Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"?

Posted by: BWV 846

Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 08:20 AM

In your opinion, which composers try to, or in fact do, appeal most to your head/rational side, and which ones appeal most to your heart/emotions/emotional side? Of course, most will be some combination, but many will probably be more along one continuum than others (say, Chopin vs. Bach).

Why do I ask? I am trying to broaden my musical horizons by listening to more "emotional" music, which I often have a difficult time appreciating.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 08:46 AM

Music doesn't really ever change how I feel on the spot, i.e. from happy to sad. The neutral emotion I get from most music is joy. If I really like something, I may laugh or even tear up with joy if it's good enough. But when I'm already feeling a different emotion (anger, sadness, etc) I am able to 'enhance' those emotions with music that fits the mood. I don't think I could ever 'enhance' anger or sadness with any of Bach's WTC. I always find joy in the WTC. As for Chopin, let's say.. the 4th ballade. If I am feeling neutral, it will likely just give me joy because of how amazing it is. If I feel anger or sorrow, it would most likely enhance those emotions. Wow, this post did not answer your question at all, lol. Oh well.
Posted by: Scout

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 08:58 AM

Recently I've been enjoying the emotion I find in late romantics such as Scriabin and Kabalevsky. And more surprising (to me) has been the discovery of some of Scarlatti's more lyrical sonatas, which move me these days more than most "obvious" appealing-to-emotion composers (not to slight any of them, I'm a fan of many). The Scarlatti sonatas that I really love and have been working on are K 69, 197, 208, 296, 466. So rich!
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 09:14 AM

There's music that engages me on a more intellectual level, like Bach's WTC. But then his St Matthew Passion is as emotionally profound as anything else I've ever heard....

Mozart for me strikes the ideal combination, in almost anything I hear from his mature music, from Die Zauberflöte to the Clarinet Concerto to his K414 Concerto and K310 Sonata.

But for sheer emotionalism, I'd listen to Rachmaninoff.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 12:54 PM

EASY ONE. grin

Most rational: Bach

Most emotional: Bach
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
EASY ONE. grin

Most rational: Bach

Most emotional: Bach


thumb thumb thumb
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 01:35 PM

Yeah. smile

I never thought of it this way before, but this is probably why I so easily consider him clearly the greatest ever.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 02:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
EASY ONE. grin

Most rational: Bach

Most emotional: Bach


This is the best answer. Great!

I've been working on a prelude and fugue from WTC, and every measure is devastating.

-J
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 02:33 PM

Most rational? Easy: Tom Johnson. He even has a work called "Rational Melodies." Much of his music is composed according to strict rational or mathematical principles.
Posted by: Tim Adrianson

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 02:41 PM

In one of his essays on his compositional approach, George Gershwin opined that Bach is generally regarded as the greatest ever because of his unmatched ability to satisfy, simultaneously, the needs of the mind with the needs of the heart. He, incidentally, defined himself as a conservative Romantic, which IMO is an accurate assessment.
Posted by: Cinnamonbear

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 04:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
[...] He, incidentally, defined himself as a conservative Romantic, which IMO is an accurate assessment.



Bach, or Gershwin? (I'm guessing Gershwin.)

BTW, +1 to Bach and Bach. Good one, Mark.
Posted by: Frito

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 04:41 PM

Emotions, like music, are not irrational. A different system of logic is involved. One that is not always consciously apparent.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 05:00 PM

Vitually all the great composers appeal greatly to the emotions. The only two exceptions(for me) would be Debussy and Ravel. I think emotional appeal is the most important aspect for most listeners.
Posted by: btb

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 06:43 PM

So you chaps (including Gershwin)
want to crown Bach ... top dog ... what a bore!

For medication I use a dose of the WTC ... but am much happier under the banner of Count Basie, Artie Shaw and Bennie Goodman.

What a bunch of losers ... championing the Baroque chappie whose ditties might well have got lost in some dusty basement, but for his re-invention by mould-prizing Mendelssohn.

Thus spake a blubbing emotional Zoroaster (getting out his damp handkerchief).
Posted by: MarkH

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
EASY ONE. grin

Most rational: Bach

Most emotional: Bach


Well done Mark! I was going to say the same.
Posted by: Cinnamonbear

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/11/13 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: btb
So you chaps (including Gershwin)
want to crown Bach ... top dog ... what a bore!


Bach a bore? You cut me to the quick!

In any case, if you're looking for a two-fer in answer to the OP, Bach fits the bill.
Posted by: AldenH

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 12:46 AM

Hey guys, what about Messiaen? I think he encompasses the spectrum as well as Bach. From the second ever work of integral serialism (modes of values and intensities) to the intense passion of L'ascension and many other works.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 04:49 AM

double post
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 04:57 AM

If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?

