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View Poll Results: Do you prefer Programme Music or Absolute Music?

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  • Program Music

    10 27.78%
  • Absolute Music

    21 58.33%
  • Neither

    5 13.89%
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Thread: Absolute or Programmic Music

  1. #1
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    Question Absolute or Programmic Music

    So which do you prefer?

    Absolute Music OR Programme Music

  2. #2
    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    I voted for absolute music. I just want to say that there is no such thing as truly programmatic music can not describe extra-musical things, however music can evoke extra-musical ideas, emotions etc. in the listener. All music can be interpreted as absolute music and program music in that regard.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    This was an incredibly tough choice. My favourite pieces are probably absolute music, simply because Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn predate that trend, but I really enjoy program music, especially when it comes to symphonies eg. Liszt, Berlioz, Mahler. Program music can also be quite vague. Debussy's La Mer, for instance, clearly has a program but one that isn't too prescriptive. It is also easier to latch on to music with a program, but whether that is a good or bad thing is up to personal opinion.

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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    I voted for absolute music. I just want to say that there is no such thing as truly programmatic music can not describe extra-musical things, however music can evoke extra-musical ideas, emotions etc. in the listener. All music can be interpreted as absolute music and program music in that regard.
    I would say that program music attempts to evoke non-emotional ideas or emotional ideas acccording to some predefined narrative. eg Pacific 231 or A Faust Symphony. Absolute music only conveys emotion in that the tempo and tension can be altered to achieve an effect on the listener as the work progresses.

  5. #5
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Well... it depends upon how one interprets the term "program music". Considering the amount of vocal music I listen to... and the fact that in most instances the music evokes or suggests an external idea/mood/feeling/narrative... if only through the text... I would have to go with Program Music.
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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    I don't think I could ever pick between the 2. A symphony, or a ballet? A concerto, or a tone poem? Nope, I love both equally, couldn't turn down one over the other. I like putting programs to absolute music, so that may show an affinity I have for programs. I truly love stories. But when it's absolute, I can make my own story, rather than have someone else's imposed on me, right? So, both programmatic and absolute are wonderful.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    That isn't a dividing line that I normally associate as either good or bad. I like things on both sides equally.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    I'm not thinking that one is better than the other. I simply listen to music that might be termed as programmatic more than I listen to "absolute" music... ie. I listen to vocal music more than any other genre... and then there's a good amount of non-vocal music that is also programmatic.
    Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

    Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with
    those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.

    Pablo Picasso

  9. #9
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Program music or absolute music? Which is which? I don't think a clear line can be drawn.

    Critics delight in turning absolute music into program music by "explaining" what the composer had in mind in non-musical terms. Just look at Beethoven's 5th! Or Mahler! Is the Leonore #3 absolute or program? Hmmmm? And we can hear a piece of what is clearly program music, based on the composer's intent, and hear it quite happily as absolute music if we don't know the program.

    Does anybody really care what the story of "The Cursed Huntsman" is?
    Last edited by KenOC; Oct-16-2012 at 05:19.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    I voted for absolute music. I just want to say that there is no such thing as truly programmatic music can not describe extra-musical things, however music can evoke extra-musical ideas, emotions etc. in the listener. All music can be interpreted as absolute music and program music in that regard.
    Right, but there are actually pointed extra-musical associations in a lot of music. Not just in the listener's head, mind you, but part of the concept of the piece.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Program music or absolute music? Which is which? I don't think a clear line can be drawn.

    Critics delight in turning absolute music into program music by "explaining" what the composer had in mind in non-musical terms. Just look at Beethoven's 5th! Or Mahler! Is the Leonore #3 absolute or program? Hmmmm? And we can hear a piece of what is clearly program music, based on the composer's intent, and hear it quite happily as absolute music if we don't know the program.

    Does anybody really care what the story of "The Cursed Huntsman" is?
    Ummmm... yes, if it's a good story. Not everyone has to be into that kind of stuff, but do you mean to suggest that it's pretentious to dig into themes and stories?
    "Your mathematics are correct, but your physics are abominable..." Einstein

  12. #12
    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Right, but there are actually pointed extra-musical associations in a lot of music. Not just in the listener's head, mind you, but part of the concept of the piece.
    Have a listen to the first movement of my piano sonata in d minor (one of my early compositions, see link in signature) and tell me what I was describing.
    Last edited by ComposerOfAvantGarde; Oct-16-2012 at 10:56.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

  13. #13
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    I like almost absolute-ish music the most. The sort of thing where different themes and motifs seem to take on dramatic significance but it's impossible to describe exactly what they evoke.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    Have a listen to the first movement of my piano sonata in d minor (one of my early compositions, see link in signature) and tell me what I was describing.
    You seem to have interpreted me as if I was suggesting that themes are intrinsic to the musical notes themselves. I had actually suggested that the associations are there and can be found and referenced back to the music. Many of them are famous.
    "Your mathematics are correct, but your physics are abominable..." Einstein

  15. #15
    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    Have a listen to the first movement of my piano sonata in d minor (one of my early compositions, see link in signature) and tell me what I was describing.
    The rolling, looming melodrama of a TC thread? Well as you may have composed that BTC i'd guess at a subtitle along the lines of "Busy Day Packing". In which the excitement of anticipation drives you on while you organise, pack or tidy something rapidly but with the undercurrent of nervousness that you might have forgotten something or will not get finished in time. Am I close?

    My opinion, there is no absolute music, we are just not privy to the composer's program and even they aren't frequently. To deny a program is mere hubris. ;~)

    "Never trust the teller, trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it." -- D.H. Lawrence

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