Jump to content
Gamma

How much music theory do you take into consideration while composing?

  

54 members have voted

  1. 1. How much music theory do you take into consideration while composing?

    • All the time
    • Quite a bit, but not all the time
    • Moderate amount
    • A little here and there
    • None
    • What the hell is music theory


Recommended Posts

I've just read through this thread, and there are some great comments. My two cents:

Composing is much like writing a novel. Music is the language we use to create, and it has a grammar.

But music theory isn't really the grammar of music. It has some similarities to grammar - both are taxonomies, the categorizing of discrete elements into categories: in language, we have nouns and verbs and such; in music we have scales, dominant chord functions, etc. We give names to these things... not because they need names to exist, but because it steers and refines our thinking.

I'm a composer, a teacher (of composition, among other things) and a writer (of theory books, among other things). When I'm writing a lesson for a magazine and I get stuck, I'm not thinking "I need a noun here". I'm thinking "I need another way to express this idea - because this one isn't working out". I don't turn to a grammar book - I turn to the resources that might help me find a new means of expression. That might be a dictionary, to make sure I'm using a word the right way, or a thesaurus to suggest synonyms that might better suit my purpose - or might stir my imagination to come up with a better way to say what I mean.

When I'm composing, I work the same way. Initially, I'm expressing an idea. I'm trying to get my thoughts down on paper as quickly as possible, to capture the inspiration. In this part of the process, theory works beneath the surface, at a subconscious level - I know what a major scale is, just as I know what a noun is. I know if I should call that note Bb or A# - it's ingrained, just as the noun/verb mechanics of speech are. So theory is a part of the idea generation part (stage 1) of composition, but not a conscious part.

The second stage of composition or writing is the editing and compilation phase. I've got ideas on paper - some are fully formed, others mere fragments. I need to take this raw material and turn it into something I'll be proud of. Essentially, I'm looking for weaknesses, and how to improve and polish what gems might be hidden in my inspiration.

Now I'm starting to use theory tools: first, analysis. How does what I've done hold together? If I'm writing a lesson for a magazine, I'm referring back to the outline I gave the editor, and I'm looking for any gaps - things I thought I would cover, but I didn't address well enough. In music, I'm looking at the broad form - how does it hang together? Are my sections supporting each other? Do the modulations make sense?

Now I've identified the flaws in the first draft. Time for the other tools - the thesaurus, or the rhyming dictionary, or whatever. How else can I say this to make better transitions? And here I'll use a combination of theory and creativity. I've identified a weak sentence, and found the key word I think should be changed. The thesaurus may suggest a word, and that triggers a chain of thought that leads me to something entirely different from Roget's suggestions. In composition, I identify a weak phrase, and work out variations using inversion, retrograde, diminution, augmentation, melodic inflection, etc - the same sort of laundry list a thesaurus might provide. I might use one of those suggestions directly... or the idea may lead me to other things.

The third stage is polishing it all up. In writing, I may be using a style guide. In music, I might be referencing works on orchestration to make sure I'm staying within proper ranges, or avoiding awkward trills and such. I might be labeling intervals and thinking about what Fux wrote, or I might be mapping chords against the circle of fifths to see geometric relationships.

The more you learn about structure, in any language, the more you can do with it. That doesn't mean you HAVE to do it. It simply means you're aware of the paths worn by those who came before you. You can walk them or avoid them. It's like taking a hike with a map - you don't have to stay on the trail, but knowing a bit about the terrain can certainly shorten your journey.

So I use theory quite a bit, but not all the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me put it this way: Theory is a collection of abstractions. That's all about it. Theory explains what the ear already knows. When the dominant seventh chord was used for the first time, noone had any theoretical tools and documentations about it. If you are spending your life inside the theoretical box, you are not artistically free.

What theory gives me is understanding developed like putting a puzzle together, since I look for what is beyond rules and style - the universal principles of perception. That's all that really matters.

Now I'm starting to use theory tools: first, analysis. How does what I've done hold together? If I'm writing a lesson for a magazine, I'm referring back to the outline I gave the editor, and I'm looking for any gaps - things I thought I would cover, but I didn't address well enough. In music, I'm looking at the broad form - how does it hang together? Are my sections supporting each other? Do the modulations make sense?