I think the rational part is simply due to the fact that highly contrapuntal music, by its nature, may sound more "rational", i.e. organized, to some listeners. IMO one could just as easily use Beethoven Sonatas or Beethoven Variations as examples of highly organized musical expression.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 08:57 AM

Bach? Really? He's so old and boring. You guys need to get with the times.
Posted by: Tim Adrianson

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 10:22 AM

BWV846 -- I guess that, as a general response, I would say listen to more music written in the Romantic era, whether for the modern piano (which was developed in that time) or otherwise. Personally, the composers that I consider especially attuned to the "emotional" component are Liszt, Chopin, Tschaikowsky, Schumann, and Scriabin.

The other general area that comes to mind is modern Opera, which also came to fruition in he Romantic era. I'm not much of an Opera buff, but certainly Puccini comes to mind as a composer heavily weighted to the "emotional" side of the spectrum.
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 10:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Bach? Really? He's so old and boring. You guys need to get with the times.


Actually, Joel, Bach's music is "timeless."

As for the "old and boring" part, read this (from Wikipedia)

"After his death, Bach's reputation as a composer at first declined; his work was regarded as old-fashioned compared to the emerging classical style.[59] Initially he was remembered more as a player and teacher.

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Bach was widely recognised for his keyboard work. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Felix Mendelssohn were among his most prominent admirers; they began writing in a more contrapuntal style after being exposed to Bach's music.[60] Beethoven described him as the "Urvater der Harmonie", "original father of harmony".[61]

Bach's reputation among the wider public was enhanced in part by Johann Nikolaus Forkel's 1802 biography of Bach.[62] Felix Mendelssohn significantly contributed to the revival of Bach's reputation with his 1829 Berlin performance of the St Matthew Passion.[63] In 1850, the Bach Gesellschaft (Bach Society) was founded to promote the works; in 1899 the Society published a comprehensive edition of the composer's works with little editorial intervention.

During the 20th century, the process of recognising the musical as well as the pedagogic value of some of the works continued, perhaps most notably in the promotion of the Cello Suites by Pablo Casals, the first major performer to record these suites.[64] Another development has been the growth of the "authentic" or "period performance" movement, which attempts to present music as the composer intended it. Examples include the playing of keyboard works on harpsichord rather than modern grand piano and the use of small choirs or single voices instead of the larger forces favoured by 19th- and early 20th-century performers.[65]

Bach's music is frequently bracketed with the literature of William Shakespeare and the teachings of Isaac Newton.[66] In Germany, during the twentieth century, many streets were named and statues were erected in honour of Bach. His music features three times – more than any other composer – on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.[67]"
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 10:35 AM

'twas but a joke.
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 10:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
'twas but a joke.

And that's why we have happy faces to put in our posts. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 10:58 AM

Haha true.






























smile
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 11:07 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?


Perhaps, in part, because so much of it is difficult to play well - much less memorize.

Quote:
I think the rational part is simply due to the fact that highly contrapuntal music, by its nature, may sound more "rational", i.e. organized, to some listeners. IMO one could just as easily use Beethoven Sonatas or Beethoven Variations as examples of highly organized musical expression.


The music of any of the great composers is highly organized.

But (IMHO) when you analyze Bach's contrapuntal music (particularly his fugues) in depth, it is so "rational" that you wonder how he was able to make it so beautiful and compelling at the same time.

For anyone who might wish to dig a little deeper......

http://www.teoria.com/articles/BWV850/index.html

http://learnbach123.wordpress.com/articles/prelude-and-fugue-in-c-major-bwv-846-from-wtc-i/

http://formandanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/10/bach-fugue-no-9-book-ii-e-major.html
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 11:36 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?


Perhaps, in part, because so much of it is difficult to play well - much less memorize.
Yes, I think until one has played quite a bit the problems of figuring out the fingering and the ornaments, the technical difficulties(especially in the left hand) not found in later music, and memorization all make each Bach piece a task. My guess is that as one plays more and more Bach these difficulties get easier and and easier to overcome.

I've only played some Inventions, one Partita, and maybe 6 Preludes and Fugues. There are many Bach pieces I'd love to learn, but I'm not sure if I have the patience. I have played a lot more Bach transcriptions than real Bach.

I think a fairly large number of even professional pianists have not played that much Bach starting at least from the time they entered a conservatory. Some seem to have a very small number of Bach pieces in their performing repertoire.
Posted by: Batuhan

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 11:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Bach? Really? He's so old and boring. You guys need to get with the times.


O RLY?
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 12:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
EASY ONE. grin

Most rational: Bach

Most emotional: Bach


You stole my answer!

Originally Posted By: bennevis
There's music that engages me on a more intellectual level, like Bach's WTC. But then his St Matthew Passion is as emotionally profound as anything else I've ever heard....


