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#2080303 - 05/10/13 11:59 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Another random interesting thing:

Stravinsky considered his Concerto for Piano and Winds to be "on" A. Not "in" A, but "on" A.

A minor-ish is a sonority that the concerto seems to visit quite often, but the piece lacks the familiar kinds of chord progressions one normally associates with A minor.

What's hard to say is whether or not that qualifies the piece as being tonal. Stravinsky's statement that the piece is "on" A suggests that he thought of it as being somewhere between tonal and atonal.
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#2080314 - 05/10/13 12:30 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kreisler]
BDB Online   content
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Are you not thinking of the Serenade en la?
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#2080336 - 05/10/13 01:13 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
Plowboy Offline
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Bernstein's lectures are way over my head, but I believe was saying there really is no such thing as non-tonal music. Tonality is universal and genetically part of us. So even when tonality is missing, we fill it in ourselves mentally.
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#2080345 - 05/10/13 01:26 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
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I was talking to an old opera singer who said that was the way he learned atonal music: he attached chords to each of the notes until it sounded like familiar harmonies.
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#2080356 - 05/10/13 01:50 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kreisler]
Arghhh Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Another random interesting thing:

Stravinsky considered his Concerto for Piano and Winds to be "on" A. Not "in" A, but "on" A.

A minor-ish is a sonority that the concerto seems to visit quite often, but the piece lacks the familiar kinds of chord progressions one normally associates with A minor.

What's hard to say is whether or not that qualifies the piece as being tonal. Stravinsky's statement that the piece is "on" A suggests that he thought of it as being somewhere between tonal and atonal.


I believe this is what people call "centric" - where there is a definite pitch center (A) which is stressed by repeating the note, or moving around and always coming back to the same note, but doesn't follow traditional harmony rules. You can have atonal, tonal, or centric types of pieces (I'm sure there are other classifications possible, but this is what was taught in my 20th-c. techniques course).

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#2080362 - 05/10/13 02:07 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
Dave Horne Offline
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#2080421 - 05/10/13 04:21 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kreisler]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Schoenberg is an interesting case, because while he avoided both the vocabulary and syntax of tonal music, he embraced its gestures. Schoenberg is like Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" - the words are made-up, the grammar is made-up, but the rhythmic flow of the words remains familiar.


I agree with this whole-heartedly. I played the Schoenberg Op. 19 and the Webern Variations in college, and most of the time I felt like I could have been playing Mozart. The challenge to the performer is to turn the gestural interest into human interest, which requires a thorough understanding of, and keen sensitivity to, the content of the music and the ability to articulate it in performance. In that way it's no different than any other music, it's just that the syntax isn't familiar.

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#2080443 - 05/10/13 05:16 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kreisler]
patH Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
A couple of random thoughts:

Atonal does not mean serial/twelve-tone. Ventil is right - there are two aspects of tonality: a vocabulary and a syntax. The vocabulary of tonal music is harmony and melody based on major/minor scales. The syntax of tonal music is functional harmony and the importance of the dominant/tonic relationship.

And this is only one definition of tonal music.
Another possible is: Music that is composed of notes. Some avant-garde music includes noises, and is therefore really "a-tonal" (without tonality).

In fact, the most atonal piece I know is John Cage's 4'33".

But since JoelW might have thought of Alban Berg's sonata op.1, which is tonal in my opinion (noted in B minor, with harmonic progressions, and some very beautiful chords), the objection to a lack of definition of "atonal", as voiced by Nikolas or landorrano, is justified IMO.
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#2080466 - 05/10/13 06:34 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kreisler]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I think the only works by Schoenberg that successfully reach a "ticket-buying" public are his programmatic ones with accompanying text - Pierrot Lunaire, second quartet, and Erwartung. (And Verklaerte Nacht, but it's tonal.)


I've seen some of his non-programmatic atonal solo piano music go over very well with a "ticket-buying" public. Uchida, for one, knows how to bring it off. It's not a huge dose, but people seemed to get it just fine.

