Jump to content

Is Music So Bad Now?


Recommended Posts

Well...

I can't post in the other thread, but I might as well try my take on this thing... Considering that I compose 'music now' and this music is not exactly 'nice sounding' I can hope that I won't get insulted and thrown to the dumbster!

Yes, there's a lot of music that's bad out there! There has always been! The difference with back then and now is that:

a. You weren't there back then to hear all the rubbish that did NOT survive time.

and

b. With todays tools you hear SO MUCH MORE music so you're bound to hit some ugly stuff.

That said I will agree that contemporary music has taken a road which sometimes seems autistic! Partly because of academia, partly because avant garde (which is there to promote an idea rather than and partly because of the composers...

Take for example the 4th of Feb locked thread! So many young composers in here and not a single person decided to reply to the (aggressive and sightly insulting I'll agree) question by the OP. Nobody decided to bother... Because it IS plain obvious that the music YOU hear has as much to do with YOU as it has to do with the MUSIC!

Problem is that if we, the composers, don't do something to change the way that YOU perceive music, then we are doomed to be left behind somehow... And we won't know who to blame exactly! And, yes, I'm in love with what I do and I'm eager to grasp as much audience as possible, without this meaning that I would 'reduce' my art to the level of Biebier! I'm very eager to promote my music, to show my music, to shed a light to my music, to respect my music, and to think that it's great music! To offer it to people and to sell it! To see it getting performed!

___________________________________

That said it's a great generalization to say that the last 75 years music is very very bad... There are some excellent examples of well written and magnificent all round music...

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 124
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Oh come on... get real you guys (and gals...). This IS an interesting thread, only that it never came to a conclusion due to silly bickering amongst members... So... a conclusion perhaps, if I may (

(thanks for the intelligent discussion) About the audience: When it comes to the serialist and post-serialism compositions, it can be argued that the music strips the aural sensation that comes wit

This is not bad to say, but don't you feel just a little bit satisfied if somebody likes your music? ;)

I never had a chance to reply to the thread as well as I was taking my time formulating a response.

First of all, there is a lot of very bad music in society, and it's not just classical music. People find distasteful music in Pop, Rock, Alternative and many of the beiber-esque billbaord scene as well. This is not a new phenomena, like Nikolas points out, people have access to much more music today, and furthermore, more people than ever are able to use tools (such as pro-tools, cubase, fruitly loops) etc to easily write music. When everyone can do it, bad music will be a side effect.

Secondly, the problem with the distate of new music like avante garde and Modernist music does not solely lie on the composers shoulders. In part, it lies with the ignorance of the listeners. This isn't to say that the listener is stupid, but rather they don't want to give new music any time of day. They would rather listen to Bieber and Maroon 5, dance to the beat and get on with there life. This is the same the classical music audience who would rather listen to Beethoven and Brahms and never explore further. If we could educate the audience to listen to newer musics, perception would change. We have seen this in history. Think of the premiere of "Le Sacre du Printempts" by Stravinsky. This was a travesty when it first came out; slowly, however, people have acclamated themselves into admiring and listening to this type of music.

Popular music is much more simple than it was 50-80 years ago. Music by Sinatra and others in that time period are much more interesting harmonically and melodically than today's Bieber's and Nickelback. What people want is simple, and they have this mindset that if it doesn't sound pretty than it must be awful and not worth the attention. I believe that if we could get people to listen to more modern music, even if it was 3 songs per day for a couple of months, their brains would begin to understand the changes and what's going on more than what they hear now. After all, how many people here , when you just began listening to classical music, could sit through four hours of Beethoven and Mozart without falling asleep or getting bored? Now, of course you can listen to it all day and be fine. If we could get more people to listen to "New Music" for a longer period of time, more people would learn to enjoy it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is today's music bad? Yes and no. Today's pop music, as in the music that you can find on the Billboard charts, tends to be less complex than that of the recent past in relation to traditional counterpoint, literary quality, and harmony/melody (compare today's pop to the jazz standards of the 20s to 60s or the classic rock scene of the 80s for some proof). However, that doesn't make new pop music bad. Bad is a judgement call. A piece can be good simply by virtue of its ability to make you want to move or dance. And something else to keep in mind is the tech that goes into today's music. Sounds are manipulated with computers in ways that could not have been done previously. I can't stand some of it (dear auto-tune, please die except when being used for satirical or ironic purposes), but the new methods in computerized sound manipulation give today's pop music a unique sound, and may even become the focal point of a new piece, especially when the other musical aspects are watered down.