But you might want your modulations to not make sense and deliver a kind of separating and striking effect. In this regard they would be fine, since they would fulfill your desire.

Even though I am not very much into jazz, I like what the great jazzers say: "If it sounds OK, then it's OK".

So I mostly pay attention to the inspiration, I try to aurally imagine things very well. And if I like them and find them fitting together, then they are fine and there is no reason to not write them down the way they are. And if something sounds OK, but doesn't seem to fit very well theoretically, then it is either beyond the style that the theory in question explains or there is this thing (mostly on a larger scale) that sometimes analysis deviates away from perception for it's own cerebral sake - that is, it pays attention to things which aren't that important for the ear, but since what is going on on aural level is what really matters, I might decide to ignore this.

And then one might decide to use their theoretical background as a playground with pointers from which to develop ideas: "Hmmm, I am not sure what I really want, but I want this or that kind of sound, which I can achieve by using this or that, so let's play around with it for a while".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like what the great jazzers say: "If it sounds OK, then it's OK".

So I mostly pay attention to the inspiration, I try to aurally imagine things very well. And if I like them and find them fitting together, then they are fine and there is no reason to not write them down the way they are.

Of course. Just as when you write in English, you don't grab a thesaurus and check every word to see if it's the best one possible. Theory is an aid to improving the weak spots. The more theory you know, the more entries there are in that thesaurus, should you need them. Theory never tells you what to do; it only suggests likely possibilities. They shouldn't be followed blindly.

I also teach jazz improvisation, and one thing I tell my students is how to deal with 'mistakes'. If you play a sound that you didn't expect, you should repeat it - a single clam sounds like an error, but if you do it more than once you're telling the audience it's deliberate (and as a bonus, you've bought yourself some time to figure out how to make it part of the tapestry of the tune).

The same thing can be done on a large scale in composition - if I want that jarring modulation, it might make sense to do it again. It would definitely make sense to take apart the change I used and understand what I did. If I went to the #V of the previous chord, I might look at the circle of fifths and find I can make a geometric shape - the "Coletrane changes". I may play with that and decide it's more effective to leave the jarring modulation alone as a single event. When I make that choice, I've still used theory, even though it had no part in creating the chord change: I've considered alternatives, and chosen what I believe is the best course for the piece.

Good music, like good writing, gives the listener the impression that it sprang into being fully formed. We have a romantic image of composers scribbling out complete works that need no editing. But that sort of inspiration is incredibly rare - and for some reason it is even rarer in composers who rely on inspiration alone. Great art is most often found at the intersection of inspiration and perspiration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eh, not that much. First of all, I put parallel 5ths and octaves all over the place, I don't use traditional harmony, I have large amounts of tritones, and really don't think about traditional orchestration that much. But still, I do think about it sometimes.... If something doesn't sound right and/or I'm stuck, it can help me a bit.

Heklaphone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, sometimes you just know where to head, so music theory as it is stays aside a bit. However, it's always IN there, wether you think about it or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one fine composer tell me this once:

Using theory is like putting the cart in front of the horse. That is, theory is a collection of patterns caused by music throughout history. These hard and fast "rules" that we have in theory create music of a particular style.

I mean, classical and baroque music follows the rules we teach (no parallel fifths, V goes to I, etc). Romanticism has its own set of rules (by mixture, parallel major/minor keys are the same, avoid V to I and replace it with ii(half diminished 6/5) to I, etc). Even post-tonal music has its own rules, hammered out in the later 20th Century by the composer Milton Babbitt.

That being said, theory can be a useful resource when trying to create a particular type of music. I have a tendency to still resolve dissonances "properly" when approaching anything post-tonal. I still feel using theory to write music can be rewarding, but only at the composer's discretion. And when you do so, ask yourself, why am I doing this here? What will it sound like if I do this here? etc.

In short, theory is a useful tool to create certain styles of music. It is something to know, but not be bound by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even post-tonal music has its own rules, hammered out in the later 20th Century by the composer Milton Babbitt.

