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#431465 - 11/27/07 12:12 PM How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Reaper978 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
I'm just curious about this. I spoke with a professor who is thoroughly versed in music theory and I asked him if he liked atonality (he had mentioned it several times in class), and the answer was quite a staunch no.

I believe the first encounter I ever had with music that had no sense of key was when I heard Ligeti's etudes. I remember thinking when I heard the first etude "this sounds like nothing". However, the more I listened to it, the more it began to fit together. Now, I thoroughly enjoy this music.

Not to say that dissonance is particularly pleasing in any classical sense, but I suppose I don't really consider this music "classical" anymore.

Also, I think a piece which is largely lacking a tonal center yet provides glimpses of certain tonalities is quite interesting. I once had the idea (no doubt it has been thought of before) of writing a piece using 3 or 5 movements, with the middle movement being largely without a key, but with the outer movements restoring a sense of peace with a gently emerging tonality. I thought it would be quite an interesting way to build tension, like a plot curve.

In any case, I'm curious what anyone might think about how many people genuinely enjoy this music.

-Colin

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#431466 - 11/27/07 12:23 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
I dislike it but find it interesting. It's all opinion though, I mean I love some art but hate others. I love the art of classic masters such as Da Vinci, but dislike most "modern" art therefore I HATED the tate modern museum in London (school trip) I felt almost as if i'd been ripped.... and it was free. When you see a canvas painted grey with the title "grey" I feel discraced that it could even be classified as art. I'd imagine Da Vinci turning in his grave. To pull any meaning from such works of "art" you would have to be dillusional in my opinion. (Thats an extreme case of course!) Much of the art was simply just not my cup of tea hence:

back to the musical side:

I don't think I can get much meaning from atonal music, it sounds random to my ears and I just can't recall ever liking it. That doesn't mean there is no meaning however, it just means I (myself) can't pick any out. If you like atonal music then thats great, we all have musical tastes
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#431467 - 11/27/07 12:31 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
 Quote:
When you see a canvas painted grey with the title "grey"
Haha \:D

As far as randomness is concerned, Sorabji wouldn't be considered strictly atonal but there certainly is no sense of key. Aside from his fantasias and toccatas, his music is usually constantly revolving around a certain melody, hence his fugues and other baroque-inspired forms. The melodic subjects themselves have proven to be quite memorable to my ears.

 Quote:
I don't think I can get much meaning from atonal music
It's interesting to note that, and interestingly enough that is why I connect with it so easily. It conveys by its very nature a sense of confusion, abstraction, alienation, and dread, thus reflecting the 20th century and my emotional state extremely well.

It is also, apparently, the only kind of music that makes full use of our equal-tempered system as the 12 equally-tempered tones are a requirement for it to function.

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#431468 - 11/27/07 12:36 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
I'd like to draw a line between "atonality", which is rather limited as a term. Very limited actually, and the much more general contemporary concert hall music (even if for piano only).

I enjoy very very much contemporary stuff, which are away from tonality. I am rather tired of the tradditinal (classical) tonality. I do love also the extended use of tonality, as used by Stravinsky or Prokofiev, or Bartok, etc. But I also like very much other types of harmony (quartal, non repeated, etc).

I don't particularly enjoy 12 tone, or serial works, but it's an aesthtic issue more than anything else.

I value dissonances as much as consonanses! \:D

(for a "perfect" example of what I mean, if you wouldn't mind listening to this: http://www.nikolas-sideris.com/stuff/intmusic.mp3 It's a string quartet, which sounds very lyrical (and haunted at the same time) to me, and certainly not bad.
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#431469 - 11/27/07 12:42 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
 Quote:
I'd like to draw a line between "atonality", which is rather limited as a term. Very limited actually, and the much more general contemporary concert hall music (even if for piano only).
I suppose it is a bit unfair to group atonality with modern concert music simply because they largely don't appeal to the standard audience.

The music at that link is quite gorgeous, thank you for that. I believe I know what you mean, as well, with modern concert music - I suppose you like the Bartok quartets?

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#431470 - 11/27/07 12:54 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
Thanks \:\) (will reply to your PM as well \:\) )

Thing is that "atonality", academically and by definition is extremely limited. I mean you can't put, even by mistake a triad, or a tritone solved, cause then it's not atonal anymore. Anything else is much more to my liking (genouinly! \:D )

I always claim that audience (listeners) can also be "trained", as well as the composers. A person whose never heard anything contemporary, or atonal, or anything, would be doomed most likely to listen a bit of... Ligeti. But someone who has been listening to various stuff is more likely to enjoy the newer stuff.
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#431471 - 11/27/07 12:54 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
I like some of it, and don't like some it.

