Welcome Guest! To enable all features please Login or Register.

Notification

Icon
Error

Forum Jump  
Studios of John Williams Vs Hans Zimmer
Last post Sat, Nov 26 2022 by FedericoAsc, 48 replies.
Options
Go to last post
3 Pages<123>
Posted on Thu, Sep 08 2022 08:56
by FedericoAsc
Joined on Fri, Jul 17 2020, Vienna, Posts 25

I think one should see music theory as explanation of what composers during a certain period did. It’s very useful, but I agree it should not taken as a prescription. Moreover, what many people call “music theory” is instead theory of the music of the classical period. An updated, modern music theory can already be formulated, although there are not many books about it. Moreover one should understand the meaning of rules. Yes, parallel perfect consonances were not employed in the classical period, if the effect to be achieved was counterpoint, but already Mozart started to use violins I and II in octaves, since he understood that was not meant to be counterpoint. And I agree having orchestral experience cannot be but useful. Many people don’t however know that conductors study in great detail scores before rehearsals, they don’t just learn by doing.

Posted on Sat, Sep 10 2022 21:59
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

Just watched the last half of a live-online Berliner Phil concert conducted by Thomas Adès, including works by  himself and Gerald Barry. Ugh! What a nightmare!

Huge conclusion for this thread:- those who are determined to compose but only have in their studio various instrumentalities that can render writtten music in Equal Temperament, including a piano, then - I contend - there will be a marked difference between those who have in their heads substantial experience of hearing Orchestral Intonation (OI), and those who don't. This difference will be most apparent in those who use much modern dissonance in their works, expecially those for whom extreme dissonances are central features of their works.

Moreover, it seems there is a hardcore of aficionados of the attempted revolution in music composition kicked off by the Neue Wiener Schule, who don't give a tinker's cuss about the differences between ET and OI and just presume that if their composition sounds acceptable to their own ears in ET, then it "must therefore'" be acceptable to everyone when heard played by an orchestra. All too often this is symptomatic of "toddler think".

Intellectually, Adès ticks all the right boxes, e.g. having taken a double-starred first at Kings College, Cambridge, and now being a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London. But, especially in music composition, I think there is a consensus in this thread regarding the essential contribution that other mental faculties, skills and talents make in composition. I'll leave it at that.

Perhaps many if not most classical music lovers would agree that something important was lost in Beethoven's works after he became profoundly deaf. Hard to say what this might 'prove', if anything, but I suspect it is vital for composers to hear the results of their novelties and especially their innovations - if only on the piano at first. Did Beethoven's integrity deter him from taking risks with novelties and innovations when he was too deaf to hear them at all? If so, it bears luminous testament to this great man's integrity as a composer.

Tragic though it was for Beethoven, if I'm right about this, his example ought to shine forth today and be taught with earnest reverence in colleges and music schools that attempt to teach composition.

Alas, integrity has certainly never been the strong suit of the "toddlers" - and that's why I call them toddlers. Academia could do our cultures a great service by spotting and weeding out the "toddlers" as early as possible - because they lack the requisite empathy for composing; and in the "toddlers" I speak of, that lack cannot be remedied.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Sun, Sep 11 2022 01:08
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

.

Posted on Sun, Sep 11 2022 14:18
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

You've confirmed what I've long assumed, which is that for harmonies containing intervals more 'exotic' than the mundane 4th, 5th, 3rd, 6th, or perhaps major 7th, orchestral players simply play the literal Pythagorean pitches of written notes. Thanks, William.

[Update] The point I was trying to bring out, but didn't do so very clearly - my fault - is that ET, especially when played on piano, tends to be far more forgiving and kind to highly dissonant intervals, compared to Pythagorean. Indeed it's easily possible to play almost any random bunch of notes with one or both hands on a piano and not wince at the resulting dissonances. By contrast, playing those same handfuls of notes in Pythagorean (but not on virtual piano because that involves offending our deep-seated recognition of piano tuning) can produce much rougher, more unpleasant, even cringe-inducing results.

