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Thread: You call that music???

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Oh, but I just got Etudes Australes, and it is such beautiful music! So much space for my mind to relax in, and be entertained and occupied. It's crystalline….
    Who's playin' 'em?

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    I have to agree with this. If nobody thinks the WTC is "great", well...it isn't.
    Music is a two-way process of mapping and sharing experience, not a one-way determination by an assumed audience or "status quo" consensus reality.

    The chance that absolutely no one would like a particular piece of music is impossible, taking into account the diversity of human taste.

    Reality, or history, is not an accumulated consensus which becomes objective fact; it is an inference, and has many pockets of contradiction. But it is not an "objective fact."
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Sep-09-2016 at 19:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I'm not sure about that.

    A couple of general questions with the Cage etudes. There are a hell of a lot of them. What was the reason for making so many? And in the case of the piano etudes at least they're organised into books -- what is the basis of the organisation?

    Thanks for engaging with the problem, by the way. I think it's interesting, a real challenge for me.
    There is a First Part and a Second Part. Each has 16 Etudes. It probably has something to do with the I Ching, which has 64 hexagrams. 16 is a factor of 64.

    Crudblud gave the best response; the exquisite beauty of Etudes Australes is that it is precisely notated down to the last detail, although it sounds random. I love that! Also, the harmonic dimension of the piano is extensively employed, with the sustain pedal, holding down certain notes, and placing rubber weights on certain keys. The result is spacious, resonating, and beautiful. This really titillates my intellect and sensory apparatus like no other music can.

    Also, instead of being baffled by how many of them there are, bear in mind that the I Ching has 64 hexagrams, all slightly different. Notice how some of the Etudes are loud and explosive, while others are very calm. Each has its own sonority as well, once you really start listening.

    The I Ching represents all kinds of ideas, and how things "transition" subtly, like changing cloud formations. You look at it a minute later, and "the horsey" is gone. But I can still see the ducky, and he's pulling a big fat traditionalist by a string. Oh, it's changing now, into a big fuddy-duddy.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Sep-09-2016 at 19:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    There is a First Part and a Second Part. Each has 16 Etudes. It probably has something to do with the I Ching, which has 64 hexagrams. 16 is a factor of 64.

    Crudblud gave the best response; the exquisite beauty of Etudes Australes is that it is precisely notated down to the last detail, although it sounds random. I love that! Also, the harmonic dimension of the piano is extensively employed, with the sustain pedal, holding down certain notes, and placing rubber weights on certain keys. The result is spacious, resonating, and beautiful. This really titillates my intellect and sensory apparatus like no other music can.

    Also, instead of being baffled by how many of them there are, bear in mind that the I Ching has 64 hexagrams, all slightly different. Notice how some of the Etudes are loud and explosive, while others are very calm. Each has its own sonority as well, once you really start listening.

    The I Ching represents all kinds of ideas, and how things "transition" subtly, like changing cloud formations. You look at it a minute later, and "the horsey" is gone. But I can still see the ducky, and he's pulling a big fat traditionalist by a string. Oh, it's changing now, into a big fuddy-duddy.
    I'm not sure they precisely notated down to the last detail. There are huge variations in performances. Liebner seems to think there are 4 books of 8 each. I'm not sure that the music relates to ideas in the i ching though you could be right. I've always thought that the experience of listening to them was supposed to be like the experience of watching the stars at night.

    For what it's worth, Crismani has made the Etudes Australis more interesting to me than Liebner or Sultan did. The Freeman Etudes or the other ones for cello (I forget what they're called now) I have made less headway with.

    These things may not be designed to be listened to at all. They may have been designed as a sort of (spiritual) practice for performers, to decipher the notation and develop the technique.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Sep-09-2016 at 19:13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nereffid View Post
    I disagree with this. Greatness is a value we place on a work, it doesn't exist "by nature". If something can still be great despite my not liking it, or your not liking it, or anyone we know liking it, then is it also great if literally no one likes it? If it's great "by nature" then the answer is yes, which strikes me as absurd.
    This seems like a logical fallacy, as Woodduck pointed out. A flawed metaphor, at the least. It's that old literal Western mind trying to put everything in strict terms of "subject" and "object," as if the two did not intermingle conceptually, and in reality.