And those were the two works I had in mind! lol
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 01:41 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?


Perhaps, in part, because so much of it is difficult to play well - much less memorize.
Yes, I think until one has played quite a bit the problems of figuring out the fingering and the ornaments, the technical difficulties(especially in the left hand) not found in later music, and memorization all make each Bach piece a task. My guess is that as one plays more and more Bach these difficulties get easier and and easier to overcome.


Agree

Quote:
I've only played some Inventions, one Partita, and maybe 6 Preludes and Fugues. There are many Bach pieces I'd love to learn, but I'm not sure if I have the patience. I have played a lot more Bach transcriptions than real Bach.


Very similar to my own experience. And of the pieces I've learned, I've only performed two P&F's, the B flat Partita and the D major Toccata (BW 912) in recital. Although I do have the patience to learn more and try to keep at least one Bach work in the hopper at all times.

Quote:
I think a fairly large number of even professional pianists have not played that much Bach starting at least from the time they entered a conservatory. Some seem to have a very small number of Bach pieces in their performing repertoire.


My impression as well.

However, my love for Bach extends well beyond the keyboard works. Some of the most meaningful musical experiences I've had were when I was a member of the chorus in performances of the entire B Minor Mass and two motets (Jesu, Meine Freude and Singet dem Heern). Amazing stuff !!!!!!!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?

Why it's true for me:

-- While I do indeed believe what I said in my grinning post, i.e. that Bach really is the "most emotional" composer, some other composers' type of 'emotional' is more my kind. Let's see, what's an analogy: Onion has more taste than vanilla, but vanilla is more my kind of taste. How's that. ha

-- Plus: I don't play Bach that much (and have never played it in public except in arrangement), because I don't feel I can do it well enough. Bach is enough of "my kind of emotional" that I'd play it much more and talk about it much more, if I played it more.

BTW, didn't mean Bach is like onion and the others are like vanilla, just couldn't quickly come up with something better. ha
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
'twas but a joke.

And that's why we have happy faces to put in our posts. grin

I think those stupid faces are silly.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 02:13 PM

Mark_C wouldn't dare use a smiley!
Posted by: rada

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 02:26 PM

I have recently learned Bach's Italian Concerto and I never knew how much I could come to love his music. I can't stop playing it.

rada
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/12/13 02:54 PM

Other than the Goldberg Variations (of which I've learnt the Aria and some 10 variations so far) and his Keyboard Partitas No.1 and 6, I actually prefer Bach's vocal and other instrumental music to his keyboard ones. Among the former I love are his motets (three of which I sang at school), his St Matthew and St John Passions, and his Christmas Oratorio (which I listened complete right through from a BBC broadcast just two days ago, and marvelled anew at the wonderful music, especially in Part 2), and his Partitas No.2 - with the famous Chaconne - and No.3 for solo violin (some of dances in the latter having been transcribed, with added piquant harmonies, by Rachmaninoff), and his solo Cello Suites.

For me, his most memorable music lies in those. What would a violinist do without Bach?
Posted by: FSO

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 08:32 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

For me, his most memorable music lies in those. What would a violinist do without Bach?

Vivaldi?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 08:56 PM

Originally Posted By: FSO
Originally Posted By: bennevis

For me, his most memorable music lies in those. What would a violinist do without Bach?

Vivaldi?


Don't you need at least a harpsichordist to help you get through him? wink
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 09:03 PM

Originally Posted By: FSO
Originally Posted By: bennevis

For me, his most memorable music lies in those. What would a violinist do without Bach?

Vivaldi?

At first I was tempted to laugh at this, but on second thought, Vivaldi's church music is actually magnificent, so heartfelt... and superbly set.

For those who only know Vivaldi as a composer of endless concertos and stuff, listen to his Gloria (RV 588), or even better the Credo (RV 592).

This was a man who knew his craft, loved his Church, and derived so much spiritual inspiration from it.

IMO, don't worry about the secular music. It's all clean fun, but not where it's at.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 09:29 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: FSO
Originally Posted By: bennevis

For me, his most memorable music lies in those. What would a violinist do without Bach?

Vivaldi?

At first I was tempted to laugh at this, but on second thought, Vivaldi's church music is actually magnificent, so heartfelt... and superbly set.

For those who only know Vivaldi as a composer of endless concertos and stuff, listen to his Gloria (RV 588), or even better the Credo (RV 592).

This was a man who knew his craft, loved his Church, and derived so much spiritual inspiration from it.

IMO, don't worry about the secular music. It's all clean fun, but not where it's at.


