The difficulty of modern music and other topics

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John F
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The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:52 am

I've just read a long and penetrating essay by Denis Dutton that I want to share with you. Ostensibly a review of Charles Rosen's little book "Piano Notes: The World of the Pianist," which as the title suggests is largely about piano playing, it takes up many subjects that we've discussed here, discussing them with a maturity and fair-mindedness that I really admire. Far too long to quote here, so I'll link to it and encourage you to follow the link.

http://www.denisdutton.com/rosen.htm

One point he makes, or tries to, is that in the piano repertoire, "the standard, so often tepid and correct, recordings of the 1950s" have because of "a saturated market for repertoire today" given way to "something like the swagger of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries." I certainly haven't thought so, but maybe I shouldn't disagree too easily.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Lance » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:41 pm

What a fabulous article by Mr. Dutton. This is such a great article that I printed it off. There are so many remarks therein that it's a lot to take all at once. The love of great music, it seems to me, should be simple and perhaps enjoyed by the listener, whether steeped in musical traditions or more "surface-loving" musicians. We all cannot be prompted to learn to love everything. It is an individual thing. I have always admired Charles Rosen and have all his books and his recordings. If any pianist has tried to make more "modern"music available, along with some extraordinary playing he has offered in his purely "classical" music, it is Rosen. Most people on these boards know that I am not fond of contemporary music no matter how hard I try to understand it and no matter how much of it I imbibe. That applies to modern painting as well, but less so to literature. I cannot seem to take anything away from modern painting, especially after viewing Rembrandt's painting at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, Holland. it was unforgettable and still rings in my memory after many years. The same applies to modern/contemporary music (in most cases). Anyone reading Dutton's article may come away being more confused about what they "prefer and like" in listening to music, who don't understand why they cannot feel the same about modern works.

On the other hand, so much is correct about where we are with live performances, piano recitals, attendance at these concerts, why few people attend all-modern music recitals and concerts, etc. And the placement of the piano in our day, and artists who are making a living at playing the piano who have to land a university job in order to live. Recordings have, undoubtedly, somewhat taken the place of going to live concerts because the public at large seems to want everything at their fingertips; even groceries can be delivered without going to a store. I print my own postage for 99% of everything now and rarely go to the post office. We don't want to deal with bad weather, parking, bad roads and weather, and all this applies to the arts as well.

These are very complex issues brought up in Dutton's article, and Rosen's writings. I plan to re-read the Dutton article to more fully take in the article because some of it makes much sense while other parts of it are questionable.

Yes, in some ways I think the PIANO is a dying instrument, though I still believe it is of high importance in our musical society. Playing the stereo is easier than playing the piano for most people and they can hear the very best of old-time or present-day pianists from sound going back to 1898 to the present day.

For me, I cannot help it that I am attracted to music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods more than any other. For me to spend too much time with Carter, Berio, Stockhausen, etc., et al would not be "me," who wants to take in as much music from periods where beauty of music is food for the ears versus "noise," which is alluded to in Dutton's article.

I am rambling ... but I think I will return to this post with more later.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by maestrob » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:45 pm

John, what a fascinating article! In particular, I admire his take on meaningful complexity, which applies to both Mozart and Shostakovich very well, I thought:
What we want from art is not sheer complicatedness (every stone, leaf, or snowflake has that), but that rarest of artistic commodities, meaningful complexity: layered relationships that amplify and alter each other as they come together to create an expressive unity.
It's precisely that meaningful complexity that is lacking in much late XXth Century music, which may be complex all right, but lacks meaning to the musical ear. That said, I think it's quite unfair to denigrate John Adams and Phillip Glass, though, because while I don't enjoy everything they've written that I've heard, there are moments in their music that I find quite deep and moving. Still he makes an effective point.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:47 pm

In the past, the piano was the standard domestic musical instrument in households that could afford it, essentially middle class and upward. But now, perhaps beginning in the 1950s, it has been replaced by the guitar, which appeals more to younger and pop-oriented people and of course is portable. There is a literature of classical guitar music but since most guitarists are self-taught and choose their own repertoire, you don't hear much of it, and of course it can't compare with the piano repertoire.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Rach3 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:22 pm

