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p7rv

Confession: I dislike almost all contemporary music

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The question for me is, are there any living composers that you would expect their music to be listened to on a regular basis 100 or even 50 years after their death?  I can't think of many.  I suspect that Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven though will remain staples in concert halls well into the next century.

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10 hours ago, Sojar Voglar said:

I can easily name thousands of audience-friendly compositions, created in last 30 years.

 

This topic has literally nothing to do with "audience-friendly"

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7 hours ago, p7rv said:

This topic has literally nothing to do with "audience-friendly"

 

I think Sojar has a point. Which is, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Edited by Ken320
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There was a time when audiences were actually taken into account when considering what music was worthy.

Then someone came up with the idea that audiences didn't matter at all. Artistic intent was the only thing that mattered - thus leading to the extreme subjectivism that immunized everything against criticism. So any nutcase with bad ideas could still claim some respect and hide his weaknesses under the "you just don't understand" catch-all shield.

Audiences matter. They decide what they want to listen. And if they don't want our works, what's the point of writing them? Self-relief?

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16 hours ago, Sojar Voglar said:

Just a few examples of audiable contemporary music (late 20th and 21st century):

Kalevi Aho: Symphony no. 15

Uljas Pulkkis: Violin concerto, Flute concerto

Magnus Lindberg: Clarinet concerto

Witold Lutoslawski: Symphony 4, Piano concerto

John Adams: most of his opus - selection: Short ride in fast machine, Harmonielehre, Violin concerto

Stjepan Sulek: Symphony no. 6, Vox Gabrieli, trombone sonata (world famous hit)

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Symphonies 7 and 8

Urmas Sisask: choral music, symphony no. 3

Peteris Vasks: Distant Light

Etc, etc...

Am I right in guessing these are all orchestra commissions, and that almost none are studied in universities or written about in academic journals?

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16 hours ago, Sojar Voglar said:

I can easily name thousands of audience-friendly compositions, created in last 30 years.

 

And, despite my best efforts to solidify the terminology, that's not the music they're talking about.

 

 

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There have always been a much greater amount of bad music being currently written than good music, because write good music is hard, and write bad music is easy, it's not matter of this current present only, but all presents in the past, what happens is that time works as a filter, and only good music survives, and bad music is forgotten, that's why it looks like in the old times was written only good music, because the old trash has dissapeard, and now is trash all over the place, but don't worry, time will clean it, and bad music will be forgotten, and good music, beyond our personal opinions, will survive even if someone tries hard to distroy it.

What I'm trying to say is that we do have our Bachs and Beethovens right now writing their masterpieces, but recognize them in the middle of the current jungle, is always a very hard task, besides is not up to us to pick them who's yes who's no, time will do it. Sometimes looks like time makes mistakes, but no, even if something good is being drawn in centuries, if it's really good it will come to surface like Vivaldi.

We musn't forget our classics were all contemporary at their times, writing the most complex and difficult music of their days, No one said "I am writing classical music", they all were pushing the current style into the next step, No one is remembered today for writing "old style" music. One example to finish my post:

An Old lady was listening to Bach in the church, He was playing "Sleepers Wake", as you may know the theme of this isn't Bach but a older hymn, the lady kinda recognized the theme along with the other line Bach added, she went to search the priest and accused Bach to be destroying the hymn, that he would not being allowed to do such things, that the other lines added were not even according to the theme (the Lady's critic on Bach counterpoint) that modern styles must be forbidden, it was a sin, it had too many notes were not even capable to listen or pay attention to all, etc etc all kind of negative "musical" critics.

There were tons of organist, composers, back then, non of them were making those "modern" stuff, only Bach, and only Bach is remembered, the others are dead, and the lady ? made an historical ridiculous mistake.

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I love Sleepers Awaken! But Goethe poisoned the romantics and they lost favor with Bach. :sad: Now his greatness is great again. I wonder if some time in the future - maybe in the time of The Jetsons - someone will dust off Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet and say, Hey, you know this wasn't too bad...

Edited by Ken320

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Yet there is already a sense of greatness looming around the best composers in their own time, if they are good enough and live long enough (cases in point: Haendel, Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Brahms, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Stravinsky, among others). They get their due recognition to some extent, are revered by the younger generations, and draw crowds to their funerals, even as a lot of their genius is not fully known. It's not that hard to separate the trash from the jewels - the audiences have been eventually able to figure them out most of the time. Perhaps it's harder now that the audiences for new art music have been chased away and have been left with virtually nothing likeable to listen to but old pal Mozart once again.