I can't say it's "interesting", because I have absolutely no idea theoretically how it works. But to my ear, some of it just sounds aesthetically really good.
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#431472 - 11/27/07 12:55 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Anonymous
Unregistered


 Quote:
It conveys by its very nature a sense of confusion, abstraction, alienation, and dread, thus reflecting the 20th century and my emotional state extremely well.
I definitely agree with that. But I don't like the label "atonal". And I don't understand why atonal music, which is trying to break the "rules" (whatever those could possibly be in the first place), sometimes involves strict, often ridiculous and limiting rules like 12-tone system. That is where the Romantic period of portraying honest emotion falls apart.

Anything from Chopin to Scriabin is probably more honest than anything following the "rules". For me at least, the music I like really corresponds to my feelings at the moment--sometimes Chopin's mazurkas are enjoyable, and sometimes Scriabin's later works are perfect for the situation.

 Quote:
I don't think I can get much meaning from atonal music
I get plenty of meaning from atonal and non-tonal music (I dislike the categorizing) and I would guess that those who differ lack something in their lives that would invoke the meaning. Of course I can't support this, though.

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#431473 - 11/27/07 01:31 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Bassio Offline
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Registered: 08/24/03
Posts: 2480
Loc: Alexandria, Egypt
As someone who still doesn't listen to much if any atonal music, can I ask you guys for your favorite works in this genre?

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#431474 - 11/27/07 01:54 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Bassio, keep in mind that "atonal music" isn't a genre any more than all of "tonal music" is a single genre.

That said, you *must* listen to this piece by Rzewski:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDNy4YuCxdk

It's so unlike anything you've ever heard before. It doesn't even sound like a lot of the atonal music, although it's certainly not very tonal, at least not in the traditional sense.

edit: some parts in the middle seem a bit tonal, but certainly not the rest of it.
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#431475 - 11/27/07 02:54 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Robert Kenessy Offline
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Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I couldn't come to like Schoenberg's 'Pierot lunaire', although I listened so much to it that I knew all 21 songs by heart (in German ). I became more interested in the poems set to music that I got the whole original set of 50 poems in French (of which Schoenberg set the German translation of 21 to music). And translated them all.

Serial and twelve-tone are a bridge too far for me.

I am a big Bartók fan. Bartók said he never wrote atonal music and not even polytonal music, as there is always some tonal center dominant in his music.

I now tremendously enjoy studying his Sonata (slightly above my level ) Which is definitely not in a traditional harmonic structure, despite Bartók's claim it is in E major.
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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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#431476 - 11/27/07 02:59 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
L'echange Offline
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Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Romney WV
Put me in as one who sincerely likes it \:\)
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"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim

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#431477 - 11/27/07 03:01 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Bassio Offline
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Registered: 08/24/03
Posts: 2480
Loc: Alexandria, Egypt
I even read somewhere Robert that Bartok composed a certain piece in order to prove to Schoenberg and his followers that he can write a completely atonal piece without even approaching the twelve-tone system and will even make more sense than their music

or something like that \:D .. but as usual, my AlZheimer-like symptoms are constantly popping up .. keep your two grains of salt with you

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#431478 - 11/27/07 03:06 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Bassio Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/24/03
Posts: 2480
Loc: Alexandria, Egypt
 Quote:
Originally posted by L'echange:
Put me in as one who sincerely likes it \:\) [/b]
We almost forgot you Echange.

Throw us your most accessible ones please \:D

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#431479 - 11/27/07 03:09 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Secondo Offline
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Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 312
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Not me. I find it intellectual as opposed to musically enjoyable. I do enjoy intellectuality but i find myself analyzing and thinking with the left logical side rather than the right musical/emotional/intuitive side. Some of it can be interesting and expressive--like modern day traffic/life/stress/noise/overstimulation/alienation/etc. But, let's face it, coming up with a great melody is NOT EASY!!! The one thing difficult to get with atonality is what we subjectively have come to perceive as beautiful. You can make beautiful sounds--like the many Violin Concertos in the first half of 20th Century. But it evokes different emotions. But then again, all my friends know that I refuse to watch a movie unless it is at least 25 years old. So look who's talking . . .
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#431480 - 11/27/07 03:40 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I do not mind periods of atonality in a piece, because it can convey a certain affect. But if an entire piece is written in that, or an entire output of a composer, then I think of it as somewhat limited to those affects such as confusion, anger, insanity, etc. Therefor there is little beauty, IMO. I can somewhat tolerate it in the operas of Berg (like Wozzack), but even then, the subject matter is limited to probably parts of the human psyche that while interesting as a novelty, can wear after a time.

I think perhaps that these affects come from the fact that the tonal system is based on the harmonic series and so we all can feel the pull of the leading tone to tonic and subdominant to mediant, the two half steps found in the major scale.

I think Secondo also hits on something there. Most people will remember a good melody. It will stick in their head. But many atonal melodies do not stick (if they even exist), expect to one who has studied the music. For those who hear it once, it may be gone the next second, becuase there is no tonal context around it to make it stick.
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#431481 - 11/27/07 03:47 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
L'echange Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Romney WV
Hmm,

It's a tricky subject because, like PianoJerome said, atonality is not something you can pin down. By atonal music, do you mean strict serialism, or music that lacks a harmonic base or tonal center?

