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Thread: Putative properties of modern music

  1. #46
    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    It's not the same, I know. BurningDesire pointed out why it was significant - the preconceived aspect of the matter.

    Still, all these opinions are preconceived, on both sides of the argument. Therefore it really doesn't make any difference to my original definition given the context.

    When I said you were turning definitions around, I meant that it was not significant. And while I might be ignorant, I am not a racist, so feel free to keep those matters out of the thread.
    Well, I never said you were racist, I just said that attitude often leads to those types of people justifying their ignorance. I didn't read the whole thread, so I'm not sure who you were talking about in your original post and perhaps you're right about people using preconceived notions themselves in their argument against the other side, but I did not approve of the way you defined prejudice so whimsically so I said so and did not appreciate your post acting like I was attempting to stick up for some viewpoint being espoused in this thread.

  2. #47
    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnote11 View Post
    Well, I never said you were racist, I just said that attitude often leads to those types of people justifying their ignorance. I didn't read the whole thread, so I'm not sure who you were talking about in your original post and perhaps you're right about people using preconceived notions themselves in their argument against the other side, but I did not approve of the way you defined prejudice so whimsically so I said so and did not appreciate your post acting like I was attempting to stick up for some viewpoint being espoused in this thread.
    Well then I should probably apologize for my attitude. I suppose what I was originally saying, in a far too indirect way, was basically that not all conservative listeners are just ill-informed like the ones some guy was talking about, and that we all have our prejudices on some level and that we should acknowledge that, even if we continue to support them. I am probably, as you say, being somewhat flippant with a rather loaded word.

  3. #48
    Senior Member some guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    ...not all conservative listeners are just ill-informed like the ones some guy was talking about....
    Conservative. Ill-informed. Neither of these are categories I have used in this thread. These are categories that KenOC has tried to apply (and has apparently succeeded in applying) to what I have been saying.

    If you're going to reference what I've said, it's only polite to reference what I've actually said not what someone else has said that I said.

    I get the feeling that you and Ken are over in one corner of the sandbox yelling at a strawman Ken has constructed while I'm over in another corner watching you with bemusement if not horror and occasionally (as now) saying "Um guys. Over here!"
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  4. #49
    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    Well then I should probably apologize for my attitude. I suppose what I was originally saying, in a far too indirect way, was basically that not all conservative listeners are just ill-informed like the ones some guy was talking about, and that we all have our prejudices on some level and that we should acknowledge that, even if we continue to support them. I am probably, as you say, being somewhat flippant with a rather loaded word.
    I happen to think you're misrepresenting some guy, but overall I would agree with your point and I was echoing your point in the post that I made earlier in the thread. Overall, the point isn't having to like or even respect modern music, but if you are to disparage it then you must not rely on misinformation while doing so. I know some guy is a big proponent of "listener is king", so if his main ideology was antithetical then he would be a raving lunatic.

    I happen to like noise music, but I would never expect a lot of people to be into it. On this forum, I have seen noise music being brought up quite often. There is a lot of ignorance due to unfamiliarity with it, which is to be expected. I don't have a problem with people not being into noise music, but when they say things that are blatantly untrue in order to make a mockery out of it, then I find that very wrong myself.

    I would hope some guy would not say someone is just not listening "correctly" every time they call serialism boring after having informed themselves of the composition style and the works, for instance.
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  5. #50
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnote11 View Post
    I know some guy is a big proponent of "listener is king", so if his main ideology was antithetical then he would be a raving lunatic.
    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    If you're going to reference what I've said, it's only polite to reference what I've actually said not what someone else has said that I said.
    Ahem. From the OP:

    "If Higdon and Adès can give people "new" music that is nonetheless familiar, then it's the people producing new music who are out of step. Music is a product. The customer is king. Genuine innovation is increasingly marginalized, innovative composers dismissed as "obscure" and the consumer secure that his or her needs are paramount."

    The tone and meaning are clear enough, so I won't interpret (or misinterpret) this further. Again, for a more developed argument along the same lines, see Babbitt:

    http://www.palestrant.com/babbitt.html
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  6. #51
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    ... Do you mean that many composers do not compose music with the intention of having other people enjoy or appreciate their works? If so, do you think that was true of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic composers as well? I always assumed that composers wrote music for others to hear (and presumably enjoy/appreciate/etc.). Do you think I'm wrong?
    I did not say it, but, yes, I think you're mistaken.

    I'd like to take that several steps further -- in the more commercially complex and driven 20th century through present, it seems an idea has taken shape that composers of 'art music' aniticipate / try to calculate what will be popular, as do film producers for the mainstream studios, or a Disney Co. team of composers of pop songs does for their on-contract performers. This is because all that business is in the modern sense in context as 'product;' and there, ancillary to product, is the calculation of what is most broadly appealing in order to make maximum revenue / profit from the least of those creative ventures... in capsule form, it is done to "Minimize the Risks." [Minimizing the risk is somewhat antithetical to a 'creative' artists' intention - imho.']