This is hardly surprising, given that ET's 12 notes are a sort of dumbed-down, cartoon-like representation of the 29 or so Pythagorean notes used by orchestras. DAW users without broad and deep experience of real orchestral sounds - or at least an adept grasp of Orchestral Intonation (OI) in theory - trying to compose modern atonal music for an orchestra, are in effect walking through a kind of deferred-action minefield. The difference is that the mines, if stepped on, don't detonate until a real orchestra (or virtual orchestra with OI) plays the piece.

 

For any readers who may not be familiar with the concept of Orchestral Intonation, here are links to a couple of old YT videos on the topic. The principles in these videos can be applied not only to real strings but also to brass and woodwind.

Intonation: Which System to Use When

Intonation Master Class: Mozart String Quartet

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Mon, Sep 12 2022 09:28
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 199

 

Some interesting points of view here. I haven't read anyone talking about how theory, or perhaps the lesser loaded expression, study, has another extremely important benefit for a budding composer. Whilst studying and more importantly, practising techniques (just reading about technique is never enough), the young composer with the wits to do so, will also be discovering much about their own aesthetic proclivities, especially as they eventually assimilate and then apply or reject any new methodologies according to their own musical instincts.

The adaptation and transformation of technique into the role of support and guidance is a crucial step to becoming able to freely, confidently and perhaps even uniquely, express oneself in music imo.

Posted on Wed, Sep 14 2022 13:52
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

Mike, excellent point!

At first I was thinking about responding in terms of the pedagogical styles in which various particular academic institutes tend to treat the business of 'educating' their students in music theory and the crafts of composition. Some such institutes are more pedantic than others, in that they offer the student too little leeway for individual taste, style and - above all - art. After all, "education" is supposed to mean "leading out", not "shoving in", lol.

Alas though, gathering reliable info on even a few institutes in order to substantiate my contention would probably be a nigh on impossible task for the short term.

But then it occurred to me that even in private self-study, away from any and all formal institutional constraints and influences, there is still, potentially, the dimension of strict pedantry versus liberal leeway, which the student has to negotiate his way through. In my case, having studied music theory and composition on my own for about 8 years (albeit very late in life), I had to deal with, for instance, the rigidly scientific paradigm proposed by Helmholtz in his famous "Die lehre von den Tonempfindungen" (the English translation with voluminous annotation by Ellis), as well as the equally famous but far more liberal "Traité de L'Harmonie" by Rameau (Gossett's English translation). Even Fux's treatment of modal counterpoint in his classic study, "Gradus ad Parnassum", though at first sight extremely strict, offers the student at every step the opportunity - however tiny - for some art. 

In these and other, more up to date cases, finding scope for my own taste, style and art was helped substantially by discovering early on that both Helmholtz and Rameau were simply wrong about the extent to which Just Intonation provides the physical basis for music; and thereafter, by developing my own appreciation of the far greater scope, beauty and versatility of Pythagorean Intonation. Also, although Hindemith's teaching of his take on "modern" composition is - pedagogically - wonderfully adept, adroit, engaging and liberal, for me it represented certain unacceptable departures from the aesthetics that I held and still hold dear. And so on and so forth for 8 long and arduous years.

So, how best is today's would-be student of composition to proceed? I think you've nailed it, Mike. Students must of course not only devise and carry out studies of their own but also practise, practise and practise with these studies, if they are to discover and develop the methodologies, shapes, forms, morphologies, etc, of their own tastes, styles and - above all - art. And all this can be ongoing, if perhaps episodic. Look how many great composers have even published the best of their "études".

In some (perhaps many) cases, this might involve waiting until after one has graduated and departed from an academic institute, given that not all of these institutes are equal in terms of the liberal scope for individual style, taste and art they afford their students. All the while, seriously ambitious students will no doubt treasure and entertain in all of their studies - institutional or private - some adroit and apposite degrees of musical rebelliousness and artful perfidiousness. But going back to my initial, cynical thought in this post, our 'advice' here presupposes that the institute does not permanently impair or even wreck the young student's chances of doing this.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Wed, Sep 14 2022 23:06
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1114

Hi guys,

My more than 2 cents worth (but not much more...) on this discussion:

I am talking from personal experience, the experience of colleagues known to me personally and whom I respect, and plenty of music history and biographies of the greats (not Wikipedia pages).