In the case of strict serialism, I think I am an outcast among both traditionalists and serialists. I adopted a new system of listening for serialistic music when I explored it. A 'system' unlike the one I use for traditional and most contemporary music. People who dislike or don't understand it listen to it with confusion or alienation, and, generally, people who understand it, like it, or use it think of it in technical terms. In other words, they admire the internal structure of the building more than they actually like to sit back and look at the building. I, unlike most people, sit back and enjoy the building. Unless I am studying a piece of serialism, I completely disregard all of the devices and formulas used. To me, this is the best way to listen to music. Listening to Boulez's second sonata (without thinking about his means of composing it, how different it is from other works, what he intended compositionally and philosophically etc) is an amazing experience. His works, at best, are raw emotion. From furiousity to deep loneliness and alienation. The slow movement in the second sonata truly is a beautiful thing, like a frozen river or a dark forest, when listened to correctly.

I recommend the slow movement of Boulez's Second Sonata if you truly want to understand what I mean. Put on that movement, turn off all the lights, and before long you will find yourself far from home.

Boulez's First sonata is my favorite work of his. It represents, to me, the finest of boulez's work while still living in the Messiaen world, if you will.

His second sonata and ...explosante-fixe... are amazing works as well.

Webern's piano variations are great

Schoenberg's Piano Concerto

None of those are really accessible \:\)


Ligeti is one of my favorite composers.

He always said that his music is neither tonal nor atonal. His music is so organic that, once so far into a piece, you adopt a sort of subconscious tonal center.

His second and fifth etudes of book one lack clear tonality and are very accessible, imo... very beautiful works.

Xenakis always blows my mind, but as for accessibility, he comes last \:\)

Try Evryali for piano or La Legende d'Eer for 7-channel tape (my favorite work of his) if you are curious.

If you truly want to understand serialism, learn how it is made, learn its conventions, and learn how to make it. Then forget all that, and then listen to it in the same way you look
at the stars.

This may contradict the composers intentions and even the general musician's opinion, but for me, serialistic techniques are only of importance to the ones who decide to employ them in composition. Imo, to truly listen to serialistic music you must forget everything you know and let the sound world in front of you be the only thing that is real... beyond words, beyond rows, beyond ideas.
_________________________
"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim

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#431482 - 11/27/07 03:51 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!
As a lover of much atonal music, I have a great many things to say about this thread. For now though, I'll list some beautiful, very moving atonal pieces which are also wonderful starting points for those with open ears:

Schoenberg:
Piano Piece Op. 11 #2
A Survivor from Warsaw
Moses and Aron: Golden Calf scene from Act II (all the way until the re-entry of Moses) -- very exciting
Dreimal Tausend Jahre -- meltingly beautiful
Accompaniment to a Film-Scene (Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene)

Berg:
Wozzeck: whole opera if possible, Interlude and final scene if you want to "dip in"
Violin Concerto
Lyric Suite for String Quartet -- whole thing if possible, first movement if you want to sample

Ligeti:
Lux Aeterna
Piano etudes: especially Cordes a' vide, Fanfares, Fe'm, Der Zauberlehrling, L'escalier du diable

Tippett:
String Quartet no. 4
Symphony no. 4
Piano sonata no. 2
Piano sonata no. 3: last movement

Lutoslawski:
Piano Concerto (highly recommended! get the recording with Zimerman and the composer conducting, other recordings are very inferior)

Ginastera:
Piano Concerto no. 1: last movement

Rautavaara:
Symphony No. 7, third movement (particularly recommended for those who think that 12-tone music can't be beautiful)
Piano Concerto no. 2

Copland:
Piano Variations

Sessions:
Piano Sonata no. 2

Corigliano:
Symphony No. 1 (once wildly popular)

Leonard Bernstein:
Symphony no. 3 "Kaddish" -- a nice mix of tonal and atonal elements

Penderecki:
Polish Requiem

Schnittke:
Viola Concerto
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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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#431483 - 11/27/07 04:00 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by Balakirev:
 Quote:
It conveys by its very nature a sense of confusion, abstraction, alienation, and dread, thus reflecting the 20th century and my emotional state extremely well.
I definitely agree with that. But I don't like the label "atonal". And I don't understand why atonal music, which is trying to break the "rules" (whatever those could possibly be in the first place), sometimes involves strict, often ridiculous and limiting rules like 12-tone system. That is where the Romantic period of portraying honest emotion falls apart.

Anything from Chopin to Scriabin is probably more honest than anything following the "rules". For me at least, the music I like really corresponds to my feelings at the moment--sometimes Chopin's mazurkas are enjoyable, and sometimes Scriabin's later works are perfect for the situation.

