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Thread: Watching Music

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    Default Watching Music

    Here's what Stravinsky had to say (and we're not talking about opera here):

    "I have always had a horror of listening to music with my eyes shut, with nothing for them to do. The sight of the gestures and movements of the various parts of the body producing the music is fundamentally necessary if it is to be grasped in all its fullness. All music created or composed demands some exteriorization for the perception of the listener. In other words, it must have an intermediary, an executant. That being an essential condition, without which music cannot wholly reach us, why wish to ignore it, or try to do so—why shut the eyes to this fact which is inherent in the very nature of musical art? Obviously one frequently prefers to turn away one’s eyes, or even close them, when the superfluity of the player’s gesticulations prevents the concentration of one’s faculties of hearing. But if the player’s movements are evoked solely by the exigencies of the music, and do not tend to make an impression on the listener by extramural devices, why not follow with the eye such movements as those of the drummer, the violinist or the trombonist, which facilitate one’s auditory perceptions? As a matter of fact, those who maintain that they only enjoy music to the full with their eyes shut do not hear better than when they have them open, but the absence of visual distractions enables them to abandon themselves to the reveries induced by the lullaby of its sounds, and that is really what they prefer to the music itself."

    What do you think? Personally, I very much agree with Stravinsky. Although I can of course still reach the heights of ecstasy when just listening with the comfort of my earphones, I think music is rightfully seen as a physical act with a human mediator that needs to be seen.

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Im doing it right now. Watching Alexander Nevsky being performed in the Concertgebouw (on TV). Joy!
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    Senior Member bassClef's Avatar
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    It certainly adds an extra dimension. Thus CDs are rendered useless - well, not quite, but I certainly get much more from being able to see a piece performed (none more so than Stravinsky's!). Was his quote spoken/written in English or translated? If the latter he was more erudite than I am in my natural language!

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed Bernstein's Mahler cycle on DVD, he especially is a lot of fun to watch. I don't think there's anything wrong with having that visual element, if anything I think one of the next logical steps to take in music, after opera, ballet and the relatively new concept of music video, is to combine sound and visuals to create a new form where the two absolutely need eachother. Not just images with a sound track, or music with a visual accompaniment, but a genuine merging of the two, with both controlled entirely by the composer/creator. Sort of like how Wagner took charge in opera by writing music and libretti, here the composer would be that and the director, too. The closest we have to what I have in mind right now is probably Zappa's 200 Motels movie, where the music is very much intertwined in many different ways with the on screen action.

    Sorry, I got way off track, just another one of my head-in-the-clouds ideas. To get back on topic; I think that watching performance footage is just as valid as listening to the music. People don't go to concerts blindfolded, unless they're really stupid, but then I guess there are plenty of really stupid people around. I notice there are some proponents of music as a purely audible medium around here, I wonder; do they also disapprove of reading the score while listening? I don't do that, but I know there are plenty who do, are they wicked degenerates?

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Ideally, I agree. Video is the future of music, even classical music.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
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    Hmm. Sometimes it's great to see people actually playing, and it adds to the experience. Sometimes, though, especially with "program music"... I just want to imagine, and forget that there are actually people and instruments that produce the music!
    Wäre das Faktum wahr, – wäre der außerordentliche Fall wirklich eingetreten, daß die politische Gesetzgebung der Vernunft übertragen, der Mensch als Selbstzweck respektiert und behandelt, das Gesetz auf den Thron erhoben, und wahre Freiheit zur Grundlage des Staatsgebäudes gemacht worden, so wollte ich auf ewig von den Musen Abschied nehmen, und dem herrlichsten aller Kunstwerke, der Monarchie der Vernunft, alle meine Thätigkeit widmen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crudblud View Post
    are they wicked degenerates?
    They are degenerate mortals.....

    I don't often go to live concerts (its difficult) But its a plus, or a thrill.

