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I was talking about this with a friend today. And we were going back and forth saying can serialism in its purest form truly be socially accepted as music? Just to be clear I don't just mean atonal, I mean like rhythm and everything. They have programs now so that you can just say how many measures you want and it will spit out completely random rhythm and a completely stochastic melody. Lasting for however long you want. So can this be accepted as music? If so, then should people be allowed to gain profit off of these "compositions"?

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in his sumptuous new york city mansion, charles wuorinen sits rubbing his aged, gnarled hands with a wicked smile atop his towering pile of ill-gotten riches, pondering to what new devious ends he can

So the next time somebody writes a piece evocative of an earlier era/composer, you'll be there to congratulate them for writing what they enjoy rather than being on the side telling them they're writi

>should people be allowed to gain profit off of these "compositions"?   They must be stopped at all costs. Please do something before it's too late.

in his sumptuous new york city mansion, charles wuorinen sits rubbing his aged, gnarled hands with a wicked smile atop his towering pile of ill-gotten riches, pondering to what new devious ends he can put the nefarious twelve-tone system invented his brethren in the academic illuminati....

 

to be continued

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 And we were going back and forth saying can serialism in its purest form truly be socially accepted as music?

 

What do you mean by "socially accepted"?  Do you mean widely accepted or accepted by anyone at all?  The chance of the former appears to be practically nil; as for the latter, probably around the same amount who accept serialism, maybe a bit less. 

 

I had to laugh at the "should people be allowed" question.  People have far more nefarious (and legal) ways of making money off others right now, so why not?

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Nobody you idiot, you just write what you enjoy and consume what you enjoy. There is no regulating art, and the idea is presumptuous as well as ridiculous.

 

So the next time somebody writes a piece evocative of an earlier era/composer, you'll be there to congratulate them for writing what they enjoy rather than being on the side telling them they're writing worthless pastiches, right?  I just want to be clear here, I don't want you to come across as a hypocrite or anything. 

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Guest Ravel's Hookers

So the next time somebody writes a piece evocative of an earlier era/composer, you'll be there to congratulate them for writing what they enjoy rather than being on the side telling them they're writing worthless pastiches, right? I just want to be clear here, I don't want you to come across as a hypocrite or anything.

There's criticism for music, then there's the Stalinist idea that art must be "regulated". These ideas, the personification of art; that art has a 'health' and must be nurtured, are dangerous ones (and it comes to no surprise these are from the #1 composer pro populo, Justin Tokke).
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If you enjoy writing in the style of a past era then so be it. Just be prepared for a lot of people to dismiss it as pastiche.

 

It works the other way too. I write in a fairly modern style because I enjoy it but I understand that a lot of people will dismiss it as noise or just random notes or whatever. That's their opinion and they're entitled to express it but I'm not writing for the enjoyment of these people anyway.

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i recall Peter Maxwell Davies hosting a composition workshop at my uni a while back. one of the composers wrote a piece that would have been slightly too conservative for Vaughan Williams. someone did make the inevitable "why don't you try something more modern?" comment which the composer was evidently prepared for, but PMD dismissed such complaints and explained in the nicest possible way that the piece wasn't too old-fashioned or anything like that, it was just boring when compared to real Vaughan Williams

 

that's the main problem with writing music in the styles of past eras—the competition is tougher

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that's the main problem with writing music in the styles of past eras—the competition is tougher

 

Hmm... The thought of a composer writing in a more "modern" style (assuming there is actually a style for the present era) in order to avoid tougher competition seems unfair to those who pursue innovation and experimentation. It's like suggesting that they're in fact conceding defeat against long-dead composers (like "you'll never be able to match them, so don't even try") and demanding themselves to "write this, not that" just to avoid comparison. That's actually an unsettling thought, so I hope to be misinterpreting it.

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Hmm... The thought of a composer writing in a more "modern" style (assuming there is actually a style for the present era) in order to avoid tougher competition seems unfair to those who pursue innovation and experimentation. It's like suggesting that they're in fact conceding defeat against long-dead composers (like "you'll never be able to match them, so don't even try") and demanding themselves to "write this, not that" just to avoid comparison. That's actually an unsettling thought, so I hope to be misinterpreting it.

you definitely are

 

one can't help listening to a composition that is strongly indebted to a work or style of the past without thinking about the original—either for comparison or because the original is better. as well, the most striking passages in such a composition almost always seem to be the most individual ones, that reveal the most about the composer and their relationship with the style they are emulating. consider brahms's first symphony for instance. you can't hear it without thinking of beethoven's fifth and ninth symphonies in particular, and comparing what brahms does with his material to what beethoven does with his. for me, actually, this comparison works in brahms's favour, making the piece an enjoyable one to listen to, but not necessarily for everyone else—and brahms was of course a highly skilled composer with few equals. in the hands of a less skilled composer the symphony would suffer by comparison.