An essential guitar cd IMHO , Norbert Kraft on Naxos playing Villa Lobos' complete works, here the 12 Etudes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg0YJgS-eos

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Rach3 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:27 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:45 pm
It's precisely that meaningful complexity that is lacking in much late XXth Century music, which may be complex all right, but lacks meaning to the musical ear.
Well said. Even in his late piano sonatas and late string quartets I am convinced Beethoven was thinking of , wanting to communicate with, an audience. Too many moderns appear ( and sound ) self-indulgent, a " let them eat cake " attitude.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:29 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:27 pm
maestrob wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:45 pm
It's precisely that meaningful complexity that is lacking in much late XXth Century music, which may be complex all right, but lacks meaning to the musical ear.
Well said. Even in his late piano sonatas and late string quartets I am convinced Beethoven was thinking of , wanting to communicate with, an audience. Too many moderns appear ( and sound ) self-indulgent, a " let them eat cake " attitude.
I agree too. It took me a long time to really appreciate the late Beethoven quartets, because of their complexity and profundity, compared with, say, the lovely simplicity of Haydn. Once I "got" them, to the extent that I have (which may still not be much), they are almost life-changing music.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:38 pm

Further to that, Beethoven certainly aimed to communicate, but he wasn't willing to compromise much either. For me, only Bach gets that deep, and he is not always easy to listen to either. Not because the music is untuneful, but because there is so much happening at such a level that it is challenging to grasp it all...

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:25 pm

barney wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:29 pm
the lovely simplicity of Haydn
Of course I have to respond to that. Some of Haydn's music is indeed lovely, but simple? His contemporaries didn[t think so and neither do I. Just a sample of the rougher, more challenging Haydn, the minuet from his op. 76 no. 2:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6KuI81BoOY
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:48 am

John F wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:25 pm
barney wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:29 pm
the lovely simplicity of Haydn
Of course I have to respond to that. Some of Haydn's music is indeed lovely, but simple? His contemporaries didn[t think so and neither do I. Just a sample of the rougher, more challenging Haydn, the minuet from his op. 76 no. 2:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6KuI81BoOY
Fair enough. If it wasn't obvious that I meant RELATIVELY simple, my mistake. And while I love the Haydn quartets, structurally and harmonically I find them simpler that the late Beethoven quartets.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:29 am

Yes, and the late Beethoven quartets are structurally and harmonically simpler than the Bartók quartets. Comparisons are odorous. :) My argument is with the word "simple" and the characterization of Haydn's music as essentially lightweight. No question that in his later works, not just the string quartets, Beethoven aimed at and achieved a depth of expression that's rare though not unknown in earlier instrumental music, Haydn and Mozart as well as Bach. I certainly wouldn't argue with you about that.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Lance » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:50 pm

Regarding just string music, trios, quartets, and what-have-you (without piano), if you throw Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn into the mix with Haydn and Beethoven, to me the music of Schubert speaks to the listener perhaps more than Beethoven's late string works, and I might be inclined to say the same for Mendelssohn [the Octet, for example]. Haydn has a special place for me with his string music as well, even, perhaps, more than Beethoven. I have not been able to figure out just why - yet - since Beethoven is at the top in my musical priorities with regard to his other compositions. When the famous Guarneri Quartet was in residence at Binghamton University, I heard them many times in live concert and was drawn into the music immediately, regardless of the time Beethoven wrote the music. Their recordings now, on RCA, are legendary. Also the Lenox Quartet was in residence at BU, and they, too, provided special qualities to the music that remain memorable. I must also say that any of the string music of Beethoven recorded by the Busch brothers also has left an indelible impression.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:35 am

I agree Lance. I'm probably just dropping into repetition now, as I find it very hard to put into words. Both Haydn and Schubert speak directly to the listener in their string quartets partly because the emotion is much closer to the surface. In late Beethoven quartets as in some Bach, like the cello suites, it is rarified, distilled, intense, removed from simple emotion. This is truer of the last half dozen quartets than it is of Beethoven's last piano sonatas or the 9th symphony, the Missa Solemnis etc. It seems to me he had entered a new realm.
JohnF hears it differently, and while we can each make our cases there is no definitive answer.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:44 am

