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where is music going?
Last post Wed, Oct 18 2017 by William, 32 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 08:22
by fahl5
Joined on Fri, Feb 04 2005, Hall One, Posts 389

Hi William

Sorry I did not intend to insult you in any way. It was simply question about the opposite of Freedom I would like to bring up with that words.

Am I a composer? As much as I am interested. Of course You can find very few things I''ve done on my site  (for instance a littie stringquartett on all musical letters of my name or a short Jazz-Ensemblepiece I've done for Fable Sounds Broadway Bigband some years ago) which both are perhaps not so bad examples for what I said is my conception of responsible use of the compositional freedom in establishing each on its own internal musical relations and logic. You will see that the most music I composed have been mostly experiments to explore digital musicmaking and its instruments. What actually is often still a reason for me to produce recordings of classical standard repertoire with digital means, since this field (classical repertoire produces seriously with the latest digital means) seems to me still widly unexplored.

But since (perhaps being very european or even very "deutsch") I do feel a strong commitment to our long and rich musical tradition which in my eyes still sets the best benchmark for what is good music I am currently simply not that much interested in composing, since in my eyes there is very much other already composed music which seem to me worth to discover and to make it audible with the digital means of our time, yes that is beside the exploration of digital musicmaking currently an important part of my personal answer for the question what music might be worth to listen and working with it reasonable and meaningful.

And it is a musical as rich as demanding challenge to do so. Sure I will compose as soon I do have the impression it would make in any way sense and I just will not, as long other things seem to me more important to do. 

However it seem to my a pitty that while being upset about the policewording you seem to ignore completely everything else I have said about my understanding of Freedom and the musical resaonable way to make use of it. You are right this kind of ignorance is not what I expect of being a constructive part in a discussion.

So just try to read more than the first lines of my posting and I am sure we are able to discuss more substantial.

http://klassik-resampled.de
To be serious: Is there any greater resource of sample-based recordings of classical music out there?
Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 08:41
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

Very interesting that you mention the influence of an audience Jos.

The late Jonathan Harvey touched on this in his book Music and Inspiration, which I would highly recommend. He talks about having an audience in mind whilst actually composing. This is not in the practical sense, you know, like how many players have I got, line-up, what does the client like/want etc. - although that last scenario is probably valid too -  but is instead a deeper awareness of the role and influence an idealised audience can have on the creative process. If music is indeed a communication, he says, then the person(s) taking part in this act apart from the composer, will bear decisively on the choices made. Perhaps some of us recognise that within ourselves.

The term audience can also be much more subtle than a group of people sitting in a concert hall and could mean anything from a single person (one whom you perhaps admire and/ or respect),  to a worldwide broadcast concert, or from a fictional character or a deceased love through to a virtuoso player....oh and of course a paying client.

In an attempt to get to the OP's question from here, perhaps musics' future direction will be decided by how much composers want to re-establish or strengthen communication with the broader populous given the developments in the 20thC. There will always be the mavericks, individuals and  geniuses who are needed to keep the art alive and show the way, but it does seem to me that a compromise or a curtailing of artistic freedom is necessary for lesser mortals these days, especially if they want to their music to be understood and appreciated.

Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 18:19
by jsg
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 210

Originally Posted by: mh-7635 Go to Quoted Post

"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.

Rhythm is the one aspect in music that is deeply connected to the body, the physical world, and to time.  Rhythm has its roots in dance and movement.  It is possible to intellectualize harmony and melody, as common-practice theory, serialism and set-theory has done, but I don't believe it's possible in regard to rhythm.  Stravinsky understood this, which is why he could write ballets.  Other composers, such as Boulez and Babbit do not understand this.

The 20th century has given us a rich pallet of resources from which to draw upon.   Composers such as Barber, Nielsen, Britten, Copland, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofieff and Mahler, to my mind, found the right balance between tradition and innovation.  Pure innovation utterly disconnected from tradition usually does not produce worthy music, and music that is so utterly tied to tradition, other than folk music, is usually not much more than blatant plagiarism.   I think music that expresses absolutely nothing about the time and place in which the composer is living is insincere music.  I am not saying the composer is an insincere person, I am saying the music is insincere because it could have been written, say, 200 years earlier and nobody would notice.  Obviously I am not speaking of film music, which is an entirely different matter.

