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Thread: Tristan und Isolde´s follower?

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    The myth of genius and all that goes along with it is definitely a matter of believing in a paradigm, or not.

    If one does believe, then it ends there, with whomever accomplished "the apex" of the ideas in question. A clear line where "tonality had extended itself fully" and essentially reached its conclusion has already been drawn in this thread, implying that the tonal tradition could develop no further, unless it carried its full CP baggage with it, as Wagner did.

    In this purview, chromaticism is a form of extended tonality, and has no connection to Wagner if it does not present the same references to traditional tonal practices.

    I see this as an academic view which counts CP tonality, and its major/minor system as the only form of tonality capable of consideration, and brands other forms of tonality as something different, incapable of providing strong enough links back to tradition.

    This may be true, or not. It depends on how you choose to see it.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    The myth of genius and all that goes along with it is definitely a matter of believing in a paradigm, or not.

    If one does believe, then it ends there, with whomever accomplished "the apex" of the ideas in question. A clear line where "tonality had extended itself fully" and essentially reached its conclusion has already been drawn in this thread, implying that the tonal tradition could develop no further, unless it carried its full CP baggage with it, as Wagner did.

    In this purview, chromaticism is a form of extended tonality, and has no connection to Wagner if it does not present the same references to traditional tonal practices.

    I see this as an academic view which counts CP tonality, and its major/minor system as the only form of tonality capable of consideration, and brands other forms of tonality as something different, incapable of providing strong enough links back to tradition.

    This may be true, or not. It depends on how you choose to see it.
    I confess I do not understand a single sentence of this post. All cultural traditions can, and almost inevitably do, develop, at least in a dynamic, prosperous society. Our world changes and expands over time, and artists adapt to and react to the world of their time. I suppose one could define "tonality" in a way that means its development must come to a final, logical conclusion. But tonality in that sense is not a central, crucial concept for music, at least for me. Mankind had music long before tonality, so narrowly defined, came along, and will have music long after it has, if not disappeared entirely, at least greatly receded.

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    The effort to connect the most chromatic characteristics of Wagner's music back to the old, real, functional, visceral tonality puts chromaticism in the smaller context of tradition, and ignores its momentum towards modern musical thinking. Wagner's chromaticism was just like any other form.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    ...I suppose one could define "tonality" in a way that means its development must come to a final, logical conclusion. But tonality in that sense is not a central, crucial concept for music...
    There are academics who think that tonality reached its apotheosis in Wagner. Their idea of tonality is a strict CP major/minor form.

    The common-practice system is not the only tonality. It is a specialized form of many possibilities.

    Tonality is not a definition; it is what happens when a tonal hierarchy is created, which causes us to hear and refer the sound to a tonic note.

    The more notes that are added, the less tonal it is. When "12" is reached, the situation is tenuous, especially when this begins to creep into root movement.

    Chromaticism is not "extended tonality;" it is chromaticism.

    One must escape the academic notions, and look at the evidence.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    A clear line where "tonality had extended itself fully" and essentially reached its conclusion has already been drawn in this thread, implying that the tonal tradition could develop no further, unless it carried its full CP baggage with it, as Wagner did.

    In this purview, chromaticism is a form of extended tonality, and has no connection to Wagner if it does not present the same references to traditional tonal practices.

    The effort to connect the most chromatic characteristics of Wagner's music back to the old, real, functional, visceral tonality puts chromaticism in the smaller context of tradition, and ignores its momentum towards modern musical thinking.

    There are academics who think that tonality reached its apotheosis in Wagner. Their idea of tonality is a strict CP major/minor form.

    Chromaticism is not "extended tonality;" it is chromaticism.



    You're arguing with a straw man - several of them, actually.

    No one has argued for any of the things you're arguing against. No one has said or implied that "chromaticism is [emphasis mine] extended tonality" - merely that tonal thinking can encompass chromaticism, and that most of Wagner's harmonic thinking arose, and should be heard, in that frame of reference.

    No "clear line where tonality had extended itself fully" has been posited in this thread, and no one has implied that "the tonal tradition could develop no further," unless you did and I missed it somehow.

    No one has made an "effort to connect the most [emphasis mine] chromatic characteristics of Wagner's music back to the old, real, functional, visceral tonality" (adjectives which could use some explaining, but let that go...). And merely to point out that most of Wagner's harmony is rooted in, or understandable with reference to, tonal tradition is not to ignore what is new in it, or deny its relationship to the harmonic thinking of later composers.

