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#2070967 - 04/25/13 09:03 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: BDB]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 113
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.


Why? Do you not know the meaning of the word "oriental"?

If you consider the Caucasus or the Crimea 'Oriental', I believe it is you who doesn't know the meaning of the word. And if you don't know where the subtitle came from, what motivated you to make such a condescending reply?


In other words, you do not know that "oriental" means "eastern." To people in Europe at the time, anywhere to the east of Europe was "oriental."

Does your status of 18,000-plus posts give you the right to be as rude as you wish, I wonder? Does your one-upmanship and snottiness make you feel good?

AGAIN - and this excludes people who apparently can not read and are here only to insult - is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

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#2070983 - 04/25/13 09:32 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: beet31425]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7495
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: beet31425
...his [Sorabji's] "Opus Clavicembalisticum" (which I don't really know)

...and I don't blame you for not knowing it. You would have to leave your job and your home and live in isolation as a hermit for about 25 years.
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#2070984 - 04/25/13 09:33 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7495
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.
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Polyphonist

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#2070989 - 04/25/13 09:38 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Polyphonist]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 113
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

I don't consider the themes to originate in the Orient, so I think that's a matter of opinion. I don't hear anything 'oriental' in Islamey.

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#2070992 - 04/25/13 09:40 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
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Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

...so I think that's a matter of opinion.

And it is...
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#2071030 - 04/25/13 10:29 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
BDB Online   content
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It is also a matter of geography. From where I am, Japan and China are mostly Occidental. The Orient starts more toward the region where the themes came from, and includes all of Europe.
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#2071037 - 04/25/13 10:33 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21254
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For those of you who are traveling, do not take the Orient Express expecting to get to China. It never went beyond Istanbul.
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#2071047 - 04/25/13 10:42 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).


Can you expand on this? I'm generally interested as to why you can't stand "ethnic music," considering some of the best music in the world is folk music and ethnic music. Do you just not like it when it influences a classical composition?

Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm just fascinated by that response since I am the complete opposite. Much of my life has been spent studying, enjoying and playing different musics from around the world, including Spain, Portugal, India, Japan to name a few. This is some of the richest music there is and many times is as deep and profoundly moving as anything.

Again, you are entitled to your tastes and opinion, but I'd like you to expand on that if you don't mind. grin

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#2071050 - 04/25/13 10:44 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
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Loc: New York City
Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?
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Polyphonist

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#2071067 - 04/25/13 11:00 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7753
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

I don't consider the themes to originate in the Orient, so I think that's a matter of opinion. I don't hear anything 'oriental' in Islamey.


I think that the "oriental" of the subtitle was likely not meant literally, but more as part of that European vogue/idiom that is now often called "orientalism", meaning that it had a certain exotic and "Eastern" flavor for "Westerners", regardless of actual geographic or cultural origin.

I haven't come across any references that say the subtitle was not Balakirev's own.

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#2071071 - 04/25/13 11:02 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Polyphonist]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3707
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?


I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that Bartok, that supreme musical ethnologist, disparaged Chopin's mazurkas for not having authentic enough ethnic elements. Musical gems of course, but (I think he thought) with crudely deployed folk elements.

-J

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#2071074 - 04/25/13 11:04 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: wr]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 113
Originally Posted By: wr
I think that the "oriental" of the subtitle was likely not meant literally, but more as part of that European vogue/idiom that is now often called "orientalism", meaning that it had a certain exotic and "Eastern" flavor for "Westerners", regardless of actual geographic or cultural origin.

I haven't come across any references that say the subtitle was not Balakirev's own.

Thanks for your thoughtful and sensible answer.

According to some calculations, I apparently live in the Orient (of the U.S.). I did not know that!

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#2071087 - 04/25/13 11:19 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: beet31425]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/11
Posts: 544
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?


I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that Bartok, that supreme musical ethnologist, disparaged Chopin's mazurkas for not having authentic enough ethnic elements. Musical gems of course, but (I think he thought) with crudely deployed folk elements.

-J


Interesting, but I can see where Bartok is coming from. Isn't that like the Hungarian Rhapsodies? (I might be mixing the piece up). Weren't they not based on folk themes but actual popular music of the day?