You mean to tell me "post-tonal" is some kind of style? Isn't it like calling "animals" a type of animal?

Understanding tendencies is one thing, calling things rules is something else. A tendency is what you observe from other composers, a rule is what you can follow when you write. If you understand tendencies, you can make your own specific rules if you want to emulate things and that's all there is to it.

Where did you get that Babbitt figured out any kind of "rules" anyway?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one fine composer tell me this once:

Using theory is like putting the cart in front of the horse. That is, theory is a collection of patterns caused by music throughout history. These hard and fast "rules" that we have in theory create music of a particular style.

I mean, classical and baroque music follows the rules we teach (no parallel fifths, V goes to I, etc). Romanticism has its own set of rules (by mixture, parallel major/minor keys are the same, avoid V to I and replace it with ii(half diminished 6/5) to I, etc). Even post-tonal music has its own rules, hammered out in the later 20th Century by the composer Milton Babbitt.

That being said, theory can be a useful resource when trying to create a particular type of music. I have a tendency to still resolve dissonances "properly" when approaching anything post-tonal. I still feel using theory to write music can be rewarding, but only at the composer's discretion. And when you do so, ask yourself, why am I doing this here? What will it sound like if I do this here? etc.

In short, theory is a useful tool to create certain styles of music. It is something to know, but not be bound by.

I strongly disagree...

The theory I study has no rules whatsoever. I study the why behind it all. I also document what sort of moods can be created using diffrent scales, tunings, rythyms, meter, orchestrations, etc, and finally, I study the GUIDELINES behind creating independence of line in both counterpoint and voice leading.

I am fairly un-interested in learing the specific harmonic "rules" that define the typical style of the classical period. Although, generally speaking, they are interesting to know as far as learning how differing tonal languages developed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, that is what I am trying to say.

Tonal theory is a collection of guidelines to write music in a certain way. That is, if you want a specific sound "A," you employ methods "A." And once again, Tonal Theory is one approach to human expression through the medium of sound. It can be used as often or as little as you want; that is at the discretion of the composer.

As far as "post-tonal," I apologize for my poor nomenclature. I meant the movement of art music from the 20th Century, known as "Atonal," although I have discovered it has a variety of names. And Milton Babbitt didn't do it. I meant Allen Forte. That was my bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I had one fine composer tell me this once:

"Using theory is like putting the cart in front of the horse. That is, theory is a collection of patterns caused by music throughout history. These hard and fast "rules" that we have in theory create music of a particular style."

Whoever started this "hard and fast rules" crap relating to music theory is on my hit list. I'm so tired of hearing it being conveyed this way. So, I'll just add that there are no hard and fast rules in music. If you want to evoke a mood in the listener that a particular stylistic pattern happens to help with, then theory is immensely useful. This "putting the cart in front of the horse" business is such a massive over-generalization of what we do when we use theory to aid us in pulling something off in our music. Theory can be part of the compositional process, and there's NOTHING wrong with that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I had one fine composer tell me this once:

"Using theory is like putting the cart in front of the horse. That is, theory is a collection of patterns caused by music throughout history. These hard and fast "rules" that we have in theory create music of a particular style."

Whoever started this "hard and fast rules" crap relating to music theory is on my hit list. I'm so tired of hearing it being conveyed this way. So, I'll just add that there are no hard and fast rules in music. If you want to evoke a mood in the listener that a particular stylistic pattern happens to help with, then theory is immensely useful. This "putting the cart in front of the horse" business is such a massive over-generalization of what we do when we use theory to aid us in pulling something off in our music. Theory can be part of the compositional process, and there's NOTHING wrong with that.

He said "particular style", not music in general. So if you don't want him generalizing, how about start by NOT doing that?

