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!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

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

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* 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
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#2307478 - 07/26/14 07:27 PM Anti-academic arrogance.
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I wonder what's behind the overbearing anti-academic arrogance these days? One mention that both jazz and classical music have been stuck in a rut since around 1963, and instead of anything resembling a reasonable, intelligent response, you get a lot of hate-filled, anti-academic emotional blather, and idiot remarks such as "elitist" and "snob".

Back in the day this subject was taken very seriously, and there were moves to address the problem. But somewhere in there, instead of joining in, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work, people began thinking they could simply snub and dismiss the academic world, which is a case of the tail wagging the dog, to put not too find a point on it.

At several points in the 20th century, music, art, literature, dance, came together as a social movement. There is no explaining this to most young people today, as they try to point to the Interweb as "culture".

While it is true that the Interweb is moving forward as an entity, an underlying fact they're conveniently tap-dancing around is the underlying mechanics of the arts themselves. The Interweb is a medium, like radio and television before it, but the mechanics of the arts, how they're done, is not an Interweb matter, any more than it was during the days of live performance, radio, or television.

Most people who are right into the Interweb medium tend to react viscerally and sneer about "sour grapes" and other such nonsense, while not even beginning to address the state of the arts themselves. They certainly seem to lack even a basic understanding of the fact that technology is a medium that has nothing whatever to do with artistic values. Yes, you can do computer drawing and animation, but CGI still requires that those using it to make art have some sort of grounding in the underlying mechanics of art itself, and that those underlying mechanics are universal, regardless whether you're using a computer, oils, water colours, pen and ink, or hammer and chisel.

And where is this sneering condescension against academics coming from? One can't make such a declaration without spitting in the face of every composer who has ever lived. These self-same buffoons consider themselves artists and musicians in the same breath, and seem to have zero interest in the underlying mechanics, a command of which is the only route to genuine creativity.

The mind boggles.

Top
Piano & Music Acc. / Sheet Music


Sheet Music Plus Homepage
#2307501 - 07/26/14 08:27 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Tararex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/11
Posts: 408
Loc: Middle Georgia, USA
I agree with that last sentence.
_________________________

Top
#2307537 - 07/26/14 09:56 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Tararex]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Tararex
I agree with that last sentence.


Which perfectly illustrates my point.

Top
#2307593 - 07/26/14 11:56 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Tararex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/11
Posts: 408
Loc: Middle Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Tararex
I agree with that last sentence.


Which perfectly illustrates my point.


I feel you have something to say. And that it may be of interest or importance. But I honestly don't know what it is.

Are you angry that jazz and classical music are in a rut and disturbed that academics aren't participating in their renaissance?
_________________________

Top
#2307617 - 07/27/14 02:21 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Tararex]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Tararex
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Tararex
I agree with that last sentence.


Which perfectly illustrates my point.


I feel you have something to say. And that it may be of interest or importance. But I honestly don't know what it is.

Are you angry that jazz and classical music are in a rut and disturbed that academics aren't participating in their renaissance?


If I'm angry, it's because generations of young musicians since ca 1963 don't know anything about the underlying mechanics of music and aren't actively involved in tinkering with it, and that if anyone points this out to them, their reaction is sneering derision instead of anything remotely positive.

Working on the underlying mechanics of music used to be a roll-up-your-sleeves and put-in-a-hard-day's-work kind of thing. It was about craft, not art. Music was perceived as a trade, not a magic show.

Serious musicians used to work on compositions the way engineers worked on early jet aircraft, starting out with an idea, and expending endless hours fiddling, experimenting and tinkering until the damned thing worked.

This is how BeBop came into being. Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others knew generally how they wanted the end product to sound, but it wasn't until one Charles Parker came along with a key ingredient- structure- that BeBop as an entity became viable.

This is just as true of Stravinsky and bitonality. Hitting upon ostinato as a structural tool solved several organisational dilemmas.

Detractors referred to Stravinsky's system as "the cult of the wrong note" and a "passing fad", which today we know as utter nonsense.

Advances in classical development and experimentation end up being adopted by pop musicians. The reason for this is simple. Composers like Purcell got sick of IV-V-I because it lacks the ability to convey real and/or subtle emotion. You might say that, had he been a rock musician, he'd got sick of 3-chord rock and wanted something with more expression.

His solution was to examine the bass line, which in turn determined the chords moving over top of it. So he chromatically altered a bass line, giving us an early version of floating tonality, and the result was the famous lament from Dido And Aeneas.

The point being that to achieve a desired end means knowing what you're doing, and bashing and thrashing around without knowing what you're doing is pretty much what musicians have been doing since ca 1963.

Far too many musicians have confused technology with progress. Finale and Sibelius are great for producing professional-looking scores, but they're absolutely the worst tool in terms of composition. Most of us develop our own shorthand. We overlay alternate parts, jot notes in the margins, jam alternate ideas above, below, wherever. In other words, musical ideas and values are wholly separate from technology.

As far as the term "academic" goes, it's mostly used in the derogatory sense these days. The fact is, anyone actively engaged in tinkering with the underlying mechanics of music is an academic. Why? Because it's an academic process. Anyone who writes classical music is an academic by definition.

Where I take exception is in the notion that academics reside in universities. That notion has never been true- most true academics have always been on the outside of university life, with varying degrees of access to it, for purely practical reasons. University is great if you want to be a teacher, but it's the worst possible place to be if you wish to be a composer. A teacher's concern is canon as a teaching tool. A composer's concern is questioning and breaking with canon, as it is an impediment to intellectual development, freedom, and creativity.

When I was a kid, composers were very much like young guys working on hot-rods. I haven't experienced, in the social sense, that kind of excitement and vision for a good many years, that "Holy crap! Look at it go!" feeling when you put something together that's able to express what no one before has been able to say, let alone think or feel.

Top
#2307627 - 07/27/14 03:03 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3543
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
If I'm angry, it's because generations of young musicians since ca 1963 don't know anything about the underlying mechanics of music and aren't actively involved in tinkering with it


By 'tinkering' you mean improvising? I think improvisation was left already a long time before 1963, at least in classical music. For jazz, I thought improvisation was still mandatory even today?
_________________________

Top
#2307705 - 07/27/14 10:29 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Quote:
The point being that to achieve a desired end means knowing what you're doing, and bashing and thrashing around without knowing what you're doing is pretty much what musicians have been doing since ca 1963.
Just curious ... what have you been listening to since ca. 1963 that gives you that impression?

Take the most popular of composer-musicians, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Beatles, the BeeGees, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga ... even all that kiddie-pop from the Disney machination ... it seems to me they all know quite well what their desired ends are and they know what to do to achieve them.

Perhaps we have different ideas on what constitute "bashing and thrashing around without knowing what you're doing"? Perhaps you can cite a few concrete examples to illustrate your disappointment with what musicians have been doing ca. with 1963?
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

Top
#2307747 - 07/27/14 11:31 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: wouter79]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
If I'm angry, it's because generations of young musicians since ca 1963 don't know anything about the underlying mechanics of music and aren't actively involved in tinkering with it


By 'tinkering' you mean improvising? I think improvisation was left already a long time before 1963, at least in classical music. For jazz, I thought improvisation was still mandatory even today?


By "tinkering" I mean fiddling with the mechanism that is Harmony. For example, my own approach is to achieve harmony through contrapuntal means. I've been working on various types of serialised modality for many years now, getting away from the 19th century approach of building a labyrinthine chord-structure, and simplifying arrangements overall.

Top
#2307749 - 07/27/14 11:37 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
ScottM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 556
Your viewpoint is not new, and it makes sense only if you haven't really studied much music history. First of all, it is not only today that "academic" has been a derogatory term. Look at the things that Bernard Shaw was writing about Charles Villiers Stanford over 100 years ago. Look at some of the sneerings written about Rameau over 200 years ago.

So that takes care of that one.

You also state that being in a university is the worst place to be for a composer. Wrong again. Many of our most famous composers would have gotten nowhere without university or conservatory training. Ever heard of Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Sibelius? How about Satie? Even he recognized the value of education and later in life studied at the Schola Cantorum. Also, how can a composer rebel against the rules if he's never been taught them?

Maybe you have a point that younger musicians (composers) are not as critical as the old school. That may be. Some are surely that way, but I am sure that it's impossible to make that broad statement apply to everyone.
_________________________
Scott

Top
#2307761 - 07/27/14 11:56 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Axtremus]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Axtremus
Quote:
The point being that to achieve a desired end means knowing what you're doing, and bashing and thrashing around without knowing what you're doing is pretty much what musicians have been doing since ca 1963.
Just curious ... what have you been listening to since ca. 1963 that gives you that impression?

Take the most popular of composer-musicians, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Beatles, the BeeGees, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga ... even all that kiddie-pop from the Disney machination ... it seems to me they all know quite well what their desired ends are and they know what to do to achieve them.

Perhaps we have different ideas on what constitute "bashing and thrashing around without knowing what you're doing"? Perhaps you can cite a few concrete examples to illustrate your disappointment with what musicians have been doing ca. with 1963?


Certainly. None of the aforementioned are breaking any new ground. They're all (including Andrew Lloyd Webber) working by rote. Working on the mechanics of the music itself isn't even on their radar.

This will better illustrate what I mean: An acquaintance of mine (through his mother), David Wisdom, used to have a radio show on the CBC called Brave New Waves. David is a very nice guy, I'm not saying this to put him down, but he's not a schooled musician, and he was forever going on about how "original" and "creative" the kids were, who were farting around with 4-track portastudios and 8- and 16-track machines (tape, in those days). What they were doing was a lot of fun, and it was all new and exciting and creative to themselves, but in the greater context they achieved nothing new, simply because they didn't know what they were doing musically, and had no knowledge of what had been tried before.

This is the very reason we have academia- so that we're not duplicating the work of others and wasting time reinventing the wheel. If you want to do something new, you first have to know what's out there. Otherwise you're burying your head in the sand and wasting your life fiddle-farting around in the basement.

Jazz musicians, before they started learning by rote, knew how their music worked. They used to pull it apart, examine its constituents, and tinker with it, the way young guys would pull hot-rod engines and play with them. As I pointed out before, this is what John Burkes (Dizzy) Gillespie and Thelonious Monk were up to in the days leading up to Be Bop. Once they had developed a working model, they had to get guys to play the new music. In doing so, they had to show the bass player how they wanted the runs to move through the chords, they had to show the piano player how to play and voice the chords, and so on.

Many musicians borrowed heavily from the methods Stravinsky had developed for handling bitonality. You hear echoes of Stravinsky in the arrangements of Gil Evans when he was working with Miles Davis. Gil knew the music of Stravinsky inside-out, and it was virtually required that 1940's jazz musicians be familiar with le Sacre du Printemps, not just as a piece of music, but as a template for making new music.

The point being that these guys worked just as hard at the underlying theory and structure of music as they did at writing it. The two went hand-in-hand.

Like many classical composers, each new bunch of tunes by jazz composers like Miles Davis represented some new breakthrough. Not only was he writing new piece of music each time, but often he was writing a new type of music. Not in terms of style, which is what pop tune-smiths think of as "new" or "progressive", but rather creating a whole new tone-palate that no human being has ever heard before.

Top
#2307767 - 07/27/14 12:09 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: ScottM]
A443 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1391
Loc: Manywheres
Composition in university is approached differently these days, than in the past. These days, in America, it is more about bashing and thrashing around without functional knowledge, and that is indeed in an attempt not duplicating the work of others. I find that approach absurd. eek

Japan's approach is a bit different. If you are going to study composition, you are going to learn how to sound like Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Debussy, etc. first. Once you mastered those sounds, only then do you have the tools necessary to find out what your own compositional voice really sounds like.
_________________________
Klavierbaukünstler des Erwachens
...expecter of the best, 'gunslinger' to the rest!
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

Top
#2307904 - 07/27/14 07:25 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Tararex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/11
Posts: 408
Loc: Middle Georgia, USA
Sadly I suspect much truth resides in some of your assertions. My Salzburg educated music teacher shocked me recently by saying I understood more about harmonic theory than many advanced music students. As a music hobbyist with only a few years of study I find this appalling if it is true. Music is an art, but the creation of music is a craft that requires fact based skills.

I don't understand what's going on with music education - it seems happenstance. There are certainly some excellent schools in North America. However, I occasionally see compositions posted here by graduates of these same schools where even I of little knowledge am able to pick out glaring errors. If a musician doesn't understand basic rules how can they stretch or change them?

And it's true that major USA studios churn repetitive drivel and call it music. It's a business for them, not art nor trade nor craft. Purely dependent on dollars and market studies supporting three and four chord outputs, it is what it is.

I suggest a visit the homes of local millennials. If they attended higher education note that their music collections often cover a span from 1940's to 1970's. The existing industry churn is rejected in their search for options. Their generation may not be innovative but they are reaching out for greater musical complexity and nuance. This is why in most areas underground fusion bands are tinkering away with new ideas - some with greater success than others. But yes, poor music training combined with an 'all ideas are equal' mentality does not produce great music.

As for tech tools don't get me started. This is a huge problem everywhere. Perusing USA software patents provides a nightmare of insight into our society's regressive acceptance that anything old redone on a digital platform is an innovation. It's not.

Finally, "academics", as in "people teaching in university systems" receive ridicule because they often deserve it. It's impossible to teach what comes from the heart. Inner strength of soul requires a metric ton of life experience. Jazz, be-bop, ragtime, etc developed in the boiler rooms of poverty, working clubs and smoky bars, not in the thought restricted arenas of upper class universities.

Writing music, while it is an academic exercise, does not make one an Academic. Academics self support in rarefied atmospheres separated from everyday realities - while daydreaming they represent fonts of creativity. Assigning a disrupt-the-rules pet project to a class is not teaching innovation. Ignoring rules without purpose or goal is no more innovative than is transcribing a written sheet into MuseScore and changing all D's to Db. This type of academic wishful thinking is what produced the music we have today.


Edited by Tararex (07/27/14 07:28 PM)
Edit Reason: sp
_________________________

Top
#2307918 - 07/27/14 08:04 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: ScottM]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: ScottM
Your viewpoint is not new, and it makes sense only if you haven't really studied much music history. First of all, it is not only today that "academic" has been a derogatory term. Look at the things that Bernard Shaw was writing about Charles Villiers Stanford over 100 years ago. Look at some of the sneerings written about Rameau over 200 years ago.

So that takes care of that one.

You also state that being in a university is the worst place to be for a composer. Wrong again. Many of our most famous composers would have gotten nowhere without university or conservatory training. Ever heard of Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Sibelius? How about Satie? Even he recognized the value of education and later in life studied at the Schola Cantorum. Also, how can a composer rebel against the rules if he's never been taught them?

Maybe you have a point that younger musicians (composers) are not as critical as the old school. That may be. Some are surely that way, but I am sure that it's impossible to make that broad statement apply to everyone.


Ah, no, that doesn't "take care" of anything, Scott. I've not only studied history, but I am an historian. I've been researching and writing about brasswinds since the early 1970's. So there's a small chance I may know what I'm talking about.

When I state that "university is the worst place for a composer to be", I'm referring to my own personal experience. I suspect the experience at the U. of Frankfurt, when Ligeti was teaching composition there, was a far cry from my own experience, where the colleges and universities I attended were intent only on turning out music teachers. I had a major confrontation with the head of the music department at once university in 1975 or so. He said, and this is an exact quote, "Young man, you're not here to learn how to write music! You're here to learn how to become an educator yourself!"

The fellow in question is long dead now, and in certain circles was a beloved figure and a fixture in the choral scene for many years, so I'm not going to disparage his name here, but he was an ignorant ass in my opinion (and that is still my opinion today, all these many years later), and his mentality to me represents everything that's wrong with the modern university. Music was still progressing at the time, and being in his sphere (which one couldn't avoid at that particular institution) was like swimming in molasses.

The composers you're referring to studied at institutions that were geared for working composers. I have no idea what the situation at those centres is like today, but regardless, none of them are in North America where I live. I toyed with the idea of studying composition in Montreal, which is a hot-bed of highly competent young composers, but balked at being turned into a Forehead clone, or whatever that Frog was called. Gabriel Faure! That was his name! It's not him I'm disparaging by calling him Forehead the Frog. It's all the toadying sycophants in Quebec who to this day dutifully copy his style of composition and orchestration. It comes out of me like a nervous tic when I hear a masterful young composer from Quebec who writes just like Forehead the Frog. What a waste of time! All that dedication and work, just to be a clone.

Anyway- we're finally all on the same page. As I said before, I've been working on various types of serialised modality for many years. Have any of you guys been working on anything new, past or present? Maybe we could share some ideas and examples, turn this into something constructive.

Top
#2308090 - 07/28/14 10:22 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2740
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
This thread strikes me as a lot of venting about one's personal experience and projecting that to all academic composition. When I studied composition 2 years of theory was required so an assumption was made that you knew the basics. My composition class started with impressionism and moved forward to neoclassical then serial techniques and included polytonality. It didn't include minimalism because that was just getting started and new complexity was still in the future. Every composition class or lesson I've ever taken was a positive experience designed to either teach me techniques or critique my work in order to improve my efforts.

The fact is my experience post academia has shown me that one needs to keep the basics sharp. It seems you can't be too good at solfegge or rhythm. The inner ear is the crucial tool in composing and dictating what the ear hears and then honing/editing it are necessary skills for any composer.

To respond to some of your points, the fact that a composition professor would tell you that you are there to learn to teach as opposed to learn to compose is just wrong (especially if the comment was made in reference to a composition class). Gabriel Faure died 90 years ago, if Quebec still reveres and teaches his style then that is indeed a waste of time. Somehow I find that hard to believe.

Good luck with your serial modality, perhaps you'd be kind enough to post something for us to hear?

Top
#2308124 - 07/28/14 12:11 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Steve Chandler]
ScottM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 556
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
This thread strikes me as a lot of venting about one's personal experience and projecting that to all academic composition. When I studied composition 2 years of theory was required so an assumption was made that you knew the basics. My composition class started with impressionism and moved forward to neoclassical then serial techniques and included polytonality. It didn't include minimalism because that was just getting started and new complexity was still in the future. Every composition class or lesson I've ever taken was a positive experience designed to either teach me techniques or critique my work in order to improve my efforts.

The fact is my experience post academia has shown me that one needs to keep the basics sharp. It seems you can't be too good at solfegge or rhythm. The inner ear is the crucial tool in composing and dictating what the ear hears and then honing/editing it are necessary skills for any composer.

To respond to some of your points, the fact that a composition professor would tell you that you are there to learn to teach as opposed to learn to compose is just wrong (especially if the comment was made in reference to a composition class). Gabriel Faure died 90 years ago, if Quebec still reveres and teaches his style then that is indeed a waste of time. Somehow I find that hard to believe.

Good luck with your serial modality, perhaps you'd be kind enough to post something for us to hear?


Thanks, Steve. I agree. This rant is painting with a very broad brush. Also, saying one is a historian and at the same time ignoring facts like the ones I spelled out earlier tells me that the original poster is not being truthful when he says he knows music history. He's only scratched the surface, obviously, but demands respect regardless. When I studied composition and music in general in the 1980s, there was definitely the sense that you HAD to know what you were doing. Composition lessons included writing with a specific goal in mind. It could be variations, different instruments/ensembles, volume in a certain period (5 short piano pieces in one week), counterpoint, and other specific aims. This was at the University of Minnesota. In California I had to ask for composition assignments, because all they seemed to want to do there was let you do your own thing. That was unhelpful and that's why I went to Minnesota. Everyplace is different. It might not even be the same at the U of M anymore for all I know.

I find most composition professors that I am acquainted with nowadays are hacks, but that does not mean they all are.

In my own music I do not strive much for stretching the ears of the audience. It's been done already and I'd rather have people like my music anyway. I tend towards keeping the music familiar enough so the audience can appreciate it without the need for me to explain much.

The main complaint I have of newer composers is that too many of them have no idea of what musical taste is, or how to achieve balance between contrast and continuity. Also 99% of them couldn't write a decent melody (of an individual, powerful and coherent nature) to save their souls. I don't mean melodies that sound like some simple song anyone can write, but melodies that are imbued with meaning. That is nearly a lost art.


Edited by ScottM (07/28/14 12:12 PM)
_________________________
Scott

Top
#2308219 - 07/28/14 04:24 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: ScottM]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: ScottM
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
This thread strikes me as a lot of venting about one's personal experience and projecting that to all academic composition. When I studied composition 2 years of theory was required so an assumption was made that you knew the basics. My composition class started with impressionism and moved forward to neoclassical then serial techniques and included polytonality. It didn't include minimalism because that was just getting started and new complexity was still in the future. Every composition class or lesson I've ever taken was a positive experience designed to either teach me techniques or critique my work in order to improve my efforts.

The fact is my experience post academia has shown me that one needs to keep the basics sharp. It seems you can't be too good at solfegge or rhythm. The inner ear is the crucial tool in composing and dictating what the ear hears and then honing/editing it are necessary skills for any composer.

