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Terve

'Is tonal composition dead?'

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I personally don't find the question retarded it all - on the contrary. I thinks it's quite marvelous. The answer to the question is obvious beyond a doubt (and I still don't see why there is still some arguing going on over it) but the point of the question is to get you thinking of how to approach substantiating that response. To do this fairly WELL takes quite an amount of thought process skill and plenty of knowledge to back up the claim. I think it is a fair question - it is to see how much you really DO know and how you apply that knowledge to support your argument. Nothing wrong with that.

Of course if you are one of these people who think atonal and non-tonal composition is so very prevalent that it threatens the existence of tonalism... I sure hope you have some solid evidence, because I personally find that argument an uphill battle. A steep one, at that. With a hunk of freakin' Stone Henge involved. :ermm:

... Well, uh. I really don't know how to explain it better. I think the analogy with clothes is great, or colors in general.

You can label tonal elements as a technique or as an "effect" or as a musical element. So, it'll never die in function of definition, since, like I've said thousands of times, it's a choice.

Moreover, the only way I can see "dead" meaning anything in this case, is talking about statistics. I'd only take into account statistics if the knowledge of the technique itself is endangered (IE, no tonal pieces survived, therefore it's really "dead" since we don't know how/what it is exactly, only that it existed at some point. Like the pronunciations of dead languages, or ancient civilizations' cultural details, etc etc.)

Since one is a logical fallacy and the other is a substantial lack of evidence in its favor, I'd very much say "tonality" if we define it in any of the ways I mention is very much present in our time.

Even further, I'd argue that the terminology used commonly "dead" and "alive" are entirely unnecessary and problematic. It misrepresents the nature of the actual question (Are tonal elements still prevalent in the modern music panorama? or Are tonal elements still important to modern composers? and so on.)

To say the least, a question like this, if asked to a musicologist, would result in a lot of laughter. It's not properly formulated, it isn't accurate, it lends to misinterpretations and it doesn't define it's own terminology. (What is tonal? What is "dead"? ETC)

That's the real reason it's "unanswerable", you have to start assuming context and meaning to the terms it's using. I'd even go as far as saying that, precisely for these reasons, not answering it is the only "right" answer. Assuming stuff in an EXAM because questions aren't properly formulated is insane, and a properly written question must be leave no doubts as to what it's asking. In this case, even the question is open to debate as to what it means.

So, yes, retarded. I would not want to be rated on assumptions I'm forced to make due to questions that are badly formulated. Like I said, I'd leave it blank, or write this entire speech if I had enough time during the exam.

lol.

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Nirvana69: that's all nice you listen to these composers - but I am afraid I wouldn't possibly classify any one of them as "contemporary", apart from maybe Berio who died 5 years ago, but it also depends on what piece by Berio you've listened to (if you're just listened to his Folk Song arrangements, then that's not a representative sample of Berio's output).

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I'd even go as far as saying that, precisely for these reasons, not answering it is the only "right" answer. Assuming stuff in an EXAM because questions aren't properly formulated is insane, and a properly written question must be leave no doubts as to what it's asking.

...

lol.

Okay. I hope that 'lol' at the end means you're joking; there are so many things in this post of yours that are fundamentally rediculous I'm only going to comment on this one I've quoted, otherwise I'll be here all day.*

"Assuming stuff in an EXAM because questions aren't properly formulated is insane."

- No. What is the purpose of an exam? It is not to try and force candidates into approaching some totally objective higher "right answer". If you think this exists, just plod off for a few days and read some Nietzsche. Exams are there so that candidates may use the marks and grades they gain thereby as tools to impress and satisfy (primarily) potential employers in the future, in order that they might be given more opportunities to live a successful, and hopefully reasonably satisfied life. They also happen to have the capacity to be interesting for the candidate, thus allowing the candidate to explore their own ideas without fear of being judged for yes, objectively, pointless academia. Exams are not there so that, excuse me, precocious nihilists may profess their - arguably far more pointless - genius nihilism about how "retarded" the question is.