 Quote:
I don't think I can get much meaning from atonal music
I get plenty of meaning from atonal and non-tonal music (I dislike the categorizing) and I would guess that those who differ lack something in their lives that would invoke the meaning. Of course I can't support this, though. [/b]
You're probably right. If that "emtiness" in my life suddenly gets filled and I start loving atonal music because of it, I will make a scincere apology to atonal music lovers.
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#431484 - 11/27/07 04:44 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!
The thing about most people who are familiar with the standard repertoire who are newly introduced to atonal music is that they can't get over the initial shock -- just because it sounds so obviously different from the standard repertoire they think they somehow have to listen to it on a different way and on a different level. But really it isn't the case. Listen to atonal music long enough and one's ears become familiar with the harmonies, the gestures, etc. Sooner or later, one finds out that listening to atonal music is not too far removed from listening to tonal music -- and one even picks out melodies, motives, developments and restatements, climaxes, and -- shudder -- very powerful emotions! All one needs is persistence, and understanding will come soon enough.
And really, you don't need to take classes or get a degree to comprehend and love atonal music -- the same way one doesn't need theory classes to love tonal music. I listened to a fair amount of atonal music and didn't like it, but kept at it because it fascinated me. Then one night I encountered Moses and Aron, and it moved me to no small degree. And to think that at the time I didn't know anything about the theoretical workings behind any music, whether it be tonal or atonal!
Yes, it is shocking and it does take a bit of getting used to. But there is as much aesthetic worth to be found in atonal music as there is in tonal music. One just has to weed out the bad pieces (which is also true of tonal pieces, but time and the standard repertoire makes it easy in that case).
For those who are curious, please read "Arnold Schoenberg's Journey" by Allen Shawn, a very moving portrait of a still-infamous artist:

http://www.amazon.com/Arnold-Schoenbergs...96199737&sr=1-1
_________________________
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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#431485 - 11/27/07 04:47 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Anonymous
Unregistered


 Quote:
Sooner or later, one finds out that listening to atonal music is not too far removed from listening to tonal music
Yes! I don't like all this tonal vs. atonal debate. Once one becomes familiar with both, one will realize that they both are the same thing--music.

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#431486 - 11/27/07 04:51 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by L'echange:
This may contradict the composers intentions and even the general musician's opinion, but for me, serialistic techniques are only of importance to the ones who decide to employ them in composition. Imo, to truly listen to serialistic music you must forget everything you know and let the sound world in front of you be the only thing that is real... beyond words, beyond rows, beyond ideas. [/b]
I absolutely agree with you.
I studied composition in the late 60s when serialism was huge. I wrote many serial pieces, and for me it was always only a way of organising the material, never a set of rules to obey. You compose with your ears and your heart, and the music stands or falls on how it sounds and how this affects the listener.
I loved Webern then, and still love his music. The organisation pleases me on one level, but it's the music itself which keeps me coming back - those delicate little gems of sound. And on quite a different scale, the Berg violin concerto remains one of the most beautiful pieces I know (though not many would accuse it of being atonal!).
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#431487 - 11/27/07 04:59 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
L'echange Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Romney WV
To a certain extent I believe it is true that if we listen to serial music long enough the sounds will start to become familiar... I used to say the same thing. But name me the person who is completely familiar with many of Boulez's works - not the titles but the musical ideas. The fact is that if we listen to serialistic music in that manner - wishing it were something it is not - we are missing the point. I sound like the devil's advocate but we must draw some line between serial music, tonal music, and atonal music because they really are so different. To argue that you listen to Schoenberg's piano works in the same way you listen to Chopin's pianos works just doesn't make sense.

Different music requires different ways of listening. Show me the man who listens to Bach, Xenakis, Black Sabbath, 50 Cent, Reich, Schumann, Earth, Jimmy Buffet, and Libercae in the same way, and I will show you one strange man. Not to say that one is better than the other... I am just saying that different musics require different perspectives, and musics that are different require a line to be drawn... like it or not. I think that 20th century music has been pigeonholed in such a grand way based soley on the fact that it really is so different. I would say the same thing about Classical v. Romantic music. The transformation from Late Romantic to Contemporary music was just bigger in stature.
_________________________
"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim

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#431488 - 11/27/07 05:11 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
In the simplest of ways... it's all music, isn't it?

I certainly don't show the same interest to a work of Mendelson for example and a work of Ligeti or Messiaen, and thus I don't listen in the same way. But all 3 composers can lead to pretty much the same results afterwards.

But since I'm a musician, I do tend to analyse a bit as I listen, which is more like a curse than anything else. I just think of what I would do differently or how I could fix that, or get ideas on what to do next, etc. It's human nature I guess.