I can hear the level of schooling and music knowledge within seconds in somebody's music (under a minute if it is a really slow track). This is not an extraordinary ability. Everybody with the same schooling and knowledge as me or higher can do as well or a lot better. It is as simple as that. Seasoned professors (or great and learned ears) will even hear disparities in correct harmonic procedures. I am not talking about parallel 5ths and 8ves, something that every unschooled person brings up as an example in order to dismiss theory by citing composers that flouted this particular rule... There are so many conventions! And would you follow the German or the French school regarding them, for example?

Music Theory is not the be all and end all in art-music composition but it is a study of its own, with its own Bachelors, Masters degrees, etc. It does not merely form a part of an instrumentalist's or a composer's studies. I say to those who diss music theory - because they never studied it to an advanced degree; I personally don't know anybody that knows theory to ridicule it - have you noticed that most (if not all) great composers knew theory backwards before deliberately eschewing some of its rules? Ergo, methodically eschewing them? Ergo, not simply making inadvertent errors?

And I say to those who say -laughably- that learning theory is useless as it dampens the imagination: Is your music freer and more imaginative than the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Debussy, Strauss, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Lutoslawcki, Penderecki, Schnittke? By the way, if you want to ascertain how much theory you know (ballpark experiment of course), listen to Mozart's Musical Joke -use the score too- and see if you can discover all the places where you are supposed to laugh, and why. That work was composed by the great man for the entertainment of connoisseurs. A lay audience (= those who don't know music theory) would take it as a normal piece of music save for knowing the title and a few very crude passages.

Now, as to which music theory to learn in order to compose. Macker referred to a few great but antiquated manuals. He also said that he is very much interested in intonation issues. If that is the case, manuals contextualising musical conventions from the Gregorian to Baroque eras would be useful, but I would suggest more recent ones that incorporate the information in those classics. For those who wish to write equal-tempered music, tonal or atonal, they should learn theory that applies to Bach's music onwards. 

Like any serious skill, music theory cannot be acquired by watching a few videos, no matter what those videos claim. It takes years, and it took years for the aforementioned geniuses, for they didn't just learn I-IV-V-I with all the 7ths, 13ths and sus4s included. Plus, it is not a skill that you can learn by yourself. You can read and memorise all you want. If you don't put that knowledge to the test by harmonising Bach chorales, composing inventions, canons, fugues, sonatas, etc. and have somebody look them over, you are wasting your time! It is yours to waste of course.

Will knowledge of music theory (university level) make you a great composer? Please...

Will knowledge of music theory (university level) make you a better composer? Infinitely. 

At this belated point, I must confess that I personally HATED studying Music Theory almost as much as I HATED Analysis assignments.

Do I use theory when I compose? Do you mean do I comb my scores for all the rules of harmony?... Do you actually know how many there are?! Are you asking me whether I look through an entire work to see whether my upward leaps of major 7ths in the bass are resolved correctly, or whether I have any downward such leaps, which are not allowed unless there is at least one other note in between (it might actually be the other way around, I don't remember anymore...)?

Are you serious?

However, I am not Brahms, am I? Let's compare our scores to his and see who has the most mistakes, and how many more... (Let's not actually)

As with languages, it all has to do with sum of knowledge and fluency, which comes from practice as well as talent.

You might say that such considerations are ludicrous when one writes at an advanced chromatic idiom. Well, yes and no. Somehow, composers that know their theory (theory that does not apply to their harmonic systems), they still write better sounding music. Better balanced. Better voiced. You see, theory was determined by compositional conventions that most talented musicians more than less agreed on. They agreed that music sounded better that way, and it seems to be the case. Somehow, proficiency in this knowledge transposes favourably to more advanced harmonic systems, and Schoenberg insisted upon very sound traditional theoretical training for his students, even though he was the proponent of a compositional system that had nothing in common with classical theory. He "threw" John Cage out of his class because he realised the man had no interest and/or capacity for harmony. And Cage found a way to not need it. But he barely composed for instruments as we know them, did he?..

