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where is music going?
Last post Wed, Oct 18 2017 by William, 32 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 04:28
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 162

This post is a sort of digression from my work (not related music) which Ive been buried in. I listen to a lot of music while working and one of them was the violin concerto by Esa Pekka Salonen. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eao203RQ_i0

Salonen creates an incredible soundscape.

While being amazed at this piece and admiring Salonen as a great composer of our age, and thinking of the staggering amount of talent neede to write music like this, I noticed that this video has only 316 views in 3 years! Seems like no one cares for music like this! They would rather go with Justin Bieber and the likes.

Granted that Salonen does not care about YT views and is doing pretty well, it still made me wonder.....If this is the fate for a world famous classical composer and conductor, and a masterpiece of a work that he composed and conducted and played by a world leading violinist, what is the hope for mortals like me who use virtual orchestra and have no formal training?

For now I rather just choose to enjoy the music. I hope you do too.

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 04:41
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 162

Well let me add another link that is more positive.....with 300k views AND great music. So there is some hope.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6zCLs1_LnI

(that was a pretty average performance actually) 

Anand Kumar
Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 13:20
by WPeppercorn
Joined on Mon, Jun 24 2013, Cincinnati, OH USA, Posts 147

Great post Anand. This is so hard to comment on for me because it caused me to dig deep into my feelings, beliefs, etc. about music. Your closing comments say that you enjoy this and you hope we do too.... well, I have to say for myself I did not enjoy it at all. I really struggled to get through the eight minutes (but I stuck with it and finished listening). 

Having said that, I am in no way passing judgment on the composer, composition and performance all of which are at done at a highly professional level. It made me reflect deeply as to why I personally didn't care for the piece... and I believe I came to a conclusion that I didn't understand the music. Ultimately, it's a combination of my lack of music education (even though I'm musically trained) and strong preference for certain musical styles: in other words, it's MY shortcomings or lack of appreciation for music other than "my preferences". And that doesn't make me feel very good (I feel terribly less musically adept than I want to admit).  

Some modern musical styles real pull us out of our comfort zones. And just because we don't understand does not make it "good", "bad", etc. music (I don't even want to bring up the subject of what IS music and what's not... who am I to tell someone else what's good and bad...).

I actually envy you Anand that you find enjoyment listening to this... I really do. You have a "higher level of music appreciation" than myself. As tedious as this was for me, it was a good lesson in musicology and served as a wake-up call: I had forgotten how much more there is in music than just my preferences. I find I had become lazy by avoiding modern music and music trends. Thank you for the wake-up call.

The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing (and living!).

Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 15:52
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

Wayne I would not say you have shortcomings, but rather great talent. 

Also, artists in general tend to not be the best critics because they tend to dislike something that is contrary to their own style - and this is true of the greatest artists in any field.  It is almost a defense mechanism and quite natural because they need to nurture their own style, rather than diffuse it. A critic has to have a more wide-ranging view and the best ones see all sorts of qualities in vastly different works.  This is not a needed quality in an artist and in fact may be opposite to what he needs, because above all he must believe in what he is doing - almost to the point of insanity.    

Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 17:30
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 373

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Wayne I would not say you have shortcomings, but rather great talent. 

Also, artists in general tend to not be the best critics because they tend to dislike something that is contrary to their own style - and this is true of the greatest artists in any field.  It is almost a defense mechanism and quite natural because they need to nurture their own style, rather than diffuse it. A critic has to have a more wide-ranging view and the best ones see all sorts of qualities in vastly different works.  This is not a needed quality in an artist and in fact may be opposite to what he needs, because above all he must believe in what he is doing - almost to the point of insanity.    

I couldn't agree more with this. Any style or approach has its rights, merits, but is not always understood. However, (as we say in Dutch) 'good wine doesn't need any praise' or 'oil always comes to the surface (floats)'. In every style there will be quality and rubbish or mediocrity. Modernism can be a camouflage of a lack of talent or just the opposite: proof of strong personality and inventivity. Either way, for a lot of people it is hard to understand, let alone like it.