At least now we have choices, right? I mean youcan listen from Bach to... Arvo Part (and sound the same or Part sounding earlier! \:D ) or Boulez, or whatever really. The more choices the merrier?
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#431489 - 11/27/07 05:14 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Theowne Offline
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Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 1099
Loc: Toronto, Canada
 Quote:
I get plenty of meaning from atonal and non-tonal music (I dislike the categorizing) and I would guess that those who differ lack something in their lives that would invoke the meaning. Of course I can't support this, though.
Reminds me of people saying that I don't like rap music only because I "haven't lived it". Or disliking heavy metal because I "just don't understand".
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#431490 - 11/27/07 05:27 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Ok, L'echange, I understand where you are coming from. But my original statements still stand. I listen to any music in pretty much the same way, in terms of grasping music's aesthetic substance. The distinctions (the "lines") you mention are those of a technical nature, i.e., what creates good counterpoint in a Palestrina mass is different from a Ligeti quartet. But grasping a piece's general aesthetic substance is a much bigger picture. One who enjoys a Gesualdo madrigal, a Bach fugue, and a Beethoven sonata doesn't need to switch brains between them. Yes, one listens for different elements and techniques, but as for grasping the complete aesthetic substance of a piece, the process is similar, whether it be chant or Xenakis. If I'm a very strange man in your eyes, I'm quite glad!
And before you go on calling me a simpleton, I'll tell you now that I have taught tonal, atonal (both "free" and serial), and post-tonal music theory at the college level, have played much atonal/post-tonal music, and use many atonal/post-tonal techniques in my compositions. I often eat such works as Boulez's Pli selon pli for breakfast, and will gladly say that my knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of any type of art-music is at least equal to yours. This isn't meant to be a flame. But merely underlining the fact of the supposed gulf between the standard repertoire and newer pieces, and thinking that one who loves the standard repertoire cannot love atonal music without educating oneself to somehow listen differently in order to grasp the aesthetic substance of, for instance, Rihm's Tutuguri -- well, that point of view does more harm than good, IMO. Such a point of view is at least partly responsible for why so many are turned off to atonal/post-tonal music in the first place! I bet most forum members loved Chopin or Rachmaninoff etc. and grasped their aesthetic substance before taking a theory class and becoming consciously aware of the techniques the composers use!

P.S.: Since we both love all kinds of post-tonal music, we really are on the same side, even if we disagree on the matter of how one "listens." So let's just agree to disagree, ok? \:\)
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#431491 - 11/27/07 06:13 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Kreisler Offline



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I like it. Some of my favorites:

Berg Violin Concerto
Schoenberg Op. 11 and 4th String Quartet
1st and 2nd Boulez Sonatas
Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time
Webern Variations and Op. 21 symphony
Ligeti 3 Pieces for Two Pianos, Etudes (Book 1 and "White on White", haven't warmed up to Book 2 yet.)
Leon Kirchner Piano Sonata
Babadjanian Poem
Prokofiev 7th Sonata (1st movement, the others are a little bit tonal, but the 1st is not, even though there are structurally important pitches and harmonies)
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#431492 - 11/27/07 06:35 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
L'echange Offline
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Agreed \:\) ,

I didn't mean for that to sound like an attack. I just felt like I had to reveal my side of things.

Also, I was referring to the aesthetic substance and not in the least bit the technical nature. I think that Bach's big picture is much different than Alkan's, and requires a different set of ears.
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#431493 - 11/27/07 06:48 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Anonymous
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 Quote:
Reminds me of people saying that I don't like rap music only because I "haven't lived it". Or disliking heavy metal because I "just don't understand".
But rap and heavy metal aren't music... \:D

But you're probably right--I guess I don't know why I easily get meaning out of atonal music. It just surprises me that so few people get meaning other than utter confusion. Rubinstein's attempt to explain why people forgot Scriabin must have had some effect on me.

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#431494 - 11/27/07 07:17 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Palindrome Offline
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I heard a marvelous performance of the Berg violin concerto (played by Joseph Golan, principal 2nd violin with the Chicago Symphony) about 30 years go, and a very moving performance of some Schoenberg piano pieces by a Viennese pianist playing at PianoforteChicago sometime in the last year. I didn't expect to like either of these pieces. Well played, atonal pieces can be as moving as any music.
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#431495 - 11/27/07 07:22 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
wr Offline
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To me, the atonal/tonal distinction isn't really the issue. What matters is the quality of the composition, and whether I can "get it" immediately or have to spend some amount of time learning the composer's idiom. The getting it is problematic, because it has happened more than once that I've spent a good deal of time with some music to learn its expressive language, only to find that it really was not as good as I would have hoped. In a way, the makes me feel a little ripped off; certainly it has made me more wary of simply accepting that the composer du jour is actually any good and it's up to me to figure out why. I personally think some of the famous 20th century composers of "difficult" music in fact are really not that wonderful as musical minds, although technically they are fine, even stunning.

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#431496 - 11/27/07 07:45 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Jeff135 Offline
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I have found myself progressively liking atonal more and more.

At first, when I first listened to Ginastera's PIano Concerto No. 2, I disliked it very much.