More to the point: I agree that theory is essential to composition but not creativity. Music theory flies under the "technical" category of composition skills. Things such as how to write an augmented 6th chord and its functions, or how to write a good melody with shape. These are technical things. It is the creativity that takes those technical models and makes them something new. So all this BS about "there are no rules" is patently untrue. The composers take the pre-existing rules and alter them for their own use. Schoenberg did it in his atonal music, taking the extreme emotional content of the late romantics and taking the already existing chromaticism so far that a tonal center was no longer existent. To use an earlier example, Bach and his Baroque friends use the counterpoint principles of the renaissance but applied them in a new harmonic context. The classical composers took this harmonic context further etc. Nothing was ever genuinely "new" if we think about music as a constant evolution from what came before. As such, music theory has evolved too. Today we have musical theory for all types of styles, all with their own rules and tendencies. The composers had a style that developed from before. Did they think of them as "rules"? Certainly not! It was the musicologists and theorists who later codified common traits between common-period composers as "rules" for a particlar style. But we, as composers, never think of them as such, lest we become like those of ages past. But it is not wrong to use the rules of the old days and fit them into the composer's own creative framework. That's why "tendencies" such as avoiding parallel 5ths and Fux's counterpoint are still relevant today. We still use the same tonal functions of V - I as folks did hundreds of years ago, perhaps in more flavors, but its there all the same. We've altered the original stuff but the original stuff is not superseded by our supposed "better" music than their's was. That's why Beethoven is still the most played composer in concert halls today, because none of us modern geezers can make anything better than he did. Get writing! Make something creative! Make some music!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing about rules is simply that you can't write everything, ever, in every piece. You have to decide what to leave out, what to include, etc, and doing this creates a "ruleset" that you're playing by. Regardless of what the music is like.

You can borrow rulesets from other composers, too. This is what I referred earlier to with observation.

There are no real predefined theoretical rules, but you eventually need to decide what you want to do with your music and this means that you'll create your own ruleset around what you want to do. If your idea is to make a solo cello piece part of your ruleset is that you can't add a tuba, for example. Or, on the other hand, if you're intending to write using modality, part of your ruleset is to avoid more modern V-I relationships, certain uses of the leading note, etc. These are ways for you to get that "sound," and you're voluntarily leaving things out to include those in.

Or, you can be wild and include everything at the same time, but that in itself is also then part of a ruleset (include everything being the rule.)

This should be more than obvious by this point, honestly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[begin Semantic Rant]

  • a principle or condition that customarily governs behavior; "it was his rule to take a walk before breakfast"; "short haircuts were the regulation"
  • convention: something regarded as a normative example; "the convention of not naming the main character"; "violence is the rule not the exception"; "his formula for impressing visitors"
  • prescribed guide for conduct or action
  • (linguistics) a rule describing (or prescribing) a linguistic practice
  • principle: a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct; "their principles of composition characterized all their works"
  • govern: exercise authority over; as of nations; "Who is governing the country now?"
  • the duration of a monarch's or government's power; "during the rule of Elizabeth"
  • decide with authority; "The King decreed that all firstborn males should be killed"
  • dominion: dominance or power through legal authority; "France held undisputed dominion over vast areas of Africa"; "the rule of Caesar"
  • predominate: be larger in number, quantity, power, status or importance; "Money reigns supreme here"; "Hispanics predominate in this neighborhood"
  • directions that define the way a game or sport is to be conducted; "he knew the rules of chess"
  • decide on and make a declaration about; "find someone guilty"
  • any one of a systematic body of regulations defining the way of life of members of a religious order; "the rule of St. Dominic"
  • have an affinity with; of signs of the zodiac
  • principle: a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system; "the principle of the conservation of mass"; "the principle of jet propulsion"; "the right-hand rule for inductive fields"

Here are a number of different definitions of rule. Take your pick. In music, we can say a rule applies globally to most styles, or we can say a rule governs the "correctness" or "accuracy" of a particular style. Either way, it's hardly the case that these are actually "rules" at all. Most of the concepts we talk about in theory are merely "expectations" that come about from those who listen to music of a particular style or group of styles.
Perhaps it's more semantic than anything else, but for me, thinking in terms of "rules" or "guidelines", even in regards to theoretic discourse, is a fallacious approach. It's like saying, "These things must be done to create music that sounds like X, Y, or Z," which may or may not be the case at all. Instead, I would hope those of us actually participating in the discussion at this point could apply a little more critical thought about it.
Just because the expectation is there doesn't necessarily mean the style is concretely formed. What made many works stand out was their departure from or the delaying of those expectations, not the strict adherence to them. But rules and expectations are not one in the same. Rules are conditions that must be true of all works within a style for those works to be considered stylistically connected. Expectations are...
  • belief about (or mental picture of) the future
  • anticipation: anticipating with confidence of fulfillment
  • the feeling that something is about to happen

[/End Semantic rant.]