Jos

Jos Wylin

iMac 27', 1 Tb HDD, 256 Gb SDD, 32 Gb RAM
VSL full libraries, Kontakt 5, GPO 5, LSO
MIR Pro, Vienna Suite, VSS2, Altiverb 7, Sparkverb
Notion 6, Finale 2014, Studio One Pro 3, Logic Pro X
Roland QuadCapture
Posted on Mon, Oct 09 2017 17:37
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 162

Hi Wayne

very interesting response. I dont know in what world I would consider you as having shortcomings. You are a master in Haydn's classical style (I am certainly not) and that kind of craftsmanship is not easy to achieve. 

The fact that you acknowledge that Salonen's music is something different but just not what your preference shows that you are not in any 'comfort zone' and are willing to acknowledge that classical music has a wider meaning. And I am in no way "higher" level in music appreciation than you. I am myself struggling and trying to figure out what classical music means today. (btw anyone can post a YT video like I did, but you post YOUR music here, so we are not even comparable)

Coming back to my post, what fascinates me is that Esa Pekka Salonen himself conducts ALL classical music, from Bach to Haydn to Mozart to Mahler all the way to 20th century music.   So he is aware of the entire genre in all its detail but yet creates something different. So there must be a methodolgy, and I am curious to know what it is.

I once attended a live performance of Salonen's "LA Variations". I was so blown away by the sound and the incredible range of textures (they were just so beautiful and powerful...it was like Rite od Spring multiplied by 10) that when I walked out of the concert hall I though everything I was doing was a waste of time and there is no way I can achieve that level of craftsmanship. I can understand how music went from Bach to Haydn, counterpoint and all leading to the symphonic strucure and sonata form etc., and how Beethoven transformed music from classical to romantic and how Brahms carried that through and all the way to Mahler, who to me was the culmination of all music before him. I can even appreciate how Stravinsky takes the same structure and builds entirely new soundscapes and harmonies. I can even appreciate a bit of Charles Ives who wrote neoclassical pieces...

But beyond that its hard to see how classical music evolved to where it is now. Not even today, but even going back to 1913 music changed so much...when Charles Ives' finished his fourth of July (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z3U2oWFyok). This was another piece which when I heard live I felt I couldnt hear any music for a week that would satisfy me. When I heard LA variations I could not connect it with anything I heard before, while still being shocked and amazed by the orchestration and recognizing it as great art. Perhaps thats the way people felt on hearing 'Eroica' or 'Rite of Spring' or even Mozart in the 18th century with his 'gastly' scales. 

Wayne since we both love 'classical music' I bet you would enjoy these 20th century pieces if you heard them live...and see how powerful the orchestration and instrumental combinations are.

In anycase if I only could write beautiful symphonies and concertos like you I would be happy enough!

Cheers

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Tue, Oct 10 2017 23:29
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

" I walked out of the concert hall I though everything I was doing was a waste of time and there is no way I can achieve that level of craftsmanship." - agitato

This statement shows that you are capable of achieving this and beyond.  It is the hallmark of every fine artist, composer or writer to feel this way.  

Posted on Wed, Oct 11 2017 00:05
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

But anyway I also wonder where music is going.  I feel all of the classical arts - music, painting, poetry, prose, sculpture, architecture - are in a state of decadence.  In other words, they are terminated by total fragmentation.  Anything is valid now.

So a new way must be created - somehow.  I feel it is a combination of arts (perhaps overstated).

Posted on Wed, Oct 11 2017 08:10
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

"But beyond that its hard to see how classical music evolved to where it is now. Not even today, but even going back to 1913 music changed so much...when Charles Ives' finished his fourth of July "

 

hi Anand,

One thing not mentioned in the evolution of concert music that has led to its demise is rhythm. The famous 'emancipation of notes' was inevitably follwed by the emancipation of the beat - a paradigm first exemplified in works like the Rite of Spring.  I agree with John Adams when he says that pulse is a great unifier in music. It is something for a listener to hang their hat on as they perhaps listen to an unfamiliar harmonic language and it undoubtedly helps them steer an aural  course through a piece.