Upon repeated listenings I have grown to like it. It is still bizarre to me, but that contributes to it IMO.
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#431497 - 11/28/07 04:42 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Many posters are kinda missing the point. If you listen for tonality in non-tonal music your going to hear nonsense. You hear what you listen for - there is no 'objective' works of art out there, perception doesn't work like that.
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#431498 - 11/28/07 06:02 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Originally posted by Balakirev:

But you're probably right--I guess I don't know why I easily get meaning out of atonal music. It just surprises me that so few people get meaning other than utter confusion. Rubinstein's attempt to explain why people forgot Scriabin must have had some effect on me. [/b]

Ok Balakirev, you got my interest piqued. What exactly did Rubinstein say about Scriabin?
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#431499 - 11/28/07 06:26 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
cruiser Offline
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Wonderful, considered, eloquent responses here.

For myself, Atonal 'music' moves me... as far away from it as possible!

Each to his own \:\)

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#431500 - 11/28/07 06:58 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
Originally posted by Balakirev:

But you're probably right--I guess I don't know why I easily get meaning out of atonal music. It just surprises me that so few people get meaning other than utter confusion. Rubinstein's attempt to explain why people forgot Scriabin must have had some effect on me. [/b]

Ok Balakirev, you got my interest piqued. What exactly did Rubinstein say about Scriabin? [/b]
I'd like to know this also!

As for the topic, I don't think my answer will have much significance. Take the works of Mozart and Boulez, and for me there are few from each composer that I would actively seek to listen to. That's not because of tonality, or a lack of it, it's purely because I listen to music before I judge it. (I will admit that I may be missing out on some of Mozart's works that I haven't yet listened to - but I also believe that you can't miss something you don't have)

(also maybe it's worth mentioning that atonality isn't confined to classical music either...maybe not)

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#431501 - 11/28/07 07:14 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Nikolas Offline
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Oh,

Just want to say.

That the more I grow older (I'm not THAT old yet, just 30 years old, with 2 kids) the more I start to miss tonal works, no matter what I study or what I write. My PhD forces me to contemporary ways pretty much, but still apart from that, which I do geniounly enjoy I also like Bach, Mozar, Brahms, etc.

Not like only, love is a better word!

The one does not take away the other. They are not opposites.

and luckily the contemporary world (in London and as I see it) is starting to get away from any kind of rules and write anything. The time where you HAD to be a serialist to be anything are long over, luckily. Music is to be heard, for most, and performed by few, and analysed by very few. \:\)
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#431502 - 11/28/07 08:32 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Anonymous
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 Quote:
Ok Balakirev, you got my interest piqued. What exactly did Rubinstein say about Scriabin?
This link is the first article I ever read on Scriabin, and this is supposedly what Rubinstein said: "Artur Rubinstein explains Scriabin's decline because of this very romance. "People," he said to me several years ago, "didn't want Scriabin because they didn't want romance or melody in music... they hadn't it in their lives."

It seems like an accurate source, but I have not really checked. It's a very persuasive article. Please let me know if you find out that it's bogus.

 Quote:
Reminds me of people saying that I don't like rap music only because I "haven't lived it". Or disliking heavy metal because I "just don't understand".
I don't know. The quality of rap music seems to be so much lower than classical. Previously I did admit that I cannot support this position, but the reason I like this music seems to be a combination of continual listening to atonal/non-tonal music and certain emotions in my life.

And I completely agree with those who mentioned that atonal music cannot all fit into one category. I dislike much of Schoenberg's work, while later Scriabin and Messiaen appeal to me. Music should be music first.

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#431503 - 11/28/07 09:53 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Morodiene Offline
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Let's not forget we're talking about something subjective here. Some people will like it, and some won't. And some will like some of it, and some won't like some of it. There's no right or wrong in this particular case, because it's all opinions.
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#431504 - 11/28/07 12:01 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Horace Offline
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seems to me that atonality or non-tonality just removes one axis along which music can move (consonance/dissonance axis). So the music relies on teh other axes (pitch continuity/rhythm/dynamics) to move in. How this creates more freedom for the composer rather than less is a mystery to me.

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#431505 - 11/28/07 12:06 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
seems to me that atonality or non-tonality just removes one axis along which music can move (consonance/dissonance axis). So the music relies on teh other axes (pitch continuity/rhythm/dynamics) to move in. How this creates more freedom for the composer rather than less is a mystery to me. [/b]
The right answer!
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#431506 - 11/28/07 12:33 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Witold Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
seems to me that atonality or non-tonality just removes one axis along which music can move (consonance/dissonance axis).[/b]

Why would the consonance/dissonance axis have to be removed? I think it's rather extended than removed.