In the realm of so-called "serious" music, or music that people learn to write by studying "classical composers" or "concert works" (poor jazzers, self-taught composers, folk music performers/writers, etc., that live in the world between pop and academic circles), there is also no specific answer. Is the new music bad? Some is, some isn't. The idea of a composer as one who goes to school to study composition is really faltering, largely because of back-assward curriculums and the distance that academicians like to create between their work and the stuff that people tend to pay more to hear. And there's the fact that school's do not often prep you with the tech aspects prominent in today's world of composition (how many comp schools require that their students take a class on a music notation program or learn how to work proficiently and efficiently with a DAW?). I had a masterclass with composer Frederic Rzewski yesterday, and he felt that, much like the painter, the composer is a dying breed and perhaps not so relevant, at least in a traditional sense, to today's society. Whose duty is it to revise academia and perhaps make it more inclusive and well-rounded for today's world? Should the academic beast be left to collapse under its own weight? I feel more and more that a composition degree is pointless (consistent one-on-one lessons with composers and self-study would be just as, if not more, useful, as long as you still had a community of musicians, especially performers, to interact with). What is the role of today's composer? Should music literacy be a requirement from a young age? Where does the music of non-western cultures fit in? Why don't we learn more about rhythm? Do the curriculums of today stifle musical creativity? Just some things I've been thinking about recently.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think music is so bad now, compared to the past. Throw the idea of musical aesthetics to the side for one second while you read what I have written...

I think the most important goal of a composer should be to express his/her ideas through music. This can of course take many shapes and forms, but I'd say that the worst kind of music to listen to is "sterilized" music. There's been sterilized music in all ages and all times (even including Bieber, Gaga into that); you just don't hear much of it from earlier time periods because that music has not withstood the test of time. Of all the music history that I've learned (both in school and by individual research), it seems like there was a shift in musical academies and universities trending towards newer aesthetics, which is fine, but it was seemingly coupled with a trend towards sterility. Perhaps it is because of the excessive post-modernism of a lot of schools that student-composed music since then seems "sterile" in a way. Maybe the idea of sterility is becoming more accepted as society itself becomes more sterile? Rhetorical questions there. I mean, a lot of the music that I'd call sterile is still very interesting and interesting to listen to, but I don't feel like it is worth anything more than the music itself, if that makes sense. That doesn't mean that I dislike listening to it, of course. I'm just saying that it does not hold a special weight to me after/while I'm listening to it.

I enjoy listening to quite a few 20th century composers, but I also dislike listening to many 20th century composers. Honestly, I'm turned off by the idea of avant-garde music or bombastic music for the sake of being bombastic. What's the point of Ferneyhough? What is he trying to express in his music? Perhaps I'm too young to understand it. Yet, at the same time, what Schoenberg, Bartok, and Berg have written are all quite beautiful and I truly appreciate their musical voices. I will listen to Schoenberg or Bartok or even Xenakis for enjoyment. But take Cage for example (perhaps its too incendiary of an example), I think his 4 minutes 33 seconds is wonderful, but I really don't like listening to his sonatas other than for the interest of something different. Again, that might be because I'm too young to understand his actual musical ideas.

The vast vast majority of 20th century/recent works are great to listen to, but I think academia sometimes latches on to the idea of "sounding new/sounding different" too much and disregards the actual MUSICAL content of the work. And so, they might champion works (such as Cage's sonatas) as masterful, even though they might lack musicality (at least in my opinion). My teacher is a recent composer and he does not feel the need to write avant garde music; most of his music is tonal actually, but tonal in the 21st century sense. He's had stuff performed by the NY Phil, Berlin, etc., and he's very happy with what he writes.

That's my opinion on things.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly (on all three posts)!

It's quite important to understand what composers are actually doing TODAY (composers of 'serious' music, hehe...). they are no longer working on completely distasteful works of avant garde but work on beautiful works that can be heard today as much as 50 years ago!

