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Thread: 'Classical' Composers Today

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Default 'Classical' Composers Today

    I'm curious to see where our modern composers see their music, in relation to the western classical tradition of the last few centuries. Would you like to continue this tradition, and if so, how would this best be done? Does the serialist / atonal method appeal to you, perhaps as a means of breaking with the traditional sounds yet continuing the ideas of innovation and complexity in art? Or is it a more traditional, diatonic sound, perhaps used in a new way?

    For myself, serialism simply sounds too awful to use. And the traditional harmonic approach has become so over-analysed that it seems sterile. The main place I look for ideas is to alternative traditions around the world, such as Indian Classical, etc. It's a wonderful time for this - to be able to listen to music from anywhere so easily. And I think that this is important for composers, because we are influenced by what we listen to. In this regard I don't think its possible to create music like in the past - stylistically we are exposed to too much. Perhaps a new approach is needed to cope with this variety.

    Anyway, please add your thoughts, fellow composers. Where would you like your music to fit, in terms of the bigger picture?

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    This is a great topic.

    I am not into the atonal, 20th century sound or most modern music. The new breed of composer seems to have taken being innovative to a level, which in my mind treads the fine line between music and noise. Though i do not believe that we should go back and write in the romantic or classical styles we should still observe their regard for the beauty of the music.
    I agree with you Oneiros, the thing to do is to implement world music into classical. It has been done in every period of classical music without the significant advantages we have. The world is becoming more of a globalize society. We have the ability to listen and study music from all around the world. Why not use it. Why not make it our own. You speak of Indian Classical Music, which is a great example. The tabla drum has some of the most complex rhythmic pattern that i have ever heard and makes western classical look like child’s play when it comes to rhythm.
    I believe that there are so many opportunities that we have to today to really revolutionize music. We could create a slightly “global” sound and open our horizons to the world of music outside our little refined and proper bubble. There is so much music out there that we shouldn’t have to get to the point where we are constructing music specifically to challenge the listeners’ ear. We can still change without giving up the enjoyment and the beauty of music. Now i am not saying the new, atonal music does not have beauty, but it is different. The untrained ear will not enjoy atonal works, but to the trained and experienced ear they do show beauty and emotion. But why should we close ourselves off to those of us who have learned to appreciate the progression of music and understand why music is being composed in such a manner. If we can take advantage of our ability to experience world culture in the age of the internet and easy world travel we could begin a period of music with unprecedented innovation and begin to see the re-emergence of prolific composition that could rival the great masters themselves.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Nice ideas but they seem self-contradicting in places.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quartet View Post
    I am not into the atonal, 20th century sound or most modern music. The new breed of composer seems to have taken being innovative to a level, which in my mind treads the fine line between music and noise. Though i do not believe that we should go back and write in the romantic or classical styles we should still observe their regard for the beauty of the music.
    Yes, but
    I believe that there are so many opportunities that we have to today to really revolutionize music.
    That's what the modernists have been trying to do. The problem is continuity. Until Schonberg, expansion of traditional techniques was the way forward. Schonberg broke away without considering communcation problems and preparing his audience.
    We could create a slightly “global” sound and open our horizons to the world of music outside our little refined and proper bubble.
    Will that work? Many problems arise - tuning, melodic conventions and whether it can be assimilated. The attempts so far have led to nothing substantial - Ravi Shanka's concerto; Colin McPhee's work with gamelan and many european works that use these instruments and flavours. Chinese popular music uses western harmony to its modal melodies but it doesn't produce anything of interest. It doesn't sound right to me, compared with the original melodies and thin-textured accomopaniments. You'll find many references to Eastern music in Western Art music. It seems to provide novelty but in preserving the character of the music, thematic development is stilted by lack of developmental capacity of the source. You won't get a Mahler-sized symphony from a couple of Eastern themes.
    As for rhythms, complexity is Africa and derivative Caribbean and South American communities, all developing along different lines but usuaully complex. They have to be listened to carefully to appreciate the subtleties at different levels. But Stravinsky wrote The Rite without reference to them. Villa-Lobos captured the incredibly complex interplay of rhythms in much of his work.
    There is so much music out there that we shouldn’t have to get to the point where we are constructing music specifically to challenge the listeners’ ear.
    Totally agree! Unless the listener likes this kind of thing.
    We can still change without giving up the enjoyment and the beauty of music. Now i am not saying the new, atonal music does not have beauty, but it is different. The untrained ear will not enjoy atonal works,
    And yet it acceptable in film. Perhaps it's time to abandon pure music and move into multi-media.
    But why should we close ourselves off to those of us who have learned to appreciate the progression of music and understand why music is being composed in such a manner. If we can take advantage of our ability to experience world culture in theis ge of the internet and easy world travel we could begin a period of music with unprecedented innovation and begin to see the re-emergence of prolific composition that could rival the great masters themselves.
    The problem is that the music you speak of is not innovative - often arrived at through expansion of its own traditions - that's why the music of Bali is markedly different from that of Java though 100 years ago they sounded similar, used the same tuning, etc. Bali moved on, Java didn't.
    African music assimilated Christian music that accounts for their use of harmony otherwise the melodic content of its music is extremely subtle, heavily invested in rhythm. If you bring it to Western Art music you get strands of pop, albeit watered down.
    We can listen to this music in its own right.
    Why not make it our own.
    As said, it's been done but only to discover its limitations.