An important factor is that Haydn, and perhaps also Schubert, assumed their string quartets would be played in the home by amateurs, with perhaps a small gathering of family and the social circle. Mozart's quartets dedicated to Haydn were first planed in this way - the four composers, including Mozart and Haydn, were certainly music professionals but not members of an ensemble like the Borodin Quartet, they were reading through the music at sight. By the time of Beethoven's late quartets it was different, his first interpreters were the Schuppanzigh Quartet, professionals who played for pay, from whom he could demand whatever he pleased. A very different kind of communication between the composer and the world.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:07 am

Certainly a relevant observation. But I don't believe it disproves any of my observations. The late Beethoven quartets make more intensive demands of the listener - that is my claim. If they make more intensive demands of the performers also, so be it.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:04 am

My point is that keeping the limitations of amateur players in mind, not just their technique but also their musical understanding, was a concern of Haydn and Mozart but not Beethoven in his later years. What effect this might have had on the quartets they wrote, no one can say. But we do know that on at least one occasion, Mozart composed chamber music too difficult for home music-makers who were the intended market - the two quartets for piano and strings - and the publisher Hoffmeister paid him not to write the third quartet of that commission, so he didn't.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by some guy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:44 pm

Still at it, I see.

Lance says he is someone "who wants to take in as much music from periods where beauty of music is food for the ears...."

But Lance, that's why I listen so much to music from the past one hundred years. Because it's so beautiful. Not the "neo-romantic" stuff, either, but Varèse and Xenakis and Dhomont and Karkowski and Radigue and Meirino and Neumann and so forth.

Isn't what you really mean is that you want to listen to music whose beauty you already understand, for whatever reason, rather than learning different beauties?

For maestrob, much recent music "lacks meaning to the musical ear." Not to get sidetracked on what "the musical ear" is or anything or how deeply offensive this statement is, but I have been listening to "classical music" since I was a small child, gravitating toward it naturally and innocently. I loved Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky at first, but added Grieg and Beethoven and Schubert and Bach and.... Well, there are so many ands. Let's just say that from 9 to 20 I had listened to a large portion of the standard repertory and a goodly portion of the non-standard. Then I heard Bartók's Concerto for orchestra, which opened up the whole world of modern and contemporary music for me.

My ear, which has fed on music you would doubtless all call "great" for almost sixty years, now, finds a great deal of meaning in recent music, Cage and Ferrari and Amacher and Brümmer and again, so many ands.

(Just by the way, anyone who cannot find meaningful complexity in stones, leaves, and snowflakes is really missing out, I'd say.)

Here's what I would recommend--reticence. Do you like everything? No. Do you need to like everything? No. Does your liking or not liking really signify to anyone but yourself? No.

If you come up against something you don't understand, tread softly, why not? Are there others who do understand those things? Assuredly there are. Why not give a listen to those people? Maybe you too will find pleasure in those things. If not, too bad for you, but are your personal failures to understand certain things a universal call for you to publicly and repeated excoriate the things you don't understand?

No.
"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."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:09 pm

some guy wrote:Still at it, I see.
You too, I see.
some guy wrote:that's why I listen so much to music from the past one hundred years. Because it's so beautiful. Not the "neo-romantic" stuff, either, but Varèse and Xenakis and Dhomont and Karkowski and Radigue and Meirino and Neumann and so forth.
In what sense is the music of Varese and those other guys "beautiful"? What music is not beautiful to your ears? It's clear what music is not beautiful to Lance and, let's face it, the vast majority of listeners to all kinds of music, not just classical: that which is unrelievedly dissonant. Of course taste is not subject to a majority vote, but since yours is so unlike most of ours, it would be interesting to know what you're hearing that we aren't.