    Maybe it's your putative "academics" you're squabbling with, the ones who think that tonality is nothing but major and minor. Who the heck are those blighters, anyway?
    Last edited by Woodduck; May-17-2017 at 06:40.

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    Tonality is not a way of thinking; it is an hierarchy which creates reference to a key note.

    Likewise, chromaticism is not tonality, because it uses all 12 notes, and divides the octave differently, not using the fourth or fifth to derive its structures.

    Tonality had extended itself fully in the late works of Wagner, and no further development was possible.

    To declare that Wagner "extended tonality" is only plausible if one makes a conscious effort to do so, in connecting it back to tonality as an intellectual academic reference, not a real, visceral form of tonality.

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    In this link, Bernstein discusses how Mozart uses diatonic tonality and chromaticism:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCP58BigEfw

    Notice how he distinguishes the two methods, seeing them as separate methods, yet working together in the service of making diatonic tonality more interesting and alive.

    This is the perfect example of the "dual nature" of tonality: its diatonic origins and the use of chromaticism, in the form of diminished seventh chords. Chromaticism serves tonality, yet it creates movement away from tonic and creates vagueness. It is a destabilizing influence.

    Just because Mozart, and Wagner, used diminished chords in this tonal way does not mean that the chromatic materials are "tonal" intrinsically. It all depends on how they are used, and in what context.

    This does not mean that chromaticism, and diminished sevenths are, or have been, an "intrinsic" part of diatonic tonality, or that we should see these mechanisms (the results of interval projection and geometric divisions of the 12-collection) as being "born" of tonality. These mechanisms are always "abstract" in the sense that they are geometric in nature (not harmonic or sensual, but cerebral and mathematic).

    Therefore, the chromatic elements in Mozart should be viewed no differently than Wagner's use of it; they are both "moderns" in this regard. They serve tonality, but both are serving modernism and abstraction as well.

    Therefore the very same elements which make tonality "interesting," "profound," "extended," or "great" are those exact same elements which make the composers profound musical thinkers, who, intentionally or not, were paving the way for 12-tone, serial, and other forms of "abstract" or geometrically-based (cerebral/mathematical) music of the future, which is in direct opposition to diatonic tonality, which by its very nature is sensual, limited, and boring!

    Thank goodness that "great" composers like Bach and Mozart were progressive and "modern" musical thinkers, who were paving the way for the fruition and ultimate evolution of music away from diatonic (boring) tonality and towards an ultimately abstract and geometric music, based on symmetries and more cerebral principles.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-11-2017 at 00:01.

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    So this is why I question the concept of "extended tonality" in Wagner, if Mozart and Bach were doing the same thing earlier. Like all profound musical thinkers, they realized that diatonic tonality is boring.

    In fact, we are behooved to define "Common Practice" tonality in these dual terms: diatonic tonality coupled with chromaticism and the "chromatic/fifths" methods used by the great composers.

    This makes Western Common Practice Tonality, at its best, a special kind of tonality which constantly moves and modulates and redefines the tonic. Thus viewed, Western tonality always contained the seeds of its own "expansion" into total chromaticism and the mechanisms of chromaticism.

    Just because Wagner used these geometric resources at the service of his ostensible "tonality" does not change their essential forward-looking nature, which is chromatic and based on geometry and symmetry, and is "at odds" with simple diatonic tonality.

    To deny the evolution of music into these geometric areas, which were always present and available, and claim that these concepts and "automatic" mechanisms (diminished, whole tone) are an intrinsic feature, or the exclusive domain of tonality, is short-sighted and myopic.

    Chromaticism enriched tonality at the same time that it "expanded" it into unrecognizability.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-13-2017 at 20:25.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Oh God. It's back.

    Don't you ever tire of arguing with straw men? (Rhetorical question.)

    The last word is, of course, yours. Along with the one after that, and the one after that, and...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Oh God. It's back.

    Don't you ever tire of arguing with straw men? (Rhetorical question.)

    The last word is, of course, yours. Along with the one after that, and the one after that, and...
    This has nothing to do with the discussion. At least I don't post ad hominems and make personal attacks. I stick to the issues, and discuss.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    This has nothing to do with the discussion. At least I don't post ad hominems and make personal attacks. I stick to the issues, and discuss.
    What discussion? It's been exhausted, you've misrepresented my views repeatedly (as I explained in my last post, with no acknowledgement from you), and all you're doing now is beating the dead horse to a pulp in order to have the last word here, even when its perfectly obvious that no one is listening. Well, have it. But ad hominems? Don't make me quote your constant remarks on other people's inability to appreciate music properly, their lack of "spirituality" or whatever the hell you like to say they lack, etc. etc. etc. Not a few such remarks have been directed at me: personal attacks of a kind I couldn't even imagine making. Issues schmissues.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-18-2017 at 03:26.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    "He means "atonal" strictly in the sense of "not Common Practice Tonal," which includes most tonally-centered music of the world, including ethnic, world, folk, and pop."

    Okay, but when there's a specific 20th century musical development that's referred to as "Atonality" by Schoenberg and others, how could such a definition possibly lead to anything but confusion? The use of the word atonal in that sense seems like having your cake and wanting to eat it too. IMO, a better use of that word is to use it only with regard to specific composers, and I doubt if that includes pop and everything else heeped in with the general use of that word.

    I can't recall hearing anything in world music, ethnic music, folk music or pop music related to what I would refer to as atonality in the Schoenbergian sense, unless it's buried in some nook and cranny somewhere. I would say that much of that music is built upon certain scales and indigenous cultural patterns of influences, shifting keys and tonal centers, sometimes very complex rhythmically and harmonically, understandable to the culture or the genre of the music, rather than the atonality of a Schoenberg and his colleagues. Such a broad use of the word seems more like a way of trying to promote and rationalize the music rather than truly explaining what it is and how it differs significantly from other music. It's stretching the word beyond all limits until it practically has no meaning at all. And some listeners are already confused enough by the use of the words Serialism, 12-tonality, and Atonality. Let's give 'em a break and consistently align those words with specific composers rather than generalities, whether technically correct or not.

    What experienced listeners, perhaps even novices, would be unable to tell the dramatic difference between Wagner's extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centers, and the atonality of the 2nd Viennese School? I believe that's the distinction some listeners are looking for without blurring the line between the two.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-19-2017 at 01:54.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    "He means "atonal" strictly in the sense of "not Common Practice Tonal," which includes most tonally-centered music of the world, including ethnic, world, folk, and pop."

    Okay, but when there's a specific 20th century musical development that's referred to as "Atonality" by Schoenberg and others, how could such a definition possibly lead to anything but confusion? The use of the word atonal in that sense seems like having your cake and wanting to eat it too. IMO, a better use of that word is to use it only with regard to specific composers, and I doubt if that includes pop and everything else heeped in with the general use of that word.

    I can't recall hearing anything in world music, ethnic music, folk music or pop music related to what I would refer to as atonality in the Schoenbergian sense, unless it's buried in some nook and cranny somewhere. I would say that much of that music is built upon certain scales and indigenous cultural patterns of influences, shifting keys and tonal centers, sometimes very complex rhythmically and harmonically, understandable to the culture or the genre of the music, rather than the atonality of a Schoenberg and his colleagues. Such a broad use of the word seems more like a way of trying to promote and rationalize the music rather than truly explaining what it is and how it differs significantly from other music. It's stretching the word beyond all limits until it practically has no meaning at all. And some listeners are already confused enough by the use of the words Serialism, 12-tonality, and Atonality. Let's give 'em a break and consistently align those words with specific composers rather than generalities, whether technically correct or not.

    What experienced listeners, perhaps even novices, would be unable to tell the dramatic difference between Wagner's extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centers, and the atonality of the 2nd Viennese School? I believe that's the distinction some listeners are looking for without blurring the line between the two.
    I concur that the usual, and most sensible, use of the term "atonal" is with reference to the harmonic style of the Second Viennese School and its progeny and close relatives. That sort of harmony uses the same notes (the 12 half-steps) as the chromatic scale of Western tonal tradition, but with a deliberate avoidance of tonal hierarchy. Thus "atonality" is meaningful specifically with reference to the tonality which precedes it historically. Other music lacking in tone-centricity and pitch hierarchy would better be called "non-tonal," but aside from unpitched percussion such music is rare in the world and, as you point out, it wouldn't sound anything like atonality in Western music. Offhand I can't even think of an example; tone-centricity and hierarchy among the notes of a scale are virtually universal in the indigenous musics of the world. Humans clearly have an innate propensity to order pitched musical sounds on these principles.