    As you said - nice topic.
    Last edited by Frasier; Oct-30-2007 at 13:04.

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Fully agreed, Quartet. If beauty in this music can't be appreciated by untrained ears, then what's the point? One can see where this comes from - the 20th century notion of complexity and lack of popularity being a guarantee of 'high' artistic credibility. To me it seems so backwards looking though - like trying to emulate a dead model. Contemporary culture, at least in my country, makes no distinction between high and low, so why try to perpetuate 'high' values from the past, through music?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    Will that work? Many problems arise - tuning, melodic conventions and whether it can be assimilated. The attempts so far have led to nothing substantial - Ravi Shanka's concerto; Colin McPhee's work with gamelan and many european works that use these instruments and flavours. Chinese popular music uses western harmony to its modal melodies but it doesn't produce anything of interest. It doesn't sound right to me, compared with the original melodies and thin-textured accomopaniments. You'll find many references to Eastern music in Western Art music. It seems to provide novelty but in preserving the character of the music, thematic development is stilted by lack of developmental capacity of the source. You won't get a Mahler-sized symphony from a couple of Eastern themes.
    As for rhythms, complexity is Africa and derivative Caribbean and South American communities, all developing along different lines but usuaully complex. They have to be listened to carefully to appreciate the subtleties at different levels. But Stravinsky wrote The Rite without reference to them. Villa-Lobos captured the incredibly complex interplay of rhythms in much of his work.
    I do agree that many current attempts at fusion aren't overly exciting. But there are plenty of as yet unrealised ways to fuse different musics together. Who could have imagined jazz, before it was invented? New musics require the right conditions / environment to be able to grow (along with some good musicians of course ).

    Also, the problems you mention can vanish with a different perspective. Personally I don't think its about writing western music with a pentatonic scale here and a tabla rhythm there. Of course this is exaggerating, but what I'm getting at is that it can go beyond these surface aspects. A better way would be to try and understand the function of this (non-western) music, what it means to the people who listen to it, and how the technical aspects contribute to this meaning. Then its not about creating an Eastern flavour (etc) by using Eastern sounds, but rather of fusing together two musical ideals in a unique way. Technical aspects can then be borrowed and invented according to this new purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quartet View Post
    If we can take advantage of our ability to experience world culture in the age of the internet and easy world travel we could begin a period of music with unprecedented innovation and begin to see the re-emergence of prolific composition that could rival the great masters themselves.
    Couldn't agree more. If Debussy wanted a new music for the 'age of aeroplanes', we need new musics for the age of the internet and global culture.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oneiros View Post
    Fully agreed, Quartet. If beauty in this music can't be appreciated by untrained ears, then what's the point? One can see where this comes from - the 20th century notion of complexity and lack of popularity being a guarantee of 'high' artistic credibility.
    That may be true of a lot of contemporary music but not all. To dismiss it all seems a little narrow-minded. To me, there is a struggle to find a way forward - en route there will be a lot of irrelvant stuff but the hope is that something might emerge. I've heard a lot of contemporary music that does not challenge listeners' ears, particularly - and there is music that attempts to bridge the "classical" / conventional idiom with the less fettered undeniably creative lyricism that is possible - few would doubt the authenticity of Ferneyhough for example or a hundred other living composers. Or dead ones - Berg, say.

    There's also a load of contemporary music that's complex for complexity's sake rather than complexity because an underlying message requires it. That, I can't abide. Most usually there's no underlying message and the composer has thrown something together for reasons other than creative satisfaction.

