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#2076109 - 05/02/13 07:09 PM What defines "sublime" music?
TrueMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/12
Posts: 254
Loc: San Diego, California
I've been thinking lately that I want to write something more sublime and laid back. Most of what I write tends to be a bit more in your face, and I've got a desire to write something that's opposite of that. I just finished a piano piece with influences of Liszt with a middle section that's sort of Jazz 20th century mix, but it certainly is in your face with a number of sections using big and loud chords and fast rhythms. [the piece is predominantly in 2/2, is 211 measures, and only 7:50 minutes. Fairly fast paced]

But, that's not the point of the thread.
What, in your mind, defines sublime music, and what do you think are the best examples of it?
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#2076162 - 05/02/13 08:49 PM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: TrueMusic]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8251
Loc: New York City
Definition: Demonstrating sublimity. ha

It can't be defined.

Examples - well, let's see now, how about the last movement of Beethoven 111, and the 33rd Diabelli Variation (both last parts of monumental works, also both in C major laugh ), and the first movement of his 27/2, and the Largo of Chopin's Opus 58 (of course), and parts of his 4th Ballade, and most of the Nocturnes, and...okay, I'll stop. I could list several pages full of these. ha
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#2076186 - 05/02/13 09:20 PM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: Polyphonist]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1173
Loc: Southern California
I'm sure many will disagree with me, but the first song that comes to mind is What Child is This. In particular, a violin solo from Lindsay Stirling. It is simple, piercing, the melody haunts me. The tone seems so pure, even with low quality audio.

I prefer live music. I attended a live performance of Claire du Lune, and its spare quality performed well gets close. For recorded piano music, maybe something like Moonlight Sonata has a haunting quality. I'm sure others will cite their favorites.

If a person writes for instruments other than piano, I suggest trying for a simple melody on a flute, or violin. Performed well, if the melody is good, it will get close to sublime.

The downside of simple melodies, is all the great ones in major keys have mostly already been written. In this day and age, virtually every three to 12 to xxx note motif has been done by some person some where.

A person that performs live knows if the audience is getting it or not. If not, they might be shuffling, chatting, even leaving. If the music is just right, the room will pay attention and the music will hold them for a moment in time.
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#2078672 - 05/07/13 06:37 AM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: TrueMusic]
Medium Heights Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 64
Loc: Banned
I think sublime is a manifestation of genius or our frail connection with something greater than ourselves. I think we all have the potential to express this but it might not come when we are looking for it, and some of us (myself for example) might be able to express it only once or twice per life-time.

I think it can be simple and very laid-back, but it can also be something like a Wagnerian climax or the climax of a Bach fugue. It's a rather vague word, to my mind.

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#2083325 - 05/15/13 09:41 PM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: Medium Heights]
Quaver Pyjama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/11
Posts: 114
Originally Posted By: Medium Heights
I think sublime is a manifestation of genius or our frail connection with something greater than ourselves. I think we all have the potential to express this but it might not come when we are looking for it, and some of us (myself for example) might be able to express it only once or twice per life-time.

I think it can be simple and very laid-back, but it can also be something like a Wagnerian climax or the climax of a Bach fugue. It's a rather vague word, to my mind.

You know nothing of what you are talking about.

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#2083380 - 05/15/13 11:06 PM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: TrueMusic]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8251
Loc: New York City
A Bach fugue probably isn't the best possible example of "sublime" music.

Click to reveal..
...I think that the first movement of Mozart's K545 sonata is the most sublime thing I've ever heard. I always cry when I hear it played.


(Not.)
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#2083498 - 05/16/13 04:01 AM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: Quaver Pyjama]
Medium Heights Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 64
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Quaver Pyjama
Originally Posted By: Medium Heights
I think sublime is a manifestation of genius or our frail connection with something greater than ourselves. I think we all have the potential to express this but it might not come when we are looking for it, and some of us (myself for example) might be able to express it only once or twice per life-time.

I think it can be simple and very laid-back, but it can also be something like a Wagnerian climax or the climax of a Bach fugue. It's a rather vague word, to my mind.

You know nothing of what you are talking about.


Only my own experience and what the dictionary tells me, all of which is nothing to you personally, I guess. It's something to me, however.

Or alternatively, we can engage in the eternal battle of mere semantics over this if you so wish. I have time.

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#2084067 - 05/17/13 08:59 AM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: TrueMusic]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2855
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
I'm inclined to agree with Medium Heights on this (try not to be too surprised Medium) and for Quaver to weigh in with
Quote:
You know nothing of what you are talking about.
without any explanation did nothing to elevate the discussion. Sublime is a word that hasn't been defined in this thread so let's take care of that, here's how dictionary.com defines sublime:

1. elevated or lofty in thought, language, etc.: Paradise Lost is sublime poetry.
2. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.: Switzerland has sublime scenery.
3. supreme or outstanding: a sublime dinner.
4. complete; absolute; utter: sublime stupidity.

I don't get "laid back" from this definition, but I do think a Bach fugue could qualify. If I thought more highly of the meaning behind Wagner's operas they might qualify in my mind. Certainly a Mahler symphony could be described as sublime.

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#2084087 - 05/17/13 09:40 AM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
Medium Heights Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 64
Loc: Banned
Nah, I'm not surprised. I may be quick to anger, but I'm also fast in moving to the opposite direction, especially when given the opportunity. I'm sure you're a good guy as well.

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#2084655 - 05/18/13 10:11 AM Re: What defines "sublime" music? [Re: TrueMusic]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 829
Loc: Leicester, UK
true music,

"sublime" as applied to music has a very specific meaning and it usually is applied to a very specific point in european classical history.

if you google "sublime music romanticism" you'll find links, some better than others of course, that explain the concept of "sublime" in a historical sense - as it was used in the 19th century to describe music and visual art. robert schumann is often quoted in discussions. he once used the phrase "heavenly length" to describe schubert's last symphony. that phrase has since stuck and gets quoted a lot!

"sublime" often is used in a contemporary sense - as in the way a dictionary defines it now. if you google "sublime classical music" you'll find links that speak to "sublime" without considering the 19th century historical context.

it really just depends on where your interests are and what you'd like to get from the discussion. the concept of "sublime" in music and art in the 19th century is indeed pretty standard stuff and it's included in history classes that coverer music and art from that period. but because the word has historical meaning doesn't mean we have to use it that way!

all above is intended only as helpful historical texture ...
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mark@polishookpiano.com

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