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33 minutes ago, Ken320 said:

Goethe poisoned the romantics and Bach lost favor with them. :sad: Now his greatness is great again.

 

I seem to recall Bach being ignored during the Classical period (except by Beethoven, to some extent) and having his great comeBach (pun intended) fueled by Mendelssohn, thus getting his due from the late Romantic period onwards. Granted, Bach's biggest strength is the overall structure and design of his works, so his style is easily adapted to new arrangements - and his counterpoint frameworks have been revisited time and again, especially during the early and middle 20th century.

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The audience is one thing. but there is the young musician's perspective, studying to fulfill the dream of playing in an orchestra. He or she is being taught B B & B. And why not? That's what he plays in recitals, that's what he's tested on on auditions. But in the young there are the adventurous. here is what they like. Have you seen this?

 

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17 minutes ago, Austenite said:

I seem to recall Bach being ignored during the Classical period (except by Beethoven, to some extent) and having his great comeBach (pun intended) fueled by Mendelssohn, thus getting his due from the late Romantic period onwards. Granted, Bach's biggest strength is the overall structure and design of his works, so his style is easily adapted to new arrangements - and his counterpoint frameworks have been revisited time and again, especially during the early and middle 20th century.

 

I'll have to give it some more thought. Do you know any books on this Bach renaissance?

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On 3. 8. 2016 at 0:20 AM, p7rv said:

Am I right in guessing these are all orchestra commissions, and that almost none are studied in universities or written about in academic journals?

 

No, most of these works are very much world-wide recognized in every way.

 

On 2. 8. 2016 at 3:13 PM, bkho said:

The question for me is, are there any living composers that you would expect their music to be listened to on a regular basis 100 or even 50 years after their death?  I can't think of many.  I suspect that Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven though will remain staples in concert halls well into the next century.

 

This is the problem of concert organizers, soloists, artistic advisors. To be a bit sarcastic, I am surprised they no longer ride in coaches and use horses as primary base of transport. These named composers are great but would you expect in pop music only Beatles, Queen and Pink Floyd would dominate the stage for next century?

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I like almost all contemporary music. But I mean, I like almost all music in general; in cases where I find myself bored or indifferent, I still do trust that the artist had something important to say that simply wasn't for my ears at the moment. If you are finding yourself disliking the vast majority of music you listen to, you might need a better attitude, a more open mind.

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2 hours ago, Shadowwolf3689 said:

I like almost all contemporary music. But I mean, I like almost all music in general; in cases where I find myself bored or indifferent, I still do trust that the artist had something important to say that simply wasn't for my ears at the moment. If you are finding yourself disliking the vast majority of music you listen to, you might need a better attitude, a more open mind.

 

^^ 
This guy gets it.

 

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10 hours ago, Ken320 said:

Do you know any books on this Bach renaissance?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Sebastian_Bach#19th_century

Start there. And look also into the original Bach society, which was founded in 1850 (Robert Schumann being a leading member) and took task to the first complete edition of Bach's full works. Indeed, it was the Romantics which did the most to getting him back from the relative neglect (besides Mendelssohn, both Wagner and Brahms, as well as Chopin and Bruckner, were in one way or another active promoters of his music).

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Thanks, Austenite. I must have read too much into or misunderstood that stuff about Goethe in a Beethoven biography.

If I understand you, those composers were champions of Bach. Not by infusing their music itself but by efforts in the "community." I can't think of a style more fundamentally different from Bach's than Romanticism, or maybe I'm casting too small a net. The first composer I've heard to emulate Bach's style so that it is unmistakable is Stravinsky with his piano sonata, (1925?)

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On 31/7/2016 at 10:35 PM, Gylfi said:

I recommend that you slow down and worry more about thinking than typing. Everything I wished to express is contained within my compact message - if you wish to understand you will need to consider it more carefully. But I guess it's easier to question my lucidity and attack blindly. Why don't I elaborate on it myself? Because I am tired to death of this trite discussion and know better than to steer straight into a black hole. I wished only to express my view through hyperbole, the effect of which seems to have been entirely lost on you, in order to stimulate thought. Do with it what you will, but personally I do not think any self-respecting artist should make statements such as "modernism is a sort of neurosis". It is simplistic at best.

 

Dear Gilfy, the main virtue of a theoretical or dialectic text is the clarity and intelligibility. It must be long enough to express and explain all the ideas required to understand it, and short enough to not diverge nor contain irrelevant filling.