    Believe me, I'd be the first to slam music that "challenges my ear". Why should I have to work to listen to stuff? Rhetoric - I shouldn't. Ligeti sounds 10% music, 90% challenge to my ears.

    But just as I can absorb Debussy I can take in Sculthorpe, Knussen, Skempton and others, whose music seems to poise at the surrealist levels. There's challenge to someone's ear if they're listening out for key and cadence but connexions are made on other planes.
    Contemporary culture, at least in my country, makes no distinction between high and low, so why try to perpetuate 'high' values from the past, through music?
    I'm not sure what you mean by high and low. Please explain.
    I do agree that many current attempts at fusion aren't overly exciting. But there are plenty of as yet unrealised ways to fuse different musics together. Who could have imagined jazz, before it was invented? New musics require the right conditions / environment to be able to grow (along with some good musicians of course ).
    Jazz contains a few extra factors as well and agreed, it is a new music. Because of its imrpovisational nature though it does not conform to certain classical conventions (like notation). Record it and you take a snap-shot and that's fine - it's still jazz but the score lies in the recording so it is closer to electroacoustic music - a notated score does not exist, merely the recording.
    Also, the problems you mention can vanish with a different perspective. Personally I don't think its about writing western music with a pentatonic scale here and a tabla rhythm there. Of course this is exaggerating, but what I'm getting at is that it can go beyond these surface aspects.
    Please tell me how - or why it should?
    A better way would be to try and understand the function of this (non-western) music, what it means to the people who listen to it, and how the technical aspects contribute to this meaning. Then its not about creating an Eastern flavour (etc) by using Eastern sounds, but rather of fusing together two musical ideals in a unique way.
    Which suggests it might be best to consider the music in situ. Much traditional "world" music persists because its past is embedded in religious ceremony or practice. This is why so little Chinese "classical" music has been preserved - it took almost no part in religion or ceremony. Believe me, I've looked and studied a few of these musics. One realises finally that such fusion at a deeper (than a superficial) level is not easy because it requires assimilation of cultural elements (sonewhat) alien to the west.

    Are you therefore inciting a challenge to a listener's intellect, perhaps even their spirituality, as much as contemporary music does their ear?

    No matter, I do reserve a hope for the future and I'll be the first to applaud if it happens.
    Couldn't agree more. If Debussy wanted a new music for the 'age of aeroplanes', we need new musics for the age of the internet and global culture.
    By all mean show us how by way of a composition if you will. As for "global culture" that's a dream beyond your lifetime and mine. The global village is a figment of the American imagination. Look no further than the segregation of the G8 from the alternative G8 that seems to be emerging: China, India, Pakistan, Korea, Iran etc, to see why 'global' might be awkward - not everyone wants to be dominated by America.

    Fact is, I see nothing wrong with "world music" in its own right. But I think we run the risk of generating facile music that parallels regional pop by trying to incorporate it at a superficial level - and isolating it at a deeper level by attempted cultural fusion. At the same time there's no mileage (as you already spotted) in complexity for its own sake in contemporary music - or worse, composers who do not know what the heck they're doing - and there are plenty of those around.
    Last edited by Frasier; Oct-31-2007 at 01:17.

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    That may be true of a lot of contemporary music but not all. To dismiss it all seems a little narrow-minded. To me, there is a struggle to find a way forward - en route there will be a lot of irrelvant stuff but the hope is that something might emerge. I've heard a lot of contemporary music that does not challenge listeners' ears, particularly - and there is music that attempts to bridge the "classical" / conventional idiom with the less fettered undeniably creative lyricism that is possible - few would doubt the authenticity of Ferneyhough for example or a hundred other living composers. Or dead ones - Berg, say.
    Aye, I know there's some good contemporary music out there. It's just hard to find, and to be honest, I can't find the motivation to sift through lots of bad music for the sake of one or two good works. Maybe the problem is that I have so little tolerance for intellectual / academic music, which is championed at uni.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    Which suggests it might be best to consider the music in situ. Much traditional "world" music persists because its past is embedded in religious ceremony or practice. This is why so little Chinese "classical" music has been preserved - it took almost no part in religion or ceremony. Believe me, I've looked and studied a few of these musics. One realises finally that such fusion at a deeper (than a superficial) level is not easy because it requires assimilation of cultural elements (sonewhat) alien to the west.

    Are you therefore inciting a challenge to a listener's intellect, perhaps even their spirituality, as much as contemporary music does their ear?

