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#1544540 - 10/27/10 08:22 AM Exploring New Ground
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Each breakthrough in music entails the creation of methods which change the vocabulary of Western music. Plain chant consisted of a single melodic line, and rules which produced melodies of a specific character. Early polyphony (literally multiple voices) extablished rules of voice-leading which are still in use today. Palestrina's counterpoint differed from Bach's because of its pervasive sonority. Bach's later counterpoint infused dissonance in the form of pedalling, accented passing notes and suspensions. Madrigal composers introduced chromaticism and an early analogue to floating tonality. Purcel introduced tonal chromaticism by introducing a chromatic figured bass. And so on.

Faced with coming up with new systems, a good many composition students are stumped. This is not through any fault of their own, but rather demonstrates failings and weaknesses in the way composition is taught in many institutions.

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#1544544 - 10/27/10 08:26 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
The fact of the matter is that many institutions do not teach composers how to break new ground.

Part of the reason is that the instructors often don't know themselves. Their range of study will often extend to the last thing they themselves studied, which becomes more and more out of date, the longer they've been out of university.

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#1544546 - 10/27/10 08:29 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
However, just as composition can be broken down into a handful of specific components, so too can new music, even that not yet written, be laid out in a clear, unambiguous, easy-to-understand manner.

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#1544552 - 10/27/10 08:35 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
My favourite teaching-tool, when it comes to composition, is the structure of existing music minus the motes. It's like building a bridge. As an architect presented with the task of building a bridge, you know what you're in for before you've even begun. Your first question is, What is the new bridge to span? What is the bridge to be made of? Do I use stone, wood, brick, steel, concrete, or can I try some new type of construction material?

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#1544556 - 10/27/10 08:39 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Taking control of the construction material of music is too seldom taught. For instance, we're all taught how serialism evolved and how it works. What we're not taught is that 12-tone rows are only one possibility offered by serialism. You don't need to use 12-tone rows.

But you do need to create a system, otherwise your compposition will be a structureless mess.

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#1547367 - 10/31/10 02:35 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
This is precisely what happened in the early days of Be Bop in the jazz world. John Burks (Dizzy) Gillespe, Thelonious Monk and others had just about everything worked out- how the musicians were to realise their lines through the chord vocabulary, how the bass and percussion were supposed to work, and they had worked out the chord vocabulary and style and methodology of improvisation and arranging, but they lacked the most important ingredient of all- structure. Then, along came Charlie Parker, a Kansas City Blues musician, and everything suddenly fit into place and worked. Without Charlie Parker and the structure he brought to the table, there would probably have been no Be Bop.

This is just as true in the world of Classical music. It's one thing to have great ideas, but if structure isn't part of those ideas, you'll make little, if any, headway.

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#1547368 - 10/31/10 02:42 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
In the preface of Walter Piston's book Counterpoint (at least, in the old edition I own), he criticises Western Music for being rhythmically lacking. This comment has always stuck out in my mind as being both profound and prophetic- profound because despite being such a simple, innocuous observation on the surface, it susses out a glaring flaw in the development of Western music; and prophetic because despite the number of very intelligent, very well-educated people working away in the classical genre, thirty-five years after first reading Piston's comment, the same observation could be made again; and this does not bode well for the future and the health of Western music.

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#1547571 - 10/31/10 10:48 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
I don't feel like I need to come up with new systems. I start by just using the systems already in place, and often mixing and matching different systems that traditionally do not belong anywhere close to each other (the most common example being pop and classical). I would love to try to compose something based on a unique system that I created myself, but I'm worried about such a project becoming a pretentious mess. I think that too often, academic composers think they must ALWAYS break new ground, and that's where we get the hundreds of pieces written for falling bricks and flushing toilets. I want to create something real and unique.

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#1548122 - 11/01/10 02:49 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
If you want to create something real and unique, Jared, you have to break new ground, otherwise your work won't be unique, nor will it be real, because the elements you're using are all borrowed. Classical composition is an art, and art must break new ground in order to be art, otherwise it becomes what's called "assembly-line art", an example of which is all those pastels of bulls and matadors on black felt that were done back in the 1970's.

The only way a piece of music can be a pretentious mess is if it is a pretentious mess. If what you're working on is the real deal, you'll have nothing to worry about.

The biggest mistake young composers and writers have to worry about is following bad advice. These days they're often told to "just go with the emotion". This is a mistake for a number of reasons. Composition is a trade that entails a collection of techniques. To surrender to emotion is to lose sight of the true objective, which is to master the underlying mechanics of what makes any art work. These mechanics give rise to emotion in the listener, which means that working entirely from a place of emotion will, at the least, dumb down the process of writing. This is the purview of pop art, pop music and pop fiction.

When working with a new system, you have to get excited about what your new system can do, the way a bunch of young guys working on a new type of race car or ATV get excited. They busted their arses on the mechanical end in order to achieve a goal- to go faster, to manoeuvre with more agility, to do things no prior vehicle was able to do. It's the same with writing music and books and painting. Your goal is to produce a method of doing things which bring sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement to every note you play.

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#1548128 - 11/01/10 03:02 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Another way of explaining it, Jared, is to relate my own experience with new music.

I'm old enough that I've heard new music by Khatchaturian, Stravinsky (his Symphony of Pslams was an event broadcast on TV), Shostakovich, Messian, Ligeti, and ohters.

It's not like listening to music today, where as a listener or a performer you're simply enjoying music you know, or a genre you know. In those days there was a "WOW!" factor. You weren't listening to music in the same way at all, as people do today. You were often on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next new thing the composer was going to do, right in front of your ears!

(Sorry- couldn't resist)

You were caught up in real classical music, which was music, yes, but it was also an important historical event, and instead of reading about history, or seeing a documentary about it, you were experiencing it in real time. You were actually in it.

That presence, that excitement, is all but gone, today. I'm an advocate of getting it back on track before everyone alive forgets how.

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#1548335 - 11/01/10 11:18 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
I agree with what you're saying, except that I differentiate between "real" and "non-borrowed." Nobody I know would be so silly to call the work of Bach entirely unique, entirely non-borrowed. But it is very real, very inspired, and most importantly, it's original. Originality doesn't depend on a complete lack of precedent. All real music borrows from other systems. Personally, I love creating hybrid systems, "fruit salad" systems, by mixing borrowed elements to create something new and fresh.

I think you are assuming that pop artists and musicians don't enjoy what they do. I agree that pop art/music/fiction is generally assembly line crap. But this isn't always the case. Throughout the ages, there have been pop artists, writers, and musicians who have broken barriers and moved forward. They were only popular because they had done something with a complete pop sensibility, appeasing a massive audience. I can think of tons of examples of musicians like this: Kurt Kobain, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, The Beatles, etc. All of these people borrowed elements, but they pushed music forward with fresh ideas.

I don't know what music you listen to, but I get that "WOW" factor, that inspiration and glee, from many musical acts today. Dream Theater never ceases to inspire me. George Winston brings tears to my eyes. System of a Down always got me on the edge of my seat with their fierce originality. Man, I hate genre bullcrap just as much as you do. I've dedicated a large portion of my career to breaking down silly genre barriers. If you want to reinstate classical music in today's culture, fine, but remember that what you are doing is incredibly non-unique and very much borrowed. Which is fine.


Edited by Jared Hoeft (11/01/10 11:23 AM)

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#1549066 - 11/02/10 04:51 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Good post, Jared!

I'm not trying to reinstate classical music. I am, however, attempting to re-instill underlying classicism, which is something else altogether.

Miles Davis observed, in the 1960's, after observing an outdoor pop concert, that most of the musicians knew nothing at all about music. This wasn't an opinion on his part, based upon casual observation. He spent days mixing with the musicians themselves, who were very much aware of him.

His response was to create a whole new musical form called Fusion. Think about that a moment- one guy comes along and invents a whole new trend in music, which subsequently became a trend that generated a generation of performers and the people in the entertainment business who marketed them. That's one guy, armed with nothing more than a knowledge of underlying classicism.

The point being that the knowledge of underlying classicism is the knowledge of what makes music go, how it works, how to manipulate and create its components. There's a world of difference between that and someone bashing and thrashing around on a guitar, writificating and singifying.

Stravinsky was revered by jazz composers, partly because his bitonalism supplied much of the methodology needed, which jazz composers used to create their own vocabulary; and partly because his ostinato usage provided jazz composers with tremendous structural freedom in both written and real time. Ergo, what Stravinsky brought to the table for them went far beyond his music- it was the tools extrapolated from the existing underlying classicism.

The point being that the tools themselves are universal, regardless what type or form of music we're talking about. And people with a knowledge of underlying classicism can do something those without such knowledge can't do: they can progress.


Edited by gsmonks (11/02/10 04:54 AM)
Edit Reason: errant "r" removal

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#1551278 - 11/05/10 02:51 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
pianoman6584 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 109
It's funny how everything I've ever wanted to say about modern composers, you've mentioned, Monk.

While I agree that the modern composer needs to look more into a new direction, we need to define the threshold in which elements of music can be recycled.

From my perspective, you start at the top level, which is the harmonic layout, e.g. scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. Furthermore, the harmony can be organized horizontally or vertically, which has more to do with the rhythmic scheme.

Then going down a level, there's the progressions. This tends to be a more deciding factor when it comes to originality. A simple 1-4-5 progression is almost laughed upon by any avid composer, regardless of the harmonic layout. While the progression can have an underlying simple root, it must have some twist or modification to be labeled original.

All of these contribute to the overall style of the piece.

Chopin was considered genius because his music was both unique and satisfying to the ear, a difficult combination to come by nowadays. There's really only two ways to reach that level of quality: study many different composers, taking desirable elements from each and making it your own OR use theory and experimentation to serendipitously make the next masterpiece. I'm sure the former was a common route for most composers.

My point is: inevitably we are going to take ideas from the past. After all, consciousness is just a product of it's environment, right? Hopefully, we're able to evolve like our musical forefathers did and not depend too much on the rigid boundaries of modernism.

