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Gylfi

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Gylfi last won the day on March 10

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About Gylfi

  • Rank
    Intermediate Composer
  • Birthday 07/02/1993

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Iceland
  • Favorite Composers
    Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Lilypond
  • Instruments Played
    Viola

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  1. The world is shaped by events. Xenakis happened, Ligeti happened, Boulez happened, Grisey happened, Steve Reich happened, Lachenmann happened, Arvo Pärt happened, Eric Whitacre happened. Anyway, even if you hate what these composers have done and what they stand for, they have left a mark on the musical community and their ideas bear engaging with - even if that means doing the exact opposite from them. There is no unhearing spectralism - the idea that you can use timbre and the ideas related to timbre as musical material has directly challenged the concept of timbre and even the concept of "musical material" in the first place. Likewise, the complete dissolution of traditional instrumental roles by people like Lachenmann, Sciarrino and Berio has changed the way people think about writing for instruments. That doesn't mean that every piece from now on must only use extended techniques, but the playing field has been changed forever and in order to be relevant one must acknowledge these events. But this isn't really neo-romanticism by itself. If the intent is only to write music in a purebred Romantic style, then by all means - but not if you want to comment on the new, through the old (and vice versa). Then you need to synthesize old ideas and new ideas in a self-consistent manner and weave them into a homogenous tapestry, like what Berg did (unlike Schönberg). That gives you an interesting and probably non-obvious perspective on both which could change your perception. But if you use old ideas in an old context, there is nothing "neo" about it. EDIT: No reason to keep it purely classical either. Free jazz happened, rock 'n' roll happened, heavy metal happened (with all its variations), EDM happened. What does it mean to write music in a world where all of these things exist? I mean, take these things by themselves. Free jazz was a response to a jazz community oversaturated with the same ideas which became decreasingly relevant. Rock 'n' roll (and metal after that) is what happened when somebody figured out that by turning the amp volume way up you distort the amplified guitar signal. EDM, which is probably the most interesting thing that has ever happened to popular music, is the result of somebody discovering the crazy experiments of the early proponents of electronic instruments and crafting an entirely new sound out of it. The style of these genres is directly informed by the central ideas of the music, in other words the philosophy of the musicians making it.
  2. But it does. To take an example from postwar times: minimalism, which is like the antithesis of dense "academic" music, is not what you get when you put your fingers in your ears and say: "I've had enough of this nonsense, I am going to do what I want to do". It's a direct comment on the times, it couldn't possibly exist without the thing it is contradicting. I don't think one can really appreciate what minimalism stands for without thoroughly understanding the idea of "maximalism". As for music that does come out of putting your fingers in your ears - what's the point? It is irrelevant. Style is not just a cosmetic feature, it is a philosophy.
  3. Well, it isn't that simple. If by contemporary music you mean cutting-edge, then it's still going on and hasn't been documented yet. There are articles on certain specialized ideas being released all the time but a beginner has no business reading them if they want to be less confused about the scene as a whole. That's why books written by influential figures whose ideas served as an inspiration to newer generations, and historical overviews by people who are in tune with what's going on and has been going on, and can give a wide perspective, are much more valuable. Then you can get all of the most essential ideas neatly packed into a convenient narrative, which you can use as a foundation on which to build your knowledge. I think if one wants to understand what's been happening for the past 20 years one should be familiar with what people were dealing with after the war. It even helps you to understand the music which has seemingly nothing to do with those ideas.
  4. I haven't read it yet, but my teacher has mentioned "Boulez on Music Today" on occasion - I think that is highly relevant to your question and probably a good place to start or at the very least a must-read. I would guess it were more philosophical than technical but if you feel frustrated and confused then I would not start with technical references. If you are interested in such I recommend Messiaen's book "The Technique of My Musical Language" and Xenakis' "Formalized Music". The latter is very intimidating and I didn't make it very far before giving up. It contains a lot of university-level mathematics, which I wanted to fully absorb instead of skimming - but it turns out that a non-mathematician is not the best person to be explaining cutting-edge mathematics to other non-mathematicians. If you do manage to get through it with complete understanding, I'm sure you will learn quite a few things. I think it's probably worth going through it even if you ignore all of the mathematics, as the book is also highly philosophical and goes into themes which are important to understanding the motivation behind some of the compositional techniques of post-war music up until now. But just like you can't really learn to speak a language from reading grammatical references or historical documents, you need to listen to contemporary music in order to be able to practice it. It takes a lot of exposure and careful consideration and then diligent application - as with anything else. Good luck!
  5. Crab Canon