    No matter, I do reserve a hope for the future and I'll be the first to applaud if it happens.
    This is an interesting point you make, and I agree. It would require an assimilation of cultural values. And this can happen, if the conditions are right. Eastern culture may not be understood in some western countries, but in others where there is more exposure through immigration, it's not so alien.

    Actually I probably would incite a challenge to the listeners spirituality. It may not work in all cases, but where there is already some understanding of (for example) Eastern spiritual ideas / values, there is a good chance. It's not my idea, but religions differ only in externals - the inner dimension of one religion can't be differentiated from any others. Music is unique - kind of like a religion that is lacking external form. It strikes the inner dimension directly. Because of this, it can be used to create understanding across cultural / religious boundaries, by creating awareness of similarities (inner) rather than differences (outer).

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    Fact is, I see nothing wrong with "world music" in its own right. But I think we run the risk of generating facile music that parallels regional pop by trying to incorporate it at a superficial level - and isolating it at a deeper level by attempted cultural fusion. At the same time there's no mileage (as you already spotted) in complexity for its own sake in contemporary music - or worse, composers who do not know what the heck they're doing - and there are plenty of those around.
    Yes it's certainly easy to get it wrong, when attempting fusion. That's probably why successful cases are rare. But like I said before, perceived problems don't necessarily need a solution - they can simply vanish with a different perspective.

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    I agree the task ahead is a large one. I wish i had the abilities to fuse styles together but i am not talented enough to do this. But you might be underestimating the ability of the human race itself. There are still Beethovens out there, just yet to find their innovative calling.

    When i speak of "global society" i should set limits on what i mean. I agree that the world does not want to be dominated by any other state or culture, but we are more global than ever before. Not in a culture war sense, but a culture exposure sense. Exposure to different styles and collaborating with artists outside of the west could bring about this "global" or at least "more global" sound. This will take time. We are accustomed to instant results but such a radical change will take many attempts and many failures till we begin to "see the light." And i am not to say that we should do away with cultural styles in full. In the late Middle Ages there was a distinct French and a distinct Italian sound. Then came the Great Schism. Suddenly Italian composers where being hired to play at the French Papal Palace while French composers where being hired to play at the Vatican. French and Italian composers began collaborating and the Western sound was born. There was still a French style and an Italian style but they fused the two together to create, in a sense, a more global sound.

    Now this is a small-scale example and yes anyone could point out the numerous ways that that situation is different than the one we have now but the fact remains that Western Music would have never progressed with the uniformity and to the level that it is without the fusing of the French and Italian styles. And now music is progressing but into a strange world where we wonder what is and is not music. Without collaboration and using music from other cultures around the world we are isolating ourselves when opportunity is quite literally INSIDE THE DOOR, on a computer. And no wonder why our music is becoming so strange, we have set limitations on our music. Though we have no set rules we do have things in music theory that are considered kosher or not. 20th century was a rebellion against these "kosher" rules. It is a style that’s only mission is to break those rules. We can still expand outside of these "rules" but by examining other cultures music and there understand of music.

    Spiritually challenging? The statement is abstract and i believe all music if written well is "spiritually challenging."


    Frasier you bring some really good criticism to the table and i think i did a poor job defending my side but i will say one thing you cannot argue with.

    The opportunity is available better than ever before to change music and move it forward though outside cultural influences. Why not try?

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Yes, there's a lot in the last couple of posts to think about. Thanks for your responses, Oneiros and Quartet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quartet View Post
    Spiritually challenging? The statement is abstract and i believe all music if written well is "spiritually challenging."
    My fault this time. I didn't define that well and it's difficult to outlay basically a philosophical discussion in just one post. Let's change this to: if we bring deeper elements of a regional music into our music, by implication that depth subsumes some cultural/spiritual absorption...as far as I can see.


    Frasier you bring some really good criticism to the table
    nn-nn. 'discussion'.
    and i think i did a poor job defending my side.
    Not at all. Your views are equally valid and kudos to you for putting your point across. It's easy for me to respond but all these alternative views are refreshing and worth airing.

    ...but i will say one thing you cannot argue with...
    The opportunity is available better than ever before to change music and move it forward though outside cultural influences. Why not try?
    Right. I won't argue with that! That's one great thing about the contemporary scene - sufficient freedom has been unleashed to allow music to develop in many directions. Try? Like I said I'll be the first to applaud any efforts that produce an aesthetically pleasing and emotionally or sensually intuitive music beyond the diatonic/chromatic (or classical/romantic) realm.