    The notion that 'art' composers, even those 'musical servants for hire' of the Baroque and classical eras, were intentionally composing to please an audience I think is very much off the mark. [If composers truly had an ambition to generally please, Mozart would have composed many more serenades near identical to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Grieg would have similarly self-pirated his big pops hits from the incidental music for Peer Gynt, and Holst would have tried to write another 'planets,' etc.]

    A composer is a part of their time and despite the existence of the phrase, no one is truly "ahead of their time," no matter how 'contemporary' and 'advanced' their harmonic usage and form. The composer (consciously or not) is simply one more being of all collective beings, and will, generally, compose what they can, either assuming or merely hoping it will interest others. [If Beethoven had catered to the taste of the person who commissioned his Triple Concerto as an after-dinner concert piece, we would not have a piece which knocks the proverbial socks off of the listener....]

    If any 'audience' is at all considered, that would comprise the performers: if it is not interesting to the performers, it won't get done. In a way, most composers compose, then, for other professional musicians.

    It is a conspiracy :-)
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  7. #52
    Moderator Mahlerian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Ahem. From the OP:

    "If Higdon and Adès can give people "new" music that is nonetheless familiar, then it's the people producing new music who are out of step. Music is a product. The customer is king. Genuine innovation is increasingly marginalized, innovative composers dismissed as "obscure" and the consumer secure that his or her needs are paramount."

    The tone and meaning are clear enough, so I won't interpret (or misinterpret) this further. Again, for a more developed argument along the same lines, see Babbitt:

    http://www.palestrant.com/babbitt.html
    This has little to do with Babbitt's argument.

    Babbitt's essay is so simple that I wonder how anyone could possibly misconstrue it, but it happens all the time on the internet. I'll boil it down.

    1. Contemporary music and public taste have drifted apart.

    2. Given the abstruse nature of some contemporary music, this should not be surprising.

    3. The contemporary composer, instead of mourning his fate, should enjoy the chance to compose without need of the public's approval.

    4. Therefore the situation benefits all involved.

    Some Guy may disagree with 2, but I think pretty much everyone here would agree that contemporary classical music is a minority interest.

    Babbitt encouraged Steven Sondheim, who specifically chose to study with him, in his work on musical theater. He loved Jazz and the popular music of his childhood. He was not the elitist that Palestrant and others have made him out to be.

    I don't even like that much of Babbitt's music (I do like All Set for Jazz ensemble), but I don't like him being set up as a straw man.
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  8. #53
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    ...
    3. The contemporary composer, instead of mourning his fate, should enjoy the chance to compose without need of the public's approval.

    4. Therefore the situation benefits all involved.
    ...
    I don't even like that much of Babbitt's music (I do like All Set for Jazz ensemble), but I don't like him being set up as a straw man.
    Well, I don't quite see how it benefits the public, who Babbitt wants to pay for all this. I believe they're part of what you speak of when you say "all involved".

    The most striking similarity is the contempt Babbitt shows, at the end of his essay, for the listener. Compare this to the language at the end of the OP.

    "Admittedly, if this music is not supported, the whistling repertory of the man in the street will be little affected, the concert-going activity of the conspicuous consumer of musical culture will be little disturbed."
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  9. #54
    Moderator Mahlerian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Well, I don't quite see how it benefits the public, who Babbitt wants to pay for all this. I believe they're part of what you speak of when you say "all involved".

    The most striking similarity is the contempt Babbitt shows, at the end of his essay, for the listener. Compare this to the language at the end of the OP.

    "Admittedly, if this music is not supported, the whistling repertory of the man in the street will be little affected, the concert-going activity of the conspicuous consumer of musical culture will be little disturbed."
    The public is paying the Universities, who have music departments, that train musicians. Babbitt was a professor who wrote music on the side, or a composer who taught to maintain a living, take your pick. Surely you don't think that funding to Universities' music departments should be cut off? Or arts grants in general, which fund all kinds of composers, atonal or not. There was then and is now very little money going from the government to composers for their composition work.

    The public also benefits, in Babbitt's view, by not being forced to listen to music it does not enjoy.

    That last bit you quoted is his joking way of saying that "most people won't care".
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Dec-31-2012 at 04:05.
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  10. #55
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Well, I don't quite see how it benefits the public, who Babbitt wants to pay for all this.

    ..."Admittedly, if this music is not supported, the whistling repertory of the man in the street will be little affected, the concert-going activity of the conspicuous consumer of musical culture will be little disturbed."
    Raising a question which you may care to raise as an OP....

    Exactly what 'benefits' do you think the public are 'entitled' to, or have a right to expect from any individual composer?

    To what degree and how, precisely, is the public "paying for all this?"

