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Beethoven

Re: Beethoven
March 30, 2008, 03:42:52 PM
thank you for the links, DMBM. i have not heard any works by Brahm, but i will download the 4th symphony and see what i think.

Re: Beethoven
April 01, 2008, 09:38:21 AM
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I think he had an off-day. Or, he believes this, but will soon realize it's a mental trend and should be purged from any thinking realist's mind.

We're metalheads, we're supposed to shock and offend.

No.

You just need to learn how to read what is written instead of what you want to be written.

He meant that European classical music describes the "human spirit" (as through the eyes of a European at the time) not that it could be made or dissected by anyone European or not. Therefore he called it "human."

All great art describes what it means to be human, dress it up with as many cultural traditions as you like, but it still starts from a reflection of what it means to be alive. That is essentially the spirit it is given, the rest is just a personalisation of this.



Re: Beethoven
April 01, 2008, 01:03:13 PM
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No.

You just need to learn how to read what is written instead of what you want to be written.

He meant that European classical music describes the "human spirit" (as through the eyes of a European at the time) not that it could be made or dissected by anyone European or not. Therefore he called it "human."

All great art describes what it means to be human, dress it up with as many cultural traditions as you like, but it still starts from a reflection of what it means to be alive. That is essentially the spirit it is given, the rest is just a personalisation of this.





It's important to distinguish between a non-European playing European music, and a non-European simply listening to European music.

Western art music is a tradition and a language, and like all such languages it carries with it a certain "dialect" that is almost impossible for a non European to become accustomed to. It requires being raised in an environment where these musical manerisms are constantly heard, and then following it up with years of conservatory training to pull it off convincingly. Playing Mozart without studying and knowing these dialectical traditions is like trying to speak english without knowing how to conjugate verbs. Foreigners playing European music are already at a disadvantage de-facto in this regard. It's not the music they were born and raised with.

Aditionally, there is going to be a massive difference in a musician's approach to a piece of music written by a composer of his own nationality. German orchestras undoubtebly feel immense pride when getting handed a Beethoven Symphony to learn. It's their history, and they are naturally more respectful of it and attend more carefully to the details of its execution. This applies to conductors and soloists as well.

However, when discussing the listening of music, of course there is something in every music for everyone. Just how I can derive some rudimentary enjoyment from Indian ragas, I'm sure the Chinese can also appreciate Chopin in some fashion. However, in the playing of music, race plays a role.

Re: Beethoven
April 01, 2008, 06:08:19 PM
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It's important to distinguish between a non-European playing European music, and a non-European simply listening to European music.

No one was arguing this in the first place in my view...

Re: Beethoven
April 01, 2008, 08:00:06 PM
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Western art music is a tradition and a language, and like all such languages it carries with it a certain "dialect" that is almost impossible for a non European to become accustomed to. It requires being raised in an environment where these musical manerisms are constantly heard, and then following it up with years of conservatory training to pull it off convincingly. Playing Mozart without studying and knowing these dialectical traditions is like trying to speak english without knowing how to conjugate verbs. Foreigners playing European music are already at a disadvantage de-facto in this regard. It's not the music they were born and raised with.


The Socratic Method:

Is it possible to convincingly play a piece of European classical music if one is not a European by birth?

No, Socrates. That is impossible.

What makes it impossible?

Western art is a tradition and a language, Socrates. You of all people should know this.

By your saying that all Western art should be considered a language, are you also implying that the rules of linguistics apply to all art?

I would say so.

And what rules, in particular, apply both to spoken language and to music?

Dialect, for starters.

So, is it reasonable to say that stylistic touches, personal impositions -- that these are analogous to vocal colloquialisms?

Yes, that is reasonable.

Would you, then, concede that an Asian immigrant can learn not only English but also English colloquialisms?

Only a fool would argue otherwise.

So, according to your own argument, an Asian can also learn the stylistic touches which Europeans universally apply to their music.

I'm not following you.

I'm just trying to understand your position better. Is it conceivable for an Asian immigrant to learn to play a piece of European music in the same manner that an actual European plays it?

No.

What, specifically, prevents them from being able to do this?

They're not raised in the proper environment for it, of course. Asians aren't brought up around classical music; they don't understand the underlying minutiae of the pieces, as it requires years of training in conservatories to be able to accomplish such a feat! It's analogous to speaking English without knowing how to conjugate verbs.

And can Asian immigrants learn how to conjugate verbs?

Anyone with dedication can.

Then why cannot they learn to play European music with the same stylistic touches?

Well, perhaps they can, but they don't feel it in themselves; they lack the European spirit which makes renditions of these pieces so sublime.

Ah, but lacking the ability to experience the music as they do, can you be certain?

No, I suppose not. But actually playing the music correctly still requires the proper environment!

And are all Europeans brought up around classical music?

No.

Then can we reasonably conclude that not all Europeans are able to play classical music -- let alone correctly?

Well, most people don't pay any mind to classical music these days, so of course they wouldn't be able to play it. The point is that more Europeans are brought up in such environments than Asians.

Then some Asians are brought up in similarly musical conditions?

....

?

Re: Beethoven
April 01, 2008, 08:17:07 PM
I said they are at a disadvantage, not that it's impossible.

Besides, I think we've all witnessed how difficult it is for a foreigner to master the nuances of a spoken language. The, in your words, dedicated few that do manage this have of course applied themselves rigorously. These people stand out, just as they do in classical music.

"Then some Asians are brought up in similarly musical conditions?"

Of course. These ones, again, stand out.

Re: Beethoven
April 03, 2008, 04:21:39 PM
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I have come to think that there was one man who understood the Russians, and he was a Christian named Dostoyevsky.


The ANUS seems to really hate Russians (excluding Dostoyevsky). I wouldn't really consider Shostakovitch execrable; he only wanted to transcend the stupid Soviet communism.

Re: Beethoven
April 03, 2008, 08:01:02 PM
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It's important to distinguish between a non-European playing European music, and a non-European simply listening to European music.


We all know Westerners play Chinese classical music just as well as the Chinese because [/i]there are no differences between people other than the fortune of birth[/i].

That's what's really being argued here, isn't it?

I'm with Goluf. A person playing music from another culture is like a fish with a bicycle.

I like the way many bands adapt death metal to their culture and in effect invent a new type of death metal.

Re: Beethoven
April 03, 2008, 09:57:42 PM
I like the language analogy, but let's take it a step further.  The biggest handicap anyone faces when learning a new language is not forming the sounds, or memorizing the conjugations or even getting a handle on colloquialisms and idiomatic phrases.  The biggest handicap is that learning a new language demands learning an entirely new thought structure, something an outsider can never truly accomplish.  There is no substitute for the hardwiring that only comes from lifelong immersion in a language culture.  It simply can't be duplicated.  Period.

Re: Beethoven
April 03, 2008, 11:25:25 PM
The reason the language analogy is so apt is because both language and music share a common evolutionary ancestor, but diverged at some point to accommodate for cultural developments. They both require a significant amount of hardwiring, independent of experience, but they don't serve the same function -- music is not as directly communicative.

The more vocal species of the world tend to be proficient in cross-species communication to ward off looming threats. They spend their entire lives immersed in one 'language,' and it's generally effective. But the species which don't spend their entire lives immersed in this language often understand the intent. Lacking specificity, music is more like its ancestor with respect to its ability to be understood cross-culturally and emotively.

Why this false dichotomy of, "They can appreciate it, but they can't duplicate it"? Ask a lot of younger modern classical musicians from any nation if they've spent their entire lives immersed in the music, and they'll tell you they grew up around rock 'n' roll or jazz. If you want to continue this analogy with even more rigidity, most musicians who play any kind of music today should be either bilingual, or inundated with acoustic confusion, a thick, cacophonous cloud perpetually raining down on them from above.

Most of them probably do suffer from this, but since correlation does not imply causation, we have to leave it at that -- unless, that is, you can prove that multiculturalism has obliterated European tradition to the extent that not one single valuable classical recording has ever been produced in the history of recording instruments; after all, which modern man doesn't fit the above description? Which modern man was born into a world where he heard solely Bruckner and Beethoven from birth to death? Are we to believe that, since virtually no one alive today was born into a culturally pure environment, none of us has heard a Romantic piece performed with authenticity -- since none of us can perform it in this way?

Re: Beethoven
April 04, 2008, 12:34:39 AM
The classical tradition in this sense can't be separated from the whole of Western music.  Beethoven and the Beatles share the same musical language, but the latter have a much less complex vocabulary and syntax, but they remain mutually intelligible.  The same can't be said for Beethoven, and, say, much traditional Asian music.

And, of course, we've been scrupulously avoiding the elephant in the room: genetics.

Re: Beethoven
April 04, 2008, 12:42:56 AM
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The same can't be said for Beethoven, and, say, much traditional Asian music.


I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Can you elaborate please?

Re: Beethoven
April 04, 2008, 12:52:49 AM
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I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Can you elaborate please?


Beyond that fact that much traditional Asian music is microtonal (giving it that jangly, 'flat' sound to Western ears), the musical signifiers are all radically different.  Consonance and dissonance in Western music pretty much imply the same basic range of ideas across a whole spectrum of genres and styles, for instance, but they have little or no impact on meaning in Asian music (which is, by virtue of its intervals, essentially inherently dissonant anyway).

Re: Beethoven
April 04, 2008, 01:04:35 AM
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The classical tradition in this sense can't be separated from the whole of Western music.  Beethoven and the Beatles share the same musical language, but the latter have a much less complex vocabulary and syntax, but they remain mutually intelligible.  The same can't be said for Beethoven, and, say, much traditional Asian music.


If we're truly going to trace musical traditions back to their origins, then this does make sense. When I think about how alien Chinese classical music sounds (John Cage wished he had something novel and profound to communicate), I see merit in this; let's just be sure to keep this notion divorced from special treatment of 17th-19th century Western musical tradition, or from claims that some ethos is in dire need of being 'kept in the family.'

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And, of course, we've been scrupulously avoiding the elephant in the room: genetics.


In what way? Is this going to lead to a diatribe about Rachmaninov's hands?

Re: Beethoven
April 04, 2008, 01:20:28 AM
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And, of course, we've been scrupulously avoiding the elephant in the room: genetics.


At this point, it would probably be fitting to start a new thread to explicitly discuss this topic. I would very much like to see an thorough explanation of the precise link between existing genotypes and certain forms of music.