    Anyway, I'll give thought to these posts. There's much left still to discuss.
    Last edited by Frasier; Oct-31-2007 at 21:58.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oneiros View Post
    Aye, I know there's some good contemporary music out there. It's just hard to find, and to be honest, I can't find the motivation to sift through lots of bad music for the sake of one or two good works. Maybe the problem is that I have so little tolerance for intellectual / academic music, which is championed at uni.
    You got it right there. In the absence of commercial recordings (even if I were ready to pay to be disappointed) I listen to most on the radio in the background. I record the programs in case something 'catches my ear' enough to devote more attention later. And once every so often I might be pleasantly surprised.
    The big problem with promoting "contemporary, free-for-all" composition at uni and college is that raises hopes falsely. I'll bet most concert attendees are students on the same courses. In real life, things change....

    This is an interesting point you make, and I agree. It would require an assimilation of cultural values. And this can happen, if the conditions are right. Eastern culture may not be understood in some western countries, but in others where there is more exposure through immigration, it's not so alien.
    Then it's a question of keep paring away at the musical public. I was listening to a contemporary work along the very lines of which you speak: Charles Dakin's Srngara Rasa. You won't find it available. It was a BBC commission broadcast 25 years ago, (recorded probably illegaly). No one else has been interested though it's a very easy and pleasant piece. Google and you get two entries! So a concerted effort is needed if at all.


    It's not my idea, but religions differ only in externals - the inner dimension of one religion can't be differentiated from any others.
    Fine, and I agree but religions are often inculcated from birth and incur chains that few adherents can escape because of the threat of post-mortem punishments. Some can, and hopefully they'll do it. (Understand, please, I can't comment too much what with the forum rules and potentially offending people who adhere to a religion.) It's a hope that the discerning modern-classic fan is likely to think beyond the herd doctrinnaire.
    Music is unique - kind of like a religion that is lacking external form. It strikes the inner dimension directly. Because of this, it can be used to create understanding across cultural / religious boundaries, by creating awareness of similarities (inner) rather than differences (outer).
    It can do....and does in popular music. As earlier mentioned, Chinese and Indian pop music borrows harmony from western music.
    It's possible because these cultures have become "westernised" through commerce and the multinationals more than music. It's also possible because it works, sort of. I'm not sure it promotes understanding across cultures - in a loose sense it must of course, but I think the elements of understanding are highly selected. I do believe, if it's going to happen, it'll start in pop.

    Yes it's certainly easy to get it wrong, when attempting fusion. That's probably why successful cases are rare. But like I said before, perceived problems don't necessarily need a solution - they can simply vanish with a different perspective.
    Is that true? I don't know. The burglar is trying to earn a living in a way that society doesn't approve. The householder victim will have a different perspective. On either side a problem exists even if one 'side' can depend on certain rules. So I'd be pleased if you could expand your point here. How does a change of perspective erase the problem? What indeed is the problem (cultural assimilation? technical (tuning, form)?) and what perspectives are we talking about? It's easy to make a problem appear to go away (by taking a view that pretends it doesn't exist) but...such problems have an annoying habit of coming back.

    EF

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Awesome discussion here guys - this is very stimulating. You know, we really should come up with a method of short-hand quoting, to save the poor people who want to read this discussion through in the future. How long is this page going to be...

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    You got it right there. In the absence of commercial recordings (even if I were ready to pay to be disappointed) I listen to most on the radio in the background. I record the programs in case something 'catches my ear' enough to devote more attention later. And once every so often I might be pleasantly surprised.
    The big problem with promoting "contemporary, free-for-all" composition at uni and college is that raises hopes falsely. I'll bet most concert attendees are students on the same courses. In real life, things change....
    Spot on. The audiences at student concerts are made up entirely of students, and the professional concerts are only slightly better - it's either students or the elderly (and the turn-out in most cases is very low). So I ask myself - what's the point in writing 'academic' music if its only going to be played once, and heard by less than 50 people? And all this just because they keep training us in academic styles, and making us study / listen to academic music. It's as though they're just trying to perpetuate their narrow musical values - narrow compared with the variety of musical styles which are available in our century.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    Fine, and I agree but religions are often inculcated from birth and incur chains that few adherents can escape because of the threat of post-mortem punishments. Some can, and hopefully they'll do it. (Understand, please, I can't comment too much what with the forum rules and potentially offending people who adhere to a religion.) It's a hope that the discerning modern-classic fan is likely to think beyond the herd doctrinnaire.
    I guess you're right. But I do believe that music can go beyond this. For instance, if you were Catholic, and listening to some of Arvo Pärt's music, would you dismiss it simply because the composer is a Russian Orthodox? It's not as though you have to convert in order to appreciate the spiritual dimension of this music. But then, maybe people are conditioned that strongly... What do you think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    It can do....and does in popular music. As earlier mentioned, Chinese and Indian pop music borrows harmony from western music.
    It's possible because these cultures have become "westernised" through commerce and the multinationals more than music. It's also possible because it works, sort of. I'm not sure it promotes understanding across cultures - in a loose sense it must of course, but I think the elements of understanding are highly selected. I do believe, if it's going to happen, it'll start in pop.
    Yes I suppose it depends on the level of understanding of the listener. I know its much easier to appreciate the music of the Whirling Dervishes, for instance, by having some (however slight) understanding of what the music means to them, and how it fits in their spiritual ceremony. Perhaps this is part of the learning process - by listening to their music more, it opens one's mind to different values / ideas, and the understanding is deepened on an intuitive level. This is how I mean that music can cross boundaries. To fully understand it, of course you would need intentional study of more than just the music. But perhaps through direct contact with the music, it can open doors from within which would be harder to open on the intellectual plane (through sociological / religious study). This is my experience anyway - it's one thing to read about the role of music in their life, but by listening to it, one can glimpse the deeper significance of this, which is hard to appreciate through a solely intellectual approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    Is that true? I don't know. The burglar is trying to earn a living in a way that society doesn't approve. The householder victim will have a different perspective. On either side a problem exists even if one 'side' can depend on certain rules. So I'd be pleased if you could expand your point here. How does a change of perspective erase the problem? What indeed is the problem (cultural assimilation? technical (tuning, form)?) and what perspectives are we talking about? It's easy to make a problem appear to go away (by taking a view that pretends it doesn't exist) but...such problems have an annoying habit of coming back.

    EF
    Sorry I was a bit vague here. When it comes to musical composition, some see it as solving artistic problems (the blank page, instrumentation, etc). And then certain things you do will create more problems due to other restrictions - like instruments not being able to play in the desired register very well, etc. So one can approach all these intellectually, as a set of problems (like math problems) which need a solution. But in music, by taking a different perspective, often ideas will arise which couldn't have been thought of intellectually, but they work well and the problem dissolves. So you could see fusion as a set of problems - which instruments to use, how to blend the styles, etc. But I think that if you approach it from the ideological plane, with enough understanding of what two different musics mean, then these problems will vanish. If the values embedded beneath these musics are realised and blended successfully, and can be understood by listeners, then that is what makes it a successful fusion IMO - whether it sounds like a blend (through borrowed instrumentation, melodic structure, etc) is a secondary issue compared to this.

    If the issue of cultural assimilation is approached from the perspective of value systems, and there is sufficient understanding of both and enough common ground to warrant a synthesis, then it can work, if the music blends these well. It also depends on the composer's ability to do this, and his/her level of understanding of these values.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quartet View Post
    When i speak of "global society" i should set limits on what i mean. I agree that the world does not want to be dominated by any other state or culture, but we are more global than ever before. Not in a culture war sense, but a culture exposure sense. Exposure to different styles and collaborating with artists outside of the west could bring about this "global" or at least "more global" sound. This will take time. We are accustomed to instant results but such a radical change will take many attempts and many failures till we begin to "see the light." And i am not to say that we should do away with cultural styles in full. In the late Middle Ages there was a distinct French and a distinct Italian sound. Then came the Great Schism. Suddenly Italian composers where being hired to play at the French Papal Palace while French composers where being hired to play at the Vatican. French and Italian composers began collaborating and the Western sound was born. There was still a French style and an Italian style but they fused the two together to create, in a sense, a more global sound.

    Now this is a small-scale example and yes anyone could point out the numerous ways that that situation is different than the one we have now but the fact remains that Western Music would have never progressed with the uniformity and to the level that it is without the fusing of the French and Italian styles. And now music is progressing but into a strange world where we wonder what is and is not music. Without collaboration and using music from other cultures around the world we are isolating ourselves when opportunity is quite literally INSIDE THE DOOR, on a computer. And no wonder why our music is becoming so strange, we have set limitations on our music. Though we have no set rules we do have things in music theory that are considered kosher or not. 20th century was a rebellion against these "kosher" rules. It is a style that’s only mission is to break those rules. We can still expand outside of these "rules" but by examining other cultures music and there understand of music.

