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Thread: My Nocturne - New Age/Classical Hybrid

  1. #331
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianvds View Post
    Yikes, what a fight the whole thing turned into. Or, of course, we could call it a scintillating discussion. :-)

    Saw a long and interesting documentary on YouTube about Vangelis yesterday:



    It includes footage of him improvising. The man is a genius, and no question about that.

    Does he reject music theory? I doubt it, because the way in which he harmonizes his lovely melodies would not have been unfamiliar to Haydn or Mozart. Of course, he doesn't know music theory in the same sense as classical musicians do, because he can't read notes. But it is pretty clear that he spent a great deal of time listening to all kinds of music, and became familiar with the procedures they use. He has an intuitive feel for theory. So does Yanni. They both know which chords to use when and where.

    It can be handy to know some of this, though I confess I have found it almost impossible to do so myself. Just a few days ago I Googled something along the lines lines of "how to harmonize a melody", and got to a page which showed the process in detail: simple, uninspired melody, and then a whole explanation of how to harmonize it, followed by the melody greatly improved and enriched by suitable chords. There is no doubt that knowing this stuff is a powerful tool.

    But I could not make head or tails of the explanation: "identify the cadences, find the new key, identify the new leading note, use a dominant seventh in the third inversion..." It's total Greek to me. It's total Greek to Vangelis too, though he may well be able to come up with that sort of harmonization because he knows it in an intuitive manner. Or maybe not. One would have to ask him. Come to think of it, he is Greek, so perhaps the expression "it's Greek to me" doesn't apply to him. :-)

    Now I have a very limited intuitive sense for theory, in that if I have a melody, I usually have little difficulty coming up with suitable bass notes and some fairly simple, transparent chords with which to harmonize it. Thus my music tends to be very simple, and have a somewhat stark feel, a bit like you get in medieval music (where harmony was also often quite simple, without the enriched chords that would eventually slip into music).

    This approach works perfectly well for composing New Agey sort of music; I wouldn't dream of trying to compose a sonata or fugue or something like that.

    I see no reason to have endless fights over such things. In the longer run, the cream quite automatically rises to the top. There isn't a thing any amount of analysis or criticism can do to prevent it. Some pieces of music have that whatever-it-is that makes them evergreen, and such pieces of music slip into the collective repertoire. Some are very simple, and owe their enduring popularity to a catchy tune (something like Greensleeves comes to mind, and it's centuries old now!) Others make it into the long term because they are towering monuments of musical architecture, like Bach's fugues.

    There is no way to tell which pieces it's going to be. Some are pretty well done, by composers with vastly more musical knowledge than Vangelis, and somehow their music still disappears - how often do we still perform or listen to Dittersdorf or Raff? How many contemporaries of Schubert realized that some of his songs would become so popular that people thought they are folk songs? Beethoven thought the greatest of his contemporaries was Cherubini. Yes, even Beethoven was clueless when it came to identifying the greatest masters of his own time.

    We are equally clueless. Thus, I suggest we all do whatever makes us musically happy, and leave posterity to sort out its own problems.

    All that said, I'll stick my neck out and say this: one thing (by no means the only thing, but a very important thing) that makes a piece last into the long term is a good tune. Mozart and Dittersdorf used precisely the same harmonic procedures. One of them could compose catchy tunes, the other could not. Mendelssohn and Raff used pretty much the exact same music theory. One of them composed good tunes, the other did not. Taking Mendelssohn alone, his most enduringly popular works are the ones in which he used his best and most catchy tunes.

    So it is: if you cannot compose a good tune, you're in trouble, and if you can, you have an edge. At least as far as lasting into the long term is concerned. I think everyone knows this at some level, and thus composers who can't come up with good tunes are sometimes furiously jealous of those who can. But there's hope for them too; Schoenberg isn't exactly whistled in the shower, but his music is also still performed, a good century after it was composed. As I say above, a good tune isn't the only thing that matters. As I also say above, no one really knows what it is that makes one piece great and another not so great. If we did, we'd be able to consistently come up with great music.