On another note, I love what Albeniz does with the influence of flamenco and other folk dances of Spain. He really works it in so naturally that you can almost pick out when he wants a certain melody to sound like a voice in a saeta, and which rhythms are supposed to be strummed guitars.

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#2071107 - 04/25/13 11:55 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: didyougethathing]
Nikolas Online   content
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5210
Loc: Europe
Before I answer this I will completely disregard polyphonists trolling. wink

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Originally Posted By: Nikolas

b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).


Can you expand on this? I'm generally interested as to why you can't stand "ethnic music," considering some of the best music in the world is folk music and ethnic music. Do you just not like it when it influences a classical composition?

Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm just fascinated by that response since I am the complete opposite. Much of my life has been spent studying, enjoying and playing different musics from around the world, including Spain, Portugal, India, Japan to name a few. This is some of the richest music there is and many times is as deep and profoundly moving as anything.

Again, you are entitled to your tastes and opinion, but I'd like you to expand on that if you don't mind. grin
I'm coming off from a completely different side of music than most of you. Not only because I'm a composer, but because I've been working in the computer games industry from a bit less than a decade.

'Ethnic' music comes in many flavours, but in computer games it usually means using samples with some ethnic instruments (Chinese, Greek, Asian in a more general sense) and having some kind of percussion loop on the bottom. A very superficial kind of way that gets me unfortunately.

Try to get here: http://www.soundsonline.com/Ra and listen to the right music player a few examples to see what I mean.

Now, on classical music we get an attempt to somehow fake things (into the piano in this case). Some things are very real, successful and fine, others not.

But I'm still not sure why I got such a reaction for my post. I already said that I'm Greek, so half the stuff I listen to every day (Greek music lets say) by definition is ethnic to you guys. And I did mention that I'm wondering if my music is influenced by ethnic flavours (which I bet it is, but as I said, I hope not too much)...

Originally Posted By: beet
I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.
Exactly right, but I don't really care about polyphponis one bit. He's proven himself to be the kind that I want to avoid in forums, so no problem. The rest of you probably know me too well to judge me that harsh.

But it's exactly what I said above. And if Bartok said that Chopins music wasn't "ethnic enough" I can also say that, can't I? Remember, again, that I'm Greek and thus it was brought to the table that Chopin is the definition of classical music, pretty much.

Goomer: Don't stick too strongly on the definition of the word! It was used to provide some idea of setting the piece apart from other music of the time, that's all. (at least I think so). It wasn't an attempt to give very specific origins to the music or anything like that. (I think)


Edited by Nikolas (04/25/13 11:56 PM)
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#2071109 - 04/25/13 11:56 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: didyougethathing]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7753
Originally Posted By: didyougethathing

Interesting, but I can see where Bartok is coming from. Isn't that like the Hungarian Rhapsodies? (I might be mixing the piece up). Weren't they not based on folk themes but actual popular music of the day?



The thing with the HRs is a bit more complicated than that - per Walker, the tunes originally came from both pop and folk sources, but as reinterpreted by Romani musicians.

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#2071110 - 04/25/13 11:58 PM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7495
Loc: New York City
It was less of "pigeonholing" than a joke, Nikolas. I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet.

And although there are many trolls on this forum, I am not one of them. wink
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Polyphonist

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#2071113 - 04/26/13 12:02 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6200
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Per Poly - "I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet."

Gee - I'm a little surprised to see this statement coming from you. crazy
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YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2071114 - 04/26/13 12:03 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: carey]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7495
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: carey
Per Poly - "I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet."

Gee - I'm a little surprised to see this statement coming from you. crazy

...and why is that?
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Polyphonist

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#2071121 - 04/26/13 12:17 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6200
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Poly - you might want to refer back to my rather lengthy post on the prior Islamey thread....... But let's just let it go. smile


Edited by carey (04/26/13 12:17 AM)
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#2071124 - 04/26/13 12:22 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Polyphonist]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5210
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
It was less of "pigeonholing" than a joke, Nikolas. I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet.

And although there are many trolls on this forum, I am not one of them. wink
Oh...

Ok...

I actually didn't get that! Sorry... :-/
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#2071125 - 04/26/13 12:22 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7495
Loc: New York City
...
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2071214 - 04/26/13 03:57 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4810
Many great composers have been influenced by ethnic music, not just the obvious suspects like Bartok and Kodály.