    Spiritually challenging? The statement is abstract and i believe all music if written well is "spiritually challenging."


    Frasier you bring some really good criticism to the table and i think i did a poor job defending my side but i will say one thing you cannot argue with.

    The opportunity is available better than ever before to change music and move it forward though outside cultural influences. Why not try?
    Fully agreed. In spite of world politics, through the arts we can enhance our understanding of other cultures, and it sure is an excellent time for this - the dawn of the (culturally) global era, perhaps. And this is why I think we need a new approach to music - the stylistic variety available nowadays is way beyond what it ever has been. Let's hope we see a few Beethoven's in the near future, who can draw the best out of this new musical environment.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oneiros View Post
    Aye, I know there's some good contemporary music out there. It's just hard to find, and to be honest, I can't find the motivation to sift through lots of bad music for the sake of one or two good works. Maybe the problem is that I have so little tolerance for intellectual / academic music, which is championed at uni.
    There's a sad disparity in musical education in the UK. At GCSE level, music is a free-for-all - many teachers (I understand) consider it a joke that has SO lost credibility as to be useless. Notation is not taught, nor is form or any analytic tools to enable pupils to investigate music. World music is well-served: pupils are exposed to Indian and Indonesian music and a limited range of Caribbean music. However, composition is all about computers. The technology is taught but nothing about form.

    Now, for gifted pupils pre-destined to become composers, this is excellent. Their creativity gets free rein. But it doesn't help those who might have potential, the ones who might take off with good guidance.

    I think it's a great shame that conventional notation isn't taught but that's a different question.

    However, as far as I know (and correct me if you think I'm wrong) those who do get to university to study "composition" face a different style of education. No one can teach people creativity. Universities can only teach people how to use the tools, so to put a course together, a curriculum, these professors have to teach rules and policies that tend to stifle creativity. Students are obliged to turn out compositions that demostrate the policies and procedures they have studied (in order to get their degrees). The result is more like a conveyor belt.

    Of course, some students burst out of their bounds and compose listenable works. I often think they do this in spite of their education, not because of it.

    About world music fusion, this topic prompted me to listen to a recent (Lorelt label) download album that fuses styles in "modernist" ways. One is "Tin Pan Ballet", pieces by Martin Butler that include fusions of popular styles with a modernist style. Of course, these popular styles derived from various "world" influences. But there's evidence of it happening, all right. What it needs is more exposure.


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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    There's a sad disparity in musical education in the UK. At GCSE level, music is a free-for-all - many teachers (I understand) consider it a joke that has SO lost credibility as to be useless. Notation is not taught, nor is form or any analytic tools to enable pupils to investigate music. World music is well-served: pupils are exposed to Indian and Indonesian music and a limited range of Caribbean music. However, composition is all about computers. The technology is taught but nothing about form.

    Now, for gifted pupils pre-destined to become composers, this is excellent. Their creativity gets free rein. But it doesn't help those who might have potential, the ones who might take off with good guidance.

    I think it's a great shame that conventional notation isn't taught but that's a different question.

    However, as far as I know (and correct me if you think I'm wrong) those who do get to university to study "composition" face a different style of education. No one can teach people creativity. Universities can only teach people how to use the tools, so to put a course together, a curriculum, these professors have to teach rules and policies that tend to stifle creativity. Students are obliged to turn out compositions that demostrate the policies and procedures they have studied (in order to get their degrees). The result is more like a conveyor belt.

    Of course, some students burst out of their bounds and compose listenable works. I often think they do this in spite of their education, not because of it.

    About world music fusion, this topic prompted me to listen to a recent (Lorelt label) download album that fuses styles in "modernist" ways. One is "Tin Pan Ballet", pieces by Martin Butler that include fusions of popular styles with a modernist style. Of course, these popular styles derived from various "world" influences. But there's evidence of it happening, all right. What it needs is more exposure.

    Damn that sounds pretty poor. From what I've heard, it's a little better over here in Australia, in terms of secondary school level music. Much more academic anyway. I'm actually glad that I didn't study music at school - it probably would have put me off it for good!