In my music, I attempt to write music that is sophisticated and challenging, but also accessible and listenable.  There's a comment made by a musician about Mozart's music that went something like, "Mozart's music is so simple a child can delight in it and so profound and subtle that the most learned musician can appreciate it".  I cannot think of a higher ideal to strive for.  The trick is to do it honestly, in other words, the music should have three levels of expression, not necessarily in this order, but a blend of these three components:

1.  The time and place the composer is living

2.  The unique personality of the composer

3.  The underlying reality of harmony and order that governs the cosmos  (Good taste?) 

Where music is going?  Unless we embrace an entirely new tuning system and adopt scales that utlize 1/4 tones and smaller, I don't think music will change all that much.   It will change, and certainly new timbres will always be coming on the scene, but since we humans, meaning our brains and our hearing capabilities, do not change from one generation to another, but only through evolutionary and biologic changes that take 10s or 100s of thousands of years, the real changes will be in whether human consciousness can become more sensitive to all the various musical elements we already employ.

One of the evolutions occuring since the end of the common-practice period (around 1900) has been the increasing use, both melodically and harmonically, of 12 tones rather than 7.  I don't mean necessarily dodecaphonic, but rather the usage of all 12 tones of the western chromatic scale, which is more complex (and harder to hear and sing) than diatonic melodies.   I think this trend will probably continue.

Jerry

Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 19:54
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 109

Hi Jerry,

The 3rd level of expression sounds very Platonic - is that what you meant?

Spot on, especially about Britten in particular steering a course between the antagonistic polarities of modern language. His desire was to communicate and be of use to society as was evidenced in his Aspen award speech - it is a sentiment that resonates with you and me both.

Posted on Sun, Oct 15 2017 21:57
by jsg
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 210

Originally Posted by: mh-7635 Go to Quoted Post

Hi Jerry,

The 3rd level of expression sounds very Platonic - is that what you meant?

Spot on, especially about Britten in particular steering a course between the antagonistic polarities of modern language. His desire was to communicate and be of use to society as was evidenced in his Aspen award speech - it is a sentiment that resonates with you and me both.

Hello Mike! 

Glad you asked, it helps me to clarify what I meant.  I think music, like much on earth, is a microcosm of pattern and order on multiple levels.  For example, a spiral is a pattern common to both a seashell and a galaxy.  I believe the universe is governed by many laws, a few of those we know about (gravity, electromagnatism, thermodynamics, etc.). My sense is that there are many laws we know nothing about that govern how reality works.  Perhaps musical harmony is one of those things, that which is harmonious to the mind is also expressing a harmony on levels beyond our consciousness.   Yes, I suppose some would call me Platonic, as I believe that the truth we can discern through mind, the beauty we can perceive with our senses and the rightousness we know through our emotional and moral intelligence are emanations of the same ultimate energy.  Truth, beauty and goodness are somehow connected.  I don't fully understand this of course, but until evidence proves me wrong I'll keep believing it.  I think the universe itself is inherently musical, as vibration is at the core of pretty much everything, from subatomic particles to our bodies, to electrical and acoustic energy and of course music. 

Jerry

Posted on Mon, Oct 16 2017 07:23
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 373

Music of course has physical laws and depends on them (vibrations). But there's much more...

A simple statement, a semantic etymological truth: muse, music, musical, amuse(ment)... All tied together in meaning. But as I read the current topic, I somehow have the impressing that the basic entry 'muse' (or source of inspiration) has ondergone a total twist during the last 150 years. Nothing abnormal or strange, just an observation. Maybe it has already been mentioned, but during all the centuries of musical evolution the aim was (not speaking about styles or fashion) to improve the musical performance in composition and instrumental (orchestral) rendition. Now I sometimes have the impression that we are returning to a kind of decomposing/decomposition and exploration of new (and by definition strange) sensations such as e.g. a whole asenal of violin sounds that are not inherent to (traditional) violin playing which may sound in the ears of many like some sort of 'abuse' of the instrument. More or less like the destruction on stage of electric guitares during a metal concert.

