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Thread: Too complicated by half!

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    Default Too complicated by half!

    It seems to me that young composers coming out of the academe bubble have the idea that the more complex a piece is , the better. Maybe this all started with serial music etc.. As they start their career in the real music world , they probably find it extremely hard to get their pieces played once , let alone twice . As a player in a foward looking concert band , i am dubious asking people to come along to a "challenging" programme . Should these composers stick to their coterie of chums , or ....?

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    Quote Originally Posted by malc View Post
    It seems to me that young composers coming out of the academe bubble have the idea that the more complex a piece is , the better. Maybe this all started with serial music etc.. As they start their career in the real music world , they probably find it extremely hard to get their pieces played once , let alone twice . As a player in a foward looking concert band , i am dubious asking people to come along to a "challenging" programme . Should these composers stick to their coterie of chums , or ....?
    Part of it is the students being eager to put all the stuff they learned into practice, which is only natural and will evolve over time. But the other (potentially more harmful) part IMO is the way academia rewards and encourages bizarre compositions, which wires you into favoring that kind of music even after you graduate. Happens in other fields too, like in fashion or film school, where the highest scoring short is too often the craziest one.

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    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    And complexity is a thing at the moment.

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    The concerts I´ve experienced here in Denmark with new music by young composers doesn´t really have extreme complexity as the main feature, I think. That said, I don´t frequent them a lot. But at a recent one with orchestral music, I overheard the elder composer Hans Henrik Nordstrøm grumpily complaining, that a composer repeated himself too much in a piece. Two of three pieces were rather late-romantically coloured, I think. I´d find a truly conservative, melodic style of lesser interest only.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Aug-24-2018 at 14:58.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I don't see contemporary music as complex, no matter what some may try to advertise. Just detailed. I see them as just following a certain type of idiom, just like some try to write in a baroque, Classical or Romantic style, rather than intentionally being bizarre , although I've seen and heard some that do.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Complexity is easier than simplicity.

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    Senior Member shirime's Avatar
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    I guess it depends which academia we are talking about. The composition teachers at Curtis are extremely different to the composition teachers at Harvard. I've never met any composition student or teacher who is of the opinion that complexity = better, but I have met many who have said that the composition projects that get higher marks are usually the ones that show an excellent knowledge of the craft. The 'simple' music may be complex in its own way, just not as highly detailed. I tend to think of the difference between an ornate cathedral and a modern eco-home; the former may be highly detailed and have a very complex surface that's difficult to take in all at once, whilst the latter may be visually a lot simpler and more geometric yet have a very sophisticated design for maximum sustainability.

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    I think complexity for the sake of complexity is what is ruining modern classical music. I think musicality and sensible harmonic development as well as compelling use of color and varied articulation (Percussive vs. Tender) is the key to making quality music.

    I think a lot of people are pressured to be "innovative" to the point where they no longer are. It stifles creativity, imo.

    I mean, I could easily write an atonal, percussive technical piece within a week, but it would sound as hollow as my intentions... No, music should be about letting your heart and mind wander along its own path, not forced down one lane that the intelligentsia have deemed "creative and innovative".

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    Complexity is not something I seek out in music. I listen to some music that is complex, but that's not its appeal.

    I don't understand how anyone could favour complexity if it were at the expense of other aspects of music.
    "The worst music I actually heard on this board (with some exceptions) by people who are telling that 'theory is everything'.

    Sorry to say ... but some of you here don't have a f***ing clue what music actually is and to be aware that some of you actually have musical knowledge, all this is even more sad."

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    "Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art." —Frederic Chopin



    "The spirit's foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication." —George Santayana

    "Seek simplicity but distrust it." —Alfred North Whitehead
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Yesterday at 06:19.

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    Senior Member MarkMcD's Avatar
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    I think the focus of many contemporary composers has changed wildly over the last century or so. It seem that music is no longer written for the masses, as was the case when the great masters where writing music. Classical music didn't really exist up until the latter half of the 19th century, before then, it was just music, intended to be heard by everyone. Now it seems that classical music no longer appeals to the masses, even though there is a huge section of society that still appreciates it, it is not really written for them, but rather to be accepted by an "elite" group of aficionados who insist that new music must always be breaking new ground, and that there is no place for music that goes over "old" ground.

    In a time when really "originality" no longer exists, as everything has already been done in one form or another, it seems the only avenue left open is the increasingly bazar (complex) mashing together of notes that a lot of the time I find hard to even call music.

    To give an example of just what I mean by the focus of classical music having changed form being for the masses, to being for the acceptance of an elite few:- I belong to 4 classical music forums that in my experience are oriented (in the main) to favour the more modern aspect of composition. This is not a complaint, I greatly enjoy participating on these forums, however, they are not at least accessed by "the masses". I also have a sound cloud page, which I would consider to be much more accessible to the masses. The difference in comments left by the members of the two different types of forum is quite noticeable. That is to say that I believe the general public still seem to favour music that is familiar to them, that is comfortable for them to listen to, and in general, the reverse is true for the other, less accessible (to the public) forums.

    This leads me to believe that the direction classical music is taking is no longer driven by the general population, and as such is no longer trying to please them, but rather a different group entirely.

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    Classical music still exists, but it has evolved into film soundtracks. The composers just like (specially) Howard Shore or (also) Hans Zimmer, just to talk about a couple of them, are as good as the masters were.
    The leimotiv of Gladiator, when Lucila (Connie Nielsen) gets up in the coliseum, is amazingly simple, beautiful and at the same time magnificently powerful. Any master of the classical would been touched by Zimmer's Gladiator leitmotiv.
    The magnificence and richness, the spiritual transcendentality, the deepness of the dimensional architecture and the impressive textures of LOTR music, is an evolution of Wagner. R.Wagner opened the gate to the archetype that Shore developes (you could say Shore's not original), but the scope of Shore couldn't have been achieved by Wagner, so the archetype wasn't fully incarnated yet, while the masters were alive.
    None of them did something similar to the Gladiator leitmotiv I've mentioned above, so the archetypes are still waiting for completion in matter of incarnation onto musical forms.
    So the simplicity that Chopin talked about, is still the grail of the music.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    ^^ I doubt the Masters would be impressed by the film music nowadays. It is mainly overblown homophonic stuff. A bit oversimplistic, and thinly stretched over long periods of time with lots of repetition. A good example, the Dances with Wolves soundtrack is really just 3 different themes rearranged to sound slightly different.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    You doubt it. That's your doubt.
    Last edited by Carol Rein; Today at 03:52.

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