    As for university, its pretty much the same. It does provide the resources to learn, and opportunities to get played, but if you want to write music (as opposed to over-theorised academic nonsense) you pretty much have to teach yourself. Not that it really matters - most of the students have no idea what they're doing there anyway.

    There are actually a few world music conservatories in The Netherlands, which look interesting. They teach a wide variety of traditions, most of which don't use notation - so the teaching is fairly 'authentic'. It's a good step to opening people up to different kinds of music, I think.

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    In spite of my disdain for reading things thoroughly i finally had to read this topic word for word and it's fascinating. Well done to the both of you!

    With regards to music education i will agree, there is something wrong. I understand why there is a more "free" approach to teaching, to not put limits on creative ideas, but it seems to have produced little results. At the same time if we did teach in a more traditional method would we be setting up an environment were music would not be able to grow? What a dilemma.
    I think the fact traditional notation is not being taught is, to me, a huge problem. Though computers offer a great tool for composers, it should be looked at as a tool, not the norm. Though i might be looking at in a "tradition" sense, i just do not believe it is beneficial to leave traditional notation in the dust.
    But i do see possibilities in exposing composition students to world music. I do not know if this is done but have in the curriculum a proper dissection of "world classical pieces" as you would dissect a Bach fugue. Be exposed to the different ways in which world music approaches intervals, cadencing, modes and so on. Then the composers would be able to implement the learning into their own music. Also notation itself can be altered or have added symbols which could tell you where to play a little sharp or flat and too what degree. This could give opportunities to compose on different modes but this is also limited to the instruments that can alter their pitch accordingly. Unfortunately the piano, my love, will always be limited in its tonal possibilities.
    And i agree that the cultural setting of world music needs to be studied by the composer who would try to fuse music. Learn to appreciate the subtleties of eastern music, especially that of the Far East, to properly integrate it into a more palatable quasi-western style for western audiences.

    In regards to the religion, i can see where the "spiritually challenging" aspect comes in now. I did not read thoroughly enough the first time through when i made me previous comment. I can see where the differences in culture can play a part in the appreciation of certain types of music. Upon a listen of an ancient Chinese work which is regard as sacred, I’ll be honest, i just didn't get it. I guess as said by both of you, more exposure is key and at least a small understanding of cultural and religious influences. But i really do think that these types of music have much to offer. Every time i here an Islamic call to prayer i am wrapped up in the beauty and difference in the music. If there is a slow integration of eastern music into western music it might be “easier to swallow” than a quick fusion attempt. But i do not believe that differences in religion will matter much to the listener. I am not a religious person, yet i love religious works. And even if the composer drew inspiration from a sacred work this does not mean that the composer should not use it in a secular work.


    Well i have been interrupted by the phone and lost my train of thought but this is very interesting. I look forward to reading more.

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    I don't quite understand what you mean in this topic.
    Music by default has no objective value, it is just noise.
    Granted, you may not be satisfied with the music you listen to, maybe you should start creating what you want to hear.
    There is no limit to the amount of original sound that can be put out, it's all about context and emotion.
    All you need is an idea for yourself, and then execute that idea.

    Once you have executed this idea and it turns out exactly how you want it to, others opinions suddenly become irrelevant, but somehow you have satisfied your own needs.
    This is the basic premise of music.

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    psicorp,

    To me there is much more to composing, it is not simply taking what you hear in your head and writing it on paper. Yes that is what happens in the final process but there is much more involved. I feel with each day i write i am growing, getting more familiar with music itself. Learning to twist it into different ways. All of this is due to more than what is simply in my head, it is the influences from other music as well. I still study music by other composers, not only to enjoy playing it but also to learn from it. I try to listen to as much music as i can, not only for the enjoyment but more so to understand music itself more. I do not understand music as much as i would like so i try to continuously learn. Gain insight from other who knew much more than i could ever hope to know. I believe that every piece of music i have studied contributed, in one way or another, to the composer i am today. I would like to be able to have the freedom of dismissing the idea of studding other cultures music and be able to compose with limitless boundaries. But if i have not been exposed to certain music, how can i possibly hope to grow outside of the world that surrounds me.

    Example- If someone has only listened to Bach, they will compose their own music but in the style of Bach.

    or a different way-

    If a chef has never seen, heard of, or tasted Italian food how would he ever think to put alfredo sauce on a dish?


    To conclude everything simply, so i do not write on for pages.

    I want to experience as much music as possible to i can make sure i am not missing out on being able to use any "alfredo sauces" i don't know about.

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