    As for me, the little bit of theory I do know actually does help me now and then, and I would have liked to know more, but at the moment I simply don't have the time. So simple New Agey pieces it is, then. :-)

    Some good points. 'Catchy tune' is actually what counts most of the time, but Beethoven was more like a gret 'construction worker' than tune maker and we still love his music. There is no much 'tune to sing along' in his Moonlight Sonata, yet it's one of the most powerful piano pieces ever.

    Vangelis and Yanni music isn't simple at all. It's way more complex in its melodies construction than one would like to believe. Many overlapping melodies/harmonies, etc. I would say that Yanni's music is even more complex on that level than Vangelis who relies more on grandiose sound - sometimes small themes building to something big. And sometimes he even makes pretty much impressive multilayered music, like this for example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoJUv2ny2Fo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-OAHzyBIas

    Not 2 most favorite albums to me, but still some of his most ambitious albums from mid 80's.

    Just because some people would like to categorize some music as 'simple' it doesn't mean it is. You can hear Yanni's 'Live at Acropolis' or 'Tribute' albums or even his earlier Keys to Imagination' or 'Out of Silence' albums. Nothing boring, lazy, simple or banal there. Very rich music full of harmonies, improvisation and many overlapping rythms and melodies. I've heard much more lazy and meaningless classical music than some brilliant music by Yanni and Vangelis. They don't even consider themselves to be 'new age'. Yanni said that there is no strict category for what he is doing. He is using world/ethno/new age/progressive elements etc... just like Vangelis actually, but they're still very different.

    And no, they don't have anything against music theory... they just don't care for it and compose music by using their hearing, instinct and sensibility for music.
    Last edited by nikola; Today at 15:14.

  2. #332
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    I was listening to some music by Hovhaness lately. It is way more sterile and lazy than anything Vangelis or Yanni could ever made. Although he ain't for sure that bad or great, I feel sorry for him considering how Bernstein was rude about his music and that such reaction from Bernstein and Copland actually pretty much depressed Hovhaness.
    His music is pretty much nice, but not much more. It's not somethng I would listen unless to put me to sleep. It doesn't evoke much in me.
    Last edited by nikola; Today at 15:31.

  3. #333
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikola View Post
    And jazz is based on music that didn't learn your musical theory. So? What's so hard to understand? Almost all genres were made without they even know there is some 'western music theory' out there. What is your point? Once in the future they will made rules based on someone's music too. That's how it works.
    Jazz, rock, Oriental, all sounds you hear is based on music theory whether you know or not, yes even your own music. it can all be analyzed with theoretical concepts. Music is not based on theory doesn't exist.

    it even dictates general emotions, such as sad, happy, triumphant. For any sounds to be made sense of, guess what! It involves Music Theory
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Today at 17:06.
    "Open the pod bay doors for me, please, Hal" - David Bowman

  4. #334
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Jazz, rock, Oriental, all sounds you hear is based on music theory whether you know or not, yes even your own music. it can all be analyzed with theoretical concepts. Music is not based on theory doesn't exist.

    it even dictates general emotions, such as sad, happy, triumphant. For any sounds to be made sense of, guess what! It involves Music Theory
    I must admit that I never read before anything that makes less sense. Rules didn't exist before music. People were making music... rules came after that. Folk music, blues, jazz, etc. Most of those styles came first... rules for their music came after. If you don't believe look once again the video posted by czech guy.
    If my music is based on theory that means that I don't have to learn it.. lol.. you're probably not aware that what you said right now doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
    Theory is not music. It never will be. It'a s tool for people like you.

  5. #335
    Senior Member beetzart's Avatar
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    Of course the rules have always existed, we just discovered them and it made sense of music. Just like the laws of physics have always been there.
    Last edited by beetzart; Today at 18:08.
    I love Muzio Clementi's music.

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