This is a side problem to copyrights: The publishers are holding a closed clutch on copyrights (that were recently extended in the US from 50 years after the death of the composer to 70... Which also took in Stravinsky's older works and Prokofiev...). Now it appears that the rental of parts for good old Prokofiev will go sky high! And this will exclude his works from the concert halls and the student halls (up to a point anyway). This also means that a composer studying today is rather unaware of what's going on outside his/her school and in the world in general. They are so happy to hear some Ligeti Piano Etudes and think they are 'So today' even if they were written some 30 years ago... :-/

The point remains that if the composers do not do something about this, nobody else will... The publishers will happily wait another 70 years for you to die and they can take control of your music and take advantage of your death (Schnittke anyone? Though I'm not sure the publisher had something to do with his rise in fame right before his death universally... )

EDIT: Oh... and thanks for a civil thread! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I pretty much agree with what everyone's said so far. The sentiment of "they just don't make [insert some art form, i.e. music, here] like they used to" is not at all new to our generation. In any form of art, works are gradually filtered out over time, giving the illusion that artists of older generations created more consistently "good" works than those of the present generation. Nevertheless, there are certain societal differences between the world today and the world of a century or two ago, which are very interesting to discuss.

Black Orpheus, in my experience of musical academia, it actually seems like the gulf between popular music and music being composed in universities is getting smaller (which, in my opinion, is a good thing; each can learn valuable things from the other). Perhaps my university is a bit of an exception; I don't know. We are currently looking to hire a new composition faculty member, and one of the topics that candidates had to present on as part of the selection process was something like "discuss the integration of a style of classical/academic music with a style typically considered outside the realm of classical/academic music". Also, as it happens, we DO actually require composition majors to take classes in electronic composition; again, perhaps this is unusual for music curricula today.

Ananth, I really liked your comment about "sterile" music. I would add to it that I think, in some ways, composers like Cage are almost more like philosophers than musicians. Rather than trying to create an aesthetic work of art, they aim to challenge ideas we take for granted about the nature of music and of the arts in general. This is certainly a worthy goal, but I agree with you that, when academia becomes too obsessed with these works as "modern music masterpieces", it's rather misleading, as the merit of such works is so drastically different from the merit of the works of Beethoven, Brahms, etc. I think we need to expand our language for describing these more philosophical and less aesthetic works, rather just calling everything we study in school "great art".

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it could probably be said that we are living, if not in a golden age of composition, then certainly a very good one. For a start, there seems to be a wider range of concert music being written and performed than at any other time. Obviously we have all the great works of the past, and many unknown ones which are being re-discovered, but also in the sphere of contemporary music there is a massively diverse variety of works being written. These range from the neo-Romantic, to minimalism, to music influenced by jazz and popular styles, electronic compositions, sound installations - many, many different kinds. The listener is literally spoilt for choice. Secondly, there has never been a time when dissemination of new music has been easier, partly thanks to the internet itself but also thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of composers and other individuals. A few notable examples would be record labels run by orchestras (LSO Live) which cut costs and can 'sell' lesser-known works; digital streaming services (Spotify, Naxos Music Library, Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, YouTube) which give greater access to new works that might not be distributed via traditional media; the fact that major orchestras and halls are no longer embarrassed by contemporary music and can promote it on the same level as their more traditional repertoire, and the fact that emerging composers can network and promote their music themselves, as we are doing here. So really, the access to new music is greater than ever and thus the listener has a very good chance of finding work that they like and are influenced by.

With regard to 'popular music'; well, it's true that most of it is derivative and formulaic and lacks conviction because it is just a mass-produced disposable commercial product. But I think its core elements could be elevated to the level of art. There are pop composers out there who experiment with using techniques which are beyond the usual reach of commercial music, and who take an artistic approach towards composing. Similarly, there are classical composers who write using the surface style of pop and jazz, but with a skilful use of classical technique.

Copyright and the way it is used by greedy publishing/hiring companies are a serious problem and contribute greatly towards stifling the performance of new music (or even music that is 100 years old). My orchestra are performing Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony at the moment and have been lucky enough to hire a set of parts which actually date from the first publication of the work - they're not in bad condition considering they are 101 years old. Although they are legal to hire from the owner for a reasonable rate (because they bought them when the work was on public sale), the publishing house who currently hold the British copyright on this work are furious this is happening and they can't do anything about it, because they have enjoyed being able to charge massive fees for their hire copies (which are no longer on sale since they realised they could do this). Also it would be illegal for us to perform off parts bought in the US or Canada (where it it out of copyright) for the same reason, So you can appreciate that there must be many performances of this fine work which do not happen because of exorbitant hire costs. Now imagine having to put together a programme of contemporary music, all of which is not for public sale but owned by the publishing company for hire. An orchestra would have no moral problem with paying royalties to the composer who has put effort into writing something, but what the publishing houses are doing is putting their music out of reach of wider dissemination by hoarding it.