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#1551351 - 11/05/10 08:23 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Heh- It's "Monks" with an "s", Pianoman, aka the Anglicised version of Monaghan. "Monk" is most often Jewish, whereas "Monks" is Irish. Not that I'd mind being the Jewish variety, which would place me amongst some notable types, like Thelonious and Merideth.

I-IV-V can be made fresh and new again, and can be utterly transformed by someone who knows what they're doing. And there's the rub- too few musicians really know what they're doing these days, and that includes the very well-educated.

It's one thing to know how to manipulate the constituents of music, and entirely another to know how it actually works.

In terms of going back over old music, many composers did just that. They carefully studied the manner in which music had evolved, then went back and rewrote the book, as it were. As modern as Stravinsky sounded circa 1914, for example, every note of le Sacre du Printemps was rooted in the Western musical tradition.

In the jazz world, the same was equally true of Louis Argstrong, Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman. They may have struck the listener as outrageous and ultra-modern at first listen, but a trained ear could hear echoes of the early elements the new music was comprised of.

That's quite a thing nowadays, that so many composers of classical music and jazz don't really know how their music works. They know how to juxtapose existing elements in order to get unfamiliar results, but don't know how to generate something genuinely new.

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#1551419 - 11/05/10 10:47 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Oh, yeah, regarding your mention of consciousness, Pianoman . . .

You're exactly right in terms of taxonomy, the basis of which is change being contingent upon the existing state of a thing. Things can't just pop into being, in other words. When it comes to evoluvtion, change is dependent upon the existing state of something, which is altered or modified. The same is just as true of human thought in terms of ideas. You can't just suddenly create something that never existed before. You have to work with what is, and that is what so-called "tradition" really is- working with what already exists. That's what the traditions of Western music, ballet, jazz, literature and art really are.

What makes each of these disciplines go is their underlying classicism, and in terms of underlying classicism, it's the same regardless the discipline. The same devices work audially, visually and conceptually. Even perceptually.

In other words, you can step outside of one discipline and borrow directly from another. I know this from being a writer as well as a composer. Musical devices often end up in my books, and literary devices often end up in my music. Characters, when working on an outline, can experience false endings and beginnings, can work in counterpoint to one another, as can plot elements; visual cues and auditory clues can be evoked via the construction of musical passages, conceptual and literary elements can be expressed musically.

Really knowing how music works means knowing Western music from its earliest beginnings, from the few early Greek modes, to the influence of Pythagoras in terms of systematising the modes in order to create the gamut, and in terms of the relationship between harmonics and the creation of scales, and most importantly, studying plain-chant in order to achieve an understanding of how voice-leading came about.

Even before Harmony existed, the rules we today apply to writing for more than one voice applied to writing for a single voice. The fourth fell to the third and the leading note rose to the root long before there were chords and the V7 to I progression.

Furthermore, one must understand the underlying mechanics of tonality in order to truly write non-tonal music. This is something modern jazz musicians fail to understand. You're not playing modal music just by noodling around on different diatonic scale degrees. That's not how modality works. Modes have a very different type of chord vocabulaty from tonality, and it is the scale plus the chord vocabulary that makes for a mode. The scale, standing alone within a tonal context, is not a mode because it's not behaving as a mode.

And so it goes.


Edited by gsmonks (11/05/10 10:50 AM)
Edit Reason: an "s" for an "a"

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#1552035 - 11/06/10 09:45 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
One question always to ask yourself is "How did composers of the past break new ground?"

The answer is pretty much straightforward for the most part. Stravinsky, for example, was looking for a "primitive" sound, and the dissonance derived from bitonality was the natural solution. He thought of dissonance as having a "primitive" sort of sound, but he wanted an ongoing dissonance, and not the type afforded by traditional western music in the form of pedaling, accented passing notes and such. He was looking for ongoing dissonance without resolution, or the possibility of resolution.

Purcell was looking for a way out of the melodic doldrums of tonality, and greater range of emotional expression, something complex and nuanced. The solution which afforded itself was obvious- choramticism, which was both nuanced and forced the melody in new directions.

In each case, what we call "progress" was a solution, either to an ongoing shortcoming in existing music, or to acieving an end, such as creating a "primitive" sound.

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#1552743 - 11/07/10 08:40 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Which brings us to the next stage- having an agenda.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. A sense of necessity in music is part of what it is to have a clear-cut agenda to follow. This, in turn, is what directs us toward solutions.

If you don't feel the urge of necessity, if you don't have an agenda, how can you be expected to contribute to Western musical progress?

For Purcell it was simple- music of his day was in a rut, expression-wise, and he felt a powerful urge to get out of it, to deepen and broaden the range of expression. Stravinsky felt a strong urge that was common in the early 20th century- that of expressing primal, primitive forces. It was a feeling that was experienced across the board, in the art, music and literature of the day.

Today there are deep social and musical and artistic urges, as there have ever been, but people are finding it far more difficult to access the specifics. Part of this is that we don't have a single dominant generational theme, as we did in the 60's as a result of the baby Boom. The subsequent generations have been less able to generate an impact on society as a whole simply because there has been no attendant population boom.

This means that there has been a societal shift towards the reactionary end of the scale. Far more people are reacting to stuff today than are doing stuff. Historically we're in a couch-potato, consumer-binge rut.

Herman Hesse and others had another name for it- bourgoise, a state they despised, for its inertia, its complacency, its lack of imagination, its hidden toxicity.

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#1552791 - 11/07/10 09:55 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Wow, talk about making music more complicated than it is.

Give me emotional music derived from the heart anytime over system (intellectual) generated music. Let your emotions guide your composing and your listeners will better connect to it. Unlike the spoken/written word, music speaks in arrangements of incomprehensible emotional tones.

Music theory will never explain the emotions a listener will experience.

John

_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1552922 - 11/07/10 01:13 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Gee, John, you've just tossed out classical music in favour of country 'n' western :^)

But I do confess that Stompin' Tom, Hank Snow and Jonny Cash are guilty pleasures of mine.

Actually, not theory per se, but compositional methods, do explain the emotions a listener will experience, John. That's largely what composition is about- coming up with methods which evoke emotion in as direct a manner as possible. The means to achieve that are purely technical.

I have to say that this is exactly the area where you lose many a student. Many resent the apparent calculated manipulation involved, and can't/won't believe that that's how classical music is actually written.

The emotional part is probably the greatest fallacy, and the least understood part of classical music by the layman.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, however, and works like Richard Strauss' Zarathustra, though highly emotional, are not and never have been composed via purely emotional means. Zarathustra is an example of technical prowess at its finest, executed with great passion. It is a product of great discipline, as are a good many of Bach's works.

The emotion is there, John- just not in the way you're thinking of it.

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#1552966 - 11/07/10 02:21 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
"Gee, John, you've just tossed out classical music in favour of country 'n' western" - gsmonks

Well, I'm far from a country 'n' western enthusiast, though I find some of the latter more interesting than some of the former. I mean; how many Haydn symphonies can be listened to before one becomes brain dead.

"The emotional part is probably the greatest fallacy, and the least understood part of classical music by the layman" - gsmonks

In your opinion. I'm far from a layman and totally disagree. This idea is usually perpetrated by the exclusive club elites that compose for the exclusive club elites.

BTW, when you speak of classical music, I imagine you mean serious music. In which case, I'm a serious music composer of the 21st. Century.

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1553050 - 11/07/10 04:15 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
Jared Hoeft Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
gsmonks, you seem to have the all-too-common attitude of "Western Classical music is the only true artistic music and all other styles are inferior." Why do you think this?? What is so wrong with Country, or Rock music, or Indonesian Gamelan? I listen to just about every style of music. I don't dig modern Rap music, since it's been absorbed into the commercial mass production of popular music, and I really don't like classical opera, since I personally cannot stand the heavy vibrato and throaty quality to the vocals. But I enjoy country music, Rock music, A wide variety of World Music and Jazz, European Classical, Western Romantic, and of course my favorite style, Progressive Metal.

However, regardless of what it is I'm listening to, too much of it drives my brain up the wall. My typical playlist is a mix of a couple of my favorite styles. I can't help analyzing everything I hear theoretically, and I've noticed that I gravitate more towards energetic, life-filled music that challenges my ears (Dream Theater and Rachmaninoff are two of my favorite artists). Digression aside, why are you so condescending towards non-classical music? Is it because you think the "layman" isn't smart enough to understand it? Write music you enjoy, and stop trying to be so smart. Arrogance is not a virtue.

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#1553058 - 11/07/10 04:27 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
"Exclusive club elites?" What are those? I've never heard of them.

The bit about the emotional component isn't an opinion, John. I've been seeing it first-hand for over fifty years, and I am far from alone in identifying this as a problem area.

If you can write a kick-ass fugue in six parts, if you can write a symphony, if you can compose a piece in sonata-rondo form, in short, if you can do the things a classical composer can be required to do, then at some point you will have learned the technical aspects of writing classical music. If not, then no fugue, no symphony, no sonata-rondo.

The emotion involved is the pleasure associate with the craft. In that respect, Haydn is an excellent example. Don't go looking for refreshing originality in a Haydn symphony- the body of Haydn symphonies is like a showroom containing 104 oak desks. Each one is a high-quality piece of furniture, but a desk is a desk is a desk. Don't go looking for a sofa or a settee or an end-table. Now, Haydn went at symphony-writing just like a master carpenter who specialises in oak desks. Many would find such work boring, but to the bourgeois mind there is nothing that says permanence and stability like a well-crafted oak desk, and for such a person each and every Haydn symphony is a pleasurable experience.

Now, much as you might detest oak desks and all they stand for, they are and remain works of quality. And unless you're willing to learn all the boring stuff that goes into making a piece of such quality, it's a sure thing that what you yourself produce will likewise be lacking in expertise and quality.

There's a word for that- it's called "fluff".

That's not a bad thing! I've written lots of fluff, and I enjoy British and Northern European "light" classical music, much of which is pleasant-sounding fluff. But I wouldn't try to pass it off as something more than that, and emotionally-conceived music is just that. And while come of it may sound profound, the craft involved tells a different story.

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#1553067 - 11/07/10 04:36 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
gsmonks, you seem to have the all-too-common attitude of "Western Classical music is the only true artistic music and all other styles are inferior." Why do you think this?? What is so wrong with Country, or Rock music, or Indonesian Gamelan? I listen to just about every style of music. I don't dig modern Rap music, since it's been absorbed into the commercial mass production of popular music, and I really don't like classical opera, since I personally cannot stand the heavy vibrato and throaty quality to the vocals. But I enjoy country music, Rock music, A wide variety of World Music and Jazz, European Classical, Western Romantic, and of course my favorite style, Progressive Metal.

However, regardless of what it is I'm listening to, too much of it drives my brain up the wall. My typical playlist is a mix of a couple of my favorite styles. I can't help analyzing everything I hear theoretically, and I've noticed that I gravitate more towards energetic, life-filled music that challenges my ears (Dream Theater and Rachmaninoff are two of my favorite artists). Digression aside, why are you so condescending towards non-classical music? Is it because you think the "layman" isn't smart enough to understand it? Write music you enjoy, and stop trying to be so smart. Arrogance is not a virtue.


Where is this coming from, Jared? I don't know anything about Indonesian Gamelin, but I listen to both country and rock, and there are great examples of both. I don't know a single classical composer who would dismiss heavy metal (except for a few snobs), which has had its share of originality and virtuosity. I've also heard some very creative Hip Hop.

When I mentioned country music, I wasn't putting it down. I was referring to the place it comes from, which differs from classical music.

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#1553071 - 11/07/10 04:37 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
Ok. Glad to have that cleared up!

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#1553072 - 11/07/10 04:38 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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"The bit about the emotional component isn't an opinion, John. I've been seeing it first-hand for over fifty years, and I am far from alone in identifying this as a problem area" - gsmonks

I'll match your fifty years and stand behind mine 100%.

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1553077 - 11/07/10 04:42 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
BTW, Jared, don't confuse intelligence with education. It does require education to understand certain things. Not acknowledging that is arrogance. Or would you presume that the layman knows as much and should be on an even footing with a brain-surgeon?


Edited by gsmonks (11/07/10 04:43 PM)

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#1553097 - 11/07/10 05:14 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
gsmonks, you said yourself that Country is a "guilty pleasure" for you. Why is the pleasure guilty? Is the pleasure you feel from classical music also guilty?

I am a huge supporter of education, and I think I always will be. But I write music to be listened to by many people, educated musicians and laymen alike, and if I demand that every member of my audience is sufficiently educated in order to "understand" my compositions, then I'm not going to have a very big audience. If the layman doesn't "understand the emotion" of classical music, perhaps that is because many people simply don't connect with classical music on an emotional level. This operates independent of education.


Edited by Jared Hoeft (11/07/10 05:15 PM)

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#1553098 - 11/07/10 05:15 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Some (not all) of what passes for "compositional methods" is mere after-the-fact recognition of patterns that were actually employed without knowledge and without planning. The fact that analysis is possible does not mean that analysis should precede action.

Some (not all) of what passes for "emotional music derived from the heart" is simply a tired re-re-re-use of someone else's cold, intellectually-generated system.


If you don't have some of each, analysis and emotion, then you fail - but the proportions are up to you. There is no real potential for disagreement with that - the fact that some composers approach one end of the graph or the other does not negate the existence of the graph in the first place. Composers at each end may not agree on everything, but their arguments on the topic are petty at best.




And (as a footnote) I argue that all serialism is aurally a structureless mess, and the fact that it has a structure at all is therefore of no consequence to anyone except its composer. (I was going to say composer and performer, but adding those two little words would constitute a glaring unwarranted assumption.) smile
_________________________
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#1553124 - 11/07/10 05:42 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
BTW, Jared, don't confuse intelligence with education. It does require education to understand certain things. Not acknowledging that is arrogance. Or would you presume that the layman knows as much and should be on an even footing with a brain-surgeon?


Very poor analogy gsmonks. A brain surgeon has to follow strict surgical procedures to save lives (and avoid law suits). There’s not much room for emotion in his/her profession. Music is the opposite. Heavy on emotion.

John smile
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1553131 - 11/07/10 05:49 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
gsmonks, you said yourself that Country is a "guilty pleasure" for you. Why is the pleasure guilty? Is the pleasure you feel from classical music also guilty?

I am a huge supporter of education, and I think I always will be. But I write music to be listened to by many people, educated musicians and laymen alike, and if I demand that every member of my audience is sufficiently educated in order to "understand" my compositions, then I'm not going to have a very big audience. If the layman doesn't "understand the emotion" of classical music, perhaps that is because many people simply don't connect with classical music on an emotional level. This operates independent of education.


What, you're asking me to justify myself to you, Jared? And I would do that why?

Don't keep trying to put words into my mouth. I can speak just fine for myself.

I never said the layman doesn't "understand the emotion". That's what you just said, before responding to your own words, which is refered to in legal terms as "asked and answered".

What I did say about emotion was in an entirely different context that had nothing whatever to do with the layman.

You guys should pay attention and at least try to get your facts straight before deciding to waste my time with this nonsense.

I'm trying to do something constructive here, whereas certain of you are trying to drag this topic down into the mud.

If you're not interested in the topic of this thread, which is concerned with the future development of classical music, then piss off and stop wasting everyone's time.


Edited by gsmonks (11/07/10 05:51 PM)

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#1553137 - 11/07/10 05:54 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
BTW, Jared, don't confuse intelligence with education. It does require education to understand certain things. Not acknowledging that is arrogance. Or would you presume that the layman knows as much and should be on an even footing with a brain-surgeon?


Very poor analogy gsmonks. A brain surgeon has to follow strict surgical procedures to save lives (and avoid law suits). There’s not much room for emotion in his/her profession. Music is the opposite. Heavy on emotion.

John smile


How do you figure? You have to follow strict rules of procedure to compose a six-part fugue. Or d'you suppose that a wild display of unbridled emotion wil somehow magically result in a masterpiece popping out of your arse?

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#1553142 - 11/07/10 06:04 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1553151 - 11/07/10 06:12 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Judging from the timbre of your guys' comments, you want the process of writing classical music to be simple and easy. In other words, you want to be seen as having mastered a very difficult and highly technical profession when you're not willing to do the work and/or assimilate the knowledge.

Furthermore, you want to derail any talk that entails discussing the actual content and mechanism of composing music.

This is highly reminiscent of a writers' site I once belonged to, where I was asked to run and moderate a thread on grammar. What ended up happening was that people who hate the study of grammar derailed the thread, calling people with a keen interest in grammar "grammar nazis" and so on. For some reason the thread seemed to act as a magnet for people who had no interest in grammar, but who felt they had the right to piss on anyone who did.

Interestingly, the same thing is happening here. This thread is about furthering Western music, but those of you doing most of the posting are attacking the subject, and myself for bringing it up.

If this were a site dedicated to writing classical music, you guys would effectively have sabotaged it and shut it down.

Well, bravo! Well done! What a positive, wonderful thing you've accomplished! You should be proud!

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#1553152 - 11/07/10 06:12 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: david_a]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1553155 - 11/07/10 06:14 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
If the layman doesn't "understand the emotion" of classical music, perhaps that is because many people simply don't connect with classical music on an emotional level.

Spot on Jared. This one's going in my quotable quotes book! smile
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1553158 - 11/07/10 06:17 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Going by the last two posts, I rest my case.

This forum is a complete waste of time. That's it for me.

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#1553160 - 11/07/10 06:18 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
"Judging from the timbre of your guys' comments, you want the process of writing classical music to be simple and easy. In other words, you want to be seen as having mastered a very difficult and highly technical profession when you're not willing to do the work and/or assimilate the knowledge" - gsmonks

Your process of labeling people is remarkable, if not inaccurate. Okay... you do your thing and I'll do mine. As long as both methods turn out good results, nothing else matters.

Peace, John smile
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1553163 - 11/07/10 06:21 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
As long as both methods turn out good results, nothing else matters.

Exactly. It's the fruit that matters. How it got produced is secondary.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1553194 - 11/07/10 07:06 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Going by the last two posts, I rest my case.

This forum is a complete waste of time. That's it for me.


You're the one who kept responding (5 times) to your own original post. You were trying to get people to respond. I'm not trying to argue or start unhappy discourse, I'm really not! I'm upset that it had to come to this in such an un-political forum. I disagree entirely with your idea of composition. It should never be so limited. Why further only Western music? If this site were dedicated only to classical music, I would never have made an account here. This is the composers' lounge, not the western classical composers' lounge! Structure is great and can help propel a piece forward, but without emotion, technically created pieces fall flat. I have friends who struggle with composing for this very reason. I re-read everything that you wrote on this thread, and I have to say I'm getting a mixed message. On the one hand you preach closed composition techniques that have been dead (unchanged) for centuries, and on the other you are trying to say that composers must break new ground. I disagree with both of these things, but they do not coincide...

I did not mean to misinterpret what you meant with the "layman." But you did say that
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The emotional part is probably the greatest fallacy, and the least understood part of classical music by the layman.


and then you tried to say that you didn't mean the layman "doesn't understand emotion" in the music. Haha.

I disagree with you, but I don't think that's a call for animosity. This should be a constructive debate, and if you're going to get all fussy when people disagree with you, then it takes away from the learning.

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#1553281 - 11/07/10 09:25 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1553374 - 11/08/10 12:27 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: david_a]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


Everyone knows that toilet paper should unroll from the bottom. laugh
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1555699 - 11/11/10 03:03 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6168
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


Everyone knows that toilet paper should unroll from the bottom. laugh


thumb Especially if you have a cat!
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1555956 - 11/12/10 12:04 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
"Judging from the timbre of your guys' comments, you want the process of writing classical music to be simple and easy. In other words, you want to be seen as having mastered a very difficult and highly technical profession when you're not willing to do the work and/or assimilate the knowledge" - gsmonks

Your process of labeling people is remarkable, if not inaccurate. Okay... you do your thing and I'll do mine. As long as both methods turn out good results, nothing else matters.

Peace, John smile


Wonderful. So stop stinking up this thread with crosstalk and go somewhere else.

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#1555958 - 11/12/10 12:07 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Going by the last two posts, I rest my case.

This forum is a complete waste of time. That's it for me.