The development of rhythm beyond regular pulse is I believe, one of the strong alienating factors in modern classical concert music - and yet - it is also one of the most exciting to me as a composer. The freedom to explore the linearity of time subjectively and without a need for a functional metrical role  is a heady mix as I see it, even though in my own work  I do not exploit it as much as I might imply here.

Posted on Wed, Oct 11 2017 17:42
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 373

This looks like a deep musicology philosophical reflection... The very essence of being a 'composer' (he who puts things together to a personal unity). But is this the right place to think about the existential reason of being and evolution of music? I thought this was the very location to present the results of that labour and to find a likeminded audience... 

Whith which I didn't say that the topic is uninteresting!

Jos (Max)

BTW: Why is there so little response/reaction to presented music nowadays?

Jos Wylin

iMac 27', 1 Tb HDD, 256 Gb SDD, 32 Gb RAM
VSL full libraries, Kontakt 5, GPO 5, LSO
MIR Pro, Vienna Suite, VSS2, Altiverb 7, Sparkverb
Notion 6, Finale 2014, Studio One Pro 3, Logic Pro X
Roland QuadCapture
Posted on Wed, Oct 11 2017 18:19
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

Hi Jos,

I'd have thought given the title of the OP that a post referring to musics' evolution over the last 100 years or so would be relevant and conversational, especially given that Anand also stated that he found it hard to see " how classical music evolved to where it is now". There is no doubt about rhythms' emancipation contributing to the general unpopularity of modern concert music. 

Posted on Thu, Oct 12 2017 21:35
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 944

An interesting and vital question, to which the quick answer is: Nowhere!

I am referring to 'serious' music but the same could be said I think about many a style. Sorry about the easy aphoristic, probably useless answer, but I don't have time now to expound on this position (I have barely scanned what others are saying here). I hope I can return to this thread if it is still around, to throw a couple of cents in.

Cheers!

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!
Posted on Fri, Oct 13 2017 17:30
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 162

So many interesting responses! 

Errikos I am sure you have lots to say and look forward to it.

Ive been busy myself. But just a quick note that my question was more related to where is classical music (or 'serious' music' or art music) going. But some interesting posts about the general direction of mussic itself. I guess the two are ultimately related.

My question is addressed not just to a listener of classical music but specifically towards composers who are musically trained enough to be able to understand part writing, counterpoint and orchestration, (which I assume is true for members of this forum) and who love/were brrought up in the traditional classical music of the Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven variety, or even the later developments in romantic all the way to neo classical music of Shostakovich or Stravinsky, In all this music there is a clear structure and form and methodology that was built like a pyramid with foundations that can still be traced to Bach (counterpoint) and Haydn (Symphony).

How does someone with such a background learn to perceive 20th century music such as by Charles Ives or Salonen or Messiaen, which seem to lack the same elements, but yet are performed by orchestras around the world alongside Beethoven Mozart and Mahler?  This modern music is all seemed to be based on texture with less emphasis on melody. But yet it is powerful and intriguing, and these composers are no less than the great composers of the classical and romantic era in their technical sophistication.I wouldnt quite call their music decadent btw.

I guess if I had formally attended conservatory I would have found the answer. But since I am self taught I am just fishing around for thoughts from others who did attend.

In other words, my question is really a naive one;)

My question was a bit confusing as I also mentioned the poor views for the Salonen YT clip,....my concern here was, how are composers that write 'serious' music to appeal to more listeners?  One answer which I think William gave was film scoring, which offers a chance to still do very high quality classical music and reach 'common' people, as shown by so many great film composers.

I need to respond to the other posts (particularly the fantastic comment by mh regarding rhythm) so far later since I am busy with my work, but please do post you further thoughts.

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 01:13
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

Music is now in a state of fragmentation.  

Anything, including pure noise, is considered as meaningful as anything else.  