    "Greatness" cannot exist objectively in a work except to the degree that we have successfully "deciphered" those qualities which make it so.

    Some listeners may not understand what makes a Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan performance great, but the greatness is there, in the context of those elements of that music, if we can decipher it, and it gives us meaning.

    This is once again what I call "internet subjectivity," which is a "defiant ignorance" and disregard of historically accepted and consensus-confirmed perceptions of pockets of "greatness" of various sizes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic
    The anti-intellectualism of the U.S. was noted long ago by Alexis de Tocqueville. To him, it appeared to spring from the anti-aristocratic, all-are-equal (except the usual minorities), my notions are as valid as your notions mindset of the "average" Americans he met in his travels here. This accounts in large measure for the American Exceptionalism widely discussed by Seymour Martin Lipset in his book of that name. Its positive qualities are much discussed and praised by various folk, and there can be much good said of it. But it often lapses into what I call Defiant Ignorance, giving us widespread refusals to understand many findings of the sciences, and, most tellingly, to be only one of perhaps two nations to not be on the metric system.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Sep-09-2016 at 20:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingélou View Post
    What a fascinating question! Generally, yes, anything 'great' usually wins the acclaim either of a great number of people in different time periods, or of the cognoscenti.

    Let's suppose now - if a cosmic disaster turned everyone on the planet tone-deaf, & then someone unearthed a lost magnum opus by a formerly acclaimed composer, but nobody now could appreciate its clever patterning, pleasing tonal qualities, striking themes & melodies - well then, would it still be 'great' to the Universal Listener - shades of Bishop Berkeley...

    ...or maybe it would be appreciated by some passing aliens, only their ship was hit by an asteroid on the way here? They would have thought it 'great'.

    So would that newly-discovered music be 'great', or what?
    Once again, a flawed analogy. (The meaning of) a work of art has to exist metaphysically, as a sharing of experience in a shared field of meaning. There is no "objective" quality of a work of art, except as it enters our experience of it. Those elements require interpretation by our experience to gain meaning. And since it is metaphysical, either you experience it, or you don't.

    If the work is deemed great, then chances are it is great in that particular way because those elements which make it so exist in the "field of meaning" of shared human experience, as inferred by art.

    I don't think this kind of experience is cumulative by nature at its essence; but "history" is formed by accumulations of similarities of inferred experience, which can only persuasively suggest an "objective" outcome, but by no means can "prove" anything at all. In the end, it's "believe it or not."
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Sep-09-2016 at 19:36.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    "Greatness" cannot exist objectively in a work except to the degree that we have successfully "deciphered" those qualities which make it so.
    That is basically what I said, so again I'm not sure what you're objecting to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    It's that old literal Western mind trying to put everything in strict terms of "subject" and "object," as if the two did not intermingle conceptually, and in reality.
    Ah yes, those literal-minded Westerners - Euripides, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Coleridge, Nietzsche, J. M. W. Turner, C. D. Friedrich, Schumann, Debussy... nothing like that great Eastern intuitive, Confucius...

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Some listeners may not understand what makes a Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan performance great, but the greatness is there, in the context of those elements of that music.
    Well said.
    Last edited by Magnum Miserium; Sep-09-2016 at 19:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Who's playin' 'em?
    The Italian pianist Claudio Crismani.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I'm not sure they precisely notated down to the last detail. There are huge variations in performances. Liebner seems to think there are 4 books of 8 each. I'm not sure that the music relates to ideas in the i ching though you could be right. I've always thought that the experience of listening to them was supposed to be like the experience of watching the stars at night.
    Ok, but why the insistence on "being right" when the important thing is to approach this art and see that it is valid and beautiful? Just pleading. If you dislike it, you have an airtight case.

    For what it's worth, Crismani has made the Etudes Australis more interesting to me than Liebner or Sultan did. The Freeman Etudes or the other ones for cello (I forget what they're called now) I have made less headway with.
    That sounds like you are really listening. Also, in light of your rejection of this work, your degree of understanding is puzzling, as if there were an informed, intelligent intellect standing in the way of simply embracing the music. Maybe this goes to a political or philosophical rejection of the work, based on the facts of it being random and having no real intent which shapes it down to the details. I've known intellectuals like this, who can't accept the idea of randomness.