Of course discovering new possibilities is a good evolution, as long as the goal is more than just experiment for experiment's sake. (An impression that many listeners have...) We could call this phenomenon alienation (from the composer's side to his apossible audience). I suppose that's what Jerry explained. Intellectual challenge calls for emotional adaption. That would be a lot easier when beauty (depending on time, place, personality) is experienced.

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 16 2017 17:20
by jsg
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 210

Originally Posted by: Jos Wylin Go to Quoted Post

Music of course has physical laws and depends on them (vibrations). But there's much more...

A simple statement, a semantic etymological truth: muse, music, musical, amuse(ment)... All tied together in meaning. But as I read the current topic, I somehow have the impressing that the basic entry 'muse' (or source of inspiration) has ondergone a total twist during the last 150 years. Nothing abnormal or strange, just an observation. Maybe it has already been mentioned, but during all the centuries of musical evolution the aim was (not speaking about styles or fashion) to improve the musical performance in composition and instrumental (orchestral) rendition. Now I sometimes have the impression that we are returning to a kind of decomposing/decomposition and exploration of new (and by definition strange) sensations such as e.g. a whole asenal of violin sounds that are not inherent to (traditional) violin playing which may sound in the ears of many like some sort of 'abuse' of the instrument. More or less like the destruction on stage of electric guitares during a metal concert.

Of course discovering new possibilities is a good evolution, as long as the goal is more than just experiment for experiment's sake. (An impression that many listeners have...) We could call this phenomenon alienation (from the composer's side to his apossible audience). I suppose that's what Jerry explained. Intellectual challenge calls for emotional adaption. That would be a lot easier when beauty (depending on time, place, personality) is experienced.

Jos

Of course there is much more to music than laws governing vibration, I would think that goes without saying.  It is the love of music that sustains and nourishes musicians as much as music itself.   Almost every generation believes that music is getting worse and worse, nothing new there.  It's best to try not to write or speak in too much generality, the intellectual/moral/spiritual/artistic/social development of human civilization and individual people is always on many levels at once. Though we are all human and share much, very much, in common, there are also vast differences in the quality of thinking, ideals, values, living habits, ways of perceiving reality and the world, etc. that makes large sweeping generalities not too useful.  I do it too, we all do it, and sometimes generalities are useful because sometimes, something can be generally true.  But I really think in 200 years from now, when we are all dead and gone, there will be new composers, some will be writing fantastic music and many who will be writing crap and other nonsense, and everything in between crappy and great.  Just like today, yesterday and the day before.

Comparing the destruction of an electric guitar as part of a performance to using an musical instrument to make sound in ways that it was not intented for, i.e. playing the piano from the inside rather than striking the keys doesn't strike me as meaningful.  The former is a childish act of rage, frustration and attention-craving spectacle, the latter is genuine musical experimentation. What is interesting is that just around the time when composers were experimenting with acoustic instruments and seeking new ways to make sounds out of violins, pianos, flutes, etc, along comes the synthesizer, then digital synths, then sample libraries and soft synths.   Our timbral resources have expanded exponentially, which is a good thing to my mind. 

Jerry

Posted on Tue, Oct 17 2017 13:54
by Jos Wylin
Joined on Mon, Dec 03 2012, Flanders, Belgium, Posts 373

Hi Jerry,

I didn't want to compair destructive behaviour with 'unusal' playing of classical instruments. It was only an example of aberrant behaviour. Moreover, these musicians or whatever they call themselves do not act with rage or frustration, but it's more part of the shocking act (they do it every time again - they obviously earn too much money...).

A second phrasing is rather out of context as well: folk music, is usually not much more than blatant plagiarism.