 

there is as well the issue that music of the past was created in certain social contexts & implies certain values. if you continue to write music according to those values, it implies your support for them, & a denial of the values of the modern era. we have a "classical revivalist" on this board for instance, whose goal is essentially to bring back the 1750s (for himself, anyway)—i don't know whether or not he supports a return to 18th century social structure and beliefs, or anything of that kind, but his music suggests critical acceptance. he has looked at the time period in detail and decided to set up a position in harmony with (if perhaps somewhat eccentric within) the society of the time. or maybe he hasn't. but i think you see what i mean. for another example, your interests in 19th century music and literature similarly suggest a worldview that is essentially 19th-century in scope. although it seems more like uncritical acceptance in your case.

 

i personally prefer living in the 21st century with helicopters and penicillin and everything though. that's all.

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there is as well the issue that music of the past was created in certain social contexts & implies certain values. if you continue to write music according to those values, it implies your support for them, & a denial of the values of the modern era.

 

Well that's certainly true. In fact, I had a friend who developed a taste for Romantic music and started writing style copies, and now he's a massive sexist and hates Jews.

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I don't know if listening to a 'style copy' necessarily makes me compare the music to prominent composers of the respective era, but those 'style copies' don't often make a great impression on me because they don't reflect the world in which those pieces that served as inspiration were created in. Beethoven sounds good because it was written by someone who experienced Beethoven's life. Beethoven copies don't interest me because they aren't.

This being said, I don't think there is anything wrong with pastiches and such (whether they are of Beethoven, Ravel, Berio, etc), but if I encounter anything which so desperately tries to be more than that, it won't resonate with me in the least.

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there is as well the issue that music of the past was created in certain social contexts & implies certain values. if you continue to write music according to those values, it implies your support for them, & a denial of the values of the modern era. we have a "classical revivalist" on this board for instance, whose goal is essentially to bring back the 1750s (for himself, anyway)—i don't know whether or not he supports a return to 18th century social structure and beliefs, or anything of that kind, but his music suggests critical acceptance. he has looked at the time period in detail and decided to set up a position in harmony with (if perhaps somewhat eccentric within) the society of the time. or maybe he hasn't. but i think you see what i mean. for another example, your interests in 19th century music and literature similarly suggest a worldview that is essentially 19th-century in scope. although it seems more like uncritical acceptance in your case.

 

i personally prefer living in the 21st century with helicopters and penicillin and everything though. that's all.

 

That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a while.

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there is as well the issue that music of the past was created in certain social contexts & implies certain values. if you continue to write music according to those values, it implies your support for them, & a denial of the values of the modern era.

 

It does? Seems like a flawed logic to me. Composers were quite often at odds with their social contexts and their era's values, rather than showing their support for them. Why should it be different now?

 

 

... your interests in 19th century music and literature similarly suggest a worldview that is essentially 19th-century in scope. although it seems more like uncritical acceptance in your case.

 

 

A flawed logic begets a flawed conclusion. It's not fair nor legitimate to make such an extrapolation of my worldview or the values I support, just based on that - let alone adding that it's also an "uncritical acceptance" of 19th-century values. You can certainly get to know me better than that.

 

 

 

i personally prefer living in the 21st century with helicopters and penicillin and everything though. that's all.

 

 

And I guess you'd expect me to prefer writing by candlelight, have a scandalous affair with a Grand Duchess and die young of tuberculosis or cholera :P ...

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That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a while.

 

It's not that far-fetched. Music of the Classical era derives from the social revolution of the Enlightenment. Music of the Romantic era is closely related to the growth of Romantic philosophy & literature. If you're writing a play in a genuine attempt to replicate the style of Voltaire, or a novel in the style of Goethe (as opposed to a play that imitates Voltaire in a postmodern-ish way, or a novel that's just as much about Goethe's style as in it) you can't have the subject be a parable about global warming or occupy new york or something. that would be obviously anachronistic. music doesn't get a free pass here; there's no such thing as music that's independent of its time.

 

@austenite I agree that composers would often go against the grain as it is, but they were writing in relation to a social context of some kind. i described your attitude towards the nineteenth century as "uncritical" not in the sense of "mindless agreement" but in the sense of "without undertaking serious analysis", as that's the impression i get from you—not a committed revivalist, just someone who considers romantic philosophy alive and well, as a thing to act in relation to rather than a "past era" of some kind

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... "uncritical" not in the sense of "mindless agreement" but in the sense of "without undertaking serious analysis", as that's the impression i get from you...

 

Then you're not getting the right impression :P .

 

 

... not a committed revivalist, just someone who considers romantic philosophy alive and well, as a thing to act in relation to rather than a "past era" of some kind

 

All in all, Romanticism as a philosophy is well on the past (even if its musical language survived for much longer than its literary branch, for example). It's only that I don't feel any compromise or duty towards any of the current musical trends (given that there's not really a single artistic trend or philosophy that we can call "the philosophy that represents our era", but rather a lot of ideas and schools of thought that promote artistic freedom).

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Well to be more clear, I mean that is it right that composers can just plunk some numbers in a computer program and then call it their own? Perhaps "socially accepted" was a poor phrase to use

Right? Like, morally?

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