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#1994567 - 12/04/12 10:12 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Nikolas]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
A seismologist and a paleontologist are both knowledgeable people, but one has more of a say about earthquakes than the other.

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#1994575 - 12/04/12 10:38 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: debrucey]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: debrucey

...
2. ... When I listen to complex music, I am not concentrating, searching and analysing any more than when I listen to simple music. This is because I have been listening to lots of different kinds of music for a long time to the point where any 'understanding' that needs to happen has become innate, just like the 'understanding' that happens when most people listen to Fur Elise.
...


I totally agree. This is why you are the knowledgable. But I, as the 'only general' listener, do not have this experience and therefore most likely favor other pieces than you would do it, and subsequently I become one in the mass making the other piece popular, although it might not really be such masterwork.

There are also very complex pieces being very popular, but I have the impression that this is because it is possible to listen to them and to 'feel' their beauty also in a simplified way: catching only some superficial but satisfying theme out of it without having to get into all fine nuances of it.
[added: think about the popular pieces in the sheet books for beginners: there we often find transcriptions from complex pieces to simplified arrangements; that´s not so easy to do with all of the masterworks, but with some of it is possible...]


Edited by Marco M (12/04/12 10:46 AM)
Edit Reason: forgot to include one argument

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#1994576 - 12/04/12 10:42 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Marco M]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19715
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Marco M
Well, being one out of the general audience and not from the knowledgeables, I can underline what others answered already: The impressive emotional effects (may it just be loudness or speed, or a maestoso or sad tone) attract a lot, and if they are even coming in an easy to remember tune, then the word will be spread on it.

Music is first of all emotion and not a contest, and thus not well received by the 'general' listener if for listening having to work on it....

Well said. Many of us here might disagree with that last part, I think there's no doubt that it's true for the great majority of music listeners -- and there's nothing wrong with it: it's human nature. For the most part, we don't want to have to "work on" things that we do for enjoyment or leisure.

BTW, an aspect that has been mentioned but (I think) not emphasized: LENGTH. Nikolas asked about Fur Elise vs. the Hammerklavier. If the Hammerklavier were somehow as short as Fur Elise, I think it would have a chance to be as popular and well-known. People in general have a certain desired attention span for things, and for music, it seems to be mostly something like 2-4 minutes, maybe up to 5; it's no accident that most popular songs are about that long, likewise most of the classical pieces that have achieved great popularity.

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#1994600 - 12/04/12 11:35 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: wr]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6294
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
A side note on Clair De Lune: This is one of those "overplayed" pieces that everyone knows. However, to me it represents a sort of perfection in structure and execution. It is just the right length, it is structured beautifully, and just seems like one of those pieces that the composer wrote in one sitting, where every note fell into place easily. This is all my opinion of course, but it really does have that perfect storm of inspiration going for it. It's sublimely beautiful no matter how many times I hear it.


Glad you said this.

I always thought Clair de Lune was an early work - BUT (from Wiki): "Although Debussy wrote the piece in 1890 at the age of 25, it was not published until 1905. By that time it had been partially re-written as well as re-titled. The original name of this piece was “Promenade Sentimentale.” The new title for the movement comes from a poem by the same name written by Paul Verlaine.....”

Learn something new every day. grin



Yes, that's interesting info. And it was interesting to read that the Passepied was originally called Pavane, which kind of sort of maybe supports my hunch that everybody plays it much, much too fast.



Interesting that Debussy composed the Pavanne (Passepied) three years after Faure wrote his Pavanne. Debussy certainly would have been familiar with the Faure work.

Here's a recording (piano roll) of Faure playing his Pavanne ...(you can skip the ad after 5 seconds)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUsGh2xYYQg

I searched the internet and found this "slower" version of the Debussy Passepied played by Claudio Arrau. Debussy marked the piece "Allegretto ma non troppo." Arrau's tempo is consistent with that. grin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6fTuLb5PO0
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#1994608 - 12/04/12 11:54 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Mark_C]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/11
Posts: 544
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

BTW, an aspect that has been mentioned but (I think) not emphasized: LENGTH. Nikolas asked about Fur Elise vs. the Hammerklavier. If the Hammerklavier were somehow as short as Fur Elise, I think it would have a chance to be as popular and well-known. People in general have a certain desired attention span for things, and for music, it seems to be mostly something like 2-4 minutes, maybe up to 5; it's no accident that most popular songs are about that long, likewise most of the classical pieces that have achieved great popularity.