Vivaldi's Gloria was the first choral work I learnt to sing when I joined my school choir (along with Haydn's Nelson Mass), but though I still love it, the music doesn't seem to me to plumb the depths of Bach's. It's as if Vivaldi's view of God is not as all-encompassing and spiritual as Bach's (perhaps hardly surprising, as he taught for a long time at a girls' school and wrote a lot of his vocal music for them...).

But what do I, an atheist, know about these things? wink
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 10:04 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
It's as if Vivaldi's view of God is not as all-encompassing and spiritual as Bach's (perhaps hardly surprising, as he taught for a long time at a girls' school and wrote a lot of his vocal music for them...).

Well we do know about the 'girl's school' (hehe), but I never meant to imply that Vivaldi was in any sense greater than Bach. I just felt a need to point out an aspect of Vivaldi which might tend to be overlooked, particularly in a piano forum!

As much as I love love piano music, opera, and chamber music, it is church and organ music which I love the most. Briefly -very briefly!- I considered going into the ministry as an Anglican priest, but nah.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 10:31 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If Bach is, at least for some posters, the most rational or most emotional, why is there so little discussion of his music compared to many other composers in PW threads?


Well, I do like Bach's keyboard music, but I like his large choral-orchestral works, cantatas, motets, and solo cello and violin suites even more. Same with Felix Mendelssohn and his output, and even Brahms. I feel their non-piano output is even greater than their pianistic output. Particularly Mendelssohn and his choral works.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 11:13 PM

Mark, you compare Bach (onion) to other composers (vanilla). Why exactly do you think Bach's music is emotionally stronger than others'? You and I both love Chopin so I will use him as an example. (plus he just makes a good example for this case) I don't think anyone can deny Chopin's level of emotion in a lot of his music. I think it's rather silly to just say "Bach is more emotional than everyone else".
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 11:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Mark, you compare Bach (onion) to other composers (vanilla). Why exactly is Bach's music emotionally stronger than others'? You and I both love Chopin so I will use him as an example. (plus he just makes a good example for this case) I don't think anyone can deny Chopin's level of emotion in a lot of his music. I think it's rather silly to just say "Bach is more emotional".

Please pardon my not explaining, among other reasons because it would be hard if not impossible to do it. But let me say, I don't think it was silly to say, although probably 99% of what I say is. ha
Posted by: AldenH

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 11:49 PM

No one is with me on Messiaen?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/13/13 11:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Mark, you compare Bach (onion) to other composers (vanilla). Why exactly is Bach's music emotionally stronger than others'? You and I both love Chopin so I will use him as an example. (plus he just makes a good example for this case) I don't think anyone can deny Chopin's level of emotion in a lot of his music. I think it's rather silly to just say "Bach is more emotional".

Please pardon my not explaining, among other reasons because it would be hard if not impossible to do it. But let me say, I don't think it was silly to say, although probably 99% of what I say is. ha


If you, or someone else, could just provide a little explanation to this fairly common view on this thread that'd be cool. : )
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/14/13 12:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
If you, or someone else, could just provide a little explanation to this fairly common view on this thread that'd be cool. : )

Maybe someone will want to take a swing at it, but I think it would be hard to explain why Bach (or anything) is "emotional."

I mean, could you explain why you find Chopin emotional? And BTW, Chopin is the composer whose 'emotionality' I find the most appealing -- but I'd have a devil of a time explaining why.
Posted by: carey

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/14/13 12:28 AM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
No one is with me on Messiaen?


I appreciate his music - BUT I wouldn't say it was the MOST rationale or emotional. cool
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/14/13 01:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
If you, or someone else, could just provide a little explanation to this fairly common view on this thread that'd be cool. : )

Maybe someone will want to take a swing at it, but I think it would be hard to explain why Bach (or anything) is "emotional."

I mean, could you explain why you find Chopin emotional? And BTW, Chopin is the composer whose 'emotionality' I find the most appealing -- but I'd have a devil of a time explaining why.


But you said Bach was the most emotional composer. smile


Do you mean most emotional for you personally, or objectively the most emotional?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/14/13 03:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
....Do you mean most emotional for you personally, or objectively the most emotional?

I don't think there's any such thing as the latter.

That would be making it rational, wouldn't it? smile

And BTW I don't think there's any such thing as saying objectively what's the most rational either, nor explaining rationally why something is the most rational. Any such explanations would be, well, subjective.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Which composers are most "rational" and most "emotional"? - 01/14/13 11:39 AM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
No one is with me on Messiaen?


I agree that Messiaen is highly rational and emotional. But his emotions, while beautiful, are a little scary to me: a fierce embrace of the universal cosmos, an awesome plunge into joy and ecstasy. He's one of my favorite composers, but his vision doesn't always fit into my day-to-day life.

Bach, on the other hand, writes about *me*, even while, at the same time, his music ticks to a cosmic clock.


-Jason