Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician

the Forums & Piano World

Trying Something New with Search
Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
144 registered (Anne'sson, agraffe, Alex MacPhee, anamnesis, 34 invisible), 1345 Guests and 6 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#2226699 - 02/06/14 12:34 AM Can a piece have too many ideas?
RealPlayer Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2464
Loc: NYC
Classical pieces here, but may apply to new works as well?

I heard a string quartet on the radio while driving the other day. Never heard it before. There were so many different ideas (motives, turns of phrase, harmonic twists, interruptions and accents, etc.) that it nearly took my breath away. Very original. Surprising.

It turned out to be by Jan Ladislav Dussek.

Then I recalled that it reminded me of one of the Razumovsky quartets of Beethoven, another work where the ideas were coming at you in a barrage, with tons of variety.

In both pieces, I wonder if such works suffer for such abundance. Is it at the expense of structure or other concepts of unity? Just asking in a general way.

Hasn't hurt Beethoven, obviously, though we don't hear much of Dussek any more. (And maybe we should.)


Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#2226702 - 02/06/14 12:43 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
Nikolas Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 6285
Loc: UK
Usually if the different ideas are structurally loose then there's a mess going on. It requires an amazing talent and hard work to make it work!

Could it be that the ideas, however different were based on less ideas, so there was some structure going on, in terms of motives and ideas and accents, etc?

#2226706 - 02/06/14 12:50 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5441
Loc: USA
Yes, I think too many ideas is a bad thing. How would you like it if you were reading a novel and there was a new character every other page? I think of musical ideas as characters. You have a few and you just develop them throughout the plot.

#2226721 - 02/06/14 01:10 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
Polyphonist Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8814
Loc: New York City
Beethoven may seem like he's throwing new ideas at you every 5 seconds, but usually they are all derived from a few key motives, which he develops and transforms so that you don't even notice their presence and how they tie all the themes together. That's the genius of Beethoven.


#2226722 - 02/06/14 01:10 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
Ritzycat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 164
I'm not anything of an expert on music but I think it can work. I find it typically works best in a negative-sounding piece (I think there is a musical term for that).

Our band played Bukvich's Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam Dresden, 1945) last year, I think its a good example of very random and twists around every corner, if that's what you mean. It all seems to retain a pretty similar theme though.

I'd imagine such composition is difficult, it's hard to take literally awful sounding crap and putting it together to get something harmonic.

Edited by Ritzycat (02/06/14 01:11 AM)

#2226830 - 02/06/14 08:21 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8631
Originally Posted By: RealPlayer

In both pieces, I wonder if such works suffer for such abundance. Is it at the expense of structure or other concepts of unity? Just asking in a general way.

To me, that kind of abundance of ideas is only at the expense of structure or other concepts of unity if the composer was aiming for some particular kind of structure or unity, and failed to some degree. But what if ideas of structure and unity aren't really all that high on the composer's priorities for the piece? They don't have to be, even in the Classical era.

A good chunk of C.P.E. Bach's music (familiar to Beethoven, and probably to Dussek too) seems almost bursting with ideas and rapid shifts, too. Surprise seems to be a primary esthetic value in some of his music. I think that was part of the trend towards hyper-expressive music in his day, and it makes sense to me that some of his concepts and techniques would have still been known to composers like Beethoven and Dussek, and used by them when they wanted to knock the socks off their audience. Total speculation on my part, but I think it makes some sense.

Getting back to more general stuff - music that is saturated with ideas can be very hard for a composer to shape into something that "makes sense", I think. And I think, having heard and played through some Dussek, that he had some problems keeping a grip on his materials. But to me, it's not that he had too many ideas, but that he lacked a certain maniacal focus, aka "genius", that Beethoven did have. Still, he's an interesting composer, Dussek is.

#2226897 - 02/06/14 11:06 AM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
RealPlayer Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2464
Loc: NYC
Good responses, thank you.

I learned that Dussek and Beethoven were almost-contemporaries, and Dussek was one of the composers whose work Beethoven knew.

It did strike me that that Razumovsky quartet wasn't all that tightly written. But it was a one-time listen over the radio. Most Beethoven seems to me much more focused in content and development. For both these works, repeat listenings may reveal different things, result in different assessments.

I'm going to try to listen to more Dussek too. When I read through some piano works years ago, they did seem interesting yet unfocused. The quartet had more going for it, and the sonata form did lend unity. I was intrigued.

wr, that was an interesting point about C.P.E. Bach, whose music I don't know except for a couple of freewheeling keyboard fantasias. It really could have been part of an aesthetic to use a plethora of ideas.

I guess part of my interest in this topic is that the far more common complaint is that some music has too FEW ideas, or isn't creative enough. So it's interesting to me to explore the opposite pole.

Edited by RealPlayer (02/06/14 11:58 AM)


#2230336 - 02/12/14 12:34 PM Re: Can a piece have too many ideas? [Re: RealPlayer]
Herr Weiss Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 268
Loc: New York, N.Y.
We mere mortals should stay away from putting too many ideas(motifs)in one "basket". It is wise to spread them around to other compositions. A good melodic line doesn't come along everyday, I'll say.

Just my 2 cents.


Edited by Herr Weiss (02/12/14 12:36 PM)
"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
-Lao Tzu


Moderator:  Piano World 
What's Hot!!
Why It's Impossible to Tune a Piano!
aka, why you should be nice to your tuner.
Posting Pictures on the Forums
Forums Rules & Help
on Piano World

Piano Classified Ads
Piano Acc. & Gift Items in
Piano World's Online Store
In PianoSupplies.com ,(a division of Piano World) our online store for piano and music gifts and accessories, party goods, tuning equipment, piano moving equipment, benches, lamps Caster Cups and more.

Free Shipping on Jansen Artist Piano Benches
Hammond A100 for Sale!
(Think B3)
Hammond A100 for sale!
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad 125)
Sweetwater $55,000 Giveaway
Sweetwater $55,000 Mic Locker Giveaway
New Topics - Multiple Forums
ear training
by Sylwek
05/29/16 02:03 PM
Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement Notation Question
by JBR
05/29/16 01:55 PM
Poll: Faune vs La mer
by JoelW
05/29/16 01:54 PM
Spanish Translation Help, Please?
by ClsscLib
05/29/16 01:49 PM
1903 Chickering Quarter Grand 121
by David68
05/29/16 01:30 PM
Forum Stats
83,802 Registered Members
44 Forums
173,015 Topics
2,528,980 Posts

Most users ever online: 15,252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |

copyright 1997 - 2016 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission