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#431525 - 11/28/07 06:48 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
tomasino Offline
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Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Quoting wr:

“I think I've heard that there is also a view that some sort of consonance/dissonance perception is hardwired into our sense of hearing."

I don't know what is meant by "hardwired into our sense of hearing," but I do know that consonance/dissonance can be explained by the ratio of vibrations of one pitch to another when sounded together. It is straightforward natural science. Consonance/dissonance is not an acculturated sensibility.

Quoting wr further:

“…and has some basis in the harmonic series.”

From my undestanding, the harmonic series has to do with the color or timbre of a tone, and little to do with consonance/dissonance. Consonance/dissonance is most easily understood by the fundamental pitch of a tone when played together with another tone of a different pitch. Understanding the significance of the “ratio of vibrations” per second is the key.

Quoting Keyboardklutz?

“There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal..."

There is every possibility of both occuring in atonal music. Play any two pitches together on the piano, and the resulting sound will lie somewhere on a continuum between consonance and dissonance.

Quoting Keyboardklutz further:

"...unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality."

An arbitrary use of consonance and dissonance does not necessarily set up tonality. Although I can’t cite an example, it seems possible and probable that serial composers--even pure serial composers of the Schoenberg/Berg/Webern type--probably at times do deliberately set up a sense of tonality. It would be quite easy to set up a pedal point tonality by elongating the tone row in the bass for say eight measures per note, and playing them loudly. This would result in a sense of tonality lasting eight measures before going on to a different tonality.

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#431526 - 11/28/07 09:19 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
bryan s Offline
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Registered: 07/11/06
Posts: 180
Loc: new york
Whether I like something billed as "atonal" depends on the specific piece, composer, and integrity of composer. There are some atonal pieces that I can't listen to because they're boring. Many I like though. Also, atonality doesn't always mean its dissonant. To put it simply: If I like the way it sounds, I like the way it sounds
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#431527 - 11/28/07 11:14 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Tenuto Offline
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Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 550
Loc: U.S.A.
Nowadays modern music is labeled "post-tonal." The theoriticians don't use the term "atonal" as much anymore.

Also, in post-tonal music, instead of using the terms dissonance and consonance I would prefer to use the terms tension and release. This would apply to all music, whether tonal or post-tonal.

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#431528 - 11/28/07 11:32 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5932
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tenuto:
Also, in post-tonal music, instead of using the terms dissonance and consonance I would prefer to use the terms tension and release. This would apply to all music, whether tonal or post-tonal. [/b]
Now that makes sense!
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#431529 - 11/28/07 11:51 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Horace Offline
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Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
I think I've heard that there is also a view that some sort of consonance/dissonance perception is hardwired into our sense of hearing. [/b]
It's not so much a 'view' as a fact that octaves or thirds are more consonant than sevenths or seconds (for instance). It's a product of physics and has nothing to do with arbitrary learned concepts. It's as fundamental to what defines music as a distinguishable beat is.

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#431530 - 11/28/07 11:57 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
tomasino Offline
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Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Quoting Tenuto: "Also, in post-tonal music, instead of using the terms dissonance and consonance I would prefer to use the terms tension and release."

OK if you prefer it, but what's the point?

Tomasino
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"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#431531 - 11/29/07 12:08 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5932
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by tomasino:
OK if you prefer it, but what's the point? [/b]
I think the point, taking into account all that has been said in this thread, is that the terms consonance/dissonance seem to relate to music which has a tonal centre. It has been suggested that with no tonal centre there is therefore no such thing as consonance/dissonance. But there are certainly intervals which have more or less tension, and the arranging of these in a way which takes this into account is part of the process of composition. Maybe talking about tension and release makes it clearer that we are not referring to harmony in the tonal and functional sense.
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#431532 - 11/29/07 01:26 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
vanityx3 Offline
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Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 269
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
I think I've heard that there is also a view that some sort of consonance/dissonance perception is hardwired into our sense of hearing. [/b]
It's not so much a 'view' as a fact that octaves or thirds are more consonant than sevenths or seconds (for instance). It's a product of physics and has nothing to do with arbitrary learned concepts. It's as fundamental to what defines music as a distinguishable beat is. [/b]
Your talking about Pythagorean Ratio's. It wasn't until the renaissanse period that 3rd's and 6th's were classified as conssonances though. Before that only Octaves, Unsion, Pefect 5ths and Perfect 4th were the only pitchs labeled as conssonant sounds. So it's only been about 500 years that 3rds and 6th have been allowed to be called conssonances, which seems really weird when you think about it now, but to people living in pre-renaissance times it was normal.
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#431533 - 11/29/07 01:30 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
I think I've heard that there is also a view that some sort of consonance/dissonance perception is hardwired into our sense of hearing. [/b]
It's not so much a 'view' as a fact that octaves or thirds are more consonant than sevenths or seconds (for instance). It's a product of physics and has nothing to do with arbitrary learned concepts. It's as fundamental to what defines music as a distinguishable beat is. [/b]
It may be fundamental but you won't find any two cultures with intervals in common. Consonance is what YOU perceive it to be.
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#431534 - 11/29/07 02:15 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Horace Offline
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Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
I think I've heard that there is also a view that some sort of consonance/dissonance perception is hardwired into our sense of hearing. [/b]
It's not so much a 'view' as a fact that octaves or thirds are more consonant than sevenths or seconds (for instance). It's a product of physics and has nothing to do with arbitrary learned concepts. It's as fundamental to what defines music as a distinguishable beat is. [/b]
It may be fundamental but you won't find any two cultures with intervals in common. Consonance is what YOU perceive it to be. [/b]
Hmm, I'd have to disagree with that to an extent. While I agree that it's difficult to judge what is more consonant between say a major or minor second, there is no doubt that the octave is the most consonant interval (not counting unison). And I doubt there's any culture in which the octave is not the foundation of their tonal system. All humans are born understanding that octaves are 'similar' to each other in a way that other intervals are not, for reasons that become obvious when one looks at the frequencies of the pitches.

It does become culturally dependent how octaves are split up (western tonality being split into 12 more or less equal steps being one choice of many). But, like the octave I would guess that the third also plays an important role in pretty much every culture's tonal system once again because of its obvious consonance to the human ear.

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#431535 - 11/29/07 02:22 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Sure, octaves and fifths - that's about it.
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#431536 - 11/29/07 04:06 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Robert Kenessy Offline
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Registered: 03/07/07
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Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I heard someone told me Schoenberg's last words on his deathbed were about his adherence to tonality and regret about his a-tonal adventures. Can anyone confirm or refute this?
_________________________
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.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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#431537 - 11/29/07 04:26 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
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Loc: Pretoria South Africa
We’re stuck with the Laws of Acoustics ... which amongst others determines that a musical note and it’s octave are genetic “family” ... Violins exploit variation in string lengths ... half gut sings the octave.

Consonant notes in any octave are the dominant and subdominant ... which come closest to the octave 1:2 ratio ... D & SD being 2:3 and 3:4.

All the other notes are variously discordant (Laws of Acoustics)

Here’s a diagram of the relative edginess of the other basic notes ... the further from the baseline, the more discordant ... which doesn’t
mean that sour notes are taboo ... composers add spice to the mix by throwing in a dab of lemon.

web page

But most of us like just so much tonic with our gin ... atonal limit.

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#431538 - 11/29/07 04:29 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Matthew Collett Offline
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Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 536
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
 Quote:
Originally posted by vanityx3:
Your talking about Pythagorean Ratio's. It wasn't until the renaissanse period that 3rd's and 6th's were classified as conssonances though. Before that only Octaves, Unsion, Pefect 5ths and Perfect 4th were the only pitchs labeled as conssonant sounds. [/b]
Careful. Yes, 8ves, 5ths and 4ths were the only consonances officially available to a medieval composer. But that wasn't because 3rds and 6ths were felt to be dissonant, rather that they simply didn't exist. Apparent 3rds in medieval scores are actually ditones, due to the Pythagorean temperament that was usual then, and a ditone is a dissonance by any reasonable standard. (Modern appreciation of the distinction between a pure third and a ditone is rather dulled by our immersion in equal temperament.)

Best wishes,
Matthew
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#431539 - 11/29/07 09:21 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Witold Offline
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Registered: 05/03/07
Posts: 128
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
I'm talking composer's intentions. Webern banished tonal centers as Max said earlier - without which consonance/dissonance has no meaning (how intervals/chords are perceived in an atonal context). [/b]
The only thing I can think of that has a meaning in tonal music, but not in Webern, is consonant/dissonant tones. In C major F# is always a dissonance, in twelve tone music it is not. Intervals and chords do not need a tonal center to be perceived as consonant, dissonant or more dissonant. Dissonance is simply the result of conflicting overtone series. This is why I say it is impossible to create music that consists of changing harmonies that wouldn't move on the consonance/dissonance axis.

I'm still trying to understand how you can think that there is no consonance or dissonance in atonal music. We all know that there is a lot of dissonance, so maybe it's the lack of consonance that makes you feel like this. It is true that to many people atonal music might come across only as dissonant/more dissonant, but this shows that the mentioned consonance/dissonance axis is still there. Or can you name a piece where the amount of dissonance is equal throughout? Also, it's not entirely true that there is no real consonances in atonal music, even in Webern you can find lots of situations where the only sounding notes form a major third or perfect fourth, if you look closely enough you can even find the occassional triad. Of course, he did conseal these in such a way that they don't give the impression of tonal centers and therefore they might still feel dissonant in relationship to what was before them. But if you study the larger structures of Webern's works, you will find that he very much did take the consonance/dissonance axis in account when creating his music. Most of his music is fairly traditional in this sence, it starts in a relatively consonant setting (few notes, few instruments playing at the same time), then he moves towards more dissonant settings in the middle of the piece (larger, more complex and more dissonant chords), then returns to the original "consonance" in the end.

You could ask any living composer about their treatment of consonance and dissonance and they could probably give you a long lecture about how they use these concepts. In atonal music it is very different from tonal music, but it is certainly there. At least I don't know any composer who wouldn't work very closely with these concepts when they design their harmonies. There might not be any absolute consonance, like resolving to the tonic in tonal music, but there is relative consonance. After a chromatic fortissimo cluster, a pianissimo major seventh is very consonant.

When working outside the traditional tonal harmonies, the possibilities to handle dissonance and consonance are much greater. A major triad is always a major triad, no matter how you turn it, you cannot make it into something else. With the fifth in the bass, it's not as stable as in root position, but it's still consonant. With more complex harmonies, you can change their quality a lot just by rearranging the notes in different octaves or orchestrating the notes in a different way. With proper arrangement, any harmony can be made quite consonant. Even twelve note chords can sound consonant if orchestrated well and played with perfect intonation (unfortunately our equal tempered piano isn't capable of this). A simple example of changing the quality: Put Bb in the bass, A a major seventh above, G a minor seventh above the A and C# a tritone above the G => Very dissonant. Next put A in the bass, C# a tenth above, G a tritone above C# and Bb a minor third above G => A7b9, same notes but a very different harmony, a lot more consonant. These are the kinds of operations modern composers use a lot to create different states of dissonance within their harmonical language (though they might not use the A7b9 chord). However, nothing prevents modern composers from using that chord if they wish to do so. It might have been forbidden in some circles in the middle of the last century, but that's more than 50 years ago. I sincerely hope that people soon would get over the misconception that "not tonal = 1960s serialism". Side by side with the serialists, a lot of other compositional styles were developed. Today everything is allowed, just listen to Lindberg's clarinet concerto.

And finally, not to stray too much off-topic: I genuinely like atonality/no sense of key.

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#431540 - 11/29/07 11:04 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Kenessey:
I heard someone told me Schoenberg's last words on his deathbed were about his adherence to tonality and regret about his a-tonal adventures. Can anyone confirm or refute this? [/b]
I'm pretty sure this is not true. Schoenberg was unconscious most of the time during his last illness. And I have a direct link to Schoenberg's last days (which I can't say any more of to protect the confidentiality of individuals), and have never heard of such a thing being said by him.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#431541 - 11/29/07 11:13 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Witold's post has explained quite well how varying degrees of consonance/dissonance can be used in post-tonal music (whether it be "free atonal" or serial). Even in serial music, which would seem much more restrictive in terms of pitch use, a composer could greatly vary the degree of tension/release by simply respacing a chord, for example, even though the chord in question may be fixed according to various serial processes. And really, every good serial composer composes with the serial method -- it never dominates or restricts the composer, just as functional tonality never restricts the composers of old. But in order to grasp this mastery and freedom (i.e. no restrictions), one must study long and hard, whether it be functional tonality or post-tonal music (including the 12-tone method). I think Leonard Bernstein had that in mind when he said that Schoenberg was a great composer despite the 12-tone system (i.e. the system is not what made Schoenberg a great composer -- and this is Leonard Bernstein we are talking about, one of the great defenders of tonality!).
Incidentally, the 12-tone method was not created to "avoid" a sense of tonality or tension/release (or consonance/dissonance if you will), as some posters believe. It was created to guarantee motivic saturation -- the row of a work is to be regarded as a motive, in the same way as, for example, the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth or the first three notes of Brahms's Op. 118 #2 are motives.
And yes, tension and release are probably more useful in describing the harmonic movement in post-tonal music, rather than consonance and dissonance.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#431542 - 11/29/07 01:55 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Here's the Harvard on Schoenberg
 Quote:
This led him him to a style based on the most strained dissonances (for his time) and on a generalized chromaticism, which involves the elimination of consonant chords, octaves, and all figures that have a potential for tonal polarization.
I shall be happy to agree though, that there are as many definitions of consonance as there are ears!
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#431543 - 11/29/07 02:08 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
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Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Keyboardklutz, that sounds like a description of Schoenberg's "free" atonal period. Consonant chords, octaves, and tonally polarizing figures occur in his late works. There are a number of late works which are completely tonal, such as his Suite for Strings and Variations for Band. There are tonal implications in his middle 12-tone period, i.e. the beginning of the third quartet, which strongly implies E minor, or the C major ending of the piano concerto. And even in his "free" atonal works there are blatant examples of tonality creeping in, such as a blatant C# minor chord in Op. 11 #1. I don't have access to the Harvard, but if that quote is referring to anything but his free atonal works it just goes to show you how even scholarly general reference books can make mistakes or create inaccurate generalizations.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#431544 - 11/29/07 03:00 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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says op 10 to 22 which they call atonal. Of the later 12 tone they say '..perpetual utilization of the chromatic total manifests the rupture of tonal coherence. In the foreground are those intervals or groups of intervals that are least compatible with tonality'.
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#431545 - 11/29/07 03:11 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Another inaccurate generalization, most especially the bit about "foreground intervals". It may be more accurate to Webern in some respects, but not Schoenberg. And the use of "tonal coherence" is a somewhat poor choice of words. I'm sure the writer means "not coherent in terms of traditional tonality" (it's a difference of musical syntax, duh!) but it could also be interpreted as meaning that Schoenberg didn't compose coherent musical works, which is so far from the truth it isn't even funny.

P.S.: I don't want this to turn into a pro/anti Schoenberg thread (no one is going to be switching sides anytime soon), so I'll just reiterate my genuine love for much post-tonal (including atonal) music.
P.P.S.: If anyone is curious how the concern for motivic saturation led from free atonality to the 12-tone method, please read George Perle's "Serial Composition and Atonality". And yes, I have a music degree. Sorry, that's two. Soon to be three.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#431546 - 12/01/07 01:16 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Here’s a diagram of the relative edginess of the other basic notes ... the further from the baseline, the more discordant ... which doesn’t
mean that sour notes are taboo ... composers add spice to the mix by throwing in a dab of lemon.

web page
[/b]
Interesting graph, thanks! Apparently a tritone is far from teh most disonant interval, and is in fact only slightly more disonant than a major second. What distinguishes it is that it's surrounded by such consonant intervals a half step to either side. Minor second seems by far the most disonant interval in western tonality which would jibe with intuition as well.

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#431547 - 12/01/07 03:45 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
P.P.S.: If anyone is curious how the concern for motivic saturation led from free atonality to the 12-tone method, please read George Perle's "Serial Composition and Atonality". And yes, I have a music degree. Sorry, that's two. Soon to be three. [/b]
I take my mortarboard off to you!

p.s. Does a postgraduate certificate count?
_________________________
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#431548 - 12/01/07 12:51 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
premature post :p
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#431549 - 12/01/07 12:54 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
p.s. Does a postgraduate certificate count? [/b]
Sure, why not? ;\) And to you and everyone else, my intention was not to brag, simply to give a gauge of my qualifications. I guess I'm rather passionate about post-tonality (including atonality), which seems to be dismissed by a fair amount of musicians.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#431550 - 12/01/07 01:04 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Not by me.
_________________________
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#431551 - 12/01/07 01:51 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Not by me. [/b]
No, and I'm truthfully very grateful for this. \:\)
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#431552 - 12/02/07 03:15 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Ted2 Offline
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Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Just as I like some tonal pieces and not others, so I probably like and dislike various pieces not based on keys. However, I'm not very certain what is correctly called atonal and what isn't. If things like Jarrett's fifth track on Radiance, Mary Lou Williams' "Fungus Among Us", much of Frank Bridge's piano music and Ives' piano pieces are "atonal", then I like atonal music. However, I do not like music by most of the famous "atonal" composers mentioned in this thread. Therefore I most likely react to atonal music in the same way as I do to tonal music - mostly through properties other than harmony.
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#431553 - 12/02/07 03:55 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Ted, I can't say I can think of any atonal Bridge. Mary Lou Williams??

I was taught and understand, this may interest you Janus, that atonal came out of Wagner. His music holds back the perfect cadence until the ultimate end, often after several hours - that's how it works; totally refusing the resolution the audience seeks until the last bars.

Those who followed figured the next logical step must be to expunge the tonic chord altogether. IMO the 19th century idea of musical progress (mirroring the sciences) was wrong. It was only one of many valid directions music could, and eventually did, go. I'm not sure of what relevance all this 'liking' is.
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#431554 - 12/06/07 07:14 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
emopiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Botswana
i read something online once about dissonance in guitar playing and that, if used well and not overused, can give the song/piece a lot of character...i havnt heard any of his stuff but maybe it is something like that...
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