To respond to some of your points, the fact that a composition professor would tell you that you are there to learn to teach as opposed to learn to compose is just wrong (especially if the comment was made in reference to a composition class). Gabriel Faure died 90 years ago, if Quebec still reveres and teaches his style then that is indeed a waste of time. Somehow I find that hard to believe.

Good luck with your serial modality, perhaps you'd be kind enough to post something for us to hear?


Thanks, Steve. I agree. This rant is painting with a very broad brush. Also, saying one is a historian and at the same time ignoring facts like the ones I spelled out earlier tells me that the original poster is not being truthful when he says he knows music history. He's only scratched the surface, obviously, but demands respect regardless. When I studied composition and music in general in the 1980s, there was definitely the sense that you HAD to know what you were doing. Composition lessons included writing with a specific goal in mind. It could be variations, different instruments/ensembles, volume in a certain period (5 short piano pieces in one week), counterpoint, and other specific aims. This was at the University of Minnesota. In California I had to ask for composition assignments, because all they seemed to want to do there was let you do your own thing. That was unhelpful and that's why I went to Minnesota. Everyplace is different. It might not even be the same at the U of M anymore for all I know.

I find most composition professors that I am acquainted with nowadays are hacks, but that does not mean they all are.

In my own music I do not strive much for stretching the ears of the audience. It's been done already and I'd rather have people like my music anyway. I tend towards keeping the music familiar enough so the audience can appreciate it without the need for me to explain much.

The main complaint I have of newer composers is that too many of them have no idea of what musical taste is, or how to achieve balance between contrast and continuity. Also 99% of them couldn't write a decent melody (of an individual, powerful and coherent nature) to save their souls. I don't mean melodies that sound like some simple song anyone can write, but melodies that are imbued with meaning. That is nearly a lost art.


"Rant"? You do like to resort to childish, petulant insult, don't you.

That's a statement, not a question.

"It's been done already" regarding "stretching the ears of the audience" is absolute nonsense. I suppose you're referring to the self-indulgent music of certain modernists who didn't take the audience into consideration, but painting all composers with the same brush renders such a statement nonsensical.

Hindemith used the term "gebrauchsmusik" or "music for use" when he was writing progressive music that was also palatable. He didn't bury his head in the sand and continue writing outdated music for Luddites. But you can keep up the practice all you like. No one is stopping you.

Tee-hee. See? I can be sarcastic too.

Regarding my serialised modality, yes, sure, I'll post some one of these days. I could really use some help from some of you young(er) guys, though. I've had Sibelius for several years now, but to be brutally honest, I'm not in the least tech-savvy. I still work with pencil and paper and a late-19th-century vintage piano.

I don't know if this is a genuine discovery, but when working on rhythm (I made an abortive attempt many years ago at writing a book on the percussive element in music), I found through experimenting that syncopation has a critical mass: you can write three, no more, no less, completely independent syncopated parts (at once). Call it the "Monks factor", patent pending, trademark, copyright, blah, blah, blah. You must pay me money every time you try it yourself. I figure $10 per note :^)

Like the serialised modality, I'll just have to show you what I mean by way of examples. The three-syncopated-parts device I came up with is very catchy, and a lot of fun for three players. It might work best with three xylophone or marimba players.

Top
#2308301 - 07/28/14 09:40 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
ScottM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 556
It might interest you to know that my primary composition professor was a student of Hindemith's and a model of what a composition teacher should be.

I don't think there's any constructive outcome to this discussion.
_________________________
Scott

Top
#2308368 - 07/29/14 03:05 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: ScottM]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: ScottM
It might interest you to know that my primary composition professor was a student of Hindemith's and a model of what a composition teacher should be.

I don't think there's any constructive outcome to this discussion.


That's right, Scott. You don't think. You seem not to listen to how you come across either.

Top
#2308377 - 07/29/14 04:23 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
doubtlessbay Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/26/14
Posts: 3
To answer the original post: perhaps certain forms of jazz and classical music haven't changed a lot since 1963, but surely that is okay? It hasn't stopped the evolution of electronic and various other forms of music; people who want to be influenced by jazz and classical musicians of the last century are certainly not causing any problems.

Perhaps the anti-academic sentiments happened in a specific circumstance?