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48 minutes ago, danuniversal said:

Dear Gilfy, the main virtue of a theoretical or dialectic text is the clarity and intelligibility. It must be long enough to express and explain all the ideas required to understand it, and short enough to not diverge nor contain irrelevant filling.

Well, I happen to believe very strongly in the power of poetry in discourse. Why make a point when your opponent can literally make it for you? The whole idea behind poetry is obfuscation via encoded ideas, in other words lack of clarity and intelligibility (to a certain extent). It's not laziness though, because it is often harder to put things succinctly, the real reason is it makes people think for themselves, which is always good. It obviously backfires if you are impatient and take the message at face value or worse yet project your own meaning onto it (which is always a risk). 

Here's what my message means, not that I think it needs spelling out:

There is nothing "natural" about any human music and it is hopelessly polluted from the get go. Common practice tonality is a highly arbitrary ad-hoc system with many rules and many more exceptions which have developed over time. There is almost nothing natural about it and it is certainly not a direct tap into human emotions as some would claim. What makes music "emotional" are associations, being able to abstract out certain connections as being representative of deeper ideas. If you don't understand what you are listening to, it cannot possibly have an emotional effect. What makes common practice tonality "natural" is its use of major triads in a central role, these being derived directly from the first few partials of the harmonic series. Of course, it also places a high emphasis on minor triads, which are highly arbitrary except for them being mirror images of the major triad, and the major scale - which is completely arbitrary. Really, the most natural, stable scale you can find is what might be called Lydian b7 b13, a 7-note scale on the first 7 prime number partials (and 1) of the harmonic series. Given that the harmonic series is the lifeblood of all harmony and all pitched (melodic) notes, you would think that the most perfect and natural music would consist only of a single drone. But the fact is that there isn't really any truth in the harmonic series either because it wears a mask that we put on it. Whenever you have any real sound waves produced by real bodies interacting with the volume that encapsulates it and with human sensory systems, there are a lot of things that get corrupted. In order to produce a perfect harmonic series, you need something absolutely neutral like a string of infinitesimal width, which is impossible. In a real string instrument the tension in the string, the bridge, the body, the atmosphere, the acoustics of the space - it all contributes to inharmonicity as it is called. Make no mistake, it is impossible to get a "complete" (impossible by itself) in tune harmonic series in the real world. Mathematical models of the harmonic series are approximations - the harmonic series exists only in the abstract world of mathematics. Therefore if one were a depressed nihilist one would say that the only "true" music exists in the dead air of space, where no sound can reach your ears because there is no volume to conduct them there…

Do I care? Not at all. However, I do find the notion that everything is a lie very sobering because it means you create your own truth for others to evaluate. That's really what we mean by truth anyway, consensus. And how, pray tell, has the consensus changed over the years? Take a look of this famous criticism of Monteverdi:

Quote

Luca:Yesterday, sir, after I had left Your Lordship and was going toward the Piazza, I was invited by some gentlemen to hear certain new madrigals. Delighted by the amiability of my friends and by the novelty of the compositions, I accompanied them to the house of Signor Antonio Goretti, a nobleman of Ferrara, a young virtuoso and as great a lover of music as any man I have ever known. I found there Signor Luzzasco and Signor Hippolito Fiorini, distinguished men, with whom had assembled many noble spirits, versed in music. The madrigals were sung and repeated without giving the name of the author. The texture was not unpleasing. But, as Your Lordship will see, insofar as it introduced new rules, new modes, and new turns of phrase, these were harsh and little pleasing to the ear, nor could they be otherwise; for so long as they violate the good rules - in part founded upon experience, the mother of all things, in part observed in nature, and in part provided by demonstration - we must believe them deformations of the nature and propriety of true harmony, far removed from the object of music, which, as Your Lordship said yesterday, is delectation. 
But, in order that you may see the whole question and give me your judgment, here are the passages, scattered here and there through the above mentioned madrigals, which I wrote out yesterday evening for my amusement.
Vario: Signor Luca, you bring me new things which astonish me not a little. It pleases me, at my age, to see a new method of composing, though it would please me much more if I saw that these passages were founded upon some reason which could satisfy the intellect. But as castles in the air, chimeras founded upon sand, these novelties do not please me; they deserve blame, not praise. Let us see the passages, however.