You're the one who kept responding (5 times) to your own original post. You were trying to get people to respond. I'm not trying to argue or start unhappy discourse, I'm really not! I'm upset that it had to come to this in such an un-political forum. I disagree entirely with your idea of composition. It should never be so limited. Why further only Western music? If this site were dedicated only to classical music, I would never have made an account here. This is the composers' lounge, not the western classical composers' lounge! Structure is great and can help propel a piece forward, but without emotion, technically created pieces fall flat. I have friends who struggle with composing for this very reason. I re-read everything that you wrote on this thread, and I have to say I'm getting a mixed message. On the one hand you preach closed composition techniques that have been dead (unchanged) for centuries, and on the other you are trying to say that composers must break new ground. I disagree with both of these things, but they do not coincide...

I did not mean to misinterpret what you meant with the "layman." But you did say that
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The emotional part is probably the greatest fallacy, and the least understood part of classical music by the layman.


and then you tried to say that you didn't mean the layman "doesn't understand emotion" in the music. Haha.

I disagree with you, but I don't think that's a call for animosity. This should be a constructive debate, and if you're going to get all fussy when people disagree with you, then it takes away from the learning.


I did not "respond" to my own post. It was an ongoing series of posts on the same subject, primarily because this box doesn't work with large posts. But you know that.

If you disagree, do something constructive and post elsewhere. If you can't stay on topic, stop bogging the thread down with crosstalk, and stop trying to derail it.

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#1555960 - 11/12/10 12:08 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: david_a]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


Which has what to do with furthering classical music, exactly?

Top
#1555961 - 11/12/10 12:08 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Damon]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


Everyone knows that toilet paper should unroll from the bottom. laugh


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with this thread?

Top
#1555962 - 11/12/10 12:09 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Damon]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


Everyone knows that toilet paper should unroll from the bottom. laugh


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with furthering classical music, exactly?

Top
#1555963 - 11/12/10 12:10 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: david_a]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh
Imagine (I exaggerate, just slightly mind you) wink witnessing Einstein and Dirac beginning a fascinating conversation, but it only lasts two minutes till they start shouting opposing opinions about which way the toilet paper should unroll. You might try to prod them back to sanity.


That is a load of bollocks. There was no "conversation". What there was was contradiction and crosstalk.

Top
#1555964 - 11/12/10 12:12 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Originally Posted By: david_a
Johnny-Boy and gsmonks! Boys! Behave!
Structure without emotion is crap. Emotion without structure is also crap. We all knew that already. Next.


Behave? It's known as stating one's opinion. Are you some kind of a self-appointed referee? laugh Besides; I know crap as well as the next guy. laugh


No, it's not a case of stating one's opinion. It's a case of derailing someone else's thread with b.s..

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#1555968 - 11/12/10 12:18 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Going by the last two posts, I rest my case.

This forum is a complete waste of time. That's it for me.


You're the one who kept responding (5 times) to your own original post. You were trying to get people to respond. I'm not trying to argue or start unhappy discourse, I'm really not! I'm upset that it had to come to this in such an un-political forum. I disagree entirely with your idea of composition. It should never be so limited. Why further only Western music? If this site were dedicated only to classical music, I would never have made an account here. This is the composers' lounge, not the western classical composers' lounge! Structure is great and can help propel a piece forward, but without emotion, technically created pieces fall flat. I have friends who struggle with composing for this very reason. I re-read everything that you wrote on this thread, and I have to say I'm getting a mixed message. On the one hand you preach closed composition techniques that have been dead (unchanged) for centuries, and on the other you are trying to say that composers must break new ground. I disagree with both of these things, but they do not coincide...

I did not mean to misinterpret what you meant with the "layman." But you did say that
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The emotional part is probably the greatest fallacy, and the least understood part of classical music by the layman.


and then you tried to say that you didn't mean the layman "doesn't understand emotion" in the music. Haha.

I disagree with you, but I don't think that's a call for animosity. This should be a constructive debate, and if you're going to get all fussy when people disagree with you, then it takes away from the learning.


The thing is, Jared, this thread is about furthering classical music. You can not cause progress through emotional means. Every advance in classical music has been through technical means. This is because it takes technical know-how to work with musical devices.

Writing from a standpoint of emotion is no different from writing popular music, and as we all know, popular music consists of static forms that do not progress.

Progress, after all, is what this thread is about.

Or what part of that do the lot of you not understand?

If you have an opinion about that, express it elsewhere. Start your own thread. But THIS thread is about advancing classical music.

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#1556173 - 11/12/10 10:56 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Anyway, now that we're back on track . . .

It has been claimed many times, down through the years, that everything that can be done has been done.

The response to this claim was the counterpoint of Bach, free modulation, floating tonality, serialism, bi-tonality, microtonalism, and other systems yet to be invented.

The question at present is what is to be done next?

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#1556207 - 11/12/10 12:15 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
"The question at present is what is to be done next?"

Maybe it is time for emotionalism. laugh

All kidding aside; though I adhere as much as possible to my emotions when composing, I'm sure my thorough education in theory & harmony directs me at least unconsciously. I do believe music should be constructed into some intelligible form.

Also, we're using the same half-tone raw material (except for the handful of quarter-tone fanatics). I try not to worry as much about discovering new ground as being true to myself. I'd like to think part of me manifests in everything I compose. i.e., Chopin is Chopin, Rachmaninov is Rachmaninov, Ravel is Ravel, and I do hope, for better or worse, that Johnny-Boy is Johnny-Boy. smile

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1556221 - 11/12/10 12:33 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
"The question at present is what is to be done next?"

Maybe it is time for emotionalism. laugh

All kidding aside; though I adhere as much as possible to my emotions when composing, I'm sure my thorough education in theory & harmony directs me at least unconsciously. I do believe music should be constructed into some intelligible form.

Also, we're using the same half-tone raw material (except for the handful of quarter-tone fanatics). I try not to worry as much about discovering new ground as being true to myself. I'd like to think part of me manifests in everything I compose. i.e., Chopin is Chopin, Rachmaninov is Rachmaninov, Ravel is Ravel, and I do hope, for better or worse, that Johnny-Boy is Johnny-Boy. smile

John


Yes, but, this thread is about progress. So if emotionalism can break new ground, maybe provide us with some examples?

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#1556227 - 11/12/10 12:40 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
One area I've been working on, which shows great promise in terms of supplying a composer with a vocabulary of some pretty raw emotion, is bimodality, or bimodalism.

Modality is only modality if it comes equipped with its attendant chord vocabulary, otherwise what you have is diatonicism. Bimodality, to be bimodal, therefore has to use the chord vocabularies of two modes.

The resulting effect is that of a highly unsettling moodiness, that in many ways is more emotionally primal than bitonality.

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#1556231 - 11/12/10 12:47 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
What about throwing some paint onto a written score. That's new. smile
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1556235 - 11/12/10 12:54 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Quote:
Yes, but, this thread is about progress. So if emotionalism can break new ground, maybe provide us with some examples?


Here's something I composed last week. I'm influenced by different eras (within the same piece). I also like adding sfx (non-musical elements to jive the emotions further).

Not sure if it's new ground, but it's a new slant on old ground.

John smile

Peculiar Nightmare
http://schicksville.com/Music/Peculiar%20Nightmare.mp3
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#1556245 - 11/12/10 01:03 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The thing is, Jared, this thread is about furthering classical music. You can not cause progress through emotional means. Every advance in classical music has been through technical means. This is because it takes technical know-how to work with musical devices.

Writing from a standpoint of emotion is no different from writing popular music, and as we all know, popular music consists of static forms that do not progress.

Progress, after all, is what this thread is about.

Or what part of that do the lot of you not understand?

If you have an opinion about that, express it elsewhere. Start your own thread. But THIS thread is about advancing classical music.


You wrote about advancing classical music alone, but I disagree. I do not think it's wise to consider the advancement of "classical" music rather than simply "music" in general. Out of all the pieces of classical music I love listening to, I enjoy them for two reasons: 1) They impact me emotionally, and 2) They make me think. Who are you to say that you can't progress through emotional means? I cannot stand music that lacks emotion. If the focus was on technicality or the science behind the composition, I as well as the majority of modern listeners will simply skip over it. It's BORING. You need emotion to progress in any form of music, and I would in fact argue that "art" music is the only form of composition where sheer technicality truly matters for progression. If popular music consists entirely of static forms that do not progress, then explain why the Beatles do not sound like Lady Gaga. All pop art takes a long time to change because the majority of it is basically just copied and pasted from the few artists in the loop who are willing to try creative things. I know this from the friends I have at USC, who are struggling with pop composition.

You aren't going to consider the thousands of examples of musical progression through primarily emotional means. But I will give you some credit here and say that when music is composed with nothing but emotions considered, it rarely does progress. If you subject yourself entirely to emotion as a composer, you are completely at the mercy of pre-conceived ideas about the art. Some degree of technical consideration is necessary. But what you're talking about with furthering classical music makes it sound like you want to compose as if you're writing down physics problems, and no listener wants to hear that. If you don't want opinions, why did you start this thread? I'm giving relevant feedback concerning my opinions. WHY are you getting so mad???

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#1556246 - 11/12/10 01:04 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Quote:
Yes, but, this thread is about progress. So if emotionalism can break new ground, maybe provide us with some examples?


Here's something I composed last week. I'm influenced by different eras (within the same piece). I also like adding sfx (non-musical elements to jive the emotions further).

Not sure if it's new ground, but it's a new slant on old ground.

John smile

Peculiar Nightmare
http://schicksville.com/Music/Peculiar%20Nightmare.mp3

Just listened and enjoyed! Nice stuff. smile
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1556435 - 11/12/10 05:44 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: eweiss]
gsmonks Offline
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Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: eweiss
What about throwing some paint onto a written score. That's new. smile


If you go back and read the entire thread, you'll find that I tried something similar in terms of randomness.

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#1556445 - 11/12/10 05:52 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Quote:
Yes, but, this thread is about progress. So if emotionalism can break new ground, maybe provide us with some examples?


Here's something I composed last week. I'm influenced by different eras (within the same piece). I also like adding sfx (non-musical elements to jive the emotions further).

Not sure if it's new ground, but it's a new slant on old ground.

John smile

Peculiar Nightmare
http://schicksville.com/Music/Peculiar%20Nightmare.mp3


It sounds like what you'd get if a lounge pianist was asked to write a film score. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination, but it is witty in a campy kind of way, like the movie Betelgeuse.

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#1556455 - 11/12/10 06:00 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The thing is, Jared, this thread is about furthering classical music. You can not cause progress through emotional means. Every advance in classical music has been through technical means. This is because it takes technical know-how to work with musical devices.

Writing from a standpoint of emotion is no different from writing popular music, and as we all know, popular music consists of static forms that do not progress.

Progress, after all, is what this thread is about.

Or what part of that do the lot of you not understand?

If you have an opinion about that, express it elsewhere. Start your own thread. But THIS thread is about advancing classical music.


You wrote about advancing classical music alone, but I disagree. I do not think it's wise to consider the advancement of "classical" music rather than simply "music" in general. Out of all the pieces of classical music I love listening to, I enjoy them for two reasons: 1) They impact me emotionally, and 2) They make me think. Who are you to say that you can't progress through emotional means? I cannot stand music that lacks emotion. If the focus was on technicality or the science behind the composition, I as well as the majority of modern listeners will simply skip over it. It's BORING. You need emotion to progress in any form of music, and I would in fact argue that "art" music is the only form of composition where sheer technicality truly matters for progression. If popular music consists entirely of static forms that do not progress, then explain why the Beatles do not sound like Lady Gaga. All pop art takes a long time to change because the majority of it is basically just copied and pasted from the few artists in the loop who are willing to try creative things. I know this from the friends I have at USC, who are struggling with pop composition.

You aren't going to consider the thousands of examples of musical progression through primarily emotional means. But I will give you some credit here and say that when music is composed with nothing but emotions considered, it rarely does progress. If you subject yourself entirely to emotion as a composer, you are completely at the mercy of pre-conceived ideas about the art. Some degree of technical consideration is necessary. But what you're talking about with furthering classical music makes it sound like you want to compose as if you're writing down physics problems, and no listener wants to hear that. If you don't want opinions, why did you start this thread? I'm giving relevant feedback concerning my opinions. WHY are you getting so mad???


First off, Jared, I mentioned the underlying classicism of all music at least a dozen times in this thread.

Secondly, this thread is about advancing classical music. There is nothing to disagree with there. If you don't like the notion, don't participate, just as I don't horn in when players are discussing certain composers whose music I detest.

You do not speak for the many theorists who take this matter seriously and follow it closely. You also do not speak for those for whom technique is of great interest. You may not like the technical aspect as though "you're writing down physics problems", but if it strikes you that way, don't participate. All you end up doing is derailing the thread and annoying me.

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#1556509 - 11/12/10 07:55 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
Originally Posted By: gsmonks

First off, Jared, I mentioned the underlying classicism of all music at least a dozen times in this thread.

Secondly, this thread is about advancing classical music. There is nothing to disagree with there. If you don't like the notion, don't participate, just as I don't horn in when players are discussing certain composers whose music I detest.

You do not speak for the many theorists who take this matter seriously and follow it closely. You also do not speak for those for whom technique is of great interest. You may not like the technical aspect as though "you're writing down physics problems", but if it strikes you that way, don't participate. All you end up doing is derailing the thread and annoying me.


I simply disagree with the barrier between "art" and "commercial" music. I think that the existence of that perceived barrier is the cause of many of the problems you're bringing up. I would love to discuss this, if that isn't too much of a digression for your thread. I feel that the opinions I gave were very much relevant to your topic and non-derailing. I have re-read all of what you wrote so many times that I don't think I could possibly understand your purpose more clearly without swapping brains with you. I disagree with you on a couple core things, and beyond that, you and I are really fighting the same battle. This grumpiness is stupid.

Watch out for trolls, even in places like this.

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#1556584 - 11/12/10 11:31 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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There is and always has been a barrier between art music and commercial music, Jared. Musicians have always been aware of it, and it is not merely a matter of perception.

In fact, musicians periodically fight back. Some notable examples in the jazz world alone are Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington, Artie Shaw, John Burks (Dizzy) Gillespe, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and many others.

In the Lower Mainland, British Columbia, Canada, the Punk/New Wave/Indie movements in the late 70's, early 80's were a rebellion against commercial control and commercial music. Many pioneers from that period are still very active today.

The main difference between art music and commercial music is that art music represents musical and artistic values, whereas commercial music is controlled by people who don't know anything about music and don't care, and the music is ephemeral product.

What I mean by the latter can best be summed up by my own personal experiences in the publishing industry. This is where the standard novel format (50,000 to 55,000 words, an average of 10 chapters at around 5000 words per chapter) is still the norm. Some notable examples include Harlequin Romance, Harlequin Presents, crime fiction published by Black Dagger Publications, and many others. When you write fiction of this type, you're given strict guidelines which prevent you from producing a work of lasting value. What they want is high turnover, something cheap that will be read once and thrown away, like a Bic lighter.

In the commercial world (and I know this from many years of personal experience- I've owned two music studios over the years and produced a good many commercials for radio and television), you always have someone breathing down your neck, telling you what to do. Your creative output is relegated to trying to inject some level of intelligence into the music despite these clowns and their continual interference. That's a far cry from being able to expend all of your energies on a work of quality.

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#1556606 - 11/13/10 12:11 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
Gsmonks - I agree with you. I have had much different experiences in the past that have consequently shaped my opinions differently than yours. All I will add is that although the difference you mention is definitely present, it's not nearly as stark as you make it sound. There's almost nothing but gray area; there's virtually no "purely art" music or "purely commercial" music by the -and I admit- wonderful definitions you give. Most music comes from some sort of mix. Also, even if one is to try to avoid commercial mass-production bullcrap, that doesn't necessarily mean that the musician in question is then forced to utilize primarily technical means of producing artistic music. I would argue that most of the mass-produced pop music is sadly and pitifully lacking in emotion and depth. I love Rachmaninov's first Symphony because it wrenches my emotions first, and makes me think second. I laugh at the lack of feeling in Justin Bieber's cookie-cutter scripted music. What I'm saying is, trying to advance new ideas in artistic or "classical" music doesn't mean you must neglect the use of emotion as a primary means of composition.

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#1556658 - 11/13/10 02:52 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: eweiss]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Quote:

Just listened and enjoyed! Nice stuff. smile eweiss


Thanks Eweiss!
_________________________
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#1556661 - 11/13/10 02:55 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Quote:
"It sounds like what you'd get if a lounge pianist was asked to write a film score. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination, but it is witty in a campy kind of way, like the movie Betelgeuse" - gsmonks


Well witty isn't too bad gsmonks. I can live with that. laugh
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#1556662 - 11/13/10 03:01 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Quote:
The main difference between art music and commercial music is that art music represents musical and artistic values, whereas commercial music is controlled by people who don't know anything about music and don't care, and the music is ephemeral product" - gsmonks


Yeah, like the popular music of George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, and Percy Granger - to mention a few.

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1556833 - 11/13/10 12:14 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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I don't know anything about Percy Granger, but the Gershwins and Joplin were fortunate to be alive at a time when art music was the popular music of the day. Caruso was one of the popular favourites in the world of 78 rpm records, Paul Whiteman's orchestra was producing popular jazz classics in the 1920's, and Tin Pan Alley was populated with ex-patriot European classical musicians and composers who produced some of the great music of the early 20th century, which today is seen as a Golden Age of popular music. John Philip Sousa was selling a lot of records at the time, Richard Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Khatchaturian, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Holst, Shostakovich and a host of other classical composers and performers were very much alive and well. The American Novel was in its heyday, Picasso and many other famous artists were very much alive and active, Existentialism and its thinkers were well under way, the big newspapers were thriving, the car industry was exploding, and the world was enjoying an unprecedented period of economic wealth.

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#1556837 - 11/13/10 12:23 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
It sounds like what you'd get if a lounge pianist was asked to write a film score. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination, but it is witty in a campy kind of way, like the movie Betelgeuse.

It amazes me how quickly others can judge someone else's music yet have nothing to show of their own. BTW, it is original. You may not like it, but it's something that's never existed before - therefore original.
_________________________
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#1556874 - 11/13/10 01:42 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: eweiss]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
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Loc: PA
Quote:
It amazes me how quickly others can judge someone else's music yet have nothing to show of their own. BTW, it is original. You may not like it, but it's something that's never existed before - therefore original.


Thanks eweiss! And that's more in line with my definition of originality.

John smile
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1556881 - 11/13/10 01:57 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Loc: PA
"I don't know anything about Percy Granger" - gsmonks

Born late 19th century - died 1961. One hell of a pianist. His music was frowned on by the classical elite of the day - mainly because his music was popular. Of course today his music is well respected even by the snobbiest of the classical snobbery. laugh

You can see him play live here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5d53hnXvmA

John smile
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1556964 - 11/13/10 04:44 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Quote:
It amazes me how quickly others can judge someone else's music yet have nothing to show of their own. BTW, it is original. You may not like it, but it's something that's never existed before - therefore original.


Thanks eweiss! And that's more in line with my definition of originality.

John smile


Um . . . guys . . . if you check, you'll see that I've placed four books of my piano music for free download on this site. And that 196 pages is just a collection of my "guilty pleasure" music, written on the side.

So . . . I have plenty to show of my own. Plus I've been teaching composition for over 30 years. So I a) know what I'm talking about, and b) am not just some kid talking through my hat.

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#1556971 - 11/13/10 04:51 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
"I don't know anything about Percy Granger" - gsmonks

Born late 19th century - died 1961. One hell of a pianist. His music was frowned on by the classical elite of the day - mainly because his music was popular. Of course today his music is well respected even by the snobbiest of the classical snobbery. laugh

You can see him play live here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5d53hnXvmA

John smile



Okay, now this is some tasty technique:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDosOA7ru9E&NR=1

I love learning new stuff! Thanks, John!

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#1556976 - 11/13/10 05:01 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Johnny-Boy]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Quote:
It amazes me how quickly others can judge someone else's music yet have nothing to show of their own. BTW, it is original. You may not like it, but it's something that's never existed before - therefore original.

Thanks eweiss! And that's more in line with my definition of originality.John smile

BTW, guys, I wasn't being critical- I was making an observation.
Here's another: the type of originality you're referring to reminds me very much of David Wisdom's old CBC radio show Brave New Waves. He would play music written by young guys on their 4-track portastudios, and some of it was very interesting. David would talk at great length about how original the music was.

However, while the music was original to the young guys sending it in, it was nothing we hadn't heard a bazillion times before. Having played in Punk and New Wave bands myself in the 1970's, I'd heard this same music two decades before.

The mere mention of genuine originality is something that seems to get up the nose of young musicians these days. Instead of paying their dues and doing many years of hard work in order to achieve genuine originality, they tend to shoot the messenger instead, and try to claim that originality is whatever they feel like dubbing "originality".

However, as I and a host of others have said before me, you can't argue with or deny four-hundred years of accumulated knowledge and experience. You can thumb your nose at it all you like, but you're not accomplishing anything useful.

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#1556985 - 11/13/10 05:14 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Loc: PA
I guess we should come up with an ironclad definition of originality. Though we could never find one we all agreed on.

Ans: something original, e.g. a new idea or approach. Peculiar Nightmare would fall into "new approach" at the very least.

Synonyms: novelty, uniqueness, inventiveness, innovativeness, creative, freshness, imagination, ingenuity - again, would fit into some of those synonyms.

John
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#1556989 - 11/13/10 05:25 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
"I don't know anything about Percy Granger" - gsmonks

Born late 19th century - died 1961. One hell of a pianist. His music was frowned on by the classical elite of the day - mainly because his music was popular. Of course today his music is well respected even by the snobbiest of the classical snobbery. laugh

You can see him play live here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5d53hnXvmA

John smile



Okay, now this is some tasty technique:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDosOA7ru9E&NR=1

I love learning new stuff! Thanks, John!


Yes, Percy Grainger was quite a musician. Quite a personality too. laugh
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#1557085 - 11/13/10 09:03 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Damon Online   happy
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6168
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Damon


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with this thread?



Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Damon


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with furthering classical music, exactly?


A touch of the Alzheimer's or are you just attempting to increase your post count for some reason? I thought you said you were out of here.
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#1557097 - 11/13/10 09:34 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Damon]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 174
Loc: Hutchinson, Minnesota, United ...
I still don't understand this "guilty pleasure" concept. Why does the creation of ANY type of music have to make you feel guilty? Just because you aren't breaking new ground doesn't mean you aren't creating something legitimate enough to feel proud of rather than guilty.

I still defend my position that it is impossible to create 100% original music. If you are making music at all, you are inevitably creating organized sound, which has been done before. Simply by calling your creation "music," you forfeit total originality. There is no black and white here, but rather degrees of originality, which are obviously quite subjective. As Johnny-Boy said, a standard can't really be established on such an opinion-driven issue. You can't call one piece of music entirely original and another piece of music completely non-original.

In my experience, artists who strive for absolute originality often make the worst (my opinion) art. Don't be afraid to look backwards occasionally in the pursuit of progress.

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#1557120 - 11/13/10 10:18 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Damon]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Damon


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with this thread?



Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Damon


thumb Especially if you have a cat!


Which has what to do with furthering classical music, exactly?


A touch of the Alzheimer's or are you just attempting to increase your post count for some reason? I thought you said you were out of here.


This isn't a post. It's abuse, and therefore will be reported to the mods.

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#1557126 - 11/13/10 10:30 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
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Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
I still don't understand this "guilty pleasure" concept. Why does the creation of ANY type of music have to make you feel guilty? Just because you aren't breaking new ground doesn't mean you aren't creating something legitimate enough to feel proud of rather than guilty.

I still defend my position that it is impossible to create 100% original music. If you are making music at all, you are inevitably creating organized sound, which has been done before. Simply by calling your creation "music," you forfeit total originality. There is no black and white here, but rather degrees of originality, which are obviously quite subjective. As Johnny-Boy said, a standard can't really be established on such an opinion-driven issue. You can't call one piece of music entirely original and another piece of music completely non-original.

In my experience, artists who strive for absolute originality often make the worst (my opinion) art. Don't be afraid to look backwards occasionally in the pursuit of progress.


A guilty pleasure is the enjoyment of something you shouldn't like. For example, I like old-time fiddle music despite the fact that I'm a classically-trained musician.

Dunno why you can't wrap your head around the notion. It's pretty much universal.

No one ever said anything about any music that is 100% original. By "original", we're talking "new", not "100%" original, and by "new" it is meant that a new range of expression has been brought to the table. Bach counterpoint with its liberal use of dissonance brought a new musical vocabulary to the table. Chromaticism brought a new musical vocabulary to the table. Serialism brought a new musical vocabulary to the table. Bitonality brought a new musical vocabulary to the table. And so on.

Which reminds me, someone earlier in this thread made some disparaging remarks about serialism. I was going to remind that poster that Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss is a serial composition in the section leading up to the conclusion of the 1st half of the piece.

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#1557197 - 11/14/10 12:28 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Posts: 174
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gsmonks - so, by that rationale, a heavy metal guitarist who secretly enjoys Bach's inventions would also have a "guilty pleasure" ...? Seems like an inappropriate term to apply "universally." There's nothing guilty about enjoying a variety of music.

Speaking of Heavy Metal... Would you not also consider the New Wave of American Heavy Metal to be groundbreaking? With it came a flood of fresh ideas and new, original sounds. 100% original? Gosh no. It built heavily on its predecessors, like all other forms of music. But it also fits in that list you wrote... Which unsurprisingly only included explicitly "art music" advancements. But you yourself said that classicism is an underlying feature of all progression in music.

For the record, I strongly dislike serialism. I find it pretentious and utterly devoid of feeling. Schoenberg is without a doubt one of my least favorite composers, and I honestly cannot find any enjoyment in his twelve tone technique. I'd love to find an exception to this! But I have not yet. However, in general I love the use of chromaticism. It adds an entirely new range of color to diatonic music. But that opens a new can of worms - what about semitones? What about cultural music OTHER than just European tonality?

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#1557694 - 11/14/10 05:47 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Lots of Heavy Metal music has been groundbreaking. In fact, of all the pop forms, Heavy Metal is one of the most highly regarded by classical and jazz musicians. It's a form that always seems to have attracted innovators. When you have classical and jazz composers and arrangers paying attention to your arrangements and voicings in order to enhance their own music, then you know you've done something right.

Well, Jared, if you like Also Sprach Zarathustra, then you like serialism. It just means that you dislike certain types of serialism. I personally really like pure serialism, so pure serialism (like anything else) is a matter of taste.

As far as other forms of music goes, that's not part of the discussion. The discussion is about the Western classical musical tradition. While I realise that composers such as Darius Milhaud (a student of Debussy) was an advocate of travelling the world in order to explore other cultures and their music, there is a limit as to what Western music can reasonably be asked to assimilate. Attempts have been made in various such directions, but they often involve the assimilation of other tuning methods, which many Western instruments are not equipped to do.

Quarter-tone instruments are available (voice, the strings and trombones have nothing to worry about in this department), and a fair number of classical musicians own them (a friend of mine back in university owned a quarter-tone flugelhorn, for example), and strings, trombones and voice can handle third-tone music as well, but music exploring these areas has always been restricted to a handful of novel curiosities.

Here's some Arnold I just love:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysBsvEBGXXQ

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#1558083 - 11/15/10 06:40 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Nikolas Offline
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
A guilty pleasure is the enjoyment of something you shouldn't like. For example, I like old-time fiddle music despite the fact that I'm a classically-trained musician.

Dunno why you can't wrap your head around the notion. It's pretty much universal.
I think it's because it's far from being nice. Naming something 'guilty pleasure' puts automatically a lower value to it. I mean if I go, in this very forum, "My guilty pleasure is listening to Chopin works", I think I'll get flammed, banned, beaten up, etc! laugh This is how this term is applied in all honesty!

Now, on exploring new grounds. Sure explore. I've done so for the most part of my (somewhat short I'll admit) life. But in the end what is also important in music is communication: With the performers, the audience and the other composers alike! It's crucial I'd say and it's something that people, especially students tend to forget!

Totally unique, and totally new in aesthetics is non existant. In techniques it can be found however. And I do feel that a composers job is not to rearrange conviniently other peoples techniques but create their own along the way.
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#1558204 - 11/15/10 11:33 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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I always think of composers as “arrangers” of music rather than composers of music (creators). We arrange the 12 half-tones and their octaves in infinite ways (melodically & rhythmically). God is the only creator. He gave us the raw materials.

One attribute of composing that stands out among the great composers is a signature in all their work. When one hears a piece by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, etc., there is automatic recognition of that composer.

I tend to reside in the Romantic Era in much of my music – though only by emotional default. To say one Romantic Era composer is more original than another is nonsensical. The idea of giving more status/credibility to music being composed using new/newer “systems” is a poor process of appraising music. “New” for newness sake is irrelevant and so confining. I’d much rather compose from a free heart, than to be confined to some original, restricted system (though I'm restricted by my emotions).

Pertaining to originality… by using the new/original “system” means of appraising music, most music would have to be deemed unoriginal. We would only need Scott Joplin’s first piano rag, Chopin’s first waltz, Haydn’s first symphony, etc. – because the following works by these composers would no longer be original, since they’re based on a previous work/system of that composer.

We all use accumulated knowledge from the past. All the great composers were influenced by past accomplishments of others. The writing down of ideas to be passed on to future generations is man’s greatest achievement. If not for this, music would still exist only in the most primitive form.

My idea of good/great music is music that touches my heart and emotions (using any system). The method I use to determine originality is whether I can identify the piece as having already been composed (to my knowledge “Peculiar Nightmare” hasn’t been). No way of knowing that for sure, because of every composer we’re familiar with, there are thousands of other composers we’ll never hear.

So I stand by my signature 100%.
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#1558269 - 11/15/10 01:19 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Yes, well, this thread is about advancing Western music. How many times do I have to repeat that? If you don't like rock 'n' roll, you don't go to a rock concert to complain about it. Similarly with this thread. It's about finding ways to advance Western music. If you're not talking about ways to advance Western music, you're cross-talking and derailing the thread.