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#2080498 - 05/10/13 08:02 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
Ahmediy Offline
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Registered: 04/27/13
Posts: 43
JoelW I do not get most of it either.
I think it is like language you need to grow up with it or what ventil said take some time to study it.

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#2080522 - 05/10/13 09:10 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
DaveRobertsJazz Offline
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Could someone list some of their favorite atonal piano pieces, preferably ones that are not too difficult to play?

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#2080533 - 05/10/13 09:52 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
beet31425 Online   content
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(I've given this advice before on similar threads... it's what worked for me...)

To get into Schoenberg and Berg:

Listen to lots of late romantic music (e.g. Wagner, Strauss, late Mahler). Hear how the tonalities are stretched to the breaking point. Then listen to some "transition pieces": Schoenberg's first string quartet, Berg's piano sonata. Still tonal, same idea, but stretched even more. Finally realize that their truly atonal music is still the same idea. It's carried out to the limit, but it has the same beautiful romantic expressionism at its core.

Now listen to the other three Schoenberg quartets, his opera Moses und Aron, and Berg's Lyric Suite and enjoy.

-J
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Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#2080537 - 05/10/13 10:29 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Mark_C]
wdot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
....I know you're a Chopin junky (like me). I assume you get really pumped up by his larger works as do I. Do you ever find yourself feeling that same way when listening to atonal music?

No.
But I get things from 'atonal' music that I don't get from Chopin -- it's different kinds of things. And similarly, I need to be in completely different kinds of moods to want to work on one or the other kind of music.
('quotes' around atonal for Nikolas's benefit) grin

Quote:
The way you feel when listening to (or playing) the more intense parts of the 4th ballade and such...

.....speaking of which, the coda of that ballade (the first half of it) points a bit toward atonal music.
I've never thought about the first half of the coda to the 4th Ballade as pointing to atonal music, but I must admit that when I try to play it at anything resembling concert tempo the tonality of F minor can get pretty much lost in the shuffle!

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#2080564 - 05/11/13 12:56 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: DaveRobertsJazz]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: DaveRobertsJazz
Could someone list some of their favorite atonal piano pieces, preferably ones that are not too difficult to play?


Some of these are quite difficult, but others less so.

Try some of the Bartok Bagatelles or the Op. 14 Suite.

The Emma Lou Diemer Toccata
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srD6Wpglw6g

Bolcom Etudes (I like Hi Jinks)
http://youtu.be/d1e8TV6CG5c?t=29m35s

One of the most successful and interesting 12-tone works is the Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera by Dallapiccola:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb6PxV6f4C4

The Ginastera American Preludes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fMaB9fSJxI

The Copland Variations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1-vIw_M-Qg

The Muczynski Toccata (easier than it sounds)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d31iGQ9H2oM

The Shchedrin Basso Ostinato:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QG4dVI84S4

Chen Yi's "Ba Ban"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifogSg2lQ98
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#2080660 - 05/11/13 08:22 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: ventil]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: ventil
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I think that these days, composers use atonalism as just a tool (among many others) to get the job done, not as an end in itself. Few works are composed in specific keys, or if they are, they don't necessarily end in the same key (or even in a related key) with which they began, which is against all the old rules of composition.


An excellent point.

I had not really thought about it in this way before, but atonality can be useful to anyone, and can disseminate beyond what we think of as "classical" music. Off the top of my head: some late works of John Coltrane or Miles Davis. Also, Joe Zawinul/Weather Report and even some things from Josh Redmon.

I wouldn't necessarily call these guys "atonal" but atonality is useful to them, whether or not they use it consciously. (That I don't know.)


As I've mentioned here before, the musical soundtrack to a popular American TV show some decades ago (called "Combat"), was atonal, written entirely using the 12-tone method. But, of course, the show didn't paste a big warning label on the initial credits like "Warning: 12-tone atonal music ahead; proceed at your own risk." No, the show was a success, and, AFAIK, the was no big wave of viewers complaining that the score was some esoteric navel-gazing garbage that they just couldn't understand.