artusipassages.jpg
 

Luca:Indeed, in the light of what little experience I have in this art, these things do not seem to me to entitle their authors or inventors to build a four-story mansion (as the saying goes), seeing that they are contrary to what is good and beautiful in the harmonic institutions. They are harsh to the ear, rather offending than delighting it, and to the good rules left by those who have established the order and the bounds of this science they bring confusion and imperfection of no little consequence. Instead of enriching, augmenting, and ennobling harmony by various means, as so many noble spirits have done, they bring it to such estate that the beautiful and purified style is indistinguishable from the barbaric. And all the while they continue to excuse these things by various arguments in conformity with the style. 
Vario: You say well. But how can they excuse and palliate these imperfections, which could not possibly be more absurd?
Luca: Absurd? I do not know how you can defend that position of yours. They call absurd the things composed in another style and have it that theirs is the true method of composition, declaring that this novelty and new order of composing is about to produce many effects which ordinary music, full of so many and such sweet hamonies, cannot and never will produce. And they will have it that the sense, hearing such asperities, will be moved and will do marvelous things.
Vario: Are you in earnest or are you mocking me?
Luca: Am I in earnest? It is rather they who mock those who hold otherwise.
Vario: Since I see that you are not mocking me, I will tell you what I think of them, but take note that I shall not be so ready to yield to their opinion. And, for the first argument against them, I will tell you that the high is a part of the low and arises from the low, and being a part of it, must continue to be related to it, as to its beginning or as the cloud to the spring of which it is derived. That this is true, the experiment of the monochord will show you. [high pitches are a part of low pitches. Recall our demonstration of the harmonic series. - tt].... How then will the first, second, fourth, fifth and other measures stand, if the highest part has no correspondence or harmonic proportion to the lower?
Luca: They claim that they do observe harmonic relation.... They say that all this is called grace and is accented singing.
Vario: I do not remember having read in any author - and countless excellent ones have written of music - that there is such a thing as accented music.... I should like to give you my opinion, but I suspect that it may displease you.
Luca: Give it; I shall be glad to listen.
Vario: It is my belief that there is nothing but smoke in the heads of such composers and that they are so enamored of themselves as to think it within their power to corrupt, spoil, and ruin the good old rules handed down in former times by so many theorists and most excellent musicians, the very men from whom these moderns have learned to string together a few notes with little grace. But do you know what usually happens to such works as these? What Horace says in the tenth ode of his second book: Saepius ventis gitatur ingens / pinus et celsae graviore casu / decidunt turres feriuntque summos / fulmina montis. ["Tis oftener the tall pine that is shaken by the wind, tis the lofty towers that fall with the heavier crash, and tis the tops of the mountains that the lightening strikes"] In the end they are built without foundation, they are quickly consumed by time and cast to the ground, and the builders remain deluded and mocked at.
Luca: I grant you that all this is true. But tell me if this science can be advanced by new modes of expression. Why is it you are unwilling to augment it?....
Vario: Do you not know that all the arts and sciences have been brought under rules by scholars of the past and that the first elements, rules and precepts on which they are founded have been handed down to us in order that, so long as there is no deviation from them, one person shall be able to understand what another says or does? .... [further discussion of the individual passages follows ] ... Our ancients never taught that sevenths [the interval between do and ti] may be used absolutely and openly, as you see them used in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh measures, for they do not give grace to the composition and, as I said a little while ago, the higher part has no correspondence to its whole, beginning, or foundation. 
Luca: This is a new paradox.
Vario: If this paradox were reasonably founded on some reason, it would deserve much praise and would move onward to eternal life. But it is destined to have a short life, for demonstration can only show that truth is against it....
Luca: Signor Vario, I kiss your hand. Farewell.

Does this look familiar at all? And this is Monteverdi we are talking about, a legend revered for all times. And these sticks in the mud have the audacity to claim that the mud that entraps them is the one true way…

So please, have some respect for the men and women out there for whom "the good rules" provide no relief. Have also some respect for human folly and how it blinds us. It doesn't need to be a bad thing! So long as you are aware of your own self-deception, it can do no harm to you. Don't deprive yourself of the beauty of music, whatever form it may take…

 

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What's that smell? Oh, SOMEONE IS WRONG (OK maybe only slightly inaccurate!) ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111

On 8/5/2016 at 10:19 AM, Gylfi said:

There is almost nothing natural about it and it is certainly not a direct tap into human emotions as some would claim. What makes music "emotional" are associations, being able to abstract out certain connections as being representative of deeper ideas. If you don't understand what you are listening to, it cannot possibly have an emotional effect.

Actually, if you actually go and read the scientific literature on this, such as the papers:

Comparing the processing of music and language meaning using EEG and fMRI (PLoS-ONE, 2008)

Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music (Current Biology, 2009)

You'll note that emotions can be drawn from music, no matter how familiar you are with the music. In fact, it doesn't matter if you NEVER heard it in your life before and it's entirely alien, you'll still derive emotions from it. The point here is granulation and variety. The more familiar you are with the music syntax, the more nuanced your interpretations can be.

 

So, to everyone who says they can't "understand" X or Y music, it's just cuz, like someone else said in this thread, they're just grumpy and everything sounds like farts to them anyway.

Cheers!

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So, here is the bottom line -

There is a lot of scraggy modern music. Still, there are quite a few incredible pieces written in the 21st century and the 22nd as well. Like a ton of them even though the progression of modern music sometimes was inane and fruitless. I can name so many pieces that I like and find to be more interesting and better written then the so called greats. Same goes for back then. Beethoven and Mozart wrote some scraggy music at times. They also wrote some of the most glorious stuff you will ever hear. It might be more readily accessible to the common, untrained ear (but then some modern music is very accessible). You have to understand though that back in that day music was written a lot of the time because they were hired to do so. It was a job and a necessity to churn things out at a very rapid pace. The output is usually greater back then then it is today because nowadays people tend to write for artistic and creative reasons. Back then it was court music and other stuff. Today that doesn't exist other then the kind of thing that is written for Hollywood. People write based off of inspiration. They take more time to perfect a piece rather then just hop and a skip from a 5 to a 1 and call it done. Still, a lot of times when you talk about those Hollywood types you get a composer and you see so many similarities in their scores because they are churning out music with a deadline piece after piece within a years time. They have tricks up their sleeves and they use them. It is less about discovering the next sound or idea or writing the next masterpiece as it is correctly scoring the image and completing something for pay. Still, you get some Jesu Meine Freude, Ode to Joy, Messiah, etc and you get some Adagio for Strings, Blue Cathedral, Chichester Psalms, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, etc. 

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On 8/4/2016 at 5:49 AM, Shadowwolf3689 said:

I like almost all contemporary music. But I mean, I like almost all music in general; in cases where I find myself bored or indifferent, I still do trust that the artist had something important to say that simply wasn't for my ears at the moment. If you are finding yourself disliking the vast majority of music you listen to, you might need a better attitude, a more open mind.

 

Or he might just need to be lead to the better pieces in the category. Maybe he has happened upon the wrong stuff and that has caused his closed mindedness about the subject.

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On 10/3/2016 at 4:05 PM, SSC said:

You'll note that emotions can be drawn from music, no matter how familiar you are with the music. In fact, it doesn't matter if you NEVER heard it in your life before and it's entirely alien, you'll still derive emotions from it. The point here is granulation and variety. The more familiar you are with the music syntax, the more nuanced your interpretations can be.

It is not my contention that sound doesn't affect people in a primitive way. Actually, in a certain sense I can concede that tonality is in fact a direct tap into human emotion. But we may as well hang up our hats if music's highest aspiration is relating simple emotions. If that were the case, the only real goal would be to elicit a happy response - it doesn't make any difference if a complicated scheme of emotional contrasts is utilized, at the end of the day it would just be a question of how primally ecstatic you can make your music. What makes art or even just life in general interesting are concepts which are representative of emotions. From this realm the art of composition draws its true powers. For example, a study says that major chords are inherently happy, and your conditioning doesn't play into it. Fair enough, but what about this particular major chord?

I don't think it represents happiness at all even though it is a consonant and in a neutral context is associated with happy feelings. Place it into a number of other keys and it might be described as happy, place it into others and it might be perceived as rough. If you can take a consonant entity and make it dissonant through a clever combination of many interrelated elements, it should also be possible to arrange dissonant entities in a consonant way. A separate study would need to be conducted on the "inherence" of tonal procedures (if you know of one I would like to read it) but until proven otherwise I will assume that a cadence like this is only effective namely because it plays on what the listener expects (which is intentionally and carefully drilled into the listener's mind and ear but also largely due to familiarity of procedures through other works). A similar principle is at play in works where the architecture is in some superficial respect at odds with the material. However, if you give up because the material seems illogically conceived and do not make any attempt to understand what is going on I do not find it strange at all that one would think that the music is unemotional. To be bluntly honest I don't really care to argue about that point because I have long since gotten over this minor hurdle and know for a fact that "dissonant music" is not necessarily sad or fearful. Just like quote-unquote "beautiful" music can be unbelievably boring (in some respects worse than bad "dissonant music") when it conveys only shallow ideas.

EDIT: Oh by the way thanks for the studies, they were quite interesting.

Edited by Gylfi

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