So all the "schools" and "traditions" and "movements" are interchangeable and represent merely whatever one's own taste may be.  In the past there was always a singular great movement. In Western music: Beethoven advancing orchestration and form, Mahler and Bruckner expanding the symphony, Schoenberg creating a new kind of harmony with serialism.  But all of that is past.  Now, any sound is potentially music.  So total freedom has been achieved. 

But the problem with total freedom is chaos.  If everything is meaningful, the state of "nothing means anything" can also exist.  I am not sure it does, so I don't mean to sound extremely negative.  But I remember the great filmmaker Jean Renoir stating: "If I had total freedom I wouldn't know where to begin."  

btw  unlike Errikos I always try to find time to mouth off here on the VSL Forum - as long as the libations hold out.    

Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 11:18
by fahl5
Joined on Fri, Feb 04 2005, Hall One, Posts 389

So what are you looking for?

You dont want to have Freedom in music?

OK and who should do the job of the musiical-police who puts in Jail all who do not follow the strict musical law?

Imho, There is never any Problem with "Freedom" when it is used with reason and careful and responsible and who else could and should ever care for if not the musician itself?  So it is up to you to restrict what you do as much as in your view musical reason demands it. If you are right I am sure you will easily convince others with the Results of yor musical thinking. If other convince with different results and concepts, than obviously there is something reasonable in their way to make music to. Why not?

I prefere especially in music that no one else but the musician itself decide what restriction or limits makes sense to be kept. Convince those you would like to convince but as musician I think this should be done with nothing else but the music it self.

I personally can not see any chaos but a very rich, interesting and inspiring tradition and do not want to miss any aspect of it. And of course the musical history is not at all reduceable on 4-5 names there ave always been and still are very very much more very gifted musicians who contributed their often very interesting part to a tradition which in itself provides so much interesting and meaningful things still to discover. No in my opinion this has never been any chaos at all, but an impressive cultural wealth which deserves that we care for and try to push it forward with the means of our time.

http://klassik-resampled.de
To be serious: Is there any greater resource of sample-based recordings of classical music out there?
Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 13:09
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

I agree with William AND you Fahl.

William quite rightly in my view, says that total freedom has a down side. For me, that downside also lays the door open to charlatans. If my wife can sit at the piano and plonk out a convincing improvisation alla Boulez after a couple of glasses, with me sitting there thinking "If I heard that on a CD how would I know it was a genuine expression by a good composer" - then how or even why,  should the general public take notice in a world already swamped with good and bad music?  I am fully trained and experienced and even I am sceptical about some atonal music heard today, especially music that does not compromise. Ultimately I have to just go on instinct and if it at the very least feels good, then ok, best not question its genesis. Still it is always a matter of taste and we will all disagree on that I'm sure.

However, I hope you might get that I am playing a little devils' advocate here. Creatively,  atonal, or at least music free from  harmonic restraint, was inevitable and correctly so in my view. For those with adventurous ears, it can be quite a giddy feeling to wander through atonal fields to cherry pick whatever takes your ear. And this is why I agree with Fahl too. The best composers will enforce their will on said freedoms by, ironically, imposing restriction and order to fend off any chaos. It is those defining, limiting parameters that with intellect a, little luck and a determined musical mind, will lead to a convincing piece of music that will hopefully take away any mistrust and guess work on behalf of the listener. That's my theory anyway...still trying to achieve it though!

Sorry Anand if my post has strayed off the beaten track...:-)

Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 14:39
by fahl5
Joined on Fri, Feb 04 2005, Hall One, Posts 389

Imho it always have been both 1) ingenius ideas of the musical moment (which are always Ideas of what might sound just in the way the composers wants to express) and 2) any kind of relation/context which is likly to unfold something like an in any way plausible reasonable sequence/ development of the musical ideas in time. Our tradition has had in the last 1000 years very different answers how to achieve both. The difference between meaningles "bad Freedom" (anything goes but means nothing at all) and good music is in my humble opinion the simple fact that good musicians are able to imaginge convincing soundideas and convincing musical context in which they make sense as part of the whole. And ths is simply the fact that they are able to think in music no matter which kind of musical language, they choose and which kind of musical syntax they develop.

And yes Boulez and his in parts very high determined musical order is nothing for those who do not feel invited to explore the musical syntax he unfolds but that does not mean, that his music is "meaningless". And yes already contemporaries of Boulez achieved (at least at the first glance) very similar sounding results with the complete contrary approach of denying nearly every kind of structural order and if they still have had anything to comunicate they hav found their audience and have been able to convince them.

But deniying Structure and restricition in the conception of the music does not mean that it has no concept at all, it has had its reason in relation to other being the counterpart of more or less limited traditional music. So even what Cecil Taylor or Ornet Coleman etc. have done relate to music and make (perhaps only) sens in this relation.

If you ask now "where is music going". I would think the dispute between concepts of tonal and atonal music is much less interesting than the question what exactly we are trying to comunicate today.

My answer would be "very simple": just do what ever might make music reasonable and meaningful today and of course feel free to do so. No one will be offended if a good piece of music is tonal or atonal today as long as it is good .

http://klassik-resampled.de
To be serious: Is there any greater resource of sample-based recordings of classical music out there?
Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 15:56
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

I absolutely agree Fahl. The amount of control the composer has over his material, irrespective of the language will surely be the measure of how inevitable the music will feel.

I should perhaps say that I am a fan of Boulez, but you got me thinking and I hope this is relevant to the OP. Becuase the syntax of modern music is open to such aping even by people who are not really trained as such, what does that say about how we listen to and write  music?  Does it matter if the piece we are investing time in is sincere or not? (I am talking about modern concert music). Is there an in-built response to sound that will naturally invest or even invent meaning whilst listening? Do we even need a composer if there is inherent meaning in combinations of notes? OK, probably gone off the beaten track....

Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 16:19
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

"So what are you looking for?

You dont want to have Freedom in music?

OK and who should do the job of the musiical-police who puts in Jail all who do not follow the strict musical law?"

- fahl

Are you a composer?  You put a lot of stuff up that is other composer's work, but I never heard anything you did.  I was talking about something an actual composer deals with.   That total freedom can lead to paralysis and meaninglessness.   Also I was obviously talking about the past being less free than now,  not trying to "police" people.   That is an insulting suggestion. 

I am through with this kind of conversation.  It is really worthless and irritating.    

Posted on Sat, Oct 14 2017 16:46
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 373

Allow me some reflections and thoughts:

  • All music is noise. All noise is music (?)
  • Music is communication (it conveys emotion, ambience, content...).
  • Music has to contain four elements: melody (or whatever thematic material), rhythm, structure, harmony (how free this may be).
  • Music is the result of an honest intellectual process, even if it is pure improvisation.
  • The essence of all music is the ear of the listener.
  • Music is the most free expression of the most individual emotion (as all forms of art are).
  • Music is everywhere. Discovering it is an everlasting challenge.
  • Animals don't produce music, we make their sounds music (and often try to imitate them in a musical way).
  • Instruments have been designed to produce music, not just (un)controled noises.
  • Musical compositions (and other forms of art) need an audience (to enjoy, judge, (dis)approve...) Without it its pointless.

...

These are not my personal thoughts and reflections and I'm not convinced of their correctness either, but they somehow show the way people look at the art we call music. And art it is, as long as we consider it thus.

One small consideration of mine: many former experimental styles and forms have disappeared a long time ago (serial music, dodecaphony...), probably because of the lack of public interest, which raises the question of the place/power of the audience in the whole process. A couple of the above statements refer to it. Communication always works in two directions...

Jos

Jos Wylin

iMac 27', 1 Tb HDD, 256 Gb SDD, 32 Gb RAM
VSL full libraries, Kontakt 5, GPO 5, LSO
MIR Pro, Vienna Suite, VSS2, Altiverb 7, Sparkverb
Notion 6, Finale 2014, Studio One Pro 3, Logic Pro X
Roland QuadCapture
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