Top
#2308406 - 07/29/14 08:24 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5280
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
That's right, Scott. You don't think. You seem not to listen to how you come across either.
nice going... "welcome" back mate! frown
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

Top
#2308462 - 07/29/14 11:13 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
A443 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1391
Loc: Manywheres
What is this thread about? I'm confused: does anyone want to discuss anti-academic arrogance?

There are many academics out there, a lot of arrogance [on both sides], lots of corruption, and anti-sentiment towards academics in general. It is a great discussion that could be had, since the pursuit of higher knowledge is important in an advanced thinking society, yet the majority of the system is currently not functioning so well (a.k.a. its broken). If anyone is interested in some insight into what is really happening in higher education istutiotions like CSU/LSU these days, I would highly recommend reading through Brian Alan Lane's online blog/book Thug.

The university experience should be about learning, thinking, and researching/discovering! And the results/findings are shared for the good of the people. This is important for society because companies don't share: Kawai, for example, has spend tremendous amounts of money on piano technology research. If they are not going to share information, then it is imperative that we have functioning Universities with piano technology degree programs that focus on researching and then publishing their findings.
_________________________
Klavierbaukünstler des Erwachens
...expecter of the best, 'gunslinger' to the rest!
Email: klavierbaukuenstler@gmail.com

Top
#2308569 - 07/29/14 03:27 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: A443]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: A443
What is this thread about? I'm confused: does anyone want to discuss anti-academic arrogance?

There are many academics out there, a lot of arrogance [on both sides], lots of corruption, and anti-sentiment towards academics in general. It is a great discussion that could be had, since the pursuit of higher knowledge is important in an advanced thinking society, yet the majority of the system is currently not functioning so well (a.k.a. its broken). If anyone is interested in some insight into what is really happening in higher education istutiotions like CSU/LSU these days, I would highly recommend reading through Brian Alan Lane's online blog/book Thug.

The university experience should be about learning, thinking, and researching/discovering! And the results/findings are shared for the good of the people. This is important for society because companies don't share: Kawai, for example, has spend tremendous amounts of money on piano technology research. If they are not going to share information, then it is imperative that we have functioning Universities with piano technology degree programs that focus on researching and then publishing their findings.


In 1987, a Toronto Globe & Male writer was rhetorically wondering why great composers weren't coming out of our Canadian universities. *angst* *hand-wringing* the usual.

I was living in T'ronna at the time and met her on the street. I offered my perception (based on my own experience), that creativity in classical music circles in Canada exists despite our universities, not because of them. My experience in Montreal with all the little Faure clones was still fresh in my mind.

Her reaction was typical- I still run into it most of the time when this subject arises- she stared at me uncomprehendingly as though I had three heads. Like me, she had gone through the system, but her perception was that all is well in la-la land.

Like all too many people these days, her perception is that learning to write classical music is enough, that it somehow translates into becoming the real deal. And like most people in the classical field these days, she's a taxidermist, while having zero awareness of the fact.

Classical music is not simply the academic knowledge involved. It's what we're doing with it. And that, in my view, is the problem- we're not doing anything with it.

Something I pointed out earlier was fundamental problems with how the basics are taught, and central to that is people like Walter Piston, who wrote many of the definitive textbooks that are still in use today. He went loopy attempting to codify every little thing, a process that is the antithesis of the creative process.

Ligeti was wary of people like him, and like many well-informed educators, steered well clear of an entirely codified understanding of Western music. Hindemith too. His response was Harmony With A Minimum Of Rules (not sure if that's exactly right- my copy is sitting in a box upstairs).

Composers and educators were butting heads over matters like this back in the early 70's. After the remaining big composers finally died off, it was a case of "the cat's away, the mice will play", and the codifiers finally had their way.

I could be wrong- this could just be my perception- but it seems to me that their stranglehold has had classical composition in a death-grip ever since.

Parallel to this, in both the jazz-education and classical-education worlds, has been a gradual entrenching of anti-academic arrogance, and again, I think this is a matter of "the cat's away, the mice will play". Without a healthy creative milieu with new musical vocabularies developing, leading in turn to a widespread dissemination of ideas that inevitably affect how popular music is written, the gulf between the workshop of the composer and the peripheral awareness of the non-academic is growing, and in the process, the negativity of the non-academic towards the very place musical ideas come from is on the rise.