There are going to be some annoyed people when Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss come out of copyright in the EU in a few years' time, but it will hopefully allow these composers' lesser-known works more performances.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That said I will agree that contemporary music has taken a road which sometimes seems autistic! Partly because of academia, partly because avant garde (which is there to promote an idea rather than and partly because of the composers...

A great way to state it.

Personally I'm not comfortable with the idea of blaming the "listeners' ignorance", though. I feel that is a lame excuse to disguise arrogance - like "my works are never bad - they are dumb so they don't understand them". Like any other language, music is a way to communicate through meaningful sounds (which can be pleasant or not - as there are both poetry and profanities in any language). But if the composer makes no effort to communicate with his performers and his audience, he becomes isolated - and neither the performers nor the audiences would want to waste their time.

As my own compositions show, I'm firmly in the 'tonal' side - but as stated above, any kind of music can achieve the goal of communicating through meaningful sounds (provided that its author makes a conscious effort to truly communicate). With enough time, even a new, invented language can end up being understood and widely used.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Personally I'm not comfortable with the idea of blaming the "listeners' ignorance", though. .

I don't think you can rule it out though, this is hardly showing arrogance. A major reason why classical music is inherently not as popular as what's happening the billboard realm is because of listener's ignorance. I'll state a good example. I was teaching a music appreciation an undergrad class who mostly were majoring in something other than music or the arts. For this particular lesson we played two movements of Vivaldi's "Seasons", a very tonal and likable piece, yet nobody in the class seemed inherently interested in actually listening to the music. In fact, a few people walked out of class, and some fell asleep. After each piece was played, I asked them a series of questions alla "How did this music express wintertime as described in the poem it was written after?", etc. I played the same pieces again and the students were more attentive and more interested in what was going on in the music. This same principle can be applied to Ligeti's "Atmospheres". If one truly listens to the piece, you can hear the individual parts of each instruments moving despite the cluster chord that is actually being represented.

Music is a way to communicate. In a piece, one communicates emotions and ideas. Communicating effectively takes two parties, the composer and the listener. The reality is that people are lazy and they don't to take the time to learn how to listen or even take a chance a listening. They would rather sit down in a concert hall, hear something they deem pretty, and if within the first minute, they don't deem it pretty, they either dismiss it entirely or sit through the whole piece wondering silently to themselves "when will the next piece begin" and do the exact opposite of listening.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you can rule it out there. A major reason why classical music is inherently not as popular as what's happening the billboard realm is because of listener's ignorance. (...)

Music is a way to communicate. In a piece, one communicates emotions and ideas. Communicating effectively takes two parties, the composer and the listener. The reality is that people are lazy and they don't to take the time to learn how to listen or even take a chance a listening. They would rather sit down in a concert hall, hear something they deem pretty, and if within the first minute, they don't deem it pretty, they either dismiss it entirely or sit through the whole piece wondering silently to themselves "when will the next piece begin" and do the exact opposite of listening.

I can't and don't rule it out - after all, neither of us would place Beethoven (or Ligeti, for that matter) in the same league as Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana, and there's a reason for that. My point is that, at least in my perception, some composers might feel "entitled" to place burdening demands on their audiences, in order to have a kind of a preventive scapegoat for a failure - like "my work is so original and my language is so abstract, that these lazy listeners aren't intelligent enough to understand it" and pointing out to famous precedents (i.e. Rite of Spring, Bizet's Carmen, Tchaikovksy's Pathetique, most of Beethoven's and Mahler's) to tout their own works as the next "misunderstood failure-turned-landmark masterwork"...

The major question here is this: If the audience is ignorant, whose responsibility is it to train/educate them?

I'd answer that it's first and foremost the composers' responsability, at least if their interest is to have their own works appreciated by the present and future audiences.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

(thanks for the intelligent discussion)

About the audience:

When it comes to the serialist and post-serialism compositions, it can be argued that the music strips the aural sensation that comes with music over the past five millennium. To disqualify an audience who don't want to hear Webern is reprehensible. Most of the paying audience would rather have a V8.

Some of my teachers have said,"Chad, you need to add these techniques. ( i.e. indeterminacy, serialism, numerology, etc.)" I say "Humbug to that, I like Rachmaninoff & Brahms and I'm going to keep writing like that. "

So am I wrong? That's a whole new discussion. I'm going to the Louisiana Phil concert this week. Why? This what they are playing:

Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1

Sarmientos: Concertino for Marimba

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

If they were playing "Von heute aug morgen", I wouldn't be going. Even in jazz, I am not going to an Ornette Coleman concert. Heck, even some of the eclectic performances of Herbie and Wayne are not my thing. Kenny Garrett? Wycliffe Gordan, Horace Silver, Robin Eubanks? I'm there.

I'll end on this. Ravel said this about Schoenberg (in regards to 12-tone) "Non, ce n'est pas de la musique... c'est du laboratoire" (translation: "That isn't music … it's lab-work") "

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Austenite - I see what you're saying, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. In fact, this is the kind of music that almost nobody likes! Music that is intentionally dense and misleading so that nobody can understand it. Fortunately, the vast majority of music is not of this kind. Seriously, I don't know of a single composer who tries to outwit the audience. That just doesn't make sense. I think everybody can agree that abstractism for the sake of being abstract does not automatically qualify music as "good". But that doesn't mean you ignore all other 20th century composers, of whom many write tonally and expressively.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, there is a whole lot of music which goes beyond the immediate, shallow aural sensation, and time is needed to fully appreciate it (I think about my own experience with Mahler, for instance - and to a lesser extent, with the Rite of Spring, which gave me a headache the first time I heard it).

But, on the other hand, regarding to certain works, one might refer to George B. Shaw: "When something is rotten, I don't need to eat the whole of it to prove it's indeed rotten" :toothygrin:.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Secondly, the problem with the distate of new music like avante garde and Modernist music does not solely lie on the composers shoulders. In part, it lies with the ignorance of the listeners. This isn't to say that the listener is stupid, but rather they don't want to give new music any time of day. They would rather listen to Bieber and Maroon 5, dance to the beat and get on with there life. This is the same the classical music audience who would rather listen to Beethoven and Brahms and never explore further. If we could educate the audience to listen to newer musics, perception would change.

I'd have to disagree with you on that. For me personally, I've been exposed to a lot of modern music, especially not that I'm a conservatory student. And while I am by no means an expert, I wouldn't say it is my ignorance that causes me to dislike most modernist/avant garde styles; it's just the simple fact that I don't like them, for various reasons. A few of those reasons; I don't understand them, not from a theory perspective (although that is also true at times) but from a "logical listening" one. The "language" of modern music to me seems like gibberish. While a fan of modern music might say that such and such a piece sound beautiful, to me it is complete randomness, that for me seems to have no sense of logic or direction.

I don't think it is my lack of knowledge that makes me dislike modern music, but my experience with it. For the most part, the modern music I've heard sounds like madness. There are exceptions of course, but on the whole it doesn't "click" with me.

I always find it funny when people take flight on the wings of presumption; it is too easy to form fallacious ideas about the intent of composers whose works we don't understand. How can someone know that a composer is "intentionally" writing music to be "misleading" and that which cannot be understood?

I think it's a valid point. I don't think people are presuming anything as you say. They listen to the music, and based on what they here make a guess on what could have inspired such music. As I said, for me the music sounds random and illogical, so I wonder whether the composer just wrote down random scribblings. Someone else might find the work to be logical, and I would probably ask them to explain, because truthfully I just simply don't understand a lot of modern music, in the sense that I don't understand how anyone could like that, or want to WRITE like that. I don't mean that offensively, I just mean that it's hard for me to see, or rather hear, the same things that modernist fans hear.

A question I want to pose to you: I've never heard anyone say that an early Classical work seems illogical, or random (i.e. Haydn, Mozart, or farther back to Salieri, Vivaldi, etc.). However, we hear it all the time about new works. So is it because we haven't yet become adapted to the newer styles, or is it because the styles themselves are inherently "random"?

