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Thread: feeling about contemporary classical music?

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    feeling about contemporary classical music?

    Hi,

    I'm new here and this is my second post. I did read a little about on the forums, but I thought it best to make a new thread about my main question, rather than browsing the forums for hours and hours, lurking...

    My question is quite simple: what are you feelings towards contemporary classical music? Music written today, or the last 10 years lets say.

    I'm a composer and I publish my works, so I'm more than biased to reply to that question, but my take is that the contemporary concert hall scene has some worthy members, a lot of members who are indifferent to me, but mainly it's suffering from autism (for the lack of a better word). You see when I hear professors in universities claiming that 'We are specialists creating for other specialists' I understand his point, but I'd like to disagree. I do not want to start off with that sentiment and believe from the very beginning that someone needs a PhD in order to understand my music, or the music of people like me.

    So... Any discussion on that matter? Or perhaps ideas on what we (the composers, the publishers, the active people of the community) should do on that?

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    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    If I may be so bold........A Ph.D does not necessarily equate to excellent music composition or creation. There are excellently accomplished composers and artists who have no degree at all. And then there are those of us like (me) who have studied lots of music theory and composition but can't write a memorable melody enough to save my neck from the guillotine

    As organist I have played the works of JSBach and Charles Tournemire almost exclusively with som Dupre, Franck, Vierne, and Widor thrown in for good measure. I have sampled(played) the music of Sorabji(organ symphonies), all three of them and am satisfied that I have been there and done that........Time to move on........Now I am head over heels in LOVE with the Choral Instrument.......And doing musicological research in the different (phases) of the development of the "Russian Style" of choral singing.

    If I hear something that piques my interest it won't matter if it was composed yesterday or in 1313 A.D. So, bring it dude............
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    For me, the most telling statement from nikolas was "people like me". He's right. Everyone has their own musical upbringing and media influences, and their own mentality, to bring to the listening of music. But this "people like me" statement shows musical insecurity more than musical ability. Seeing symphonic and orchestral compositions as the realm of the most intelligent musicians is an ordinary observation. I have another ordinary observation for nikolas, if he cares to look around. How many times is compositional music a part of your listening experience? When you hear an on the charts pop tune blasting out at you during a movie, are you accepting it as part of the artistic landscape? When compositional music is being used to backdrop other scenes, isn't the intelligent and global appeal obvious to all? Even auld classical composers used real cannons and guns onstage to recreate sonics unavailable with musical instruments. And to be open and honest with you, nikolas, and Corno Dolce, I'd sooner be left with the thoughts of my own intelligence,
    if I'm left all alone as a musical failure, than be left picking up after others who faded away.
    That's always a nice time to start building a new guitar.

  4. #4
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corno Dolce View Post
    If I may be so bold........A Ph.D does not necessarily equate to excellent music composition or creation. There are excellently accomplished composers and artists who have no degree at all. And then there are those of us like (me) who have studied lots of music theory and composition but can't write a memorable melody enough to save my neck from the guillotine
    Well... music is not only melody! and I do agree that when it comes to creativity and artistic license I don't think a PhD matters at all...

    As organist I have played the works of JSBach and Charles Tournemire almost exclusively with som Dupre, Franck, Vierne, and Widor thrown in for good measure. I have sampled(played) the music of Sorabji(organ symphonies), all three of them and am satisfied that I have been there and done that........Time to move on........Now I am head over heels in LOVE with the Choral Instrument.......And doing musicological research in the different (phases) of the development of the "Russian Style" of choral singing.

    If I hear something that piques my interest it won't matter if it was composed yesterday or in 1313 A.D. So, bring it dude............
    That's lovely to hear and quite interesting! I would be most interested to hear you play, so I will be searching further into the forum (for the time being at least)...


    Quote Originally Posted by John Watt View Post
    For me, the most telling statement from nikolas was "people like me". He's right. Everyone has their own musical upbringing and media influences, and their own mentality, to bring to the listening of music. But this "people like me" statement shows musical insecurity more than musical ability.
    Wait... wait... you know about my musical ability now? Or is this something I'm not reading right? My post was quite clear, I believe, showing exactly that everyone comes with their own prejudice.

    Seeing symphonic and orchestral compositions as the realm of the most intelligent musicians is an ordinary observation. I have another ordinary observation for nikolas, if he cares to look around. How many times is compositional music a part of your listening experience? When you hear an on the charts pop tune blasting out at you during a movie, are you accepting it as part of the artistic landscape?
    Now I think I'm forced to offer a link here, but I hope you people won't mind: www.northbysound.com! I'm the 1/2 of this team working on the computer games industry. I know perfectly well how to work on media music, so... When I hear something I judge it not from an academic point of view, but from a personal liking it or not, like every human being I assume.

    But I'll let you carry on...

    When compositional music is being used to backdrop other scenes, isn't the intelligent and global appeal obvious to all? Even auld classical composers used real cannons and guns onstage to recreate sonics unavailable with musical instruments. And to be open and honest with you, nikolas, and Corno Dolce, I'd sooner be left with the thoughts of my own intelligence,
    if I'm left all alone as a musical failure, than be left picking up after others who faded away.
    That's always a nice time to start building a new guitar.
    Here I totally lost you. 'compositional music'? The intelligent and global appeal is not obvious, because music is part of the medium and immersion is really important. Really when you watch a movie do you notice the 100+ minutes of music going on, or only the main theme and a couple of variations?

    Other than that I'm feeling envious that you guitarists care so much about your instruments and making them and tuned wood and all that stuff, while we composers and pianists do nothing with our instruments... We don't even take it with us when we leave home/studio... Oh well...

  5. #5
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Thank you for getting into my reply, and sharing more of your musical perspective.
    Typing that "now I think I'm forced to offer a link here" is rocking this forum,
    and is the best reply to me. Right on! As soon as I click here I'll take a look.

    And if my musical dialogue does fade into the environment, for you, like a long echo delay,
    with a little phasing and flanging to widen the note movements and extend the sound envelope,
    that's because I'm still a Jimi Hendrix fan, even if I have pretentions about being symphonic-electric.

    To speak proper English, and possibly goad you into more of a response,
    how can you call yourself a classical composer?
    That's like advertising that describes a new product as a classic or historic.
    You're beating around that bush when you wonder if you're avant garde, but saying you're too timid for that.
    I'm guessing that your timidity is based on using historic symphonic instruments,
    and not the bangings and beatings on of everyday objects that define avant garde for so many.

    In the pop and rock world, if you were trying to recreate the style and sounds of first use musicians,
    and that first use is mainly based on the electronic technology as it evolves and propogates,
    you'd be called retro something. Maybe you're retro-classical or neo-classical.
    Yeah, language. Thanks for learning English as defined by James of Scotland, the emerging global language.

    Unless my font isn't fun for you.

    Uh-oh! I'm sorry if my glib fingerwork takes you away from your very impressive works.
    Your domain, from graphics to production accolades, is more than just impressive.
    I have to ask. Is that one graphic a computer assisted close-up of Frederik Magle's hair,
    when he's in mid-movements above the keyboard? Jus'askin'.
    I'm sensing and seeing some of the same into the flames that he's been burning.
    Last edited by John Watt; Mar-28-2012 at 23:58.

  6. #6
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    John,

    My dear John... This thread is not about myself... How could it be when there's another thread exactly about myself, and named after me! Do click and take a look, by all means...

    Now... "classical composer" and "avant garde" composer? Did I mention any of that in this forum? I seriously doubt that... nor in the link I provided. Plus the link leads to a company that does computer games music, which is as further away from classical music as it can!

    Other than that I'm still having trouble following your posts, but I'm starting to get an idea little by little!

  7. #7
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    nikolas! Yes, I'm founting the font and letting it spray where it may,
    but right now I'm paying strict attention to just what you say.
    Another thread is discussing the pipe organ sounds used by computer games,
    which can never be heard as classical, thinking of symphony halls versus tiny digital speakers.

    I can see my use of proper English can be misunderstood coming from a North American perspective,
    if you're coming from anywhere else. That occurs to me during my ordinary reality too.
    I can pass for American or English, but I'm not, being of Scottish descent without a layered accent.

    Thanks for getting into it.

  8. #8
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    I haven't paid much attention to the last ten years of classical music's history, but that's naturally not what this thread is really about, given that Rautavaara has a wider audience than Webern (for instance).

    Honestly I'm not sure if we should be making noise about the overall rejection of 20th-century classical music, since the world at large does not care about classical music. If today's composers want money, the best they can do is write music in the "style" of John Williams.

    On the whole, I've given up caring about what the public thinks of classical music. It is still alive, so I fail to see why it shouldn't survive for centuries to come.

  9. #9
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    On further reflection, my disinterest may be financial in nature. Composers and performers would surely benefit from greater interest in their work. I remember having read that a CD by Perahia once became one of the 10 most sold classical music CDs in the US, in spite of having sold only 187 copies. It's really disgusting when you realise the fact that these days a talentless hack emerges, quickly gets a "VEVO" channel, and is selling thousands of CDs within weeks, if not days.

    Rant, rant, rant.

