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Thread: Late 20th Century Art

  1. #1
    Recruit, Pianissimo
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Late 20th Century Art

    It's in four parts here for ease of upload on my part.

    The exposition of Spider Eyes has a theme which is not in a particular scale diatonic or chromatic. It doesn’t try to use all 12 notes but it’s transposed to play in the bass part in parallel minor thirds so maybe it’s catching some of the other chromatic pitches that were left out. It also sounded good in major thirds.

    Only one chord plays in the first bit and then two chords in the second and three in the third. The chords bear no relation to the theme or the bass so its at least tritonal at all times. In the second bit, it plays the bass in exact inversion, in the third in retrograde, in the fourth retrograde inversion. In the fifth cyclic permutation. In the sixth in interversion. In the seventh augmented. These simple techniques are so powerful. They work just extremely, extremely well.

    Each bit gets faster and faster at 58bpm, 68bpm, 78bpm, 88, 98, 108, 118.

    The next movement was created using the 12 tone com positional technique of creating a row of all 12 pitches which must all be played before it can repeat. It has three themes played allegro/fast. The row was carefully crafted so that when building four note chords from adjacent notes in the row there wouldn’t be any recognizable triads or seventh chords: C E F Ab Bb Db Eb G Ab B D Gb.

    The transition before the second theme plays what some consider to be the 12 tone I-V progression which is the I and the chromatic median below built on the bVI. The notes of the chords are taken from the row in the order given, starting on the note in the row which is the root of the chord. The second theme plays over a cycle of chromatic median chords I bIII bV bbVII I. If I remember correctly, I put the third theme in the key a half step below the tonic.

    While the three themes are playing, the ratios of the 12 tone row are presented in the drum kit between the high hat and the bass drum. First 1:1, then 5:4, 4:3, 27/105, 5:9, 9:8, 6:5, 3:2, 5:8, 243/128, 8:7, and 5:7 something which no human percussionist would be happy to have assigned or even be able to play even with a lot of practice. They correspond to the intervals implied by the pitches in the row. For example, pitch E implies a major third above C, the interval of which beats at the ratio of 5:4.

    The result is bland and I wish I had composed it for two drummers letting adjacent ratios overlap into simultaneous polyrhythms. A better way to compose something like this that a real drummer would be able to play is using nested triplets But of course then it wouldn’t be following the row.
    The brushes on snare signal the beginning of the development played largo/slow. There are three sections with the development; the theme inverted played on Ab, staccato on Db, then a 12 tone fugue on E/III which is considered to be the 12 tone subdominant.

    There’s a transition repeating the tonic and 12 tone dominant chords C and Ab before the recap which finds the first theme missing, the second and third themes in the tonic played solo/tutti with a cadenza of increasingly rapid melodic line, only one of two in the entire work.
    I really like how well the tune works without all the pyrotechnics because I won’t be able to play my stick like Holdsworth in the beginning and I’ll need something else in the style that will be possible for me to play until I get up to speed, if ever.

    So after having visited the atonality of the late romantic/early 20th century somewhat and the 12 tone serialists, John Cage steps in with some music decided entirely randomly from the number and lengths of sections, to textures and accompaniment procedures.

    The first moments get a cannon in micropolyphony but it’s not long enough for the second voice to really go out of phase. The second technique utilized is polyphony, and the third uses micropolyphony again but same story even though the second voice has a greater discrepancy in tempo it’s also not very noticeable. The fourth section is homophonic and the fifth gets an electric guitar with a third bridge which is somewhat similar to a prepared piano. The seventh technique is a registral progression where one instrument comes in, then two, then three etc… I really like it.

    After Cage we move to Minimalism ala Terry Riley. First the basic melody, then pieces of the melody used as building blocks for the accompaniment, then heterophony, then the technique of a flase second voice, then special heterophony ala gamelan, afterwards we get 8 measures of four simultaneous ostinatos, which start to repeat again for another 32 measures but gradually change in each part for a slowly changing groove featuring areas of esoteric modes.

    Lastly, we leave behind early and mid 20th century to take up late 20th century practice with some post-minimalist techniques for the finale. After a short intro there's a secondary intro which uses extractive variation where all the instruments are filling up the empty space around the melody and all the extraneous elements are slowly peeled away until the theme is finally revealed. A technique taken from painting is employed where two paints are placed on the same brush; one color on the body and another color on the tip. In the finale the electric guitar plays the melody for the duration and the synth led just colors the end of longer pitches.

  2. #2
    Recruit, Pianissimo
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Late 20th Century Art

    I've been reading up on the philosophical orientation of artists in the contemporary era and I came across some interesting things. One was in a book about ancient philosophy and feminism. They tell the story about how Diotima teaches Aristotle and Plato-that it's natural for people to be attracted to beauty but she would like them to see the beauty of philosophy, mathematics and science which all represent the pursuit of truth which some have represented with the symbol for Saturn because it's a difficult path.

    The appreciation of sensual beauty is easy. The appreciation of theory and analysis is harder. But truth without beauty is too austere and beauty without truth is hedonistic. A hero must have both a sword and a harp. The compass must point between the heart and the intellect.

    Plato also teaches we don't want to merely copy nature but guide it's forces. Pigs and monkeys will make themselves falling down drunk from engorging themselves on fallen fruit that has fermented on the ground. This allows lions to more easily catch them so they won't eat any more of the tree's fruit which the seeds need to fertilize the ground around the seeds. Do you want to copy pigs and monkeys? They're a part of nature but we shouldn't want to copy them. Perhaps they're also being used by the tree to help spread it's seeds. Do you want to be a tool of lower life-forms?