Another little advance I came up with is a serial form that doesn't use a 12-tone row. I've come up with a number of formulas for coming up with tone rows of absolutely any length (which is a limitation I don't care for in serialism). The trick is to avoid patterns you'll come across in tonality. I altered this characteristic to accommodate rows which move in tonal fashion for a few notes at a time, but not long enough to establish tonality over all.

BTW- Johnny Boy, what sound-generating contraption(s) were you using in Peculiar Nightmare? The strings sound mighty nice!

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#1558312 - 11/15/10 02:36 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Western music? Rock 'n' Roll is Western music. If you're referring to Western "Classical" music, then define your meaning of "Classical". Some use the term classical in referring to serious music in general. If you're referring to music in the Classical period - it can't be advanced because that Era is past.

I'm guessing you mean "serious" music as opposed to popular music, though some serious music is also popular - and some popular music is serious. I'm not trying to be a wise guy gsmonks - really. I think you have to define your meaning of Western music.

BTW, the violin sound comes from the Kirk Hunter sample collection. I'm using Logic Pro as my DAW.

John smile
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#1558329 - 11/15/10 02:53 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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"Serial form that doesn't use a 12-tone row" gsmonks

I would find composing from such formulas to be very distracting and lifeless. Maybe you could post an example.

John smile
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#1558481 - 11/15/10 05:52 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Building on what John said, gsmonks, you never mentioned the advancement of Western Classical music specifically in your original post. "Western Music" encompasses a massive variety of styles, all built around the 12 pitch system. You failed to define exactly what you meant by western music. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that you seem so upset that we are "derailing" your thread with music that isn't explicitly "Western Artistic" in nature. Classical is a misnomer because it implies a past time period. If you want to box yourself in to nothing but western artistic music, that's fine, but again that is not a very progressive way to view music overall.

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#1558540 - 11/15/10 07:04 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Read the header- Exploring New Ground.

Read the heading of the section- Composer's Lounge

Read the posts- we're dealing mainly with classical music.

Western Music is a term that encompasses music which uses the same devices used in classical music.

"Classical music" covers everything from Leoninus & Perotinus to Ligeti and the present day. If you don't understand what category Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Debussy and Ligeti collectively fall into, then there's nothing I can do to help you.

I don't need to restate what this thread is about. If talk about serialism, Bach counterpoint and bi-tonality hasn't sunk in by now, you have serious problems with basic comprehension, either from ADD, ADHD, stupidity, or a desire to be annoying, the latter of which seems self-evident.

I don't have the equipment (yet) to post examples, Johnny Boy. I asked how you guys inserted YouTube into these posts and no one deigned to reply. If you've checked out my books of "guilty pleasure" piano music, you'll see that they were done with pen, ink & manuscript paper. In my music room there are two pianos, a lot of brass instruments, several stringed instruments, a clarinet, a few pieces of percussion, several music stands, two filing cabinets full of music, a bunch of folded-up cardboard bandstands, and this computer, which is strategically placed in front of the window. Oh, yes, and a wooden wind-up metronome, and a vase with several pens, pencils and baton handles sticking out of it, sitting on top of a pile of blank manuscript paper.

Regardless, did you listen to the Schoenburg symphony (about 7 posts back)? If that's "distracting and lifeless" music, then I'm an aardvark.

I really don't think you guys are the least bit interested in this thread, which causes me to wonder why you keep posting in it?

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#1558550 - 11/15/10 07:22 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Here's the most well-known piece of serial music ever written:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5YSgPZ-OK4&feature=fvsr

Many millions of people who were young in 1964 can whistle this piece. In fact, we used to play this in band when I was young, just as The Simpson's theme by Danny Elfman was played by many a school band in the 1990's.

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#1558554 - 11/15/10 07:28 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Here's what the band arrangement sounds like (sorry- really bad quality but it's the only one I could find):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnlbyloGMoU&feature=related

Anyway- the point is, there's not only nothing wrong with serial music, but certain examples have enjoyed the same lasting popularity as any other piece of music.

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#1558570 - 11/15/10 07:40 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
eweiss Offline
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I think the original Star Trek used serial music quite a bit. That and Wild Wild West. smile
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#1558599 - 11/15/10 08:12 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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GROUP HUG. LET'S ALL BE FRIENDS PLZ KTHX.

I'm not trying to be annoying gsmonks. I would appreciate it if you were more polite. Why does this have to be so grumpy? Why can't we just have a nice talk about the progression of music? "Exploring New Ground" does not imply Classicism. In a musical context, all it suggests is trying out new or previously unexplored techniques and ideas. The fact that this is the Composers' Forum does not in any way imply classicism. Do you think Composers' are confined to Classical music techniques? There are a lot of composers out there who are much more broad, venturing beyond Classical and even Western techniques altogether. You are dealing entirely with Western classical music; everybody else talking is not. I understand your grouping of composers and styles, but I think a more appropriate term would be "Art music" rather than "Classical music." But enough of the semantics. All I want to explain is that I don't think it's smart to limit oneself to the development of [art] music techniques alone.

I'm very interested in this thread. Partially because this is the type of issue I deal with every day in my compositional pursuits, namely, the exploration of different or modified techniques of composition to expand the musical vocabulary. Partially because I want to see this useless bickering sorted out. About the Schoenberg you posted - I really appreciated the expression and life the orchestra played the piece with. I actually have heard this piece before (we analyzed it at a composition camp I went to). I'm really not a fan of Schoenberg's harmonic language, but that's so much just a matter of personal taste. Harmonically, it feels... confused and directionless. It sounds like it's trying to go places, but it just doesn't. It wavers helplessly in my ears. It feels like a graceful, semi-lucid nightmare.

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#1558754 - 11/16/10 01:26 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: eweiss]
gsmonks Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
I think the original Star Trek used serial music quite a bit. That and Wild Wild West. smile


Actually, the guy writing the original background music for Star Trek was heavily le Sacre du Printemps influenced, and never wrote any serial compositions for the series that I'm aware of.


Edited by gsmonks (11/16/10 01:30 AM)
Edit Reason: finger boo-boo

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#1558765 - 11/16/10 02:01 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Jared, I get annoyed when you guys repeatedly ignore what this thread is about. I've spelled it out a number of times, yet you guys continually belabour it. That is very annoying.

Enough said.

What I've worked on for many years is methods of composing tone-rows derived from non-serial means. The advantage this has over serial music is that you're able to negate the problem of "painting yourself into a corner", which often happens with serial compositions. Using 12 non-repeating notes is problematic because non-regularity makes pattern-building difficult.

Of course, composers like Schoenburg wanted to get away from sequential movement because that in itself is so cliche in the world of tonal music, and was a good part of the reasoning behind the development of floating tonality, which in its free form is fully capable of being non-sequential.

Richard Strauss' answer was the Tone Poem, a form of programme music with tremendous flexibility. Strauss was not only a master orchestrator, but it is often overlooked that his contrapuntal work lies at the heart of his orchestral clarity and complexity. With most orchestrators, you can break down an arrangement generally to only two or three meaningful parts, but in the music of Richard Strauss there are often up to six parts, written in discrete instrumental groupings.

I want that kind of clarity and flexibility, but not within a tonal music. At the same time, I don't want an atonal music that is wholly dissonant in an uncontrolled, unpleasant manner. My solution was to create tone rows based upon rules of voice-leading which enforce non-tonal movements every so many notes, but which otherwise outline a tonal direction in order to allow a contrapuntal and harmonic structure the ear can more readily latch on to.

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#1558769 - 11/16/10 02:18 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Jared Hoeft Offline
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Do you have an example of something you've written, attempting to accomplish this? Sheet music or recording? That would be neat to hear.

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#1558881 - 11/16/10 09:43 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Gsmonks,

First off; as far as I can determine, you don't own this website (if you did, I'd probably be kicked off laugh ). Yes, you started this thread, but your postings evoke issues some of us have strong opinions about. When you start a thread in a domain you don't own, you have to take what is offered - and it should be done gracefully. It's not uncommon for threads to take off in different directions. I personally find that interesting on threads I start - and thank the posters for contributing.

It seems you want to control everything said on this thread, much like you have a need to control the way music compositions are constructed. It may work that way in your private domain, but it doesn't work that way in the real World.

Instead of being appreciative of posters sharing their thoughts on music composition, you spit on them when it doesn't suit you.

I can imagine there were probably musicians viewing this thread with the kind of info you were seeking, but were probably turned-off by your rude demeanor.

I sense you're a very accomplished musician. But you definitely need some fine-tuning in dealing with people.

Peace, John smile
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#1559109 - 11/16/10 04:30 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: Jared Hoeft]
gsmonks Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jared Hoeft
Do you have an example of something you've written, attempting to accomplish this? Sheet music or recording? That would be neat to hear.


I've got hours of examples, Jared, but it's still a work in progress, and I'm not ready to let the cat out of the bag just yet in terms of my own efforts in this area. Also, I'm not working alone on this particular project, and certain areas of the work I consider the intellectual property of others, and they'd take a dim view of anyone sharing the project at this stage.

This is a section of one piece I can share with you if you're interested, which is built on other methods. It's for choir and orchestra, but I have a reduced score that's almost playable on piano.

Johnny-Boy, I am what is known as a "curmudgeon". I'm rude and ageing and cantankerous. My arthritis makes me mean-spirited (that's today's excuse), my hair-loss makes me abrupt and defensive (which is as good an excuse as any), and cats clawing my legs while I'm on the computer make me short-tempered and often downright vile.

So age, cats and arthritis are the real villains here! Remember that, or I'll beat on you with a sack full of kittens!

BTW, what sort of equipment do you have for playing and recording? I've got nada, and everything I know is 'way out of date.