Top
#2308574 - 07/29/14 03:35 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I should perhaps clarify what I meant by composers and educators head-butting one another:

Back in the 60's and early 70's, educators were hounding composers to codify their methods. Those of you who were around at the time will remember that composers tended to avoid doing that.

Meanwhile, educators were complaining that their textbooks ended at 1890 or so, and that our living composers weren't being at all helpful when it came up updated all our textbooks to include the methods of modern composers.

Top
#2308575 - 07/29/14 03:36 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Nikolas]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
That's right, Scott. You don't think. You seem not to listen to how you come across either.
nice going... "welcome" back mate! frown


Ah, I was wondering when the other troll would put his two-cents in.

Top
#2308578 - 07/29/14 03:40 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: A443]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: A443
Composition in university is approached differently these days, than in the past. These days, in America, it is more about bashing and thrashing around without functional knowledge, and that is indeed in an attempt not duplicating the work of others. I find that approach absurd. eek

Japan's approach is a bit different. If you are going to study composition, you are going to learn how to sound like Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Debussy, etc. first. Once you mastered those sounds, only then do you have the tools necessary to find out what your own compositional voice really sounds like.


I've heard some very interesting work from Japanese composers, mostly in film scores, but I confess to knowing very little about Japan's music scene. Could you elaborate?

Top
#2308757 - 07/29/14 10:48 PM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: gsmonks]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2740
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Meanwhile, educators were complaining that their textbooks ended at 1890 or so, and that our living composers weren't being at all helpful when it came up updated all our textbooks to include the methods of modern composers.

I distinctly remember that the composition book was Persichetti's 20th Century Harmony. We were taught many of the various techniques contained therein, but were taught that they were tools and also they were what has already been done.

Here's the problem as I see it. The human brain and ear is limited in what it can perceive. It seek order and/or patterns in sound. If you overload too much harmony simultaneously the result is a cacophony that approaches sounding like noise. While some highly developed and practiced ears may be able to discern some patterns and/or order in such music the vast majority cannot. In my own music I've tried to imbue the music with layers of appeal, something at the surface most can appreciate (or at least perceive) and deeper levels of organization and order that is revealed on repeated listenings. The challenge is to find combinations of sound that are appealing and yet uncommon. In harmony using twelve tones it's pretty much all been done.

You can stretch to nonstandard tuning or quarter tones or beyond. It's all possible with electronics these days, but the problem then becomes how do you perform it? Do you record the music in a studio and play it back for an audience? Then the performance is always the same and there's no interaction in producing the music. You can try to replicate the electronics but they often do something different than the first time and it's usually different and/or not as good. At the same time you're once again approaching the limits of what a human can perceive.

Finally, we come to the question of why? In my experience the more complex the music, the less people care for it. I've been to many composer forums where the only people present were other composers and their families. There was some wonderful music presented and some not so wonderful music. I remember a particularly memorable song for soprano about bugs! It was awesome and I'm glad I bought the CD of the recording, but I haven't listened to it recently. What's wrong with this picture?

Is music entertainment for the mind or the spirit? What is the purpose of composing if you're the only one who cares? What's more important to entertain yourself or others? These are the questions we each need to answer in order to determine if we want to even make the effort to string a few notes together. For me composing is an arduous process, but at least I like and enjoy what I hear.

Top
#2308793 - 07/30/14 02:02 AM Re: Anti-academic arrogance. [Re: Steve Chandler]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Instead of replying, Steve, I've started a new thread where we can discuss new compositional methods. I've posted an example to get things started.

Top

Moderator:  Piano World 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
ad (Casio)
Celviano by Casio Rebate
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Two Hand Line Technique Help
by Herwiberde
10/02/14 01:00 PM
AvantGrand N2/3 Update......
by Pete14
10/02/14 12:50 PM
Dealer exchanging piano?
by cherublace
10/02/14 12:19 PM
Looking for some help buying a digital piano, Yamaha 105/142
by Shadowbadger
10/02/14 12:12 PM
Robin Spielberg - Piano Tutorial
by Robin Spielberg
10/02/14 11:59 AM
Who's Online
159 registered (accordeur, 36251, Adypiano, ajames, alans, 43 invisible), 1670 Guests and 16 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76404 Members
42 Forums
157954 Topics
2319619 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
(ads by Google)

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 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission