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Audiences hate modern classical music

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
August 09, 2010, 11:09:29 PM
In what sense?  Neither is particularly music theory reliant, and you can pretty much extrapolate their "critical theory" from the listening experience itself.  There's a difference between esoteric and obscurantist.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
August 09, 2010, 11:22:18 PM
It's not the complexity of the theory that's at issue, it's that fact that it's needed at all.  Beethoven requires no familiarity with theory for a listener to grasp: serial music demands both an understanding of the underlying musical practice and of its ideological motivations to be clearly understood, which is why it was, is and will remain purely academic music for pretentious insiders.

Why is the theory needed for serialist music? I feel emotions when I listen to the serialist compositions just as when I hear the works by the romantics. Whether or not I understand the motivation of the composers or the musical idioms in which they worked one can still feel the emotions of their music. When I listen to Schoenberg I almost never understand what is going on, the theoretical parts are extremely difficult to follow yet I still do listen to and enjoy his music. Schoenberg has even stated that he does not want people to analyze his music while they are listening but simply to listen. His music has a soul and spirit, it is not just a dry mechanical construct created for self-important individuals.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
August 10, 2010, 12:45:00 AM
It seems one could very easily write death/black metal instead of serial music here.

I don't find this in the slightest.  Generally, non-metalheads who I expose to Death/Black Metal "understand" the basics of the music without even being told what they're listening to.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 05, 2010, 04:26:16 PM
It seems one could very easily write death/black metal instead of serial music here.

I don't find this in the slightest.  Generally, non-metalheads who I expose to Death/Black Metal "understand" the basics of the music without even being told what they're listening to.

You must live amongst very intelligent people. People around me associate Death and Black metal with any other type of music which has screaming and distortion.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 07, 2010, 04:23:34 PM
It seems one could very easily write death/black metal instead of serial music here.

I don't find this in the slightest.  Generally, non-metalheads who I expose to Death/Black Metal "understand" the basics of the music without even being told what they're listening to.

You must live amongst very intelligent people. People around me associate Death and Black metal with any other type of music which has screaming and distortion.

Those who know something about music tend to get it to an extent.  Yet I find that they ultimately write it off as you say, seeing the screaming and distortion as limitations, and as juvenalia.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 10, 2010, 01:57:13 PM
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Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 12, 2010, 01:04:02 AM
Those who know something about music tend to get it to an extent.  Yet I find that they ultimately write it off as you say, seeing the screaming and distortion as limitations, and as juvenalia.
I would say that most if not all metal music is juvenalia, relatively enlightened for these times as they may be.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 18, 2010, 05:34:05 AM
I would say that most if not all metal music is juvenalia, relatively enlightened for these times as they may be.

Though the fact that metal can simultaneously be juvenalia and transcendent seems to be a big part of its appeal.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 20, 2010, 01:08:57 AM
  I think what most people mean when they apply the term "atonality" to metal is "chromaticism" or "dissonance".  Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Bruckner all had these elements in their music as well, though generally to far lesser degrees.

Essentially, there are certain melodic phrases that invoke certain feelings.  Some melodies naturally flow into a obviously pleasing progression, others strike us with sublime nature in making a portrait of beauty out of "ugliness" or "negativity".  The difference between metal's melodic sense and true atonality, is that metal tends to follow clearer natural progressions than atonality does.  Where I can listen to At the Gates or Incantation assemble an obscure and creeping but unmistakable sense of darkness, atonal/serial/twelve-tone music is completely exhibitionist in intent.  It exists only as a negation of the previous phase of music, historically.  It sounds lest honest and more contrived, and this shows through (perhaps through the academically limited sense of intentional metal music theory and technique) in a more clear cut "Classical" (in the Hellenic sense) ascesis of sound.  It holds none of the frills of the effete twelve-tone tradition.

Melody in metal might be chaotic, but it more often than not is based on a particular mode or permutation of a mode, whereas the atonal/twelve-tone/serial sense considers all notes equal, regardless of context.  Strange as it is to say, regardless of metal being less practiced theoretically (probably because of this) than modern classical, one sounds more pleasing melodically and structurally than the other.  One is more beautiful than the other.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 20, 2010, 03:04:17 AM
curious here, what 'atonal' works have you heard?

Schoenberg's drive toward firstly, free atonal music, and secondly, serialism can be easily understood in the context of the time. At the turn of the 20th century, chromaticism was already starting to run rampant, the works of Wagner, Scriabin, Bruckner and Mahler becoming increasingly more difficult to pinpoint in any particular key. The problem that was presented to composers of Schoenberg's generation was as such: say I want to build on the works of my teachers, but that I don't want to sound derivative all the same. What can I do now?

Schoenberg's own solution was to expand on the more unstable sounding works that had been created before him, think the stormy Bruckner 9th symphony for example, by making the music sound even more restless and even more on the brink of falling apart. The way he decided to use in order to achieve this goal was to take this drive toward more and more chromatic music to its limit: toward music that you wouldn't be able to characterize with any particular key, because it would be in a state of perpetual movement between any of them, changing key so often that you wouldn't be able to ascribe any tonal center to it.

It's easy to see that this type of composition; free atonality, is a very taxing one for the composer. Without an overall governing principle, trying to build music that lacks a tonal center is an arduous task. Schoenberg also realized that more and more often his compositions were starting to use all the notes in the chromatic scale one after the other without any particular one repeating itself before all the other ones were used already. This was a particularly efficient way to create the type of unstable sounding music that he was looking for. When on top of that, you add his own propensity toward the technique of the variation, it's easy to see how the idea behind 12-tone music came to be. Music was to be built from building blocks constructed using all the notes of the chromatic scale without repetition. One would then use this 'series'or 'tone row' and do a whole lot of stuff to it with transpositions, inversions and retrogrades. This was a great discovery when you think about it, no longer did the composer need to focus on the tonal aspect of his work, he was thus free to explore every other aspects of composition!

In my mind, the Schoenberg way was a very valid way to go at this point in time (though it wasn't the only one). It gave rise to more than a few colossal works that helped to shape the soundscape of the 20th century as a whole, think Moses und Aron, the Lyric Suite (of huge inspiration for Bartok's own SQs) or the Webern Symphony.


On the apparent lack of beauty of atonal music (which I don't really feel myself, I consider that something like this has some of the most beautiful moments in the whole history of Western Classical music), I often get the feeling that most people's problem with it has more to do with other characteristics inherent to the music than with the lack of tonal centers. Schoenberg in particular, wasn't very prone to use repetition, he would present to you a theme just once, and he'd start working on it right away, making his music a bit hard to keep track of at times. Alban Berg wrote a very interesting article on the matter here.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 20, 2010, 03:24:55 AM
I've heard a corpus of works by Berg, and Schoenberg.  While I can respect your opinion, the explanation for twelve-tone, while understandable (and yes, Marx's criticism of the bourgeiouse, for example is understandable and necessary in the context of history at that time, though I still don't agree with his ultimate conclusions), is almost entirely theoretical.  Wagner, Bruckner, or Schubert are good because they are tied to some kind of standard, and work within the context of a tradition of musical form that seems to adhere to natural pleasing intervals, and if not, works development by working on a twist of natural intervals, invoking the sublime as opposed to the beautiful.  It is in short, unmistakable.  Yes, they might have their evil, romping churning metal horn blasts to the heavens (Which when played by a metal band seem to be identified as "atonal"), but these are identifiable as such because they speak a language that I can understand, with an intention to say something.  Twelve-tone seems to just scream "LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME" over and over again through theoretical, "radical", technique.  When you listen to it, because it attempts to speak an entirely different language for the sake of doing something new, everything in it sounds the same.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 20, 2010, 12:41:55 PM
I don't hear it. It's a natural progression from the music of the late romantics, I'm not sure why and how the sublime would suddenly turn into exhibitionism. Remember that we're not talking about Boulez-style modernism here, never did the second Viennese school turn their back on the past, and never did they forget the fact that there's someone that has to listen to the pieces in question here. They've claimed over and over again that the techniques used toward of the creation of their works are irrelevent insofar as musical appreciation goes, and I'm inclined to agree. The music just speaks for itself.

As far as the "everything in it sounds the same" part of your post, well this is slightly ridiculous. Lyric Suite? Built from a selection of interrelated and progressively more contrasting movements, it's as differentiated as it gets.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 22, 2010, 01:02:08 AM
I'm sorry, but I'll have to disagree again.  Twelve-tone is purely theoretical and an abstraction.  Wagner and Bruckner, being at the end of the Romantic era and clearly presaging the eventual progression into atonality, were different because there were commonly recognizable scales or at least associations of intervals with which the more chromatic and dissonant parts could be associated to.  There was, in a word, contrast.  Dissonance existed in contrast to consonance.  When you create music that is entirely dissonant, but attempts to play itself off as being as expressive of every emotion as tonal music was, I call it contrived.  Atonality, serialism and twelve-tone attempt to take the alphabet and omit certain portions, or use completely different combinations of letters to spell what they claim is the same word as before.   The idea that the tonal system could ever possibly be "exhausted" is ludicrous, and assumes technique as being the keystone of music.

Let me state again, prior to the twentieth century, atonality did not commonly exist in music and was not commonly considered as beautiful (I'd argue that most people still don't consider it so).  2000+ years of divine music, and the atonal technique never seemed to occur to anyone.  Chromatics did, dissonance did.  Carlo Gesualdo has an infinitely greater sense of resolution within his work than anything by Berg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_F1OuMeVSw&feature=related

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 22, 2010, 08:01:32 PM
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Twelve-tone is purely theoretical and an abstraction.
late-romantic very chromatic music gave way to free atonal music which then gave way to serialism. In order to make music that sounded even more unstable than the one from the previous generation, free atonality had to appear, which was then understood to be a "primitive" version of what's called serialism today. Serialism is just an extension on free atonality which is just tonal music with tons of chromaticism.

How can you say that serialism is a "purely theoretical" development then? There's actual, real world reasons why serialism was created, I'm not sure how else to say it. I mean, it's just as natural as the progression from monophony to free polyphony to strict counterpoint, a progression which did take many hundred years to happen, mind you (and unlike the chromaticism/dissonance analogue that you've used, the one I'm making here is a very good one, that's where the practice of retrograding & inverting tone rows comes from).

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The idea that the tonal system could ever possibly be "exhausted" is ludicrous, and assumes technique as being the keystone of music.
Schoenberg was the very person who once said "There is still much good music that can be written in C major". The second Viennese school didn't choose their path because they felt that tonal music had exhausted its potential, they did so because they felt they could create interesting music that way.

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When you create music that is entirely dissonant, but attempts to play itself off as being as expressive of every emotion as tonal music was, I call it contrived.
First, I would like to note that atonal music isn't necessarily that dissonant. Take Webern's symphony for instance, the first movement is as soft, pure and subdued as music gets. And yes, I do claim that atonal music is as expressive as anything tonal, if in a somewhat different fashion at times. I can hear Berg run through the whole gamut of emotion in his Lyric Suite for instance: from joviality to eerie stillness through spells of earth-shattering intensity and moments of great melancholy. It's all there, although it's not as solidly grounded as in the music of the romantics, this instability and the ambiguity being one of the hallmark of their sound after all.

Re: Audiences hate modern classical music
September 29, 2010, 09:59:26 AM
Despite the War of the Romantics, no one rioted at Wagner's performances.  I think this speaks volumes when compared to some of the debacles of atonality/serialism/twelve-tone, etc, and says alot about the "natural progression" of styles.  You'll be hard pressed to find such violent rejections of a style paralleled, and this is understandable given how it completely dispensed with so central a rule of music.

Now, maybe I just don't have an ear for it, but to be fair, I don't feel I'm missing out on much.