I don't agree with that statement at all. So many great composers have used (and inspired) folk music during all the centuries of music history. (To name a few: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Kodaly, Bartock...). They also nourished the people's fantasy with their own sticky tunes (Mozart's opera melodies, but also Aubert's en many other's lived on for a long time in the streets with the poor people who couldn't even afford an entrance ticket.) I guess you mean another genre of folk music, the commercial sort that has no soul at all.

Further, I do agree with you on the use of more contemporary instruments in combination with traditional ones. They can complete each other and enrich the sonic orchestral world. The use of prepared pianos and the-likes don't do any harm to the instrument. But sawing a double bass in two is another matter, or playing the clarinet with a reed that must sqeak as much as possible over a hardly audible resonating open concert piano is not my taste. Using the bass bow on a vibraphone on the other hand was a smart addition to the existing possibilities.

What I actually wanted to say is this: sonic experiments are as such a very good idea, but they belong in a 'sound laboratory', in the composer's studio, not in the concert hall. Effects that work well and that have proven to be a welcome extension to the present day instrumental sounds must have their place in an auditorium. I've attended so many concerts with hardly any audience lately where experimental music was executed. As I said earlier, people want to have a pleasant evening, they don't want to be irritated and have to pay for it.

To close this topic, I like to add this: Where is music going? Where has music gone to? Good composers like yourself are prudent and wise enough to find a decent way to please the needs of the audience and yet to take the next step towards the evolving sonic world without disturbing the average concert visitor.

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 Tue, Oct 17 2017 21:42
by jsg
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 210

Originally Posted by: Jos Wylin Go to Quoted Post

Hi Jerry,

I didn't want to compair destructive behaviour with 'unusal' playing of classical instruments. It was only an example of aberrant behaviour. Moreover, these musicians or whatever they call themselves do not act with rage or frustration, but it's more part of the shocking act (they do it every time again - they obviously earn too much money...).

A second phrasing is rather out of context as well: folk music, is usually not much more than blatant plagiarism.

I don't agree with that statement at all. So many great composers have used (and inspired) folk music during all the centuries of music history. (To name a few: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Kodaly, Bartock...). They also nourished the people's fantasy with their own sticky tunes (Mozart's opera melodies, but also Aubert's en many other's lived on for a long time in the streets with the poor people who couldn't even afford an entrance ticket.) I guess you mean another genre of folk music, the commercial sort that has no soul at all.

Further, I do agree with you on the use of more contemporary instruments in combination with traditional ones. They can complete each other and enrich the sonic orchestral world. The use of prepared pianos and the-likes don't do any harm to the instrument. But sawing a double bass in two is another matter, or playing the clarinet with a reed that must sqeak as much as possible over a hardly audible resonating open concert piano is not my taste. Using the bass bow on a vibraphone on the other hand was a smart addition to the existing possibilities.

What I actually wanted to say is this: sonic experiments are as such a very good idea, but they belong in a 'sound laboratory', in the composer's studio, not in the concert hall. Effects that work well and that have proven to be a welcome extension to the present day instrumental sounds must have their place in an auditorium. I've attended so many concerts with hardly any audience lately where experimental music was executed. As I said earlier, people want to have a pleasant evening, they don't want to be irritated and have to pay for it.

To close this topic, I like to add this: Where is music going? Where has music gone to? Good composers like yourself are prudent and wise enough to find a decent way to pliease the needs of the audience and yet to take the next step towards the evolving sonic world without disturbing the average concert visitor.

Jos

If you're going to quote someone (this time, me) be sure to include the entire quote in context, here is what I actually wrote: 

Pure innovation utterly disconnected from tradition usually does not produce worthy music, and music that is so utterly tied to tradition, other than folk music, is usually not much more than blatant plagiarism.

Your argument about composers taking folk tunes and making variations on them is NOT what I was writing about.  When composers do this, they generally 1) use tunes that are indigenous to their own time and place, i.e. Mozart drew upon Austrian folk hymns, Stravinsky, Russian folk tunes, Bartok, Hungarian folk music and Copland, Appalachian folk tunes, and 2) create music that is in the style of music of their own time and place, albeit more sophisticated and complex than the original folk music. 