I'm sorry, but if you get handed an exam paper, the result of which is going to effect the opportunities of your future, with the question "To what extent could a semi-quaver be deemed a type of elephant?" on it, you are 'objectively' a total idiot if you just say "it couldn't, you retard", because of the ramifications of this for your immediate and possibly long-term future. You should shamelessly adhere to the construct, and make up a clear and coherent argument, considering some scraggy about, I dunno, the way hypernyms register in the brain, the meaninglessness of the linguistic sign, the acoustic properties of an elephant's call, an in depth breakdown of the possible meanings of "type", and possibly Darwin+, to humour the question. Then you would say why it's incorrect. Not why it's retarded. You should therefore assume anything in an exam, as long as it's in your best interests to pass it.

Hopefully at the end you'll come out with the grades you wanted. If you hadn't answered out of some sort of objective principle then you might be a nihilist** for ever. Not that there's anything wrong with this, it's just an example.

:P Now I get to say lol, seeing as that was just about the most rediculous thing I ever wrote.

(** Read: janitor / very unhappy writer.)

(* Who am I kidding? I'll be here all day anyway :D)

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Okay. I hope that 'lol' at the end means you're joking; there are so many things in this post of yours that are fundamentally rediculous I'm only going to comment on this one I've quoted, otherwise I'll be here all day.*

I'm only going to comment on the above, since the rest is barely readable (nevermind borderline off-topic) and I don't want to take the time to decipher what the hell you're talking about.

No, I wasn't joking, and I stand by what I said. Sorry if you disagree, but that's just the way it is.

If the exam is asking me to guess wildly at what it's asking, then screw it. Maybe I'll just answer something just as vague, then!

"Is tonal composition dead?"

"No, it's alive."

A+ for me!

PS: "Schr

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Terve seems to be touching upon "exam technique", which is an integral skill required to succeed in the assessment-laden English national curriculum. Unfortunately, a lot of what he says does allude to the truth...

I think the aim of the question was to provoke some calculated thought on the matter. Probably nothing more than a simple rebuttal, since I don't think they expect any original or particularly insightful ideas, rather regurgitated, pre-prepared factual snippets (the English education system is at it again).

So, taking the phrasing of the question seriously, rather than ruminating on ideas sprung forth from it, will probably drive you mad. ;)

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I would actually say it's quite the opposite. Atonallity is dead except for the supsense music in film. Which do you see more often in concerts? Shoenberg and every one of his disicples, their disicples and just every single serialist combined or Beethoven? The recent most famous composers, the minimalists, were/are all tonal composers. The only people who want tonalism to be dead is the last few remaining twelve-tone composers in univeristies (there used to be alot more according to my professors). They are very rare now. Music has changed but atonality was a phase that happened and is gone now.

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I would actually say it's quite the opposite. Atonallity is dead except for the supsense music in film. ...Music has changed but atonality was a phase that happened and is gone now.

Careful...you're falling into the same trap. Nothing is dead...it's just hiding in places you wouldn't look for it.

:whistling:

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Just one thing I'd like to point out: Dodecaphony and serialism are techniques and not styles. You can compose a 12-tone piece in F minor and you can compose an entirely atonical piece without any such techniques. Dodecaphony just happens to be a technique that works very well for creating atonical pieces, but they are very distinct concepts.

"Atonality was a phase that happened and is gone now" seems to be a phrase that comes from this misconception. (And with that I don't even mean that in contrast to "atonality" it is 12-tone composition that is "gone now". It may not be strictly adhered to by the majority of composers, but our history has been shaped by it and its concepts still bear new fruit. This is exactly what I call "living". Not just repeating a canon, but entering a discourse with it, possibly a critical one, expanding it, experimenting with it, developing it.)

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Just one thing I'd like to point out: Dodecaphony and serialism are techniques and not styles. You can compose a 12-tone piece in F minor and you can compose an entirely atonical piece without any such techniques. Dodecaphony just happens to be a technique that works very well for creating atonical pieces, but they are very distinct concepts.

"Atonality was a phase that happened and is gone now" seems to be a phrase that comes from this misconception. (And with that I don't even mean that in contrast to "atonality" it is 12-tone composition that is "gone now". It may not be strictly adhered to by the majority of composers, but our history has been shaped by it and its concepts still bear new fruit. This is exactly what I call "living". Not just repeating a canon, but entering a discourse with it, possibly a critical one, expanding it, experimenting with it, developing it.)

Really excellent point. I meant the actually system of 12 tone and mostly the concept of atonal music is not composed at even 1% of what it once was. But I agree it is alive because it still shapes modern music.

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I will. It's not dead. No composition technique can truly die. Even if NO ONE currently uses it (which isn't true since even on YC, I hear the occasional atonal piece), that doesn't stop people from deciding to use it. The fact that people still compose in strict Baroque rules of counterpoint is a testament to that.

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The fact that people still compose in strict Baroque rules of counterpoint is a testament to that.

Give me a proper composer (i.e. having studied composition with a teacher or at an institution and/or be established in the field as a composer and making either a living out of composition and commissions, teaching or has composition as a hobby) who composes strictly in Baroque form and I won't rape Shawaddywaddy. I mean, I did hear about a movement once whose composers try to revive Baroque music, but fortunately all their music sounds like terribly awful and cheap imitations of a lesser piece by one of the other Bachs. But see, it was so uninteresting that I forgot about it the day after and haven't been able to find it ever since, even if I searched for it and I knew what I was looking for.

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Give me a proper composer (i.e. having studied composition with a teacher or at an institution and/or be established in the field as a composer and making either a living out of composition and commissions, teaching or has composition as a hobby) who composes strictly in Baroque form and I won't rape Shawaddywaddy. I mean, I did hear about a movement once whose composers try to revive Baroque music, but fortunately all their music sounds like terribly awful and cheap imitations of a lesser piece by one of the other Bachs. But see, it was so uninteresting that I forgot about it the day after and haven't been able to find it ever since, even if I searched for it and I knew what I was looking for.

I apply, but writing in counterpoint and so on isn't the only thing I do. Just as well, I think he meant that historical recreations exist, not that it's a new trend or something like or opposing modern music. None of that.

It's also a fact that people during, say, Beethoven's time still wrote stuff like baroque figured bass sonatas! So that people write baroque-styled music today is a given. I don't see the problem, they should write what they want to write.

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NO! its not dead!!!!!!

btw, i think most people who dont really study music dont even consider much of the non-tonal music as music.

TONAL MUSIC IS NOT DEAD AND WILL NOT DIE UNTIL EVERY SINGLE HUMAN ON EARTH FORGETS ABOUT IT. (which is very unlikely to happen)

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NO! its not dead!!!!!!

btw, i think most people who dont really study music dont even consider much of the non-tonal music as music.

TONAL MUSIC IS NOT DEAD AND WILL NOT DIE UNTIL EVERY SINGLE HUMAN ON EARTH FORGETS ABOUT IT. (which is very unlikely to happen)

I think that's been said over and over, no need to ALL CAPS it.

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Give me a proper composer (i.e. having studied composition with a teacher or at an institution and/or be established in the field as a composer and making either a living out of composition and commissions, teaching or has composition as a hobby) who composes strictly in Baroque form ...

The original comment made no reference to any specific composer matching your unnecessary criteria. It simply stated that *people* still compose in baroque form, which is correct - I certainly still do.

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At any rate, I'd argue that tonality no longer is just Baroque figured bass, but encompasses most music with a focus on V-I relationships and has a hierarchy to the scale degrees.

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Nothing is dead, it is simply used differently.

Tonality is definitely not dead. Neither is atonality.

I think the true magic of serialism in its aftermath is that it really said for composers that tonality or atonality isn't important. You use pitch as you need to.

It resulted in a freedom of pitch.

Chris

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That's an understatement. It resulted in a freedom of everything. Cage and others proved that.

Tonality is not dead, it just smells funny.

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So... had my final music exam today (A Levels). The synoptic question was 'It's now more than a century since some composers rejected tonality. Is tonal composition dead?'. I'll post what I said tomorrow (parents are going to bed now :P) but I thought it was a very interesting question. Anyway. So, discuss.

I agree tonality isn't dead, and that it's been/is being combined with various other things.

I found an interesting article about infant responses at

MUSICAL TONALITY PREFERRED BY BABIES -- PSYCHOLOGY EXPERIMENT

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Once again, presumably perfectly decent science completely misunderstood by (hopefully) well-intended journalism. I fail to see how these findings are (well, were, twelve years ago) in any way controversial.

Also, general knowledge fail: "Even something as notoriously dissonant as a bagpipe has perfect fifth tones droning underneath its sounds." Wat?

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