Personally I would say that it is because modern Classical music, or more precisely the method of writing it, has shifted from putting the listener at the center to the composer. I only mean this somewhat literally; early music was built on a system of consonance over dissonance, tonality, and especially form. All these things are clearly recognizable, even to those who only have a minute knowledge of Classical music. However, newer music TENDS to focus on things that we hardly notice in music, and in some cases are impossible to notice, such as pieces written using a particular mathematical formula. Also, today the idea of "dissonance" among modernists has been obliterated. Everything is treated as a consonance, even such "obvious" dissonances as the m2.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

There are advantages and limits to our era. We are free to compose any kind of music but we are pretty much alone in our efforts. There is not only a lack of connection between composers and audience, there is also lack of connection between composers themselves. In our country the composers are only arguing which one should be performed, who's better, etc. We do not support each other enough. Most of our composers don't even go on the concerts where their music is not performed.

Another problem is lack of adventure and excitement for exploring less known music. We are pretty much familiar only with Cage, Stockhausen, Boulez and their "fame" for being avantgarde composers. What about others? Jaan Rääts from Estonia, for example wrote a fantastic neoclassical Chamber concerto for strings which is very popular. And what about great operas from Finnish composers. OK, their subject is national so they are probably not interesting for other countries but operas composed by Joonas Kokkonen and Aulis Sallinen are very good. And 5th symphony by Einojuhani Rautavaara is a great masterpiece. Also Clarinet Concerto by Magnus Lindberg or Constelations for strings by Per Norgard... Maybe music from Slovenia would also find more interest abroad if shown enough. It's also the problem of countries they don't have enough national pride to promote their culture. Slovenia is such a sad example. Our neighbours, Croatia, have a huge national pride. Serbians again lack in this, even though they also have some great composers: Vasilije Mokranjac and Dusan Radic (you can find some of their music on youtube).

So my response to this is: Music is not bad, if you spend some time to find a good one.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The major question here is this: If the audience is ignorant, whose responsibility is it to train/educate them?

I would argue that it is the responsibility of the music community to educate the audience. Turn on classical radio today and all you hear is Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and all other composers similar to them. Every once in a while you'll get a piece by Bartok or Stravinsky, but this is rare. Orchestras rarely perform new works and Academies rarely take the time to go out an educate. I don't see any reason a radio station can't play three modernist pieces a day when they have 24 hours to play everything else. An orchestra could play a short modernist piece in between their main concert pieces. This is difficult, however, as it's all about money...

I'd have to disagree with you on that. For me personally, I've been exposed to a lot of modern music, especially not that I'm a conservatory student. And while I am by no means an expert, I wouldn't say it is my ignorance that causes me to dislike most modernist/avant garde styles; it's just the simple fact that I don't like them, for various reasons. A few of those reasons; I don't understand them, not from a theory perspective (although that is also true at times) but from a "logical listening" one. The "language" of modern music to me seems like gibberish. While a fan of modern music might say that such and such a piece sound beautiful, to me it is complete randomness, that for me seems to have no sense of logic or direction.

I don't think it is my lack of knowledge that makes me dislike modern music, but my experience with it. For the most part, the modern music I've heard sounds like madness. There are exceptions of course, but on the whole it doesn't "click" with me.

My experience is in complete opposition to yours. I used to hate anything remotely close to Modernism. Anything that was after Stravinsky I considered garbage and illogical, until I started listening to more of it. My point is not to say that all listeners are ignorant or even remotely stupid, my point is to say that there are many that are. Like any genre of music, television, art, video games, etc. there will always be a certain people that will never enjoy it no matter what you do. Just because you or others don't enjoy it no matter how much you listen to it doesn't mean that there are many many other people who are the same as me or you.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Screw the audience. I didn't start writing music to make a bunch of other people feel good.

If you don't like it don't listen. I have no responsibility to write to anyone's tastes but my own.

This is not bad to say, but don't you feel just a little bit satisfied if somebody likes your music? ;)

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

A bold statement indeed.

I think the main point in composing is to try and say what we really want to say. But if we're self-referential or autistic and don't really want to communicate anything, what's the point anyway?

I'm not saying this is bad in itself. In fact it's OK, we might do whatever we deem proper, as long as we're being authentic and true to ourselves, rather than jumping on a senseless vogue or playing the smart guy. Only that we must temper our expectations. If we don't care about the audience (and performers!), why should they care about us? If we don't give them a worthy experience, they won't give us a second of their attention.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

They'll give attention if they like the music. I expect nothing else. You shouldn't compose, calculating how to please people the most. Not outside of commercial music. And popularity with the masses should be moot in a discussion about musical worth.