Any questions??

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because the expectation is there doesn't necessarily mean the style is concretely formed. What made many works stand out was their departure from or the delaying of those expectations, not the strict adherence to them. But rules and expectations are not one in the same. Rules are conditions that must be true of all works within a style for those works to be considered stylistically connected. Expectations are...

the only thing is that rules and conditions do not preceed the music! there's no style before the work, in its time of creation, so what (set of) rules and conditions amounts to is only second hand historicism and an icing on the fires of hell. which means, you can't be necessarilly right to grasp the style through the rules - the rule is an afterthought, the conceptualized body or point or part of a body, the philosophy and the theory then, which by no means indicates it is true or right in the matter of the things. there's no rule for creating the rule (in the making) of music or arts in general. you can have, of course, certain conceptual or philosophical/psychological/physiological seizing of it (the rule in art), but this will always be a different thing, and to differentiate between styles in academic sense is just to be good among peers in folding certain musical thoughts into conceptual drawers.

so, rules and conditions must be true of all works that fall into predetermined style of music (academics of concept), but not true of all musical works, that most probably are more alive and steaming.

fint?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the only thing is that rules and conditions do not preceed the music! 

Expectations do, and very often did throughout history. The expectation to hear a dominant resolve to a tonic preceded many works that were thereafter written. This is why I feel it more appropriate to point out that expectations were more the heart of the issue than the rules that later followed in the development of theoretical discourse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Expectations do, and very often did throughout history. The expectation to hear a dominant resolve to a tonic preceded many works that were thereafter written. This is why I feel it more appropriate to point out that expectations were more the heart of the issue than the rules that later followed in the development of theoretical discourse.

well, only as a matter of a learned music, you, as a behaviorist, should know this better. the intuitive side of expectation is, what? natural order of things aural? we don't get nowhere with this line only to eternal chickenegg thing, which is trivial and logically uninformative. expectation may have any content it will. and that it has this and that is a matter of certain praxis and, so, a mafia of rulers. therein comes in francis bacon and says in a book of deleuze - when i paint i try to forget all the rules, expectations, all ideas that come as hitorical baggage, then paint, unbinding the rules, making violent flowers grow and bloom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, only as a matter of a learned music, you, as a behaviorist, should know this better. the intuitive side of expectation is, what? natural order of things aural? we don't get nowhere with this line only to eternal chickenegg thing, which is trivial and logically uninformative. expectation may have any content it will. and that it has this and that is a matter of certain praxis and, so, a mafia of rulers. therein comes in francis bacon and says in a book of deleuze - when i paint i try to forget all the rules, expectations, all ideas that come as hitorical baggage, then paint, unbinding the rules, making violent flowers grow and bloom.

Painting is not necessarily a collaborative effort, but I can see the point. Sure, it's trivial, as most paradox's often can be. Music theory is trivial. Music ITSELF is trivial. We're already IN the realm of triviality, so why do you make it a point at all? This whole mindset of yours (and of Deleuze?) only seems to superficially alter the significance of art, which is fine if the purpose is to fulfill some sense of worth and value in what we do.

Though, when I speak of theoretical "use" in composing music, I'm not speaking in the sense of fulfillment of that sense. I'm speaking of the external understanding of social trends in general, which undoubtedly had and still has an effect on art today as trending did hundreds of years ago.

What is the sense of ignoring and isolating ourselves from that, other than to find one's inner sense of worth and value as an artist? We can live our lives isolated from the rest of the world, or we can be a part of the external world, understand it, comment on it, potentially effect change within it. We cannot do the latter when we perpetually insist upon doing the former, writing off the external conditions as trivial when all of it, the external world and the internalized sense of "worth and value," is trivial.

