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Thread: What is so great about the 20th century's music?

  1. #946
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    ^I've wondered about that too. Are there any poorly written pieces of contemporary music? Surely they can't all be good, right?
    When I listen to something I don't ask whether a piece of music written by a professional composer, either common practice or contemporary, is "good" or "bad" since these are subjective assessments. Student or composers still perfecting their craft will write under-developed works. They do not handle their materials in a skillful way. There may be some wonderful ideas there, or musical themes or gestures, but most often they do not maximize the development and the work will bog down at a certain point, or not land solidly.

    Of course talent plays a role.

    When I made the comment that I thought the piano work by Rebecca Saunders was "a successful work" I was alluding to my opinion of how she handled the elements and methodology she used to create the piece.

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    Senior Member Haydn70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Second species (two parts); Third species (three parts), Fourth species (four parts). Parallel motion, contrary motion, note against note, one note moves while the other holds a long tone, etc. Every possible combination was to be worked out. Consonances only. Interestingly, the interval of the fourth was considered a consonance. That changed with time.
    Mistakes in the above quote:

    Second species is not two parts it is 2 notes against 1, e.g. two quarter notes in one voice against one half note.
    Third species is not three parts it is 4 notes against 1
    Fourth species is not four parts it is suspensions
    The fourth is NOT a consonance, it is a dissonance in both 16th and 18th century counterpoint.
    Last edited by Haydn70; Oct-01-2020 at 22:22.

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  5. #948
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn70 View Post
    Mistakes in the above quote:

    Second species is not two parts it is 2 notes against 1, e.g. two quarter notes in one voice against one half note.
    Third species is not three parts it is 4 notes against 1
    Fourth species is not four parts it is suspensions
    The fourth is NOT a consonance, it is a dissonance.
    Sorry, it's been a long time - I remember starting with two parts, then moving on to three parts, and four. I also remember writing one note against one note, then two against one, etc. But . But I am pretty sure that in early music the fourth started out as a consonance but was later changed to a dissonance.

    Thanks for correcting my post. My point remains that composition students learn this stuff and the skill doesn't go away.
    Last edited by SanAntone; Oct-01-2020 at 22:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Interesting as you have no argument whatsoever!
    The people who hate bean counters are largely those who don't have any to count for themselves!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Btw, I am more interested in music of the 21st century, and now that it is two decades old, there is a considerable amount of new music. Music that is more than 30 years old is no longer "new" to me.

    So when I say new music, you'll know what I am talking about. Some of Mr. Wishart's stuff doesn't make the cut.

    I should probably ignore this thread, since as I said, the music of our time is what I am focused on - not so much that of 50 or 100 years ago. That music is still nice to listen to now and then, but it is no different than my interest in Romantic, Classical, Baroque and Early music.
    Keep posting the things which interest you from the contemporary repertoire; the objection I have to some of it (Wishart, just as one example) is that it's sound design and not music per se. Sound design is perfectly fine for what it is. Perhaps we could focus on 'concert hall' music and not studios/computers which manufacture sound design? Adams, Corigliano etc? There are many.
    Last edited by Christabel; Oct-01-2020 at 22:37.

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    Senior Member Haydn70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Sorry, it's been a long time - I remember starting with two parts, then moving on to three parts, and four. I also remember writing one note against one note, then two against one, etc. But . But I am pretty sure that in early music the fourth started out as a consonance but was later changed to a dissonance.

    Thanks for correcting my post. My point remains that composition students learn this stuff and the skill doesn't go away.
    The fourth was considered a consonance in pre-Renaissance music, such as Machaut. Some time in the 15th century that changed and it was considered a dissonance.
    Last edited by Haydn70; Oct-01-2020 at 22:37.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Most of the previous rules were still in place, but what was added were the principles of fugal writing. Subject, counter-subject a fourth higher, answer and so on.
    You mean the answer for a subject enters at a fifth higher, or fourth lower than the original statment the subject
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Oct-01-2020 at 22:46.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    Keep posting the things which interest you from the contemporary repertoire; the objection I have to some of it (Wishart, just as one example) is that it's sound design and not music per se. Sound design is perfectly fine for what it is. Perhaps we could focus on 'concert hall' music and not studios/computers which manufacture sound design? Adams, Corigliano etc? There are many.
    Purely electronic music does not interest me, I really prefer music that is entirely made with acoustic instruments. Some electro-acoustical music is interesting, but some bothers me. I listened to work the other day that was written for piano and violin or something like that but with the addition of a sine wave - which ruined it for me.

    Neither Adams, nor Corigliano, are in my current listening - but why don't you post some clips. I am almost exclusively listening to music written after 2000.