P.S.: Thomas Adès, Macker? Why? What possessed you?

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Wed, Sep 14 2022 23:31
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

.

Posted on Wed, Sep 14 2022 23:52
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1114

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

For example how did blues players learn how to do the music they mastered?  No school would ever dream of teaching it.  So the great blues cats all had to learn on their own, figuring out harmonies, styles of voice leading, all of what the music did - without the help of textbooks.  It is striking how many of the greatest blues and jazz players valued old 78 rpm records that had been cut by a great player - they were like treasure because they contained the real musical principles that people were trying to understand. So that was an example of a very different kind of "theory" but just as meaningful.  

You are right, of course. I was referring to art-music in my post, but a lot that applies to other musics as well. These blues artists, the ones with great ears, did arrive at some of the same theoretical conventions as well. But not one individual did. They were learning from each other, exchanging ideas with one another, slowly reaching a consensus similar to that of the art-composers of the distant past, and it took a lot of time for their conventions to become 'rules'.

The blues artists created something similar without a textbook, but the art-music composer could not do this as art-music is incomparably more complex than blues and even jazz music (not that jazz cannot get highly sophisticated). Huge ensembles and complex harmonies that often modulate a lot faster, and do so chromatically, instead of mostly in parallel motion.

In addition, art-music's legacy and veneration lies on the written page. This I have tried to explain to jazz aficionados as one of the great differences between the two kinds of music. In blues and jazz the performance is much more important than the piece itself (hence all the improvisations or singing styles where the real magic in the genres happen). They are music of the moment (I don't mean that derogatorily). In art-music, no performance by any conductor will ever be greater than the work itself as it lies, skeletally, on the page; the bare instructions of its potential realisation. It is like a Platonic ideal. Rigid in its formal and notational content (no matter what some conductors used to do 100 years ago as to the latter). So, since it is the score that is more important than any single performance, orthography and correctness became equally important. It is one reason that composers and publishers go to the expense of publishing revisions.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Thu, Sep 15 2022 00:27
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

.

Posted on Thu, Sep 15 2022 05:17
by NG33
Joined on Mon, Apr 13 2020, Posts 25

I love both studios! I personnaly still writing on paper, my conservatories years give me the ability to write music (ffrom piano to orchestra) without instrument only pen and paper... Of course at conservatory we learn music from the past from Bach to Ravel. But honestly If you can write music in style of, let's say, ravel It will not be really hard to compose film music in the actual style...

I just talk about skills, I'm not talking about talent, this is an other story...

Anyway, it's nice to see John williams' studio.

Posted on Thu, Sep 15 2022 09:12
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

Errikos, I know, I know .... me listening to Adès?? Lolol. But you're right, it does require some explanation.

I had two burning questions:- (1) what on earth possessed the management of the Berliner Phil not only to  invite Adès to conduct a concert, but also to agree to Adès' selection of works for the concert? And (2) what possessed the Royal Academy of Music to appoint Adès as a professor?

Also, I wanted to spend those 45 excruciating minutes in re-visiting my old opinions and feelings about his kind of balderdash (see below), and to bring them into the present day in mercilessly vengeful form. And lastly, I also wanted that time I spent in purgatory to serve as a painful wake-up call to remind me what could happen next if the extremist neo-marxian ideologues have actually succeeded now in capturing important territory in our beloved world of orchestral music.

Being a Boomer, I vaguely recall - in the '60s? - when the UK Musicians' Union started organising industrial action by orchestral musicians. These musicians were complaining bitterly that the amount of modernist atonal works they were required to play was causing their hair to fall out, giving them nasty headaches, and putting a serious damper on their private conjugal enjoyments at home! The Union won; orchestra repertoires were revised to exclude pretty much all the worst of the modernist drivel. I remember being wholly in sympathy with the musicians' cause.

As I watched the Berliner Phil musicians render the grotesque, ghastly, incoherent poppycock written by Adès, for much of the time they were showing their usual highly professional facial expressions and other body language. But towards the end of the concert I started seeing frowns and somewhat depressed comportments. Poor buggers - they had all my sympathy.