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#431507 - 11/28/07 01:45 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Witold:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
seems to me that atonality or non-tonality just removes one axis along which music can move (consonance/dissonance axis).[/b]

Why would the consonance/dissonance axis have to be removed? I think it's rather extended than removed. [/b]
Ah! The wrong answer. There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal (unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality).
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#431508 - 11/28/07 02:36 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Witold Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Ah! The wrong answer. There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal (unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality). [/b]
I would be very interested to hear who told you something like that. Personally, I'd say that it is impossible to compose music that consists of changing pitches and harmonies that wouldn't in some way relate to the concept of consonance/dissonance. If you know a piece of music where that axis doesn't exist, please tell me about it.

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#431509 - 11/28/07 03:23 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Witold:
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Ah! The wrong answer. There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal (unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality). [/b]
I would be very interested to hear who told you something like that. Personally, I'd say that it is impossible to compose music that consists of changing pitches and harmonies that wouldn't in some way relate to the concept of consonance/dissonance. If you know a piece of music where that axis doesn't exist, please tell me about it. [/b]
Surely that's a matter of listener perception rather than the compositional process?

Besides, dissonance/consonance imply unstability around a tonal centre - which atonal music doesn't have.

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#431510 - 11/28/07 03:45 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Witold:
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Ah! The wrong answer. There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal (unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality). [/b]
I would be very interested to hear who told you something like that. Personally, I'd say that it is impossible to compose music that consists of changing pitches and harmonies that wouldn't in some way relate to the concept of consonance/dissonance. If you know a piece of music where that axis doesn't exist, please tell me about it. [/b]
The whole point of using a 12 tone row is to escape consonance/dissonance. Any Webern will illustrate. I have a degree in music - is that enough 'who told me so'?
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#431511 - 11/28/07 04:44 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
The whole point of using a 12 tone row is to escape consonance/dissonance. Any Webern will illustrate. I have a degree in music - is that enough 'who told me so'? [/b]
It may be the whole point, but it doesn't guarantee it in reality. It is quite likely that in composing a 12-tone piece you will "accidentally" produce a major triad, or some other tonal-sounding progression. The composer who wishes to avoid tonality will not just let this happen. He/she will use the tone-row to produce the sounds he/she wishes to produce, not just let stuff happen. Even an atonalist will not deny that some intervals produce more or less tension than others, and will use this for their purposes. I mean a composer who is actually writing music, not just applying a formula.
Oh, and I have a music degree too. \:\)
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#431512 - 11/28/07 05:05 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
The whole point of using a 12 tone row is to escape consonance/dissonance. Any Webern will illustrate. I have a degree in music - is that enough 'who told me so'? [/b]
It may be the whole point, but it doesn't guarantee it in reality. It is quite likely that in composing a 12-tone piece you will "accidentally" produce a major triad, or some other tonal-sounding progression. The composer who wishes to avoid tonality will not just let this happen. He/she will use the tone-row to produce the sounds he/she wishes to produce, not just let stuff happen. Even an atonalist will not deny that some intervals produce more or less tension than others, and will use this for their purposes. I mean a composer who is actually writing music, not just applying a formula.
Oh, and I have a music degree too. \:\) [/b]
I think that even composers like Boulez and Stockhausen (in their serialist styles...integral serialism) put a lot of effort into composing with their 'formulas' - I seriously doubt they just bung all the notes into the formula without any regard to aesthetics!

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#431513 - 11/28/07 05:08 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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That's all very well Max but, more importantly, have you got a music degree?
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#431514 - 11/28/07 05:18 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
There is no consonance/dissonance in atonal (unless you mean the Alban Berg type of atonality). [/b]
kk, I would be interested to know exactly what you mean by this. Are you just talking about the terms, or about how intervals/chords are perceived in an atonal context, or something else?
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#431515 - 11/28/07 05:23 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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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). Berg was half-and-half.
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#431516 - 11/28/07 05:35 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
currawong Offline
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Ah, I see what you're saying \:\) . However, if consonance/dissonance really had NO meaning in the atonal context (without a tonal centre) then a major triad should not sound odd if it appeared. And it sometimes does, in my opinion (I'm thinking late Stravinsky, and Schoenberg). Whereas Berg can drift in and out of tonality because he perhaps wouldn't have agreed that consonance/dissonance had no meaning...
Time for coffee, I think
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#431517 - 11/28/07 05:37 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
That's all very well Max but, more importantly, have you got a music degree? [/b]
Two thirds of one ;\) currently wrestling with Schenkerian analysis and an essay on the importance of plainchant in medieval music.

So I guess...no...maybe I should shut up :p

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#431518 - 11/28/07 05:42 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
wr Offline
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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, and has some basis in the harmonic series. (But I don't have a music degree, so maybe I heard wrong.)

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#431519 - 11/28/07 05:47 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
Ah, I see what you're saying \:\) . However, if consonance/dissonance really had NO meaning in the atonal context (without a tonal centre) then a major triad should not sound odd if it appeared. And it sometimes does, in my opinion (I'm thinking late Stravinsky, and Schoenberg). Whereas Berg can drift in and out of tonality because he perhaps wouldn't have agreed that consonance/dissonance had no meaning...
Time for coffee, I think [/b]
Sounds good. The problem is the question was poorly articulated. There is a big difference between atonal and serial. Atonal, as in Berg, does at times have some sense of key - serial never.