Debussy was influenced by Javanese gamelan music ('Pagodes' from Estampes), and Ravel by Malaysian verse-form Pantoum in his Piano Trio. Not to mention Dvorák and Smetana.

And Orientalism abounds everywhere, in the form of pentatonic scales whenever the composer wants to convey some exotic place, like Puccini in Madama Butterfly.....

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#2071246 - 04/26/13 05:29 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Lemon Pledge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 350
It just occurred to me that Islamey might possibly be the only frequently-played solo work in the standard repertoire that I've never even bothered to read through, not once, not even partially. I guess that means I don't like it.

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#2071258 - 04/26/13 06:28 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Numerian Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
In Mozart's day Orientalism primarly referred to Turkish music - as in The Abduction of the Seraglio, or the Turkish March, with its hint of drums and cymbals. European composers of the 19th century expanded the concept to include all of the Ottoman Empire, and so you get this sense of Orientalism meaning Arabic music - the Arabian Dance by Tchaikovsky.

I don't think European composers were very aware at all of Asia-Pacific music until late in the 19th century, during the Meiji Era when Japan opened up to the West, and the West established colonizing enclaves in China. As Bennevis said, this was the time French composers were discovering the gamelan of Indonesia.

As to Islamey, it fits in very well to the Russian notion of Orientalist music of its time - music of the Ottoman Empire and of Arabian caliphates. It's exotic and obviously crowd pleasing or it wouldn't continue to appear as an encore. If we don't like it here on the Forums, it's probably because of what somebody above said: as amateurs, we can't imagine putting the extensive amount of work in to master Islamey.

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#2071266 - 04/26/13 06:59 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
Schubertslieder Offline
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Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 373
Loc: Michigan, USA
Numerian, such an informative post with many interesting informations. Also, I didn't find any trolling at all, smile.

Seeing that this piece is a folk music, it has a very specific sound native to the region. As with all music, it takes time to get used to these different sounding music to the vast majority. I have not heard many pieces by him but, I am sure in the place where he originally came from, he is probably well known and appreciated more.


Edited by Schubertslieder (04/26/13 07:00 AM)
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#2071269 - 04/26/13 07:08 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7753
I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.

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#2071334 - 04/26/13 09:20 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

Now, on classical music we get an attempt to somehow fake things (into the piano in this case). Some things are very real, successful and fine, others not.

But I'm still not sure why I got such a reaction for my post. I already said that I'm Greek, so half the stuff I listen to every day (Greek music lets say) by definition is ethnic to you guys. And I did mention that I'm wondering if my music is influenced by ethnic flavours (which I bet it is, but as I said, I hope not too much)...

Originally Posted By: beet
I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.
Exactly right, but I don't really care about polyphponis one bit. He's proven himself to be the kind that I want to avoid in forums, so no problem. The rest of you probably know me too well to judge me that harsh.

But it's exactly what I said above. And if Bartok said that Chopins music wasn't "ethnic enough" I can also say that, can't I? Remember, again, that I'm Greek and thus it was brought to the table that Chopin is the definition of classical music, pretty much.


Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.

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#2071356 - 04/26/13 09:49 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: wr]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 113
Originally Posted By: wr
I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.

I thought of the same thing at the start of this thread! smile

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
I know some people feel as you [beet31424] do about some of Liszt's works, for example, but that's a controversial thing to say because Liszt is a top-tier composer. Is Islamey more easily scorned because Balakirev is not one?

Kreisler recommended a recording by Terence Judd on YouTube, and I think it's so good that I wanted to put up a direct link to it.


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#2071371 - 04/26/13 10:16 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: didyougethathing]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5210
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)
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#2071392 - 04/26/13 10:49 AM Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/11
Posts: 544
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)


I agree that Islamey sounds like a novelty. And as to your comment about a person of a different ethnic group/nationality learning another folk music, I studied flamenco in Spain years ago, and continue to play it. However, I don't play publicly as I'm not good enough. Nevertheless, I have seen non-Spanish play it effectively, although the rest of the performers were all Spanish.

To your point of composer's carrying around their nationality, I think this is true to an extent. Take the New World Symphony. I've read that most of the thematic material was not taken from American folk, but rather Czech, Dvorak's homeland! Perhaps it's unavoidable for some people.

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