Edited by gsmonks (11/16/10 04:31 PM)

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#1559131 - 11/16/10 05:12 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Then all is forgiven gsmonks. laugh

I wake up cranky myself. I usually smooth out by noon. smile

Best, John

P.S. I'll get back to you later on the equipment.
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#1559473 - 11/17/10 07:42 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Equipment (modest compared to many): Motif ES8 Keyboard, Logic PRO (Digital Audio Workstation), Mac OS X, East West Quantum Leap Orchestra (samples), Kirk Hunter Strings, Extreme FX, Evolve (samples), and acoustic piano.
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#1560514 - 11/19/10 12:45 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Here's a toy I intend to get for working on vocal and choral music. Check out the demos:

http://www.vocaloid.com/en/sample.html

Here is one of the programmes you can buy in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTXO7KGHtjI&feature=player_embedded

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/DTXO7KGHtjI?fs=1&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/DTXO7KGHtjI?fs=1&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

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#1560894 - 11/19/10 05:53 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Here's a toy I intend to get for working on vocal and choral music. Check out the demos:

http://www.vocaloid.com/en/sample.html

Here is one of the programmes you can buy in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTXO7KGHtjI&feature=player_embedded

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/DTXO7KGHtjI?fs=1&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/DTXO7KGHtjI?fs=1&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>


Yes, the vocaloid is quite amazing.

I use EWQL Symphonic Choirs when I need background vocals. WordBuilder software allows you to type in the words you want the choir to sing.

I must say, both packages sing in perfect pitch. laugh
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#1561004 - 11/19/10 10:26 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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D'you have a link for the EWQL Symphonic Choirs?

How would you assemble music containing this programme and another?

Say, for example, that I was using a music notation/sequencing/digital recording/audio recording programme and wanted to add the programme you mentioned, plus something like Vocaloid?

I can see multitracking them, but how do you sync them?

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#1561222 - 11/20/10 11:37 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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I just got the vocaloid and MMD programmes!

Now to figure out how they work . . .

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#1561703 - 11/21/10 11:41 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
Johnny-Boy Offline
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
I just got the vocaloid and MMD programmes!

Now to figure out how they work . . .


Let us know how it works out for you gsmonks. Sounded really good on the vid.

Yeah, the figuring out part can be frustrating at times.
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#1561865 - 11/21/10 05:26 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Here are various versions of MMD. they're freeware:

http://www.geocities.jp/higuchuu4/index_e.htm

Now you can play with Miku, too!

I've been reading about the grassroots approach to Miku Vocaloid songs and animation. The industry in this way is very much generated by Miku's own fans. How interesting is that?! The programmes are for sale, but they're also freeware. And the industry is built upon responding to what the fans do. A fan does something that catches on, the industry is there to disseminate and improve upon the idea.

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#1561871 - 11/21/10 05:32 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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Incidently, I don't know who that bass player is on The World Is Mine, but he can play in my band any old time!

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#1561881 - 11/21/10 05:45 PM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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I know this is off-topic, but here's Miku's bass-player on his own. You've got to watch it until the end- it's amazing and hilarious at the same time. As I said, he can play in my band any time!:

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/22627/Hatsune+Miku.html

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#1562659 - 11/23/10 12:01 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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One area of classical music that can always stand a bit of exploration is the mechanics of rhythm.

I'm not talking about learning about rhythm in terms of instrumentation and rudiments- as music students this much is already within our purview.

What I am talking about is understanding what rhythm is, what it does, and how it works.

We do this as a matter of course when it comes to music history, Harmony and Counterpoint, but rhythm has long been the poor cousin of the elements that go into making Western music.

Some notable examples of near-misses and failures are Darius Milhaud, Dave Brubeck and Gordon Sumner (aka Sting). Darius Milhaud encouraged Dave Brubeck, one of his students, to travel the world and seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before . . . oops, sorry, that was the opening Star Trek monologue. But you get the idea. Gordon Sumner and many others did much the same thing in their search for "new" sounds.

All of the aforementioned are examples of both near-misses and failures: near-misses because in encountering useable elements they inadventently identified areas of Western music that were lacking, and failures because while they inadvertently identified these lacking areas, they borrowed without understanding and comprehension.

In other words, it is one thing to be able to identify a novel and useful thing and make use of it for a time, but it is entirely something else to understand why it is novel and useful. Moreover, the lack of such understanding means that we are forever at the mercy of the next lucky find, to be stumbled upon blindly and purely by accident.

In terms of rhythm, this is because no one as yet has bothered to figure out rhythm's how's, why's and wherefore's. Most of us are able to intuit such things as how rhythm makes us feel, but understanding why those feelings arise is key to understanding how to really take control. And a key area where Darius Milhaud, Dave Brubeck and Gordon Sumner failed is one I'd like to mention now- how to cause rhythm to develop, rather than simply make use of a particular rhythm pattern because of its temporal novelty until it has worn out its celcome.

To start off with, and to conclude this segment, I am going to explain the difference between "straight" rhythm (aka regular) and "swing" (aka rubato).

Straight rhythm and swing have two different types of "feel", but what are those differences, and what is that "feel" exactly?

Here are the differences: straight rhythm causes you to feel as though you were stationary, watching something move. Swing tempo (swing jazz or a Viennese waltz) causes you to feel as though you were moving, whilst your surroundings remained stationary.

In terms of perception, these two aspects of rhythm are polar opposites.

More anon . . .


Edited by gsmonks (11/23/10 12:03 AM)
Edit Reason: the case of the missing apostrophe

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#1563786 - 11/25/10 01:38 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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There is a world of meaning in the term "feel the beat". Until the 1960's it used to be said/believed that only rubato and series' of 3's could make a listener/dancer experience the sensation of movement.

Rubato, or "dragging the beat", can cause a sympathetic/physical response, where the listener/dancer responds by experiencing the change in tempo as a physical "pull". The lilt of waltz tempo and a subito rubato followed by a tempo are two such examples.

Swing jazz consists of an ongoing sequence of rapid triplets which as a body produce the same effect. Certain jazz purists often claim that a jazz triplet is not a triplet, and lies somewhere between a doublet and a triplet, but this claim is patent balogna. Jazz triplets can and in certain rare instances are played in this fashion, but anyone who has listened to thousands of hours of Swing can tell you otherwise.

The Swing triplet is important in this topic because of its ability to produce a physical response in the dancer/listener. Why? Because it raises the question, "How is it able to achieve this effect?"

The answer is to be found in two later forms of popular music, namely fast-paced Heavy Metal and Punk Rock. These forms likewise evoke physical sensation from the listener/dancer, and in two very different ways.

The two aspects unique to these forms are often referred to as "head-banging" and "pogo". "Head-banging" is a response to the beat, where the head "bangs" forward on the beat, while the belly and/or hips are drawn forward on the off-beats, so that the upper and lower parts of the body rock back and forth. Punk Rock guitar is all downstroke in a sort of "one-beat", and the physical response in this case is to bounce downward and rebound upward off the dance floor- hence the term "pogo".

While this type of overt physicality is far less apparent in classical music, it is there, nonetheless. The very thing that makes Beethoven's 5th Symphony such an exciting piece of music is the physical response it generates because of it's beautifully crafted rhythmic pulse and drive. The opening of the 4th movement contains elements identical to the phenomenon of "head-banging", and is as physically satisfying as it is musically satisfying.

And now, we are entering a little-known world, that of the percussive element in music.

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#1564329 - 11/26/10 01:34 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
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The percussive element in music is the working title of a book I've been working on for many years- a book I may never get around to finishing, for reasons I'm not going to get into here. But I am going to share some of the things I've been working on.

What the percussive element in music means is that there is a percussive aspect to the performance characteristics and utility of all instruments. In turn, we as composers should be paying more attention to this aspect of writing music.

As the percussive element isn't clearly notated, as a general rule, writing music from a percussive standpoint presents a number of unique challenges. Yes, the use of accents makes thing more apparent on paper, but it doesn't address the interrelationship between parts, balance of sections and groupings, and the dual impetus of rhythm plus harmonic progression.

At this point I should make it clear that percussive writing is nothing new- that it has been with us a very long time. But a lucid awareness of the percussive aspect has been hit or miss, and relegated to being understood only in terms of being a strong rhythmic impetus. As such, it has always fallen somewhat short of its true potential.

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#1565014 - 11/27/10 07:12 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
When it comes to the percussive element in music, it is wise to remember the similarities and the differences between the percussive element, percussion and its notation, and the rules of counterpoint. Percussion and its notation are a given, as are the rules of counterpoint, but the percussive element is and remains a grey area. Awareness of it is always there, but on the periphery. Composers use it, but unknowingly. It has always been present as a matter of instinct, but not of conscious intent.

The instrument which best illustrates the percussive element is the piano, because it is a percussion instrument with a linear voice. As such, its technique entails a ready-made vocabulary of both linear and percussive elements. Its polyphonic capabilities allow both the counterpoint of fugue and the principles of rhythmic interplay between multiple percussive elements (best illustrated in certain modern complex Latin-jazz arrangements).

The piano is but one instrument, however, and the possibilities latent in the sectional groupings and cross-arranged combinations of the modern orchestra are truly astonishing.

Minimalist composers are certainly aware of the latent potential of the percussive element, but like everyone else are not yet fully aware of the percussive element for what it is. It is and remains a potential on the periphery of awareness.

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#1566254 - 11/29/10 08:27 AM Re: Exploring New Ground [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Strangely enough, though it has the appearance of labyrinthian complexity, orchestral counterpoint and the art of fugue is far simpler a matter to address in terms of originality than traditional Western Harmony. After all, Western Harmony is but the outward expression of principles whose origins arose from counterpoint- even from plain chant, its monophonic predecessor.

Coming up with a new and different polyphony is not that difficult. What is difficult is coming up with a polyphony whose sound isn't purely derivative.

A good parallel example is constructing sentences such as this without ever using "the". Or constructing scripts which avoid using "e". Read over both previous sentences and it has to be pointed out that anything is unusual. This is what I mean by derivative. Despite their construction, the sentences just sound like regular sentences. And so it is with altering the rules of counterpoint. Any meaningful change would have to fundamentally alter the outward expression of the music.

This is where experimentation comes in, most of which is doomed to end in failure. Even so, each failure is a lesson learned, which in its turn may lead to success. This is not to say that success is guaranteed, by way of overcoming failure, but that a useful working knowledge is acquired that can not be gained in any other way.

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