That was me! I totally agree, but something interesting to think about: The first movement of Beethoven's Fifth symphony is one of the most recognizable pieces of music, however, it's not often played in full when used. Not even the whole symphony itself, but the entire first movement. I'd say most people haven't even heard it in full. Same with the ninth symphony.

With the fifth, you usually hear the dramatic opening, and a minute or two after that. I feel that these are popular because of the mood they create perfectly within these "pockets" of music, as opposed to the efficient 3 minute piece such as Fur Elise.

Again, I think the main components to the popularity of these pieces are a combination of melody, length, and in the case of piano pieces, the fact that many people have learned them at some point. I know people that took piano lessons as children that played Fur Elise, but now can't even read music. Like I said in my last post, I imagine more people on the earth right now can play Fur Elise than the Hammerklavier. To me that is a BIG reason why it's so popular. It also has a nice melody that is flowing and harmonically simple that people can attach too. And lastly, as we are saying, it's nice and short!

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#1994613 - 12/04/12 12:06 PM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Nikolas]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13776
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think the important thing to take away is that composers and performers need to provide a range of works to their audience.

Let's not forget that Beethoven wrote both the Hammerklavier AND a number of variation sets and trifles on popular tunes of the day.

You see the same from performers - Horowitz would play both colossal masterworks AND throw in a popular Chopin waltz, Schumann Traumerei, or even the Stars and Stripes Forever.



Originally Posted By: Nikolas
In a thread by Debrucey there's mentioning that the Rach Prelude in C#m is weak and definitely not his strongest work (rather far from that. I happen to agree.

Other extremely popular works are the fur Elise, Clair de Lune, and whatever else...

None of the above show the particular strengths of the composer (in a very personal opinion) and they are more catchy and beautiful than masterful. This doesn't take away from their value, but it does appear that more knowledgeable listeners, or performers, or musicians appreciate other works and are turned off by such popular works.

If we take the above (personal, I repeat) premise as a fact, what does this mean for the general audience then? Why isn't the hammerklavier as popular as fur Elise? Why isn't L'apremidi d'un Faune (spelling... YIKES) more popular than Clair De Lune (I know this one. Because Clair De Lune was used in 'Twilight'...).

Are we 'doomed' to have less masterful works as the most popular works? IS a performer 'doomed' to have to perform such works? Is a composer 'doomed' to have to compose in such ways?
_________________________
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#1994635 - 12/04/12 01:00 PM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: debrucey]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5295
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: wr
Then you have a disagreement. So what? It's not algebra.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Not really. It's a consensus of knowledgable opinions, not one knowledgable person's opinion.

I think that is exactly what I am saying. Two knowledgeable people disagree on what is masterful. One says it is. The other says it isn't. To extrapolate: two groups of knowledgeable people have a similar disagreement. What then?

Originally Posted By: debrucey
A seismologist and a paleontologist are both knowledgeable people, but one has more of a say about earthquakes than the other.

I had to smile when I read this. It never fails that science always comes into a discussion of art. smile

In this case, we are talking about math. Quantifiable results. "If 'x' happens, 'y' is the quantifiable result." Seismologists study the x's in order to mathematically determine the y's. A paleontologist knowledgeable of the relationship between x and y could make the same exact prediction as the seismologist (much like a chemist can understand physics, especially physics that another physicist has already explained).

In the case of art, we are largely talking about taste (or 'belief'--I'll come back to science on this), or to extrapolate beyond the individual level, collective taste. For me, to say otherwise is to try to turn art into science, and that, to me, is discrediting and devaluing art.

To bring it back to science, as promised. The parallel I see would be cutting-edge science. Things that have yet to be proved. Even in science, we can see scientists lining up on opposite sides of the line to debate a hot new topic. One side believes one thing, the other side believes is opposite or a variant. Once proven mathematically and logically, the side that is literally wrong has to accept they were wrong and move on.

This is the absolute beauty of art, that exists in no other endeavor on earth: no one is wrong. What you believe is your reality. To tell people they are wrong about what they feel when they partake in art is, to me, the greatest error one can make regarding that art.

It's that line of thinking that brought me to comment on "masterful" disagreements, and the ultimate subjective nature of art. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1994872 - 12/05/12 04:37 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Derulux]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7792
Originally Posted By: Derulux

This is the absolute beauty of art, that exists in no other endeavor on earth: no one is wrong. What you believe is your reality. To tell people they are wrong about what they feel when they partake in art is, to me, the greatest error one can make regarding that art.



Who said anything about people being wrong? But, now that you bring it up, you're wrong. If artistic endeavors and people's responses to it were as solipsistic as you imagine, we wouldn't have any, because there would be no commonality of experience.

But there is some kind of commonality. And there are also varying degrees of talent, experience, and education in regards to it, as well, on the parts of everyone participating.

Of course, anyone can have whatever private experience they want with it, and can value it to whatever extent they like. And that isn't wrong. What's wrong is to imagine that one's personal reaction to art is the only valid criterion by which an entire culture is measured.

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#1994877 - 12/05/12 04:59 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: carey]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7792
Originally Posted By: carey




I searched the internet and found this "slower" version of the Debussy Passepied played by Claudio Arrau. Debussy marked the piece "Allegretto ma non troppo." Arrau's tempo is consistent with that. grin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6fTuLb5PO0



The basic tempo Arrau chooses seems about right to me. But, love him as I do, that's almost the only thing that seems right about his interpretation. There are a couple of spots where he seems threatening to drift into Pogo the Slow territory.

It's interesting how some extremely gifted musicians have, shall we say, "explored" unusually slow tempos. Arrau, Pogorelich, Celibidache, Richter and Sokolov are a few, off the top of my head.

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#1994930 - 12/05/12 09:05 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Nikolas]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
You seem to have assumed I was trying to bring science into the discussion in a way which I was not. I only meant to make the point that 'knowledge' can't be measured as linear surfaces are, and that therefore grouping people into 'knowledgeable' and 'general' is a misdistinction.

However, I disagree with your point about art being outside of science. The fact that a perfect fifth sounds more consonant than a quartertone is because of physics, not personal preference.

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#1994936 - 12/05/12 09:21 AM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: Derulux]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Then you have a disagreement. So what? It's not algebra.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Not really. It's a consensus of knowledgeable opinions, not one knowledgable person's opinion.

I think that is exactly what I am saying. Two knowledgeable people disagree on what is masterful. One says it is. The other says it isn't. To extrapolate: two groups of knowledgeable people have a similar disagreement. What then?
Then there is no consensus about that particular piece. The point being made was that "knowledgeable" people are the best to decide on the quality of a piece. Whether they can reach a consensus on a particular piece or whether two knowledgeable people agree about a particular pieces is irrelevant to the point being made.

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#1995073 - 12/05/12 02:32 PM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: wr]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5295
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux

This is the absolute beauty of art, that exists in no other endeavor on earth: no one is wrong. What you believe is your reality. To tell people they are wrong about what they feel when they partake in art is, to me, the greatest error one can make regarding that art.



Who said anything about people being wrong? But, now that you bring it up, you're wrong. If artistic endeavors and people's responses to it were as solipsistic as you imagine, we wouldn't have any, because there would be no commonality of experience.

But there is some kind of commonality. And there are also varying degrees of talent, experience, and education in regards to it, as well, on the parts of everyone participating.

Of course, anyone can have whatever private experience they want with it, and can value it to whatever extent they like. And that isn't wrong. What's wrong is to imagine that one's personal reaction to art is the only valid criterion by which an entire culture is measured.

I'm not sure that this disagrees with me at all, so to your point, I believe that you're wrong when you say that I'm wrong. laugh (And I do agree almost entirely with your post, to the degree short of saying that common experience necessarily is capable of defining reality. Separate from an artistic discussion, and really more of a philosophical one, individuals still create their own reality in their own heads. Unless we're talking about schizophrenics, in which case, an entire community could indeed live within one's head.)

I would like to bring up an honorable mention: if art were as archaic, academic and obtuse as the word solipsistic, it might indeed vanish. I do, however, applaud your vocabulary. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1995074 - 12/05/12 02:37 PM Re: weak popular works and their link to the audience? [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5295
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Then you have a disagreement. So what? It's not algebra.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Not really. It's a consensus of knowledgeable opinions, not one knowledgable person's opinion.

I think that is exactly what I am saying. Two knowledgeable people disagree on what is masterful. One says it is. The other says it isn't. To extrapolate: two groups of knowledgeable people have a similar disagreement. What then?
Then there is no consensus about that particular piece. The point being made was that "knowledgeable" people are the best to decide on the quality of a piece. Whether they can reach a consensus on a particular piece or whether two knowledgeable people agree about a particular pieces is irrelevant to the point being made.

I apologize for answering in two posts. I thought these were separate conversation best kept apart.

I am perfectly fine with your response, and believe me or not, I actually agree with you on this point. I would like to take your words, "Then there is no consensus about that particular piece," back to the original postulation:

Quote:
Are we 'doomed' to have less masterful works as the most popular works?


Again, if there is no consensus, which you have agreed is possible, then how can we say that that particular work is necessarily less masterful than others?
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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