If there's to be a fight in mainstream and social media about whether or not the worst imaginable modernist garbage written by "toddlers" with no soul should be foisted on the public, I'm now solidly up for that fight, thanks to my 45 minute session of 'self-flagellation', lol.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Fri, Sep 16 2022 01:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

.

Posted on Sat, Sep 17 2022 02:36
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1114

William: That was my point exactly. Jazz is a genre where variation on a given composition is mandatory. The original composition is given as a guide for extemporaneous explorations; a point of departure. Art-music is very different in that regard. As far as complexity is concerned, I would say that apart from the aspect of rhythm jazz does not begin to compare with art-music. As sophisticated as it can get melodically and harmonically, and as many sub-genres of jazz as there are, and as much as it has evolved, it ultimately is based on specific patterns. I am certainly not saying that they all sound the same; far from that. However, I don't see anything in the same universe as the variety existing in art-music. I don't hear anything as disparate as I do in art-music. Shostakovich's, Poulenc's, and Varese's lives for example heavily overlap.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Sat, Sep 24 2022 16:57
by FedericoAsc
Joined on Fri, Jul 17 2020, Vienna, Posts 25

Errikos: I agree with most of your points. I've studied scores with no restrictions, from classical music to pop/heavy metal (according to my taste of course) but there is no single piece that I have studied, that doesn't show mastery of the musical technique. Some people learn that intuitively, as we all learn to speak with correct grammar without anyone teaching it to us, but that doesn't change that they are following the "manual".

Many artists nowadays like claiming that their music comes purely from emotions and inspiration, which are supposed to be more "noble" than the intellect. They claim they don't know music theory, which would represent the "coldness" of reason, but then I look at their score and I see the familiar patterns, and I just... smile. The point is, yes, we often use music to talk about our emotions, but that it's extremely different from saying music is just a product of our emotions. The idea that emotions in art have a superiority over intellect, well, it's a cheap and misleading inheritage from romanticism. But no, we are not birds, unlogical stuff is not interesting to the human brain. 

Posted on Sat, Sep 24 2022 17:32
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 441

Nice to see this thread revived.

I had a lot to say, but then Errikos said 99% of it much more eloquently than I would have.

The 1% where I disagree might be due to my own ignorance, but I will come to that later in this post.

First, the key point of my OP (and one that Errikos embellished incredibly well) was that training Music theory and inner hearing (most important!) create an entirely different type of composer which is impossible to match by just playing with keyboards and software. The brain the the most sophisticated sequencer. The evidence for this is abundant in the quality of works as Errikos elaborated.

Having said that, there are other types of music, although 'lesser' in complexity than art music, that have validity as they come purely from the heart....a means of human expression, that somehow moves the audience as they relate to that at an emotional level more than they would to Rachmaninoff or Beethoven. Although I dont appreciate the 'lesser' music myself, I have come to accept its existence as a fact of life and tried to be more inclusive of my friends who enjoy 'lighter' music more than art music. Everything has its place...

Now the point where I - not quite disagree - but would rather like to put forth a point in response to Errikos's comment about Jazz being less complex than Classical, can be best illustrated by an example.

In a documentary about Art Tatum, they talked about how Horowitz once spent an entire 2 weeks developing variations of Art Tatum's 'Tea for two' . Horowitz then played this in front of Tatum, following which Art Tatum sat on the piano for 10 minutes and blew Horowitz's mind away by creating incredibly complex harmonies that Horowitz couldnt conceive in two weeks! Horowitz wasnt a composer but still...this was very illuminating.

But AFIK early Jazz musicians did study Western classical and were influenced by it, besides gospel and the blues, and the complex rhythms the slaves brought from Africa. I dont think they derived the harmonic theory entirely on their own. I see Jazz and Blues, the root of most 20th century western popular music, as a collective contribution of many cultures, but strongly rooted in African American music, which was the most essential part. 

That was my ignorant 2 cents.

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Sun, Sep 25 2022 02:51
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

A few points on improvisation, and on blues and jazz.