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#2080679 - 05/11/13 09:00 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: wr]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
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Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: wr

As I've mentioned here before, the musical soundtrack to a popular American TV show some decades ago (called "Combat"), was atonal, written entirely using the 12-tone method. But, of course, the show didn't paste a big warning label on the initial credits like "Warning: 12-tone atonal music ahead; proceed at your own risk." No, the show was a success, and, AFAIK, the was no big wave of viewers complaining that the score was some esoteric navel-gazing garbage that they just couldn't understand.



Well the theme certainly isn't atonal. The incidental music through the show and any other show that used it only conveyed a sense of suspense, where it excels. I think that most objections to the music is that it requires a large amount of conditioning to wrestle any other emotion from it, less pleasant for the casual listener.
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#2080694 - 05/11/13 09:22 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Damon]
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Atonal and serial music is frequently used in movies to create a feeling of unease, suspense, danger etc.

Bernard Hermann was a master at it. With no tonal centre to latch on to, the feeling of something 'not quite right' is already established - even in people used to Schoenberg et al........
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#2080729 - 05/11/13 10:26 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Damon]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: wr

As I've mentioned here before, the musical soundtrack to a popular American TV show some decades ago (called "Combat"), was atonal, written entirely using the 12-tone method. But, of course, the show didn't paste a big warning label on the initial credits like "Warning: 12-tone atonal music ahead; proceed at your own risk." No, the show was a success, and, AFAIK, the was no big wave of viewers complaining that the score was some esoteric navel-gazing garbage that they just couldn't understand.



Well the theme certainly isn't atonal. The incidental music through the show and any other show that used it only conveyed a sense of suspense, where it excels. I think that most objections to the music is that it requires a large amount of conditioning to wrestle any other emotion from it, less pleasant for the casual listener.


You are right - the non-atonal main theme music that opened the show wasn't part of the atonal score that served for the rest of the hour, which is what I was talking about.

My point is that lots of people watching the show apparently were apparently somehow able to deal with hearing 12-tone music, regardless of their degree of musical literacy. Which can't be said for the sort of concert-goers who develop severe stomach cramps at the mere mention of 12-tone music, which still happens even at this late date.

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#2080744 - 05/11/13 10:51 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: wr]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6248
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: wr

As I've mentioned here before, the musical soundtrack to a popular American TV show some decades ago (called "Combat"), was atonal, written entirely using the 12-tone method. But, of course, the show didn't paste a big warning label on the initial credits like "Warning: 12-tone atonal music ahead; proceed at your own risk." No, the show was a success, and, AFAIK, the was no big wave of viewers complaining that the score was some esoteric navel-gazing garbage that they just couldn't understand.




Well the theme certainly isn't atonal. The incidental music through the show and any other show that used it only conveyed a sense of suspense, where it excels. I think that most objections to the music is that it requires a large amount of conditioning to wrestle any other emotion from it, less pleasant for the casual listener.


You are right - the non-atonal main theme music that opened the show wasn't part of the atonal score that served for the rest of the hour, which is what I was talking about.

My point is that lots of people watching the show apparently were apparently somehow able to deal with hearing 12-tone music, regardless of their degree of musical literacy. Which can't be said for the sort of concert-goers who develop severe stomach cramps at the mere mention of 12-tone music, which still happens even at this late date.


And my point is that, outside of your specific example where atonal music works, a good percentage of those same people would tire of the music when the visual aspect is removed. It's not the "warning label", it's the environment.
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#2080802 - 05/11/13 12:26 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: DaveRobertsJazz]
Gerard12 Offline
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Originally Posted By: DaveRobertsJazz
Could someone list some of their favorite atonal piano pieces, preferably ones that are not too difficult to play?


Ernst Krenek's 12 short piano pieces Op 83, is a great intro to 12 step,...er.., I mean, 12-tone, piano music. For the unitiated, it's a far better entryway than Schoenberg's Opus 19, IMO.

The first piece can be found here, along with links to the other 11:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT6cYpG3Auk

I may have my history wrong, but wasn't Schoenberg heavily courted by the movie studios? But I think maybe that he wasn't interested?.......
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#2080803 - 05/11/13 12:27 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Kuanpiano]
Okiikahuna Offline
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Registered: 02/26/11
Posts: 111
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Berg's violin concerto


+1!