After all, we would not seek such things if conditions of "worth and value" had no implications on the continuation of our interests and pursuits, but how often do we find ourselves defending our interests only for the sake of proving our internal and/or external worth and/or value? This whole charade of "concrete abstinence" from the paradox of social expectations has played itself out before, in many forms and in the development of many different genres of music, and maybe it has changed things "trivially" but has most certainly not changed anything beyond its own self-serving ends.

I don't even care about "solving" this paradox, either. I would much rather see an end to the conditions in which the paradox manifests, so my attention to the expectations serves more to inform me than decide for me. I can't say this for every artist out there, but I simply don't have time to waste on trying to superficially enhance my inner self-worth as an artist. There are so many other things that demand my attention.

EDIT: I should add that this is beginning to drift further away from the discussion, Pliorius. If we need to continue this, we can do so by PM or in another thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

why did you drift it into social sphere, again? you must understand you have your own obsession with treating any (artistic) act as social phenomena, which is human, all too human, but, at the same time, really dodges the question i tried to slip in.

again, you must presupose the reality of natural order to say things like rules preexist works of art.

i, on my side (hence i cite bacon, i could cite dozen of other great artists, that don't think in the context you want us to think to fall into this social/individual dualism trap), think there's no natural order to be taken as real, only certain simulations that pan out and inscribe situations (evolution, if you wish) on the virgin noisy substrata of atoms, or whatver else one has. this is a given, we are born into that. but none of us is born into thinking that situation is all there is. at some point it's inevitable (to someone) that due to some event one will have to choose to do something else than is prescribed by a situation, for example terminate (or put it to test) love affair with simulation of tonality, or common sense harmony. this is where creation starts. it has nothing to do with social/individual and other forms of stigmatisized rule, law or order. it has only to do with subjects (who are already social in the broadest sense, since they take an event to organize themselves, not a given such as birth) and infinity. here is the question of localising infinity, stretching and deciding the points, making a new body which is always at the cost of supposed stability of the situation, or conservation. of course, we see a doubled sense in we which we can say society here. and it's alright, this is one thing at least, one could learn from dialectics of XX century, the inevitable split in the terms, i.e. concept and formation of concept in one term, i.e. social, society in this case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

why did you drift it into social sphere, again? you must understand you have your own obsession with treating any (artistic) act as social phenomena, which is human, all too human, but, at the same time, really dodges the question i tried to slip in.

again, you must presupose the reality of natural order to say things like rules preexist works of art.

Problem being, I'm not saying anything of the sort. Rules and expectations are not the same thing in my view. Your last statement construes my position to be that rules precede works of art - a strawman. So, please take the time to review my thoughts on this topic before replying further.

i, on my side (hence i cite bacon, i could cite dozen of other great artists, that don't think in the context you want us to think to fall into this social/individual dualism trap), think there's no natural order to be taken as real, only certain simulations that pan out and inscribe situations (evolution, if you wish) on the virgin noisy substrata of atoms, or whatver else one has. this is a given, we are born into that. but none of us is born into thinking that situation is all there is. at some point it's inevitable (to someone) that due to some event one will have to choose to do something else than is prescribed by a situation, for example terminate (or put it to test) love affair with simulation of tonality, or common sense harmony. this is where creation starts. it has nothing to do with social/individual and other forms of stigmatisized rule, law or order. it has only to do with subjects (who are already social in the broadest sense, since they take an event to organize themselves, not a given such as birth) and infinity. here is the question of localising infinity, stretching and deciding the points, making a new body which is always at the cost of supposed stability of the situation, or conservation. of course, we see a doubled sense in we which we can say society here. and it's alright, this is one thing at least, one could learn from dialectics of XX century, the inevitable split in the terms, i.e. concept and formation of concept in one term, i.e. social, society in this case.