    Actually, few years ago; I have been to my first ever concert on the new year's eve. It was a mix of excerpts/themes/lied from famous operas, waltzes, symphonies. The relative I went with is an experienced listener. He was insulted by the decorations and Christmas tree lying near the stage. He told me "The only architecture I care for is the music and the orchestra" I guess its obvious that there is the thrill of the seeing how music works. I still prefer to hear it on CD and sometimes with score, which is marvelous.
    But, in summary:
    bread(high quality indeed)= music
    bread + wine + chesse = music + score
    a feast = concert

    unfortunately I can't have a feast everyday. It's unbearable if everyday.
    Last edited by kmhrm; Jan-30-2012 at 23:28.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crudblud View Post
    The closest we have to what I have in mind right now is probably Zappa's 200 Motels movie, where the music is very much intertwined in many different ways with the on screen action.
    The music in this film is an element of the on screen action. It was recorded in real time during the shooting. Not a recommended procedure even by Zappa himself.

    I have to confess that I've never purchased a classical DVD. I do want to try a couple, but I can never sit still in front of the screen to watch a whole piece. Most of my DVDs sit around and collect dust.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    "I have always had a horror of listening to music with my eyes shut, with nothing for them to do. The sight of the gestures and movements of the various parts of the body producing the music is fundamentally necessary if it is to be grasped in all its fullness."

    While I think there definitely is something to the visual aspect of music, I think this statement perhaps goes a little too far...I wonder what composers like Joaquin Rodrigo, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder would have thought if someone suggested to them that they had never been able to grasp music in all its fullness?

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    Senior Member EarthBoundRules's Avatar
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    How can the mind's eye see the beautiful images sparked by the music if your eyes are focused on saliva dripping out of trumpets and sweaty hands plucking strings? I prefer to listen to music in a dark room and pretend I'm floating in a sea of nothingness, awaiting for the music to paint it's own landscape in front of my eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBoundRules View Post
    How can the mind's eye see the beautiful images sparked by the music if your eyes are focused on saliva dripping out of trumpets and sweaty hands plucking strings? I prefer to listen to music in a dark room and pretend I'm floating in a sea of nothingness, awaiting for the music to paint it's own landscape in front of my eyes.
    Stravinsky's got you covered on that one: "As a matter of fact, those who maintain that they only enjoy music to the full with their eyes shut do not hear better than when they have them open, but the absence of visual distractions enables them to abandon themselves to the reveries induced by the lullaby of its sounds, and that is really what they prefer to the music itself."

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    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    I like watching musicians and sometimes it adds to the experience of listening to music for me. But the assumption that people who close their eyes while listening to music just do so in order to "abandon themselves to the reveries induced by the lullaby of its sounds" comes across as a bit presumptuous and arrogant. When I close my eyes, I don't usually go off on programmatic daydreams or sink into drowsy passivity. When I close my eyes, it allows me to focus on more aspects of the music than I can keep straight in my mind when I'm also receiving visual stimuli. I often notice more that way.

    If I want to commune with people and think about human experience in relation to music, I'll look at the musicians. If I want to be aware of all the beautiful details of orchestration and the intricacies of form, I'll close my eyes. Maybe Stravinsky can take it all in at once, but I can't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meaghan View Post
    I like watching musicians and sometimes it adds to the experience of listening to music for me. But the assumption that people who close their eyes while listening to music just do so in order to "abandon themselves to the reveries induced by the lullaby of its sounds" comes across as a bit presumptuous and arrogant. When I close my eyes, I don't usually go off on programmatic daydreams or sink into drowsy passivity. When I close my eyes, it allows me to focus on more aspects of the music than I can keep straight in my mind when I'm also receiving visual stimuli. I often notice more that way.
    This is what I do as well. I'm not a fan of imagining scenes that aren't implied by the music (not that I'm knocking other people who do it), but getting rid of the visual distraction can certainly hope concentration on aspects of form and style.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    you only see, in videos, what the director wants you to see, so they're very limiting.

    live is best, but it takes much time, money and effort.

    dvds of operas can be very good, or to see artists we will never otherwise see.

    i very much enjoy cds and rarely watch dvds unless it's to see the Klemperers, Kempffs, Furtwangler, etc.

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    This is the proper way of "watching" music:

    [YT]v=KBmPNX-S7L0[/YT]

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