    The difference between tonal and atonal music in the Western classical tradition is clearly perceptible, and that goes emphatically for the music of Wagner, as you point out. Even as a raw beginner, a twelve or thirteen-year-old discovering Wagner and first hearing (and performing, as a chorus member in "A Survivor from Warsaw") Schoenberg's atonal music a few years later, I could hear the tonality in Tristan's and Parsifal's chromaticism and its absence in Schoenberg's work. The line is clear to the discerning ear, and the difference can't be defined as a mere difference in the degree of chromaticism.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-19-2017 at 16:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    What discussion? It's been exhausted, you've misrepresented my views repeatedly (as I explained in my last post, with no acknowledgement from you), and all you're doing now is beating the dead horse to a pulp in order to have the last word here, even when its perfectly obvious that no one is listening. Well, have it. But ad hominems? Don't make me quote your constant remarks on other people's inability to appreciate music properly, their lack of "spirituality" or whatever the hell you like to say they lack, etc. etc. etc. Not a few such remarks have been directed at me: personal attacks of a kind I couldn't even imagine making. Issues schmissues.
    It sounds to me as if you are criticizing my posting style. Isn't that something you should deal with, rather than complain about?

    Anyway, the discussion is far from exhausted, since the Leonard Bernstein video was posted. This gave me a new insight into chromaticism and tonality, and I'm eager to continue.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-20-2017 at 22:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    "He means "atonal" strictly in the sense of "not Common Practice Tonal," which includes most tonally-centered music of the world, including ethnic, world, folk, and pop."
    Well, really, that same academic I was complaining about also defined 'tonality' that way in all our past discussions: common practice Western tonality only, with no generalized meaning (as in tone-centric folk and world musics). That was sarcasm on my part, applying it to the term 'atonality.' Sorry if that did not translate well. It was really bothersome in those discussions to have to define "tonality" as meaning general tonality every time I used the term.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Okay, but when there's a specific 20th century musical development that's referred to as "Atonality" by Schoenberg and others, how could such a definition possibly lead to anything but confusion? The use of the word atonal in that sense seems like having your cake and wanting to eat it too. IMO, a better use of that word is to use it only with regard to specific composers, and I doubt if that includes pop and everything else heeped in with the general use of that word.
    I finally resolved the dilemma in this way: "atonality" is not a specific term, and never was, even when it was used to label the pre-12-tone period of Schoenberg, before he adopted the method proper.

    It is a general term, meaning 'music that is not tonal.' It does not, and should not have to define the different ways that music can be not-tonal; it is exclusionary, general, and used for convenience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    I can't recall hearing anything in world music, ethnic music, folk music or pop music related to what I would refer to as atonality in the Schoenbergian sense, unless it's buried in some nook and cranny somewhere. I would say that much of that music is built upon certain scales and indigenous cultural patterns of influences, shifting keys and tonal centers, sometimes very complex rhythmically and harmonically, understandable to the culture or the genre of the music, rather than the atonality of a Schoenberg and his colleagues. Such a broad use of the word seems more like a way of trying to promote and rationalize the music rather than truly explaining what it is and how it differs significantly from other music. It's stretching the word beyond all limits until it practically has no meaning at all. And some listeners are already confused enough by the use of the words Serialism, 12-tonality, and Atonality. Let's give 'em a break and consistently align those words with specific composers rather than generalities, whether technically correct or not.
    I hesitate to do that, since the term "atonal" is general, and is not meant to specify or explain, but merely to exclude music which is not based on a tonal hierarchy. It's a convenient term. The difference is usually self-evident anyway, except when some genius wants to bring Debussy or some other composer from the vague area between tonality and atonality in as an exception.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    What experienced listeners, perhaps even novices, would be unable to tell the dramatic difference between Wagner's extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centers, and the atonality of the 2nd Viennese School? I believe that's the distinction some listeners are looking for without blurring the line between the two.
    I agree, from a listening standpoint, but chromaticism and the 12-note scale is an underlying issue of craft and structure which is common to both camps, even if not obviously audible. It's an "issue" of underlying principles and ways of thinking, used as far back as Bach and Mozart. It all stems from the 12-note collection, which gradually emerged.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-20-2017 at 22:24.

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