    Do you really think it the job, duty, ethical or personal duty of a composer to provide more hummable / whistle-able tunes and themes for the average music listener, as per the perimeters of the average listener's ability and taste?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X03uSwM07_A

    Should I, when I compose, consider at all the tastes or limitations of the listener's ability to, say find a particular line or interval I wrote, 'catchy,' or 'hummable?'
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  11. #56
    Senior Member some guy's Avatar
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    Interesting.

    A portion of the audience for classical music is contemptuous of contemporary music.

    This contempt is a historical fact with roots deep in the 19th century.

    Mentioning this contemptuousness is in itself an act of contempt.

    Wait a minute! Say what?

    Well, what I'd really like to talk about myself is how to diminish the contempt if not eradicate it. Not to get everyone to like the same things. That's not even desirable not to mention impossible. (Hence a red herring every time it comes up, in any conversation.) But to create an atmosphere in which dislike is just that, dislike. Not contempt, not hostility, just dislike. An atmosphere in which no one feels the need to express their dislikes over and over again, as if failure to express them would mean validating evil and anti-social and immoral and just plain ugly music.

    An atmosphere in which new things might be a little intimidating still but certainly not automatically rejected, just for being unfamiliar. An atmosphere in which exploration can be seen as a positive thing and not some hidden agenda of anti-traditionism. An atmosphere in which invitations to explore can be seen as just that, invitations, not as some concealed expression of contempt for inferior beings.

    Nah. Just kidding. Let's fight!!*

    *humor
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  12. #57
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    To what degree and how, precisely, is the public "paying for all this?"
    No idea. But the whole point of Babbitt's argument is that composers of the types of music he speaks of should be better supported by universities and other institutions. Evidently he felt that the current level of support was insufficient. Please read the whole essay, all will be clear (if you can make it through the academese).

    Here's an excerpt: "But how, it may be asked, will this serve to secure the means of survival or the composer and his music? One answer is that after all such a private life is what the university provides the scholar and the scientist. It is only proper that the university, which -- significantly -- has provided so many contemporary composers with their professional training and general education, should provide a home for the "complex," "difficult," and "problematical" in music. Indeed, the process has begun; and if it appears to proceed too slowly...the various institutes of advanced research and the large majority of foundations have disregarded this music's need for means of survival."

    Certainly he doesn't rely on the listener, whom he dismisses as "the conspicuous consumer of musical culture".
    Last edited by KenOC; Dec-31-2012 at 06:17.
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  13. #58
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    No idea. But the whole point of Babbitt's argument is that composers of the types of music he speaks of should be better supported by universities and other institutions. Evidently he felt that the current level of support was insufficient. Please read the whole essay, all will be clear (if you can make it through the academese).

    Here's an excerpt: "But how, it may be asked, will this serve to secure the means of survival or the composer and his music? One answer is that after all such a private life is what the university provides the scholar and the scientist. It is only proper that the university, which -- significantly -- has provided so many contemporary composers with their professional training and general education, should provide a home for the "complex," "difficult," and "problematical" in music. Indeed, the process has begun; and if it appears to proceed too slowly...the various institutes of advanced research and the large majority of foundations have disregarded this music's need for means of survival."

    Certainly he doesn't rely on the listener, whom he dismisses as "the conspicuous consumer of musical culture".
    ... and pray tell, (come, now,) what tenured professor is not always on the lookout for more funding for their personal interest, i.e. their academic department? Far more is probably spent on football (either sort) equipment and maintaining the grounds upon which it is played at Harvard and Yale than on their music departments. Unless all the schools your tax money goes to are vocational schools, you are funding all manner of useless things :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    I did not say it, but, yes, I think you're mistaken.

    I'd like to take that several steps further -- in the more commercially complex and driven 20th century through present, it seems an idea has taken shape that composers of 'art music' aniticipate / try to calculate what will be popular, as do film producers for the mainstream studios, or a Disney Co. team of composers of pop songs does for their on-contract performers.
    I agree with everything you say here. My point was somewhat different. I don't think composers try to please the present audience in the way pop songs or film music does. I just assumed composers do not write with the view that it doesn't matter if anyone ever hears their music. I think music is meant to be performed (and therefore heard). I also find it hard to believe that composers would simply not care if anyone ever appreciated their music.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    I think music is meant to be performed (and therefore heard). I also find it hard to believe that composers would simply not care if anyone ever appreciated their music.
    "The time has passed when the normally well-educated man without special preparation could understand the most advanced work in, for example, mathematics, philosophy, and physics. Advanced music, to the extent that it reflects the knowledge and originality of the informed composer, scarcely can be expected to appear more intelligible than these arts and sciences to the person whose musical education usually has been even less extensive than his background in other fields. ... And so, I dare suggest that the composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media, with its very real possibility of complete elimination of the public and social aspects of musical composition."

    --Milton Babbitt

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