I refer you to the paradox of systemic complexity, wherein the more complex the system grows to become, the more perpetual complexity is needed to sustain it. Here, you're taking the simulation of evolutionary change, adding conceptual notions of choice/decision-making, assessing creativity conceptually from this, attempting to rule out social factors in favor of subjects, applying rules/boundaries upon which choices are based during the assessment/analysis of the work by the theorist, and so forth. The complexity grows ever so much upon itself that by the time we reach the conclusion you hope we do, the convoluted array of concepts and assumptions pollutes the ever-simpler understanding that the environment (though conditionally different among various periods throughout history) hasn't really changed conceptually at all. The same dynamic plays itself out today as it did then, we simply have a broader grouping of sub-cultures each approaching contemporary music with different expectations. If you can point to any examples with your grossly-overly-complex analysis that tend to prove your point at all, then perhaps we have something to discuss. Until then...

... if I submit a work to several different sub-cultures within the world of music today, say three of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States (New York City in the east, Chicago in the middle, and L.A. on the west coast), each sub-culture will tend to listen with their own preconceived/indoctrinated assumptions of what that work -should- sound like today as a "contemporary" work of music.

These assumptions are better referred to as expectations, by and large. They are not "rules" for there are no "rules" in music, there never have been. All these statements of concrete methodology in music have ever been, that are often mistaken for "rules" in theoretical discourse, are methods in which to achieve, delay, or avoid expectations among various styles of music. This doesn't really require us to assume a "necessity of" these expectations in music that we compose, however it can prove very useful to know when these expectations exist and perhaps do something in reaction to that awareness.

The reaction to that awareness is the creativity of which I believe you should be addressing. From Josquin Des Pres to Karlheinz Stockhausen and hundreds of composers before, in between, and after them, many of these composers have been acutely aware of the expectations that exist within their era of artistic expression at one point or another in their careers... and have reacted accordingly, rather, have drawn upon their creativity to react to those expectations - in some cases embracing them, while in others defying them. By all means, if your complex system of evaluation can account for this without perpetuating further complexities to account for every exception, I'm all eyes and ears.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i don't think i get anything of what you are saying. system complexity? where that came from? nothing i have said is complex, it just requires additional axiom (of choice) to naturalist view you defend.

i do not like reductionist tactics, nor intentions, i'm aware of simplicity that is usually chosen against complexity. ockham razor. but nothing of that presupposes, that dynamical system view is correct. there's still huge debates of wheather we are intentional creatures or simply registering changes in dynamic of environment. it is not yet decided. so, i fairly agree that you CHOSE to accept this late heir to behaviourism and think in its terms. i chose something else. in my book, this is what subjectivity is about. and i can account for differences of the worlds subjects inhabit, by simply postulating that they choose, even though i would largely tend to deviate from theorems of folk psychology. so, what you call composers dealing with expectations, i cal a fluke. i, for my part, don't excpect anything when creating, only to have done something that gives me pleasure of adventure (this of course, can be interpreted as playing with expectations, but since it will have necessarily been unconscious in my case, we lose any rational argument, as to where one stands in relation to environment, and if what one does is what dynamic system theory says one does, i may think to myself that all i'm doing is testing my math in a sound). this has nothing to do with an environmental dynamics in a strict expect/react/produce sense that connectionist or dynamical account postulates as the only game in town.

so, you can conclude that i'm retarded, in illusion and so on in regards to dynamical system theory.

i have no problem with it.

the only bizz is that the view you assume as having explanatory power works only in a system you assume as correct on the give and go. and this (look at the debates it produces in cognitive science/philosophy of mind field), is rather more complex than any axiomatic system of more generic ontology. the tricky point is that trimming of conceptual system is not necessarily as succesful in brain studies as in more exact physical studies. there you have an expectation 'since it worked (there), that it will work (here)' - and it is not so obvious that your expetation is yielding correct results, besides the fact that here is one more interpretation in town of such a large phenomena as intentional systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so, what you call composers dealing with expectations, i cal a fluke.