[insert emotionalized speech on artistic integrity and stuff]

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would argue that it is the responsibility of the music community to educate the audience. Turn on classical radio today and all you hear is Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and all other composers similar to them. Every once in a while you'll get a piece by Bartok or Stravinsky, but this is rare. Orchestras rarely perform new works and Academies rarely take the time to go out an educate. I don't see any reason a radio station can't play three modernist pieces a day when they have 24 hours to play everything else. An orchestra could play a short modernist piece in between their main concert pieces. This is difficult, however, as it's all about money...

You answered your own question. Its about money. Classical Radio stations are almost invariably public radio. As a result, they rely on member contributions to keep their antennas broadcasting. Accordingly, the music that is programmed is tailored to those members. If they started playing modern works that the membership didn't like, the membership would pull their contributions. The same applies in orchestras. They will only program works they know the audiences will buy tickets to see. In some leading orchestras (NY Phil, LA Phil, CSO etc.) there is leeway because their audiences are more "educated" (if you buy that reason, I don't) and will accept some modern works. But it is never even a plurality of modern music. Why won't people buy it?!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

They'll give attention if they like the music. I expect nothing else. You shouldn't compose, calculating how to please people the most. Not outside of commercial music. And popularity with the masses should be moot in a discussion about musical worth.

You need not calculate, but surely at least consider your listeners. Audience popularity a great gauge of emotional and spiritual connection at any particular time for a particular work. And those attributes are surely important to "musical worth." We don't call Beethoven's 9th one of the greatest pieces every written because it didn't have emotional and spiritual connections, because it does, to audiences of all ages.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Take for example the 4th of Feb locked thread! So many young composers in here and not a single person decided to reply to the (aggressive and sightly insulting I'll agree) question by the OP. Nobody decided to bother... Because it IS plain obvious that the music YOU hear has as much to do with YOU as it has to do with the MUSIC!

Well, I just spent 30 minutes typing a giant post only to lose it.

Thank you for posting this and creating a mature discussion that unfortunately wasn't had in the previous thread.

Basically I think some, if not many composers now write in a style that doesn't allow much comparison to the past in order to avoid really pointed criticism. Past famous composers often didn't get their own voice until many years after starting to compose, and their initial compositions were deriviative. Beethoven is an example of this. This allows a composer to organically develop their own voice, often over a long period of time. It seems like now young composers are so worried about being rejected or citicized that they take advantage of the liberalism in art that has occurred in the recent era and forego this process to create their own voice inorganically using abstractions which sometimes aren't even detectable to the human ear. Audiences are usually put off by this too. I think this is because it doesn't put human emotion to the forefront and personally, I don't think this is what music should be about, but I recognize that music is essentially completely subjective.

I think music should fundamentally be about emotion, whether it is anger, sadness, triumph, joy, etc. Cage's 4'33" is effective because of this. Emotion is human, and art is the greatest expression of humanism we have. I am glad you enjoy writing in the style you do, and I know there have been composers who have hated writing in this avant garde style but have had to in order to not be looked down on and dismissed by very pretentious people with low self-esteem. I think anyone should write in the style they want and wanting people to like it is natural.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You need not calculate, but surely at least consider your listeners. Audience popularity a great gauge of emotional and spiritual connection at any particular time for a particular work. And those attributes are surely important to "musical worth." We don't call Beethoven's 9th one of the greatest pieces every written because it didn't have emotional and spiritual connections, because it does, to audiences of all ages.

If you create something that you find satisfying, and, being honest with yourself, good, some audiences will inevitably be pleased.

Most people have never even listened attentively to Beethoven's 9th in entirety. So I don't know how it's one of the greatest pieces ever using this gauge.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope. Another popular presumption of contemporary music.

The funny thing is that the exact converse of this statement is reality. You are aware I hope, that music isn't only judged by what it has, but what is lacks. Think about that for a moment.

Cool story.

lolwut. Cage's 4'33" isn't an emotional work: it is a philosophical one.

Interesting. Examples?

I think it's a popular presumption because it's true.

"Cool story."

As I said, that's my opinion, but why the attitude?

I think the Cage is effective because it draws emotions from the audience, including anger. That is art and art that fails to draw emotion has failed on a basic level.

I'll get back to you with examples.

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...