View Poll Results: Agree with what I said?

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  • Yes - the limited timbre in solo/chamber music is usually a weakness

    2 6.06%
  • No - there's something special about solo/chamber music that orchestral music doesn't have

    27 81.82%
  • Other

    4 12.12%
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Thread: Solo/chamber music, orchestral music & tone colors

  1. #1
    Senior Member Dim7's Avatar
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    Default Solo/chamber music, orchestral music & tone colors

    Now don't get me wrong - I like and listen to plenty of solo/chamber music. But usually I end up listening to them because I run out of composer's orchestral music. It's not like I think "Damn, I'm getting sick of all these orchestral colors. I want to listen to some monochromatic music." If I were to compose a piece, and I would ignore all the practical problems of having lots of different instruments, it would be very unlikely that I'd stick to just one instrument, or just string instruments or something. That would be almost like making the piece more dull on purpose.

    Well, almost. Sometimes that might work as an effect, to deliberately restrict the timbral palette - similar how it might work as an effect to use black & white in film, to create a certain kind of mood. 99% of the time however it would seem that color film would be preferable to black & white. And the most important reason for films being black & white in the past was technical limitations, not a deliberate artistic choice. Similarly, though orchestral music is nothing new, solo/chamber music was in demand partly (I'd say largely) because of the smaller number of performers required. That was more of an advantage before recording devices, because the only way to hear music was to hear it performed live.

    But as I said, I do listen to plenty of of solo/chamber music, because a lot of it manages to be interesting despite this "flaw". But I can't help thinking that a lot of it would be improved by orchestration, or added instruments, and that they currently feel a bit unfinished and sketchy. There's also composers like Ravel and Debussy who agreed with each other to compose orchestral music deliberately so that it would sound boring to Dim7, and that they would try to please Dim7 only when writing piano music. And there's also chamber music with relatively differently timbred instruments.
    Last edited by Dim7; Aug-26-2015 at 12:42.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dim7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dim7 View Post
    Now don't get me wrong - I like and listen to plenty of solo/chamber music. But usually I end up listening to them because I run out of composer's orchestral music. It's not like I think "Damn, I'm getting sick of all these orchestral colors. I want to listen to some monochromatic music." If I were to compose a piece, and I would ignore all the practical problems of having lots of different instruments, it would be very unlikely that I'd stick to just one instrument, or just string instrument or something. That would be almost like making the piece more dull on purpose.

    Well, almost. Sometimes that might work as an effect, to deliberately restrict the timbral palette - similar how it might work as an effect to use black & white in film, to create a certain kind of mood. 99% of the time however it would seem that color film would be preferable to black & white. And the most important reason for films being black & white in the past was technical limitations, not a deliberate artistic choice. Similarly, though orchestral music is nothing new, solo/chamber music was in demand partly (I'd say largely) because of the smaller number of performers required. That was more of an advantage before recording devices, because the only way to hear music was to hear it performed live.

    But as I said, I do listen to plenty of of solo/chamber music, because a lot of it manages to be interesting despite this "flaw". But I can't help thinking that a lot of it would be improved by orchestration, or added instruments, and that they currently feel a bit unfinished and sketchy. There's also composers like Ravel and Debussy who agreed with each other to compose orchestral music deliberately so that it would sound boring to Dim7, and that they would try to please Dim7 only when writing piano music. And there's also chamber music with relatively differently timbred instruments.
    My thoughts exactly.

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  4. #3
    Moderator Nereffid's Avatar
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    Sure, there are times when I prefer the variety of sound that an orchestra can provide, but there's also times when I prefer the intimacy and cohesion of chamber music.

    So, "no" is my answer.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member ptr's Avatar
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    No, no, no...

    /ptr
    Je suis Charlie ~ I am a certified OrgaNut! (F.—I.W.)

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    Moderator Art Rock's Avatar
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    ....no, no, no.........

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Other? If I am listening to a string quartet, I don't find myself wishing for more colors. The only time this syndrome might set in for me is with music for string or wind soloists (yes, even Bach), or music for harpsichord, although it rarely comes up since I tend to listen to such music in small doses anyway.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Aug-26-2015 at 12:30.

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  12. #7
    Senior Member Dim7's Avatar
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    One star? Is this thread really that terrible?

  13. #8
    Retired TurnaboutVox's Avatar
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    I have always preferred the the relative simplicity and clarity of line and texture in chamber music (and music for solo instruments) to a full orchestra (Mahler, Strauss and Bruckner excepted, obviously).

    And there is the added factor of my increasing hearing loss - I often can't really tell what's going on in the different sections of an orchestra.

    So - it's a 'No, no, no...' from me too.

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    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dim7 View Post
    One star? Is this thread really that terrible?
    Bear in mind that many of us might have rated it as less than one star

    In response to your OP (and I may be very wrong, but ....) your position may change when you have more experience and understanding of classical music. Different types of music have different characteristics.

    A Schubert solo song with piano accompaniment would not be anything like the same if it were to be transposed to a four-voice choir with an orchestral accompaniment ... and similarly, a composer may often chose a particular genre for deliberate reasons that transcend the requests of the commission (if indeed the piece had been commissioned).
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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  17. #10
    dogen
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    Other. Both. Neither. Horses for courses.

    I tend to listen more to chamber/solo. Often I find orchestral can be too much! too much! I'm more into less.

  18. #11
    MacLeod
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    "Agree with what I said?"

    What a great subject for a poll. Pity you have to connect it something about music.

    Seriously though...you are asking a serious question too, aren't you?...I'm happy with just orchestra or piano. I haven't yet warmed to the attractions of the small ensemble, despite owning all LvBs quartets.

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  20. #12
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    There's plenty of orchestral music that lacks color. Shostakovich and Beethoven come to mind, so I wouldn't single out chamber music.

  21. #13
    Senior Member Richannes Wrahms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dim7 View Post
    There's also composers like Ravel and Debussy who agreed with each other to compose orchestral music deliberately so that it would sound boring to Dim7, and that they would try to please Dim7 only when writing piano music.
    Which is ironically the most colourful music in the orchestral repertoire. Really, there must be a genetic thing going on that makes some people completely deaf to that kind of orchestral writing. Have you tried the piano renditions?


  22. #14
    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Except for the fact that Dim7 has every right to his musical preferences, I totally disagree with his views. We have solo music, chamber, concertos, symphonies, tone-poems, opera, lieder, sacred choral, etc. I want to partake of all of them, because each offers unique features and advantages.

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  24. #15
    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Apples and oranges, in a sense.

    The "colors" capable from an orchestra (!) depend largely upon the variety of the instruments. A typical Mozart-sized orchestra is incapable of all the colorations available from a typical Mahler-sized orchestra. So, does this mean the smaller orchestra is in some sense inferior?

    Each instrument is capable of a near infinite range of "color", depending upon how one utilizes the instrument's possibilities. George Crumb certainly gets a few more "colors" from a string quartet (say with the piece Black Angels) than does Haydn, but that doesn't mean Haydn's quartets are somehow lesser. Or that one cannot prefer them to the works of Crumb.

    "Color" can be illusive, and meaningless. Do the Bach solo violin sonatas need color effects above and beyond those that appear naturally from performing the pieces? Could Mahler or Ravel or George Crumb arrange these pieces to give them a greater quality by utilizing more colors?

    One of the features I most admire in contemporary music is the striving for color, whether the pieces be for full orchestras, smaller ensembles, or solo instruments. But no work is invalidated because it lacks the farthest reaches of color.

    So ....

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