It looks like you haven't read the essay by Denis Dutton that I linked to at the beginning of this thread. Here's what he has to say about this:
Denis Dutton wrote:The problem for modernism is that with atonality it reached a point where intelligibility, and therefore pleasure, was stretched beyond the breaking point. The aesthetic effect of music depends in most instances on its ability to incite predictions and then foil them: think of the dramatic modulations of Beethoven, or the sudden, unexpected shifts into major keys in Schubert. Completely unpredictable music can no longer surprise its listeners: if just anything can be expected, nothing can enter experience as unexpected. Naturally, when listeners lose the capacity to make predictions because a musical work is too complicated for them it may be merely a matter of their own musical stupidity or laziness: if your musical capacities are challenged by Guy Lombardo, you’re going to find "The Rite of Spring" so much noise. It does not follow that anyone who describes an exercise in atonality as noise therefore must harbor tastes that run to Guy Lombardo.
Any comments about that?
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Belle » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:12 pm

More lecturing, hectoring and finger-wagging from someguy!! I thought he'd decided to stay discreetly silent and leave others to formulate their own tastes and opinions. I note the usual offence-taking in his comments which have already become an olympic sport for some people. The critical mass of offence-taking has been reached and actually rendered effete from overuse. It has been relegated to the nomenclature of the I-don't-have-an-argument-apart-from-offence-and-name-calling brigade. In someguy's case it's all embedded in the obscurantism of linguistic chicanery and that infamous catch of the day, red herrings; the intellectual dead end of the loner.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by some guy » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:12 am

Do I have anything to say about that, John?

Of course.

One, "modernism" has to do with quite a lot more than just atonality, which is a term originally coined to describe music that everyone in the world would now recognize as being tonal. And even if "atonality" can be supplied some reasonable content, it is still only a part of modernism.

Two, intelligibility and pleasure may be linked for Dutton; they are not necessarily so for everyone.

Three, the existence of people who find modern musics both intelligible and pleasurable (and no, I don't think that counting how many to be interesting or illuminating--how many people understand string theory? How many people listen to "classical music" at all, for that matter?) indicates that the musics are indeed intelligible and pleasurable. The most difficult thing for many people to understand, however, is how anyone can possibly understand or enjoy things that those people find unintelligible or distasteful.

Four, having one's predictions foiled is certainly a source of pleasure. It is neither the only source or even the main source. And I don't see how "completely unpredictable" cannot surprise. It's always surprising.

Five, generally speaking Dutton and certain CMGers have engaged in the ever pleasurable activity of narrowing things carefully down to exclude everything they hate while including everything they love. From this follows another pleasurable activity, namely bashing the music they hate because it doesn't fit into their narrowed down view of what's good. So first you define things a certain way, and then you criticize things for not fitting your definition. Well, of course they don't fit. You've made the definition purposely to exclude those things. What else would you expect? But, of course, the defining and the criticizing are not supposed to be seen as components of the same activity. In fact, the defining is not supposed to be seen at all; it's results are simply to be accepted, as if they were natural and immutable laws of the universe.

In what sense are Varèse and company beautiful?

In every sense.

It's not so much that I hear things that you don't. It is very much that I have a different attitude towards sound than you do. I have not constructed categories of exclusion, for one.

As I have said before, it all comes down to attitude. And attitudes are the very devil to change. I know. I used to share your attitudes about music. I never gave them the unquestioning adulation that you do, but I still found it very difficult to change certain attitudes about music and sound and expectations. So I understand. And if you ad hominimically reject what I'm saying, as our colleague Belle has done, I'll understand that, too. Because I've been there myself.

I'm listening to Xenakis' Bohor as I type this response. This was a piece I hated for a long time, even as I was devouring a lot of modern music with great pleasure, including other electroacoustic pieces by Xenakis. I am happy to listen to it, now. It's one of my favorites. It, I would remind you, has stayed exactly the same--as a fixed media piece, "exactly" is a precise description for "the same," and not just an intensifier. I, however, have changed. Have become, in a way I am sure Lance will appreciate, more myself, more my true self, than I ever was when I shared the shibboleths about music that Dutton favors.
"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."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Beckmesser » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:00 pm

And now for something completely different . . .


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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:16 am

some guy wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:12 am
Do I have anything to say about that, John?

Of course.

One, "modernism" has to do with quite a lot more than just atonality, which is a term originally coined to describe music that everyone in the world would now recognize as being tonal. And even if "atonality" can be supplied some reasonable content, it is still only a part of modernism.

Two, intelligibility and pleasure may be linked for Dutton; they are not necessarily so for everyone.

Three, the existence of people who find modern musics both intelligible and pleasurable (and no, I don't think that counting how many to be interesting or illuminating--how many people understand string theory? How many people listen to "classical music" at all, for that matter?) indicates that the musics are indeed intelligible and pleasurable. The most difficult thing for many people to understand, however, is how anyone can possibly understand or enjoy things that those people find unintelligible or distasteful.

Four, having one's predictions foiled is certainly a source of pleasure. It is neither the only source or even the main source. And I don't see how "completely unpredictable" cannot surprise. It's always surprising.

Five, generally speaking Dutton and certain CMGers have engaged in the ever pleasurable activity of narrowing things carefully down to exclude everything they hate while including everything they love. From this follows another pleasurable activity, namely bashing the music they hate because it doesn't fit into their narrowed down view of what's good. So first you define things a certain way, and then you criticize things for not fitting your definition. Well, of course they don't fit. You've made the definition purposely to exclude those things. What else would you expect? But, of course, the defining and the criticizing are not supposed to be seen as components of the same activity. In fact, the defining is not supposed to be seen at all; it's results are simply to be accepted, as if they were natural and immutable laws of the universe.

In what sense are Varèse and company beautiful?

In every sense.

It's not so much that I hear things that you don't. It is very much that I have a different attitude towards sound than you do. I have not constructed categories of exclusion, for one.

As I have said before, it all comes down to attitude. And attitudes are the very devil to change. I know. I used to share your attitudes about music. I never gave them the unquestioning adulation that you do, but I still found it very difficult to change certain attitudes about music and sound and expectations. So I understand. And if you ad hominimically reject what I'm saying, as our colleague Belle has done, I'll understand that, too. Because I've been there myself.

I'm listening to Xenakis' Bohor as I type this response. This was a piece I hated for a long time, even as I was devouring a lot of modern music with great pleasure, including other electroacoustic pieces by Xenakis. I am happy to listen to it, now. It's one of my favorites. It, I would remind you, has stayed exactly the same--as a fixed media piece, "exactly" is a precise description for "the same," and not just an intensifier. I, however, have changed. Have become, in a way I am sure Lance will appreciate, more myself, more my true self, than I ever was when I shared the shibboleths about music that Dutton favors.
As it happens, I generally don't share your taste. But I very much appreciate your defence of your taste. And for the most part take your points.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Belle » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:34 am

Still at it, I see.

Someguy's first comment on this board after an extended absence; the charming, engaging and empathetic tone that he's exhibited on all the music boards he's written on - about the same subject - over and over.

Would suggest something like, "haven't been here for ages and this topic really interests me", etc. etc. The folks on here aren't "at" anything.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am

:) ) Thanks for your answer, but it really isn't an answer.
some guy wrote:"modernism" has to do with quite a lot more than just atonality, which is a term originally coined to describe music that everyone in the world would now recognize as being tonal.
That's simply not true. And while, as you say, atonality is only part of modernism, it's the part that repels most listeners. "The Rite of Spring," that archetypal modernist piece, is in the standard orchestral repertoire because, despite its rhythmic and timbral and dynamic assault on the ears, it is not atonal - it actually has tunes, beginning in bar 1.
In what sense are Varèse and company beautiful?
In every sense.
I'll rephrase the question. What characteristics of the music of Varese et al. give you pleasure when listening to it? Or if there's a moment in any particular work that turns you on, would you link to a YouTube clip of it and give us the timing where it occurs, so that we can compare responses?
some guy wrote:It's not so much that I hear things that you don't. It is very much that I have a different attitude towards sound than you do. I have not constructed categories of exclusion, for one.
We're not talking about sound in general but about music in particular. And forget about inventing theories to explain (and explain away) how other people listen. I asked how you listen, and your last paragraph is the beginning of an answer, though not much of one.

I take your word for it that as you listen to Xenakis' "Bohor" you feel happy. From what you say, you had to train yourself not to hate it - having listened to some of it just now, I can well believe that - and you've succeeded. To me this sounds as if you've constructed categories of inclusion, a deliberate act with a conscious purpose. But you can't generalize from this that the billions of people who don't feel likewise have "constructed categories of exclusion." My response to "Bohor," as much of it as I could take, is that it's just noise. Such a response is no more conscious and deliberate than preferring sweet or savory in what we eat and drink rather than bitter or sour.

I'm tempted to say this response is "natural," but that would go beyond what we actually know about the human response to music. If you want a theory of musical response, and reject Denis Dutton's which several of us have found intellectually persuasive, Steven Pinker in "How the Mind Works" has called music "auditory cheesecake," meaning that it somehow gets to the brain's pleasure center and releases endorphins. Well, of course it does - some music does, anyway - but that's too simple. Daniel J. Levitin's "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" is an overview of the current state of actual knowledge.

Whatever, it won't do to assert that something is wrong with how the rest of the world responds to music. Without being as intemperate as Belle, I join her in asking you to stop it. By all means enjoy whatever you enjoy, and tell us about it if you want to, but please leave it at that.
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by barney » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:27 am

Well said, John F. Someguy doesn't bother me at all, and I enjoyed reading his perspective, but I think your response is compelling.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by some guy » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:25 am

John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am
some guy wrote:"modernism" has to do with quite a lot more than just atonality, which is a term originally coined to describe music that everyone in the world would now recognize as being tonal.
That's simply not true.
It simply is true, John, as I suspect you already know. The term "atonality" was coined by a grad student before anything we would call "atonal" had even been written. He coined it as a slam of music he didn't like.
John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am
And while, as you say, atonality is only part of modernism, it's the part that repels most listeners.
It would be nice if you could stop playing the "most" game. Best to stick to the ideas themselves and not to how many people do this or that thing. Most people don't listen to classical at all, any classical. Also as you already know.
John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am
What characteristics of the music of Varese et al. give you pleasure when listening to it? Or if there's a moment in any particular work that turns you on, would you link to a YouTube clip of it and give us the timing where it occurs, so that we can compare responses?
This is the "go to" response when anyone reports liking something that the responder doesn't. It's not so much an argument as a trap. Do you really think I'm gonna fall for this trap? No, you don't, do you. But if I don't respond to your trap, you get credit for having scored a point over me. (I feel like I'm in a Python sketch: "I came here for an argument." "No you didn't.")
John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am
,,,you've constructed categories of inclusion, a deliberate act with a conscious purpose. But you can't generalize from this that the billions of people who don't feel likewise have "constructed categories of exclusion."
I didn't. I drew this conclusion from years of reading your posts and seeing how you do indeed construct categories of exclusion. You and a few others. I have nothing to say about billions (and really, do you know billions of people who feel otherwise? Seriously? The numbers game is not working, John. Truly, it is not.)[/quote]
John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 am
...it won't do to assert that something is wrong with how the rest of the world responds to music.
But, as you know, I am sure, I have done nothing of the sort. For one, I don't know all of the rest of the world. And neither do you, just by the way.

Several members have certainly questioned my responses to music over the years. Why, you just did it yourself! But none of anything I have posted here has anything to do with how you and your colleagues respond to music, except tangentially. My point is that if you don't like something or don't understand something that dislike and lack of understanding does not constitute a basis for criticizing the music. You can and will respond to music however you want. If you respond badly to music that other people enjoy, using your response as a basis for identifying the putative faults of said music, you certainly can expect some pushback, no?

If you don't want any pushback, and you certainly do seem to dislike it, then a possible way to ensure you don't get any is to enjoy whatever you enjoy and tell us about it and leave it at that. Of course, you know how well that has worked in my case, don't you? If I so much as whisper a fondness for anything outside the category of "beautiful" music as defined by "the rest of the world," if I so much as suggest that perhaps "beauty" is a broader category than what one can find in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all the hounds of hell come baying around my attempt to share something nice with the rest of you.

You know that, too.

But this tactic should work OK for you, John, as you share your tastes with the rest of the world.
"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."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

Rach3
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Rach3 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:35 pm

Discussion between Ma and Salonen about Salonen's Cello Concerto ( 2017):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO1pI09bWBs

Belle
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Belle » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:18 pm

JohnF, I'm 'intemperate' because I've had years of experience elsewhere with 'someguy' and his condescension and bullying tone. Look back on some of his older postings here!! :mrgreen:

And 'someguy' could you please apply this principle to yourself!!

"...a possible way to ensure you don't get any (pushback) is to enjoy whatever you enjoy and tell us about it and leave it at that."

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by John F » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:36 pm

some guy has been a CMG member for years and I've had much the same discussion with him several times. You may find it annoying, but let's keep it civil anyway and not get personal.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Belle » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:36 am

John F wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:36 pm
some guy has been a CMG member for years and I've had much the same discussion with him several times. You may find it annoying, but let's keep it civil anyway and not get personal.
Experience has taught me to expect the worst in this case!! Everybody else here is superb.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:52 am

Interesting … this thread goes back into the vaults!
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:37 am

I've just read through this entire thread again. How well I remember meeting "someguy" at our first meetup in NYC. We all seemed to enjoy each other very much if I recall rightly. But I would like to clarify my own take on "musics," in that, for me, it is not a matter of taking time to appreciate or understand music by composers such as Xenakis, Stockhausen, and countless others. I have listened to various works by many of these composers. I suppose, given my field of being a concert piano technician and preparing instruments for among some of the greatest pianists, I actually create "harmony" in preparing the piano using an equal temperament process, that is so that music ANY of the major or minor keys will always have harmony. Other "temperaments" have existed over the years, that did not make harmony happen except in certain keys, hence the "equal temperament" process has survived above all the others. Listening to music is tantamount to looking at a fine painting. We each are attracted to it whatever we have in our eyes, ears, and brains. We do this with the foods we eat, with books we read, with films we see. But to try to be *simple" again, I do try to live and let live and not too often detract from the value of a creation simply because it doesn't appeal to me. On the other hand, neither do I promote something that is not appealing personally; you have to discover that yourself. Let each one choose his own thing and be happy with it. It is not a matter of "understanding" or even trying to understand something that will not make it appealing. I do get it, but I don't necessary "want" it. This is not a cop-out. Given the time we have to enjoy the things of life that we WANT to enjoy, and even then, we continue to discover things we did not know about or ever hear that are from our favourite periods in music history. Already having at least (perhaps more than) a "handle" on what to expect from most (not all!) music from the last third of the 20th century and into the 21st century, I can only comment there are others who will latch onto it and bring it forward, which seems to be a normal and natural process. The world is changing, which means the people living in it are changing. If we could come back in 500 years or so, given the way artistic culture is changing, the only names we might see are Xenakis, Stockhausen, Henze, Sessions, and the countless others who have their right to creation as I have mine to hear it or not.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:47 am

Quite right, Lance. Hectoring someone because he/she doesn't like what you like is, simply put, not kosher on this forum, or in life. It's best to post examples and hope for the best.

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Re: The difficulty of modern music and other topics

Post by diegobueno » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:25 pm

The original piece by Denis Dutton which initiated this thread covered so many fascinating subjects, the very least of which concerned modern music, I was very distressed to see it used to start just another round of modern music bashing. If you think it's all complicated stuff that no one can understand, I have two words for you: You're wrong.

Thank you, Rach3, for posting this. Salonen is a fine composer and people on this forum need to be aware of him. And I see modernistfan has started a thread about him. I'm heading there.
Rach3 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:35 pm
Discussion between Ma and Salonen about Salonen's Cello Concerto ( 2017):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO1pI09bWBs

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