    Well, a formal Italian name for it might be something like Canon alla quindicesima al rovescio (canon at the fifteenth/double octave in retrograde?), but don't quote me on that. See, it is a type retrograde canon but the two voices inhabit different pitch spaces, so it is not the same line played in retrograde (which is the definition of a crab canon). It's illusory because the double octave just happens to go by the same name, if it were a canon at the sixth you would probably not call it a crab canon.
  6. Crab Canon

    What you say is not factual and is based solely on your opinion. The crab canon draws its name from the way crabs normally walk, sideways. In other words, the only operation performed on the principal line to derive the follower is reversing the direction of movement. The canons you described are different types of canons which also happen to apply a retrograde operation. Consider for example that a closed three-part canon at the fifth is not a type of round even though it uses an equivalent procedure. If you don't accept this definition of "crab canon" there is nothing more to discuss.
  7. Crab Canon

    Sorry, this isn't a proper crab canon. The comes is supposed to be derived from the dux only by retrograde. That way, there is an axis exactly in the middle around which the whole canon is symmetrical, and the voices switch roles - the dux becomes the comes and the comes becomes the dux (here they are separated by two whole octaves). Both voices also usually start simultaneously, although that is a stylistic matter concerning the performance and doesn't really affect the composition as such. In this case, the canon is not correctly conceived though.
  8. Edge - Graphic Notation

    No, it's not. This is arguably the most key concept in stochastic and aleatoric music. In an abstract sense, there isn't even such a thing as total indeterminacy. Consider the meaning of the term - the absence of determinants of any kind. In order to achieve that, the work may not be explicitly presented as music, or any other kind of art form, it must not be presented by anyone to anyone, it must not bear any sort of title or have any ideological connotations, it must contain only random data unfettered by any limitations of medium, or of time and space. It cannot even be a work in general, because that already determines a great deal. Really, it is ridiculous to even acknowledge the idea of total indeterminacy, to attempt to realize it is impossible. So what's the logical conclusion? That nothing is totally indeterminant and "indeterminacy" really refers to level of freedom in the composer's hands. Therefore, you can have things which are more or less indeterminant, and you can control said indeterminacy. This is a key concept in stochastic and aleatoric music, and it is crucial what parameters you decide to leave to chance or performance whim - if you leave everything up to chance or do not take the process seriously you are engaging in a mundane type of compositional masturbation which is all too common with aleatoric types. In practical terms, both highly indeterminant music and highly determinant music is devoid of meaningful information - there is either too much or too little information and it becomes static and lifeless.
  9. There's not much to say about this piece, it is a three-part fugue with modest pretensions in that sweetest of keys, D minor. Like my canons the primary material is derived from encoded names in mod-7 form with free accidentals.
  10. Solo Alto Recorder Challenge

    Sorry for going off-topic, but I really love this moment in the first movement of Vivaldi's recorder concerto in A minor, RV 445 (I think played on a piccolo here): I have no idea how this guy does it in one breath.
  11. Messiean and rythmn

    That's because some of his music doesn't use added values and really is pulse-based. I don't think it's unfair to say that when Messiaen wrote in a way that deliberately undermines the pulse without syncopation, he generally did away with the time signature - because it doesn't provide any useful information and may even be misleading.
  12. Messiean and rythmn