Improv.   It's been said by witnesses that Beethoven could improvise for hours on end. We can only guess at how many other great western composers had similar abilities. Also, let's not forget that Indian classical music performance combines highly complex, strict structural and syntactical rules with artistic extemporisation. And today, French church organists are expected to be able to extemporise during divine services as well as in secular concerts. A couple of examples of the latter:-

Olivier Messiaen - Improv in church organ concert

Olivier Latry - Organ improv on a submitted theme, during a seminar at Notre Dame University, USA

Is the ability and talent to extemporise - at least on piano - strictly necessary for western orchestral composers? I'd say not. But surely it is of great benefit here and there, now and then, when composing. At the very least, who will deny that switching one's head into the extempore mentality is a very effective antidote to the dreaded "paralysis-by-analysis" syndrome? And of course, the more familiar that one is with theory as well as craft, the more extensive, elaborate and complex one's improvisations are - potentially - able to be.

That said, I seriously doubt if anyone can rightly refute that deliberated, analytically-founded composition is able, more often than not, to exceed in terms of richness and depth of complexity, what extemporisation on its own can produce. I suspect the ideal is a profound marriage of both abilities.

Blues.   I subscribe to the theory that the genre of Blues was a originally a discovery made by a few black slaves in the Americas when first encountering and using the European guitar tuned to Equal Temperament. My own analysis showed that uniquely in ET there is a very close proximity (approx. 2 cents) to the 17th partial (the angst-riddled and highly discomfiting "blue" note), and also to the 19th partial (an exquisitely beautiful yet somewhat 'veiled' and hence deeply wistful minor 3rd); neither of which are available in any of the historically mainstream intonation schemas. Furthermore, blues musicians finding that the "blues scale" is amenable to modal usage is surely a significant discovery and innovation in the history of music.

However, as proved time and again, especially by the "Boston Pop Orchestra" surge in the '70s, and by the many "pomp rock" attempts to use symphonic orchestras or ensembles to accompany rock bands, orchestras typically don't intone the two crucial ET blues notes correctly in ET. Instead, it seems most orchestral musicians tend to play in their usual and "more proper" orchestral intonation. Hence we have yet to see a great marriage of orchestra and rock band. Not having done any measurements on this (I just can't find any motivation to do so) I can only surmise that talented blues musicians who use orchestral instruments have learned to intone the two crucial notes of the blues scale according to ET.

Jazz.   Never been my cup of tea, so I can't speak much on this. However, it is apparent that as a popular music genre, a good deal of perfidious repurposing of modern music theory (and some older theory - e.g. liberalisation of modal usage) has gone into the jazz genre as we know it, and which I applaud.

But alas, it's hard to get away from the view that blues and jazz genres have both done their dash now. I find it sad and often somewhat annoying when attempts are made either to resurrect these genres without any significant innovations, or, worse, to carry on obliviously as if these genres are still current and widely welcomed among general audiences. But in contrast, both John Barry and John Williams have dug into their jazz backgrounds and popped a few jazz constructs here and there into their great and much loved compositions for film, with superb effect. "Gentlemen of taste", as ever, show us the way.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Oct 04 2022 00:32
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

.

Posted on Tue, Oct 04 2022 08:04
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 612

Completely agreed with your view of Modern concert music, William. The period of so-called High Modernity (early 20th century) degenerated into an awful kind of 'senile dementia' (well the modern era was already 5 centuries old by that time!), as personified perhaps in the faux-music atrocities perpetrated by Karlheinz Stockhausen. And yet today, that which some are pleased to call "postmodernism" really isn't; it's just even more high-modernist claptrap but with the 'dementia' somewhat cloaked by the cultural equivalent of anti-dementia meds, Lol.

That said, as with perhaps many if not most failed attempts at cultural innovation, some bits and pieces of the novelties of high-modernist ("newspeak") atonalism do seem to have percolated into the more stable and long-term strata of music idioms and vernaculars of today, and look set to stay with us for who knows how long. Just as our spoken languages very slowly adopt worthy novelties along the way, somewhat as in a Shakespearean sea change.