    Like this one, which I like a lot:



    Marti Epstein — Troubled Queen (2011)
    performed by Callithumpian Consort

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  14. #954
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    You mean the answer for a subject enters at a fifth higher, or fourth lower than the original statment the subject
    If that was the common practice. I studied this stuff almost 50 years ago, so while I remember the concepts the specifics often escape me.

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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    If CM fans generally listen for a succession of works in the recognizable style of a composer, that will be harder to find in modern music (after 1960?). Something subtly recognizable and consciously or unconsciously reinforcing.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Rules of counterpoint were established, first, for 16th century counterpoint; which was basically taking the work of Palestrina and creating a pedagogical system of exercises modeled on his music. What Palestrina did was the convention and all students must demonstrate a mastery of that style before they could be considered schooled composers. This is where the rules of no parallel fifths and octaves originated. Melodic motion was to be mostly step-wise, with leaps no larger than a sixth, smaller were preferred, and after a leap up the melody must go down in the opposite direction, step-wise usually.

    Second species (two parts); Third species (three parts), Fourth species (four parts). Parallel motion, contrary motion, note against note, one note moves while the other holds a long tone, etc. Every possible combination was to be worked out. Consonances only. Interestingly, the interval of the fourth was considered a consonance. That changed with time.

    The next pedagogical landmark is concerning counterpoint of the 18th century. The same thing occurred here but instead using Palestrina the model was Bach. Most of the previous rules were still in place, but what was added were the principles of fugal writing. Subject, counter-subject a fourth higher, answer and so on.

    When I was in music school these texts were still taught. The problem was they were learned in a vacuum, music had moved so far along this kind of writing was alien to the music we wished to write. But, and here is the important thing - it was a discipline and was how composers learned the craft of musical composition. Hindemith's texts on composition were basically Gradus ad Parnassum (Fux) using modes. Nadia Boulanger insisted on all her students begin their study with her rigorous training on 16th century counterpoint. Probably somewhere on the web you can find Aaron Copland's exercises.

    I have no doubt that modern composers trained at a conservatory have perfected the skill of writing 16th and 18th century counterpoint, and the counterpoint they write in an atonal style will be informed by what they perfected in the style of Palestrina and Bach.
    Agree. I used to think atonal music would be easier to write than tonal, but no. It is equally as hard or even harder. With tonal music you can rest on certain harmonic patterns, which is why any pop songwriter can do it. With atonal, or highly chromatic music, you have to forge your own path. Counterpoint becomes more important than ever to make it intelligible.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Haydn70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I have no doubt that modern composers trained at a conservatory have perfected the skill of writing 16th and 18th century counterpoint, and the counterpoint they write in an atonal style will be informed by what they perfected in the style of Palestrina and Bach.
    Not to go too off topic but I thought I would do an FYI response to this as a college/university trained composer (BM/MA/PhD all in composition).

    As for 16th and 18th century counterpoint, they were lower division courses that ALL music majors had to take. All composition majors had to take 20th century counterpoint. We started with composing a piece in the style of Debussy and worked our way through various 20th century styles/techniques: polytonal, Hindemithian, free atonal, strict 12-tone, total serial, etc.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn70 View Post
    Not to go too off topic but I thought I would do an FYI response to this as a college/university trained composer (BM/MA/PhD all in composition).

    As for 16th and 18th century counterpoint, they were lower division courses that ALL music majors had to take. All composition majors had to take 20th century counterpoint. We started with composing a piece in the style of Debussy and worked our way through various 20th century styles/techniques: polytonal, Hindemithian, free atonal, strict 12-tone, total serial, etc.
    Interesting. When I was at school, we just did the 16th and 18th and then went into private composition classes, but my college was a rather small school in Louisiana. I mentioned the Humphrey Searle book on 20th Century Counterpoint, but would be interested if you are familiar with any others.

    I started a thread on 21st century chamber music. If you have any works you'd like to post, or works you think are interesting, your participation would be welcome.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn70 View Post
    The fourth was considered a consonance in pre-Renaissance music, such as Machaut. Some time in the 15th century that changed and it was considered a dissonance.
    I've studied Machaut and his period quite a bit, and is probably where I got that information about the interval of the fourth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Agree. I used to think atonal music would be easier to write than tonal, but no. It is equally as hard or even harder. With tonal music you can rest on certain harmonic patterns, which is why any pop songwriter can do it. With atonal, or highly chromatic music, you have to forge your own path. Counterpoint becomes more important than ever to make it intelligible.
    That's a sweeping values-based statement. Modern music has "perfected' the contrapuntal techniques of Bach? Are there some samples of this for comparison?

    By the way it would seem to me that if you "forge your own path", you're essentially under only the constrictions you place on yourself.

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