    Also, for Plato, musicians and artists, as well as scientists and mathematicians remember the music of the spheres, the colors and forms in heaven along with the perfection of numbers so they are attracted to singing praise to the gods, painting their beauty, and discovering the secrets hidden within the universe.

    The artists job is to share the wisdom of the difficult truth that we must appreciate each other in the short time we're given and make death beautiful as well as life. To express the true nature and beauty of the universe through art, music, science, mathematics, literature or whatever you must apply yourself diligently to the mastery of the tools for doing that. In the end you will not only perfect your expression of the divine, you will perfect yourself. So, if people want you to make music to sell soap, throw the money changers out of the temple.

    William Russo says he would like music that has more heart than the avant-garde and more wit and wisdom than popular music. he calls it populist. Sounds good to me.

    When the libraries at Alexandria were burned, plunging the Western world into one of several dark ages, it was run by a temple priestess, a sacred prostitute. The ancients used people's natural interest in sensuous beauty to guide people to greater knowledge and wisdom: to spiritual beauty.

    A piece of art, photography, dance, architecture, literature, mathematics, philosophy, science, or music is a space through which light can enter. Hopefully the light of wisdom.

    Imagination is reproductive, productive and anticipatory. It enables us to shape future expectations which may or may not be confirmed by events but which may sometimes influence them nonetheless. Imagination allows us to create philosophical utopias (like the democratic relationship of pitches in 12 tone music) Imagination allows us to operate from the conceptual world of human beings and not from the stimulus/response of beasts.

    People have been trying to break out of painting traditional subject matter, with traditional materials, with traditional techniques. When Marcel painted “Nude Descending a Staircase” was a turning point. He was representing a single subject at various points in time.

    Later, people represented the same subject from different viewpoints using various techniques such as collage. And we already talked about putting opposite ends of a street on the same canvas.

    Abstraction has also been important for giving artists something to paint which is not the traditional subject. In fact, it’s said that all practical theory is based on metaphor which is all abstraction is. That's what Total Serialism is. It's an abstraction of the order of pitches to creating rhythms, articulations, expression markings etc...

    The other thing is that artists have been trying to remove the distance between the observer and the artwork. There are several modern techniques for doing that. One is to paint the atmosphere between the viewer and the object, bringing the very air to the surface of the canvas, only as far away as the viewer is standing from it. Another method is to put something translucent or netting on the canvas, or take a photo through a somewhat translucent object or through rain.

    For music one of the ways of breaking out of traditional subject matter is not to make the music thematic and to only present chords, arpeggiations and textures. Music also has been eliminating the separation between high and low art and even bringing in objects which had only been considered mere handicrafts and found objects like discarded soup cans etc… 12 Tone was a new technique that eliminated use of the old techniques simultaneously.

    In gamelan, the musicians are all playing variations of a theme which never actually is played. This is similar to presenting a subject from different viewpoints simultaneously or of painting an object blurry as is done in certain kinds of abstraction.

    One way to remove the distance of the music from the audience is to place the orchestra around the audience. This was a natural development of Serialism since composers naturally tried to extend the serialization process to where musicians playing certain instruments are supposed to sit for a performance.
    The traditional score has also been thrown out and graphic scores have been created.

    The trend in art, literature and architecture to break free of traditional limitations has had a force on the changes which have happened in music. It's the reason for John Coltrane exploring all of the inherent possibilities within jazz for example the height of which was his tune Giant Steps. And for Chick Corea blending the most advanced developments of late Romanticism with jazz and rock instrumentation.

    Recently, I’ve made what I call a “Grimoire Ars”, a Grimoire of the Arts, based on all the ideas that I’ve found such as the stuff about Plato and modern techniques in music composition. If anyone is interested I can share what was just sitting there on the internet waiting to be discovered. Some of the information is so important I’ll post it up regardless and some of it is just interesting. The table of contents looks like this;

    Philosopher’s Compass
    Correspondence Codex
    Multiplication in Music
    Nature and Math
    Growth of Algae and the Fibonacci
    Koch Curve
    Cantor Dust
    Sierpenski Triangle
    Additive Processes
    Structural Pitches and Texturre
    Quadrite Symmetry in 12 Tone Music
    Frequency of Pitch Motion in Tonal Western Music
    Most Common Diatonic Solutions
    Phrase Development for Bass Drum
    Bass Motion/Grounds for Preludes
    Relative Weight of Pitches
    Well Formed Rhythms
    Diffraction and Pixelation/Phased-Detuned and Pointillism
    Abstraction in Music
    Random Numbers
    Gene Music
    Jazz Chord Progressions
    Common Solutions for Melodic Rhythm
    Digital Patterns from Math
    Phrase Lengths
    Return To Forever’s Performance Practice
    Techniques of Late 20th Century Composition
    Chord Clusters
    General Techniques of Composition
    How to Compose Jazz Chord Progressions

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    I think my brain froze between Diffraction and Pixelation/Phased-Detuned and Pointillism.
    Not even Jazz Chord Progression or Articulation can loosen this up.
    Darn this global warming weather. Now I can't use my failsafe backup,
    going outside and looking at snowflakes to make sure they're all different.

  4. #4
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    This is very interesting, to read and listen to.
    You mention John Cage, but it reminded me right away of Miles Davis "Bitches Brew",
    one of the first major jazz artists to experiment with polyrhythms carrying the instruments.
    Overnight, having that swing didn't mean a thing.
    "Two drummers letting adjacent ratios overlap into simultaneous polyrhythms",
    yes, but this function isn't in my little Boss drummer in a box.
    I need to listen again.
    Last edited by John Watt; Mar-06-2013 at 20:37.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I agree with john here

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