmony, rhythm, development of motives etc. I'm not sure whether they have abandoned timbre or made it the key focus of their works. At least to take a piece like Lachenmann's first string quartet for example, I've heard it described as "musique concrète instrumentale", with the connotation that the sounds produced by the strings are sound objects, to be manipulated similarly to how a tape artist might mix and match sound effects recorded on magnetic tape (or in the present day, I suppose, digital audio, though I have yet to hear any digital musique concrète, maybe I should try and make some with Ableton ;D ) rather than traditionally developed à la Beethoven or Schoenberg. As you say, presenting music in this manner may prove influential as it's an entirely new way to conceptualize and write music. That being said, I'm not entirely sure that this is an escape from music altogether.

Lachenmann, Scelsi and Sciarrino do this, but...

... arguable.

Edit: I don't know which mod moved this discussion into its own thread, but good call, I thought about requesting as much. :D

Here's something by the wonderful Etha Williams on Sciarrino's relationship to Gesualdo.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

atardecer

I think the terms 'modernism' and 'post-modernism' don't function the same way as earlier stylistic descriptive terms like 'baroque', 'classical', 'romantic' etc.

The reason for this is that music went in so many different directions in the 20th century. I see them now more as terms describing the period of time in which a composer is/was working. The exceptions are composers that are clearly working in older idioms. For example I don't really see composers that are still composing in essentially a romantic style 'post modernists'.

I think referring to composers like Bruckner and Berlioz as 'modernist' or 'post-modernist' confuses the issue. They are both romantic composers in my view. In any of the eras you will find stylistic differences among major composers because virtually all of the major composers we remember today were unique in some way.

All this said in modernism I feel it is less difficult to see some unity in style than with post modernism. I look at modernism as basically starting with Debussy, and all of the composers that use this basic kind of harmonic language as modernist so - Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky, Poulenc etc. are modernists. Schoenberg I see as having some modernist traits but his music is expressionism and is in some ways the entry point or beginning of post modernism. If not actually post modern than pointing towards it in a similar way that Wagner points to modernism.
"In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyze and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest." - Fernando Pessoa

atardecer

Quote from: hopefullytrusting on July 25, 2023, 10:05:40 PMAs a point of clarity, I view both Berlioz and Bruckner as modernist in their compositional orchestrations, but I feel musically that Berlioz is a romantic, but I do think, ultimately, that I find Bruckner more modernist than romantic.

Interestingly, your second list of composers are part of what I'd call impressionism, which, I feel, predates modernism. Although, I feel Bartok does become modern to postmodern, and Stravinsky is completely context-dependent, as he freely moved from one phase to another, but I feel he is the most modern on that list, at least when he was in his neoclassical phase.

That is interesting, and I think it further shows that the many stylistic differences we see in modernism and post-moderism make these compositional trends difficult to neatly organize and to some degree they are open to different interpretations.

I agree with you somewhat about Stravinsky. To be honest I don't understand where you are coming from in regards to Bartok and Bruckner, but I'm sure you have your reasons. Similarly, many consider Mahler 'modern'.

I see composers like Bruckner, Mahler and R Strauss as essentially 'grey area' composers, meaning they don't fit neatly into one era (similar to CPE Bach), however they seem to me most closely related to romanticism.

I see impressionism is one trend within the larger context of modernism, just as minimalism or polystylism could be seen as trends existing within the context of post modernism.
"In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyze and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest." - Fernando Pessoa

atardecer

I'm not particularly attached to my ideas on this topic being 'correct'. The categorizations aren't really that important to me, just the way I organize things in my brain. If anyone thinks I am wrong in any of my ideas that is ok, I don't mind. I am more interested in learning, than I am in being 'right'.
"In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyze and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest." - Fernando Pessoa