Good on ya Max. Keep up the hard work!
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#431520 - 11/28/07 05:49 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 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, and has some basis in the harmonic series. (But I don't have a music degree, so maybe I heard wrong.) [/b]
Exactly. You hear what you want to hear. It's all subjective, which makes life easier for a lot of people..heh

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#431521 - 11/28/07 05:50 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 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, and has some basis in the harmonic series. (But I don't have a music degree, so maybe I heard wrong.) [/b]
Not in children. They don't develop it till their teens.
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#431522 - 11/28/07 06:14 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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I'd throw in the "it also depends on their environment" stick but I don't think it's really relavent to this topic!

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#431523 - 11/28/07 06:15 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Reaper978 Offline
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 Quote:
Exactly. You hear what you want to hear. It's all subjective, which makes life easier for a lot of people..heh
I shall state a very relevant quote here:

"Everybody has an answer, but not just any answer, the answer. If you think about it it's truly amazing the sheer number of people that have the officially authorized monopoly on truth." - Nihilism's Homepage

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#431524 - 11/28/07 06:28 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Max W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Reaper978:
 Quote:
Exactly. You hear what you want to hear. It's all subjective, which makes life easier for a lot of people..heh
I shall state a very relevant quote here:

"Everybody has an answer, but not just any answer, the answer. If you think about it it's truly amazing the sheer number of people that have the officially authorized monopoly on truth." - Nihilism's Homepage [/b]
Nice quote - though my knowledge of nihilism is limited to The Big Lebowski...

(this is wildly off topic, but I think that I can relate a lot more to your previous postings regarding the situation of the classical artist in the world. I'm more and more drawn to experimentation and finding new ways to express my musical side, and try and express something modern and relatable, rather than letting myself be drawn into the tried and tested "create a time capsule in a recital and take the audience with you" routine. I played a great gig (on guitar) with some friends which was basically all improvised, jazz fusion. think latin american influences mixed with various jazz influences like modern creative and free jazz. it's probably right up your street)

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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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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
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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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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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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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 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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 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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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?

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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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 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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 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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 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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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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#431537 - 11/29/07 04:26 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
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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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 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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 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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 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.
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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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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.
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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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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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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.
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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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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.
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#431546 - 12/01/07 01:16 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Horace Offline
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 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
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 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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premature post :p
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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
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 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.
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#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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#431551 - 12/01/07 01:51 PM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Not by me. [/b]
No, and I'm truthfully very grateful for this. \:\)
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#431552 - 12/02/07 03:15 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
Ted2 Offline
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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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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
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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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#431555 - 12/08/07 10:06 AM Re: How many people genuinely like atonality\no sense of key?
kcoul058 Offline
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In reply to some suggestions earlier in the thread, there is no way Rautavaara's 7th Symphony, 3rd Movement, is atonal. Neither is most of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. It's harmony that's free of the grip of tonality, and when combined with texturalism (made possible by modern technology), I believe these will be the two main elements when the real 21st century movement starts to define itself.

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#431556 - 12/08/07 12:29 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 kcoul058:
In reply to some suggestions earlier in the thread, there is no way Rautavaara's 7th Symphony, 3rd Movement, is atonal. Neither is most of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. It's harmony that's free of the grip of tonality, and when combined with texturalism (made possible by modern technology), I believe these will be the two main elements when the real 21st century movement starts to define itself. [/b]
I put the Rautavaara on the list to counter the myth that 12-tone music has to be dissonant and cerebral -- any average art music listener can at least appreciate this movement (it's quite seductive if I do say so). The symphony as a whole is a lot like Berg's Violin Concerto in that the row is constructed specifically to create tonal sonorities, and that it moves into and out of 12-tone organization seamlessly. The sonorities formed by the Rautavaara row are traditional, but their motion/direction is determined by the row and row succession rather than functional harmony. Get a score and do a 12-tone analysis -- it's quite fascinating!
Messiaen uses a variety of pitch organization methods in the Quartet, including lots of modes of his own creation and combinations of these modes (multi-modal I assume one can call this), as described in his "Technique of my Musical Language." Some of the sappier movements (the violin/piano and cello/piano movements, for example) again can resemble traditional tonality in a purely vertical manner, but again chord succession is on the whole not that of functional tonality.
As for what you call "texturalism", I would say I have encountered far too many fellow composers who favor this dimension because they have such a poor understanding of the more traditional "structural" aspects of music (i.e. pitch, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, etc.). On the other hand there are also composers who are so focused on structural aspects that their textures and orchestration become so bland. Time will tell where the 21st century is going (I neither agree nor disagree with your statement), but one cannot doubt that what were once considered secondary elements (texture and orchestration for example) have risen to a level as great as traditionally structural elements.
_________________________
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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