That's not what I am saying is plagiarism, not at all.  Plagiarism in music is more about inauthenticity, it's about writing a piece of music that is not an expression of the composer's own personality and not an expression of the time and place in which the composer lives and works.  This does NOT include film music which, by it's nature, often requires music from another time or place.

If I write a piece of music that down to the last detail, sounds like it could have been written 300 years ago, and it's not for film, or TV, that is plagiarism and inauthentic, no matter how well it is done.

It's not about quoting another work, that is not plagiarism.  It's not about using pre-existing melodies, that is not plagiarism either, although it can sometimes get the composer sued in a court of law for copyright infringment as the law might consider it plagiarism although artistically it may not be.

Most composers find meaning and pleasure out of writing music that has at least some degree of originality in it, the composer is employing creative expression because that composer has something to say in music.  The plagiarist does not operate this way - there is craft, but no art, the plagiarist has nothing to say.  There is detail, but no sense of time or place, other than the personality and time and place of the composer whose work is being plagiarized. 

Luckily, most composers are not interested in plagiarizing as it provides no creative satisfaction or meaning so they don't do it.  Every one of us is a unique individual, non-duplicatable throughout the entire cosmos and, each one of us is influenced by, and reacting to, the culture and time in which we live.  Music should reflect that reality, no matter the style or genre.  If it cannot do that, it is plagiarism. 

Jerry

www.jerrygerber.com

Posted on Wed, Oct 18 2017 01:06
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

The statement about folk music being mere copying is utterly wrong.  Folkmusic, as every composer knows, is a treasure trove of vast value.  Vaughn Williams who was the greatest symphonist of the 20th century spent a huge amount of time transcribing folk tunes.  So many composers who are the real innovators were deeply inspired by folk music and spent years studying it.  In fact I would go farther - the greatest music of all is the great folk tunes.  Just try to write a melody like Greensleeves, or Shenandoah, or Lowlands.  

Secondly, that is very irritating to dismiss Pierre Boulez.  I don't believe anyone here is his superior to casually dismiss his work. 

Posted on Wed, Oct 18 2017 01:24
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 160

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Music is now in a state of fragmentation.  Anything, including pure noise, is considered as meaningful as anything else.  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.

William, please forgive me for editing your post. I did so in admiration, because I think your comments express my feeling on this matter exactly. If intelligent people can no longer discern good from bad, then a child hitting random keys on a toy piano is just as worthy of merit as a Mozart concerto. . . .  Except . . . that is obviously a false statment. Therefor the idea that all musical art is worthy is false. And that is why new classical music sends audience running for the exits. Perhaps audiences are wiser in discerning artistic merit than academics would credit. 

Here is an orginal quote by myself that I believe is worthy of consideration; "We stand on the shoulders of giants, and if we leap off, we will not fly, but vainly crash to earth."

Posted on Wed, Oct 18 2017 02:12
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 4700

I agree with that, it can easily happen.  

One other thing - the statement previously made by jsb - that music using past styles is hopelessly repeating the past.  I absolutely detest this attitude, because I have encountered it in many situations.  By this reckoning, Wayne Peppercorn is hopelessly repeating past styles?  I don't think so !  His music is wonderful and shows that pure classical style can still be used to create new and valuable music today.  Likewise, I have always thought that any style of the past - even medieval plainchant - could be used today: with the slightest change, perhaps nothing more than instrumentation - it becomes modern.  Even its mere appearance today involves a certain historical and ironic perspective which changes its significance profoundly from mere repetition. The idea that only the most radical atonalism is valid is something that is taught at universities, and is ridiculous.  Schoenberg himself stated : there are plenty more compositions to written the key of C major.  At the same time, many modernist composers - Ligeti, Varese, Penderecki, Messeain etc. - are among the greatest, so I would never make  a statement against modernism in general.  It is the negative rejection of whole bodies of work that is truly disturbing.

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