  10. #10
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    It's a valid question, to ask about what people think of Contemporary Art music (I prefer to use that term rather than 'classical' music). People are leaving the concert hall in droves because of the avant garde, which is a more esoteric area of the contemporary scene. I don't blame them because, for me, music must have some kind of melody - even 'implied' melody. Without this ingredient music has all the emotional appeal of a dictionary and I can do better by reading a dictionary!! The remoteness of composition to audience expectation was alluded to recently by Roger Norrington in the film 'In Search of Haydn'. Norrington observed, "Haydn was always wanting to please his audiences. Wouldn't that be something novel today; composers actually wanting to please audiences". I think Norrington has summed the issues up with that single sentence.

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    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    What Norrington (and, by association, Dirigent) have left out of this scenario is how much the audience has changed since Haydn's time. Then, people went to concerts expecting to hear new music. The ratio of new to old (living composers to dead) was 9 to 1 then. 9 to 1! Much more than Virgil Thompson's very timid request of 1 to 3. (And it's no good arguing that "but back then, music was beautiful and intelligible," because that's only how it seems to us, now, after 200 years of conditioning or so. Besides, the people who listen to current art music find it to be both beautiful and intelligible, though its beauty is not the beauty of Haydn.)

    In Haydn's time, music from 50 years ago or more would have been called ancient music. Nowadays, people still struggle with music from a hundred years ago. That would be something like struggling with Vivaldi in 1812. No, audiences have changed too, not just music, and they started changing in the early 19th century, NOT the early 20th. That is, the trend away from living composers pre-dates even the earliest of 20th century "avant garde" by a hundred years, at least. It was so bad by 1843, that a Viennese critic would write that "the public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best," and by 1864, people putting on a music series in Paris noted that their subscribers got upset if "they see the name of a single contemporary composer on the programs." Eighteen forty-three, not nineteen. Eighteen sixty-four, not nineteen.

    If Norrington does not consider how audiences have changed since Haydn's time, then his book is of questionable value. And if he thinks that composers today do not want to please their audiences, then his book is worthless. Composers want to please audiences, just as they always have, just as they always will. Only by ignoring the audiences FOR contemporary music, can people like Norrington (and Dirigent) claim that composers aren't pleasing their audiences. What Norrington has (inadvertantly) summed up is how out of touch 2012 classical audiences as a whole are with art music in 2012. 2012, where music written in the 1940s can still be referred to as "modern." Imagine in 1812 Handel or Arne or Bach being called "modern."

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirigent View Post
    It's a valid question, to ask about what people think of Contemporary Art music (I prefer to use that term rather than 'classical' music). People are leaving the concert hall in droves because of the avant garde, which is a more esoteric area of the contemporary scene. I don't blame them because, for me, music must have some kind of melody - even 'implied' melody. Without this ingredient music has all the emotional appeal of a dictionary and I can do better by reading a dictionary!! The remoteness of composition to audience expectation was alluded to recently by Roger Norrington in the film 'In Search of Haydn'. Norrington observed, "Haydn was always wanting to please his audiences. Wouldn't that be something novel today; composers actually wanting to please audiences". I think Norrington has summed the issues up with that single sentence.
    The only word I would challenge in that reply is the use of the word music in conjunction with contemporary; for me there has been little if any contemporary output that would fit my definition of music over the last 30 or so years in any genre, classical, jazz or pop. As for film scores, without the visual content of the film they are for the most part meaningless.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    I have to laugh at Someguy suggesting that it's the audiences which are out of touch. As if grinding on a violin and making it sound like a helicopter or other industrial noise isn't "out of touch". You can cry about it all you want - audiences still want melody and they got that, "ancient" and "modern" in Haydn's time. I have a real problem with avant-gardism and NOT contemporary art music. There's a significant difference between the two and I do not want to listen to 'Elegie for a circular saw' or any other such 'sound design' in place of music - or I'll go to a Steven King film! It's a good discussion to have, though.

  14. #14
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    I had the misfortune to turn the radio on last night only to hear one of Einnaudi's tinkling repetitive non music works; luckily it was almost at the end so I did not suffer much.

    I've so far never heard of anybody other than this person playing/recording his own works, I'm not surprised though.

    It's almost too awful to be used in an elevator even
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    I have to weep at Dirigent's hideous distortion of my response and even more grotesque distortion of the situation, including the jejune privileging of one audience (among many) and calling it "the" audience. I don't doubt that Dirigent has some real problems, though. That much I would certainly agree with.

    To have a good discussion, you must have participants who don't distort, who have knowledge and experience and understanding.

    As if that's ever gonna happen!

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