I think the Berg Violin Concerto is one of the best bridges into "atonal" music. I use the quotes because, even though it it uses a tone row, it actually has plenty of "tonality." The tone row used has a chord progression built in (Gm, D, Am E), and Berg plays around with various dance themes and even manages to quote an old german hymn ("Es Ist Genug) by building its opening notes into the tone row. The result is really just an extension of late romantic chromaticism, with all kinds of beautiful and meorable melodies, even though it is built on a tone row and constantly modulates through brief ever changing tonalities.

Combine that with its highly emotional programmatic content, beginning with a sentimental depiction of the young daughter of a friend and proceeding through her tragic death, as well as tons of gorgeous and memorable melodies, and the thing is just a masterpiece. If you haven't heard it yet, you MUST listen to it.

K.


Edited by Okiikahuna (05/11/13 12:39 PM)

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#2080813 - 05/11/13 12:37 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Okiikahuna]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Okiikahuna
....Berg plays around with various dance themes and even manages to quote an old german hymn ("Es Ist Genug)....

Didn't know that was an old German hymn! It's a Bach Chorale and I thought that was the original.

And BTW the 3rd chord of the Bach sounds maybe like a semi-atonal moment. The music theory text that we used (Siegmeister) gave it as an example of a very unusual kind of dissonance in such early music.

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#2080819 - 05/11/13 12:43 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Mark_C]
Okiikahuna Offline
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Registered: 02/26/11
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Yes, that's right, it is a Bach chorale. I'm not sure where I heard it was his setting of an old hymn. I could well be wrong on this. I sometime have greater than perfect recall (ie I remember stuff that never even happened)

K.

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#2080830 - 05/11/13 12:58 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Okiikahuna]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Okiikahuna
Yes, that's right, it is a Bach chorale. I'm not sure where I heard it was his setting of an old hymn. I could well be wrong on this. I sometime have greater than perfect recall (ie I remember stuff that never even happened)

Nah, you did darn good. grin

I checked a little bit, and you were at least very close in how you put it. If it wasn't an "old" German hymn, it at least went back a couple of composers' worth.

From a site called Bach-Cantatas.com:

The composer of this chorale melody is Johann Rudolf Ahle, the father of Johann Georg Ahle, both of whom were Bach’s predecessors as organists at the Divi Blasii Church in Mühlhausen......This chorale melody....first appeared in a collection of church compositions in a simple/easy style published in Sonderhausen in 1662....The specific title from which Ahle’s setting below was taken can be found in “Drittes Zehn Neuer Geistlicher Arien…von Johann Rudolf Ahlen…Sonderhausen, 1662.” These arias, although deliberately composed in a simple style were not meant to be included in hymnals, but some of them eventually were accepted for such use. There is, nevertheless, something different about their nature when compared to the standard type of chorale melody....
The famous final chorale, "Es ist genung," is striking both for its initial melodic tritone and its unusually chromatic harmonies.....

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#2080839 - 05/11/13 01:11 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Okiikahuna]
bennevis Online   content
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Anyone who loves Mahler should find Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op.6 to continue on where Mahler left off in his Symphony No.10 (in various completions - Derek Cooke's being the best): highly emotionally charged, incorporating a Viennese Waltz and Ländler, and a march - everything familiar from Mahler symphonies, only taken a step further into atonalism.

This work was my first introduction to the Second Viennese School, and I was hooked......Berg's Violin Concerto and his Piano Sonata soon followed. Webern is a tougher nut to crack, and not just for me - I can't recall hearing any recent performance of his orchestral music (his Variations, Op.27 gets a very occasional performance from an enterprising pianist - usually in a piano competition) apart from Im Sommerwind, significantly, a very early work in late-Romantic style, not in the least atonal. And Schoenberg's atonal music is championed by only a few people: Verklärte Nacht is by far his most popular piece.....but it's in late-Romantic tonal style, and, again, an early work.