Take heart, William. As I watched the latest concert by Berliner Phil, I noticed a surprisingly large proportion of younger people in the audience. And what about the giant open air classical music concerts in Germany and Austria where most of the audiences certainly aren't old fogeys? Are the days and influence of "snowbird" and "blue-rinse" concert audiences at last fading away perhaps?

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Mon, Oct 10 2022 21:32
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1114

FedericoAsc, Anand, William, Macker: How is everybody? Long time no read...

I love inspired popular music (according to my taste of course), and I would rather spend hours listening to countless such tracks than spending the same amount of time listening to run of the mill art-music - especially those endless, uninspired, muddy, bloated "romantic" chimeras by third raters. Or worse, the insect cum factory noise imitations of the run of the mill experimentalists. Ugh!! I say this just to clarify that I do not consider art-music to be the only good music.

Now,

What does talent have to do with music theory? Nothing! Let's not conflate them. Talent, you are either born with or you are not. And if you are, with how much? Same goes for capacity for original thought. There is no substitute for those, and they demarcate the Elysian fields of the masters from those of the journeymen by barbed wire.

However, lack of talent and original thought can, and is habitually screened by craft. The more craft that is thrown into a composition, the more opaque that screen becomes. This craft can be acquired to a good degree by hard work in the disciplines of composition, which also include theory and instrumentation. Craft alone has not, and will never yield a masterpiece, but it can certainly yield something pleasant (and professional!) to listen to, if form and length do not exceed the limits of the -by definition- mediocre material.

On the other hand, what good can be reaped by talent alone, bereft of any craft, in music for traditional forces? How can you write for instruments about which you know little and expect masterworks? How could you begin to combine them effectively? Maybe you could in popular music (all genres), as band members and producers will fill in the huge gaps left by an inspired, but otherwise bare tune. However, this would be a collaborative effort that has little in common with the output of the art-music composer who has to determine all details in a score on his own.

Why did I learn music theory? Because I wanted to? No, it was imposed on me early on, and thank God it was! Craft is the vessel upon which ideas can sail the turbulent and inclement seas of music history and competition. The more knowledge and facility increase, the safer and farther the journey in deeper, maybe uncharted, and hence more enthralling waters. As an audience, wouldn't you rather engross yourself into the oceanic periplus of an experienced mariner, rather than drown yourself over the computer-assisted infantilisms of an ignoramus on the shore?

In the greatest of cases, you cannot tell where ideas end and craft begins, for they are intertwined; for craft itself is enriched and advanced. 

I hope that people don't think the greats composed with textbooks open on the table for reference... Everything I mention only applies to beginners to intermediates. The more one knows the less one thinks about it. Craft becomes ingrained and part of the subconscious. Often, innovation disregards knowledge, but this act is conscious. Nobody would find pleasure in composition if for every chord they voiced they would have to rifle through a manual for justification (except for those who write with crosswords). Everything becomes as automatic as driving a car does. How many times have I travelled a couple of kilometres lost in thought without realising I stopped for lights, made turns, etc.? I am an experienced driver however with well over a million kilometres under my belt. I couldn't do this at 17. I am therefore saying that not only does craft not impede one's flow of ideas, it contrarily precipitates and opens the right vistas for the development of these ideas.

Amassing knowledge and cultivating taste are so important, vital in fact, to composition. I am sorry I cannot remember who said this, I only heard it a few days ago, but in essence he said, "It was easy to consider myself a perfectionist in the past. The bar was that low."

I am addressing not the forum members I named at the start of this post, but anyone reading this that is interested in improving their compositional calibre: Whatever time you spend watching whatever vloggers, spend listening to the masterworks of the last 200 years or so, following the scores where you can. You will not become a composer by watching so-called "Tips" on YouTube! Stop listening to so much film music. Immerse yourself in the truly inspired, superbly crafted works of the real masters.

Given enough time, your bar will eventually rise.

I don't mean this to sound arrogant. There are so many musicians -and not- that know a lot more repertoire than I do, and better. I too keep augmenting my skills and knowledge, practically daily.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
3 Pages<123>
You cannot post new threads in this forum.
You cannot reply to threads in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.