    The entire idea behind added values goes against the concept of time signatures, which is why Messiaen generally wrote in free bar lengths, according to the lengths of the phrases. Of course, as soon as you have a conductor that becomes impractical.
  13. Well, what do you want to know? EDIT: I'll tell you what I find interesting about it. There are two fascinating ambiguities going on here: 1) There is a conspicuous lack of consonances on strong beats. The points of greatest rhythmic weight are also the points of greatest harmonic and melodic instability. In the cello melody: Leaps of sixths in an empty harmonic environment - intervals that tend to lead elsewhere, and indeed do. Where do they lead? To half-diminished seventh chords, which themselves are chords that tend to lead to other chords. Where do the half-diminished seventh chords lead? To a dominant seventh chord with a #11 suspension. The closest thing to a real resolution is in bar 17, a deceptive cadence, but even that is undermined by a sharp #11 appoggiatura. 2) The first half of this beginning can be described as roughly consisting of pairs of events. Because the pairs are identical, the first event is automatically perceived as stronger. Even so, the "weak" events are located in a higher frequency spectrum than the "strong" events, which means that they have a psychological accent due to heightened tension, and therefore the relative strength of events within a pair becomes more ambiguous. The start of the second pair contains a longer head (cello melody), which creates even more tension before the "Tristan chord", which it turns out doesn't really appear because the voicing of the half-diminished seventh chord has changed. This is just enough change to keep the listener on their toes and guessing at what comes next. Because the chord resolves using the same type of voice leading, although not the same type of harmonic movement, it seems for a second that the music hasn't really changed. That's why he now does away with the solo cello melody and goes straight to the half-diminished chord - which makes its effect even weaker than it would have been. To counteract this relative weakness, the material now moves a whole octave up in frequency. The interesting thing is that, even though the change in frequency spectrum is dramatic, the interval of transposition is an octave, which is a very stable interval, which means that it is not overly strong. Basically what Wagner did was distribute the weight of psychological emphasis onto two parameters, rhythm and frequency, instead of only frequency. The net result is arguably the same but it has a very nuanced effect in the mind! He weakens the second half of this event further by removing all explicit harmonic information and leaving only octaves (note that the weak part is still in a higher register). The structural scheme of the prelude is a little bit complicated. I would say the phrase grouping for this passage would be 4+4+4+2+1+1 (assuming an empty first bar instead of an anacrusis). It should be clear that he increases the macro rhythm for added tension, but I would need to spend a little more time with the music to be able to draw any useful insights from the overall structure of the end of this passage in the context of what comes after it. Anyway, this is what I could glean.
  14. It is not my contention that sound doesn't affect people in a primitive way. Actually, in a certain sense I can concede that tonality is in fact a direct tap into human emotion. But we may as well hang up our hats if music's highest aspiration is relating simple emotions. If that were the case, the only real goal would be to elicit a happy response - it doesn't make any difference if a complicated scheme of emotional contrasts is utilized, at the end of the day it would just be a question of how primally ecstatic you can make your music. What makes art or even just life in general interesting are concepts which are representative of emotions. From this realm the art of composition draws its true powers. For example, a study says that major chords are inherently happy, and your conditioning doesn't play into it. Fair enough, but what about this particular major chord? I don't think it represents happiness at all even though it is a consonant and in a neutral context is associated with happy feelings. Place it into a number of other keys and it might be described as happy, place it into others and it might be perceived as rough. If you can take a consonant entity and make it dissonant through a clever combination of many interrelated elements, it should also be possible to arrange dissonant entities in a consonant way. A separate study would need to be conducted on the "inherence" of tonal procedures (if you know of one I would like to read it) but until proven otherwise I will assume that a cadence like this is only effective namely because it plays on what the listener expects (which is intentionally and carefully drilled into the listener's mind and ear but also largely due to familiarity of procedures through other works). A similar principle is at play in works where the architecture is in some superficial respect at odds with the material. However, if you give up because the material seems illogically conceived and do not make any attempt to understand what is going on I do not find it strange at all that one would think that the music is unemotional. To be bluntly honest I don't really care to argue about that point because I have long since gotten over this minor hurdle and know for a fact that "dissonant music" is not necessarily sad or fearful. Just like quote-unquote "beautiful" music can be unbelievably boring (in some respects worse than bad "dissonant music") when it conveys only shallow ideas. EDIT: Oh by the way thanks for the studies, they were quite interesting.
  15. Don't worry so much about this stuff for the time being. The questions you ask are basically meaningless because they are based on a lack of knowledge - in the same way the answers you get will be mostly meaningless to you because you have neither a map nor a compass. If you don't know where you are or where you're going, not even precise coordinates will do you any good. To put it another way, you have just fallen headfirst into the ocean, the first time you have ever become immersed in any kind of liquid. Surprised at this upsetting and awesome sensation, your first thoughts should not be: what is the liquid's viscosity, what is its buoyancy, what is its chemical makeup, should I swim using a backstroke or a breaststroke? Relax… try moving your muscles a bit, observe the liquid's texture and taste, allow yourself to be intoxicated by the weightlessness. After that, go to a local swimming pool and try swimming in chlorine water. After that go swim in a freshwater lake. If you're adventurous, swim in quicksand. Make a pilgrimage to the Dead Sea. Only after you realize what water is at its core, by progressively comparing the different manifestations of it until you arrive at a reasonable lowest common denominator, can you even begin to understand questions about the nature of liquids. Read as much as you can, talk to as many musicians as you can, don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself, most importantly: listen, listen, listen. I hope my meaning wasn't confounded. I have a sickness.
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