A fluke? Tell me, if it's a fluke that ONE of Mozart's, or Beethoven's, or Haydn's works happened to please an audience (as though it was haphazard and completely unexpected, which is what I gather from this line of thinking you're proposing), how is it that many OTHER works of these and many other composers happened to please audiences while employing similar methods of manipulating expectations? Was every instance of such manipulation a fluke? EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE?

Should we cater to expectation? Not necessarily. Should we be aware and educated about expectations in the broader sense that these exist and we, as informed musicians/composers should be prepared? Without a doubt, it's better to know these exist and have a choice to work within them or against them than to blindly create on some whim that our art will somehow "find meaning" to those who listen. It may happen, but it's quite observable in the repertoire and the pedagogy of music that our predecessors knew about, understood, and created around these expectations up to and even during the 20th Century. Sure, the gamut of musical styles and the origination of new genres notwithstanding, it all comes down to the choice of expressing ourselves in a vacuum or choosing to acknowledge the social forces that exist and working within those forces.

To say those we've studied did otherwise is categorically unfounded and ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A fluke? Tell me, if it's a fluke that ONE of Mozart's, or Beethoven's, or Haydn's works happened to please an audience (as though it was haphazard and completely unexpected, which is what I gather from this line of thinking you're proposing), how is it that many OTHER works of these and many other composers happened to please audiences while employing similar methods of manipulating expectations? Was every instance of such manipulation a fluke? EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE? the fact that people expect something from composers they know does not imply the contrary to be true i.e. that composers expect audiences to like their works ON THE BASIS of this being their primal motive, i stand on idea that what they create has much more interesting motives than dealing with what some will like or accept. no need to shout just because you seem to believe that expectations play most important role in composers' motives, by the way, how a behaviourist would explain such intentional states as 'expecting' to be in concordance with overall reductionism of dynamic system thoery?

Should we cater to expectation? Not necessarily. Should we be aware and educated about expectations in the broader sense that these exist and we, as informed musicians/composers should be prepared? Without a doubt (should? without a doubbt? common, yes we should!!!!), it's better to know these exist and have a choice to work within them or against them than to blindly (so, if one is not aware of expectations, one is blind? isn't that a stretch?)create on some whim (why whim? on belief that other things are true, than, say, meeting expectations, and there are tons of these things, you, sociologist) that our art will somehow "find meaning" (meaning? what meaning? for whom? for artist? for listener?what listener? the meaning of what? of sound sequences? and, last but not the least, why meaning?) to those who listen. It may happen, but it's quite observable in the repertoire and the pedagogy of music that our predecessors knew about, understood, and created around these expectations up to and even during the 20th Century (that is what i call, argument at historical causation, which has no more grounds than its reverse might imply, say, artists such that had little or no care meeting expectations as their primary motive (which of course, will be viewed in perspective as dealing with expectations and what not, since we are necessarily born into situation with its structure and superstructure - that is a language of it, but there is not One language, there is not One order of things, there is not One situation, and that makes any language and any situation changeable, which is rather living a desire, than meeting/exceeding expectations) read what they say, not what pedagogues say, and you have a different picture - or not so one sided, as you want to make it). Sure, the gamut of musical styles and the origination of new genres notwithstanding, it all comes down to the choice of expressing ourselves in a vacuum (vaccum? what do you mean? that giving no scraggy about how one is recieved, means living in a vacuum?there is no other society, but only the one, whose language is that of thinking and evolving 'round expectations? blah, and out the window your poetics of social relation based on sameness) or choosing to acknowledge the social forces that exist and working within those forces (when 'social forces' that exist will be explained in rigorous manner and will be beyond doubt and not negative, say as a principle of mass hysteria or extasy, then the existence of them may be thought as decisive, since they are not, and only form a statistical superstructure of a situation, one has no need to choose between social force and vacuum (vacuum? get the hell out of here!lol.)

To say those we've studied did otherwise is categorically unfounded and ridiculous (is not ridiculous since your argument at studying something does not imply the correctness of what you study, here you may be very well accepted by your peers and tapped on your shoulder, and it's alright, it's a practice of doing things and been for ages, BUT it's not the only practice, and an alternative is no some vacuum, it just takes more guts and risk to see/live that) .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...