It's not difficult to see why Berg is easily the most popular of these pioneers - his use of twelve-tone techniques never takes precedence over the emotional message he wants to convey - even if it means using a Bach chorale in Bach's own harmonization. (Not to mention a Carinthian folk song too). And personally, I believe that's where the future of atonalism and serial techniques lie: as a compositional tool, not for the sake of it.
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#2081055 - 05/11/13 09:25 PM Re: Atonal Music [Re: bennevis]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Webern is a tougher nut to crack...
If you're at all into vocal music, try Christiane Oelze's recording of the Webern songs - it's just beautiful.
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#2081183 - 05/12/13 03:47 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: JoelW]
btb Offline
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Bach chorale
Mark C might have added an extra letter to his description of the Bach chorale ...

“Is est genu(n)g” which is translated as “It is enough” ... I’m showing off with a German wife ("Ve vil ask da kweschuns") ... together with use of one of South Africa’s 11 National languages "Afrikaans", which would read “Dit is genoeg” (compare the similarity with)
“Is est genug”

I bet Bach’s Chorale sounds more sprightly than any metronomic hymn.

PS As it's freaking Mothers Day I better get about doing the washing up ... pass the apron!

At least I've got the sound of Grappelli playing the Gershwin classics to ease the pain.

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#2081215 - 05/12/13 06:38 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: currawong]
patH Offline
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Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Webern is a tougher nut to crack...
If you're at all into vocal music, try Christiane Oelze's recording of the Webern songs - it's just beautiful.

I once sang a Webern song. I believe it was called "Gebet", with a text by Avenarius.
Is wasn't at all what I'd call "atonal". It sounded like late romantic.
Webern didn't give this work an opus number.
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#2081226 - 05/12/13 07:32 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: patH]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: patH
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Webern is a tougher nut to crack...
If you're at all into vocal music, try Christiane Oelze's recording of the Webern songs - it's just beautiful.
I once sang a Webern song. I believe it was called "Gebet", with a text by Avenarius.
It wasn't at all what I'd call "atonal". It sounded like late romantic.
Webern didn't give this work an opus number.
Yes, Gebet is on the Oelze/Schneider recording (songs from 1903-4). He didn't begin giving his works opus numbers until 1908. The recording goes from early songs of 1899 through to the op.25 settings of Hildegard Jone poems, so from late romantic to 12-tone, but all so lyrical.
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#2081229 - 05/12/13 07:35 AM Re: Atonal Music [Re: Damon]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: wr

As I've mentioned here before, the musical soundtrack to a popular American TV show some decades ago (called "Combat"), was atonal, written entirely using the 12-tone method. But, of course, the show didn't paste a big warning label on the initial credits like "Warning: 12-tone atonal music ahead; proceed at your own risk." No, the show was a success, and, AFAIK, the was no big wave of viewers complaining that the score was some esoteric navel-gazing garbage that they just couldn't understand.




Well the theme certainly isn't atonal. The incidental music through the show and any other show that used it only conveyed a sense of suspense, where it excels. I think that most objections to the music is that it requires a large amount of conditioning to wrestle any other emotion from it, less pleasant for the casual listener.


You are right - the non-atonal main theme music that opened the show wasn't part of the atonal score that served for the rest of the hour, which is what I was talking about.

My point is that lots of people watching the show apparently were apparently somehow able to deal with hearing 12-tone music, regardless of their degree of musical literacy. Which can't be said for the sort of concert-goers who develop severe stomach cramps at the mere mention of 12-tone music, which still happens even at this late date.


And my point is that, outside of your specific example where atonal music works, a good percentage of those same people would tire of the music when the visual aspect is removed. It's not the "warning label", it's the environment.


Well, I think most people would tire of incidental music to old TV series if there were no visuals, regardless of the idiom of the writing (except maybe for the Monkees).

Anyway, I just think it is fascinating that people's responses can be so very different depending on the situation. To me, it says that the issue isn't really about the technique at all, but external factors and prejudices. Some concert-goers, (particularly some older ones, I think) will see "12-tone" in the program notes, and they decide they will not like the music, before hearing a note of it.

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