    I see it like this: Cage has "gone out" of the relationship of "author" or "composer," and yet has created a "field" of meaning for us to experience as art. This is akin to creating a "nature" or environment which is uncontrolled by him, but is just "set up" so that it works in a similar way. He has removed himself, so it's like we are all looking at a waterfall, or some phenomena of nature which is "outside the purview" of human intention. In this sense, it is metaphysical and spiritual in nature.

    These things may not be designed to be listened to at all. They may have been designed as a sort of (spiritual) practice for performers, to decipher the notation and develop the technique.
    I think he wanted us to all share in the beauty of these sounds. The performer is very important, though. Cage once said after a bad performance, "I give performers freedom, and they end up making fools of themselves."

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    The Italian pianist Claudio Crismani.


    I am sure you will enjoy them. How faithful he's being to Cage's score and intentions is unclear to me. Sometimes what he does sounds so different from the others that I have a hard time hearing that they're playing the same music. If there's anything interesting in the booklet, I hope you'll let me know.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Sep-09-2016 at 20:04.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Ok, but why the insistence on "being right" when the important thing is to approach this art and see that it is valid and beautiful? Just pleading. If you dislike it, you have an airtight case.



    That sounds like you are really listening. Also, in light of your rejection of this work, your degree of understanding is puzzling, as if there were an informed, intelligent intellect standing in the way of simply embracing the music. Maybe this goes to a political or philosophical rejection of the work, based on the facts of it being random and having no real intent which shapes it down to the details. I've known intellectuals like this, who can't accept the idea of randomness.

    I see it like this: Cage has "gone out" of the relationship of "author" or "composer," and yet has created a "field" of meaning for us to experience as art. This is akin to creating a "nature" or environment which is uncontrolled by him, but is just "set up" so that it works in a similar way. He has removed himself, so it's like we are all looking at a waterfall, or some phenomena of nature which is "outside the purview" of human intention. In this sense, it is metaphysical and spiritual in nature.



    I think he wanted us to all share in the beauty of these sounds. The performer is very important, though. Cage once said after a bad performance, "I give performers freedom, and they end up making fools of themselves."
    I'm in a similar relationship with Pound's Cantos and Finnegan's Wake. I love the challenge!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    In this universe - the only universe we know - we are human beings, music is always produced by human beings, and some music is produced by extraordinary human beings with extraordinary faculties operating at an extraordinary level of competence, and that music is perceived to be extraordinary by other human beings capable of so perceiving it. We call such music great music.
    I'd leave the universe out of it and stick to our solar system, especially since exoplanets are now being discovered at a prodigious and ever accelerating rate. We are in the multiple thousands at this point. Intelligent life is probably as common as dirt out there. It seems not unlikely, therefore, that highly intelligent species with the capacity and desire to create music could number in the thousands or millions in our galaxy alone, let alone in the universe as a whole. So, the question I would ask is: When, one hundred million years from now, alien beings sift through the great archives preserving the record of our long dead cultures' achievements, will they manage to reconstruct the significance of the WTC and affirm the eternal greatness of Bach? Is the well-tempered or equal tempered system easily-enough extrapolated from the physical and mathematical bases of sound that it will have been discovered by millions of different cultures across the universe? I think that would be a great topic for a thread — which is why I never start threads.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    When a true genius appears on the earth, you may know him by this sign, that all of the dunces are in confederacy against him.
    — Jonathan Swift

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Intelligent life is probably as common as dirt out there.
    It certainly is on earth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    How faithful he's being to Cage's score and intentions is unclear to me. Sometimes what he does sounds so different from the others that I have a hard time hearing that they're playing the same music. If there's anything interesting in the booklet, I hope you'll let me know.
    If he were more "accurate," would that appease your desire that the music be a "gospel" transcription of some "divine intent" on John Cage's part? Forget all that, and just accept the performance if you like it. You can't control things like this. It is not a work that was ever meant to be totally determined and accurate. I'd have to see the score to tell you to what degree it is precisely notated, but I have a feeling that there is an element of indeterminacy.

    We could cite Milton Babbitt's electronic works on the RCA synthesizer as being "totally accurate," because it is a machine producing the sounds.

    Cage seems to undermine the classical idea of authorship, and the composer, which may be why many listeners like classical. It is a "gospel" which demands accurate and faithful interpretation.

    "John Cage has left the building."

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