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Thread: How do you define Tier 1, Tier 2...composers?

  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    No, I’m just annoyed at you.
    You don't mean that.

  2. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armanvd View Post
    I define tiers based on how much a composer affected the history and path of music. I put innovators and pioneers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy, Mahler, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, etc. in the first tier. and so on..
    Are you suggesting that your definition of "tiers" has sufficient merit that it could, or should, have wider acceptance among other people who are interested in classical music, or is it something that you recognise as being only of relevance to your way of thinking about this issue?

    If the former, I don't accept it being valid either for me or as recommendation for others to follow.

    I think it's too narrow as it's based solely on innovation and influence. This sounds somewhat phoney to me, as if the list of composers may have came first, and the justification followed. For example, you could just as easily have selected the same list of composers and used some other criterion, like for example most popular composers in each major time period.

    Even within your selected criterion, you've missed out several key composers like Monteverdi, J Haydn, Schubert who were also influential composers, in greatly helping to catapult the new music styles into greater significance. The exclusion of important names like this just make the whole thing look dodgy. Do you not think that your list might possibly be doing a disservice to such other composers?

    If, however, your intended use of this concept of "tier" is solely for your own personal use, what exactly is its value to you? For me, I can't see that it would serve any useful purpose at all. Does it, for example, enable you to prioritise your listening schedules? If it does, it seems to be a rather bizarre way of organising one's music. I don't have any such lists and yet I manage to get by well enough without them, and have done so for as many years as I can remember.
    Last edited by Partita; Jul-15-2019 at 21:24.

  3. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
    I've been thinking about this while this thread took its course. As stated before, for myself I tend to classify compositions in tiers:

    Hors concours: the very best, less than 100 compositions overall
    First tier ("essential"): works I cannot do without if I had to rebuild my CD collection
    Second tier ("important"): works I would not like to do without if I had to rebuild my CD collection
    Third tier ("good to have"): works I would like to have if I had to rebuild my CD collection
    Fourth tier ("not required, or for completion"): the rest

    Can this translate to composers? Possibly something along these lines:

    Hors concours: 6 or more works in tiers HC and 1, at least 1 in HC.
    First tier: 6 or more works in tiers HC, 1 and 2, at least 2 in tier HC or 1, but not qualified for composer tier HC
    Second tier: 6 or more works in tiers HC, 1 and 2, but not qualified for composer tiers HC and 1
    Third tier: 6 or more works in tiers HC, 1, 2 and 3, but not qualified for composer tiers HC, 1 and 2
    Fourth tier: the rest

    This would mean that my composers hors concours tier would be Bach, Mahler, Brahms, Schubert, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Dvorak, Mendelssohn - which lines up with my current top 8 (in that order). The likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, Debussy, Wagner and many others would end up in tier 1.

    This is just a first idea, and of course the number 6 is somewhat random.

    EDIT: and it probably requires some adjustment in terms of size of the works - a four hour opera or a 10 minute symphonic poem get the same weight in the ranking above.
    Thank you for responding to my OP. Your method is rather detailed which is, of course, fine. If you relatively quickly came up with composers for those tiers, do you think they would differ significantly with a more detailed analysis of the composers. In other words would a quick assessment of the tiers give significantly different results than a well thought out assessment?
    Last edited by mmsbls; Jul-15-2019 at 21:43.

  4. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armanvd View Post
    I define tiers based on how much a composer affected the history and path of music. I put innovators and pioneers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy, Mahler, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, etc. in the first tier. and so on..
    Thank you for responding to my OP. Do you think there are composers of top quality that may not be great innovators or pioneers? I'm thinking perhaps of Brahms.

  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    Are you suggesting that your definition of "tiers" has sufficient merit that it could, or should, have wider acceptance among other people who are interested in classical music, or is it something that you recognise as being only of relevance to your way of thinking about this issue?

    If the former, I don't accept it being valid either for me or as recommendation for others to follow. ...
    Reading your posts today, I think perhaps you are missing several points.

    1) You seem to be arguing against a belief that no one has postulated and against one that I'm guessing extremely few in the entire world, if any, believe.

    Does anyone actually believe that large numbers of composers can be objectively ranked with little uncertainty? I assume not. No one here has argued that. I stated that any set of metrics would be subjective, and no one argued with me. Case closed.

    2) You seem to believe that there can be no uses for dividing composers into tiers.

    There are many good uses for dividing composers into tiers. Not everyone will agree on each use, but then not everyone has to take part in the exercise.

    a) It's fun. If one doesn't find it fun, one does not have to take part. There are countless composer games played on TC by many members. I doubt any of those playing would say it's not at least moderately fun.

    b) The result of ordering composers can be a very useful tool. By far the most useful book on music I've ever read was Goulding's Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1000 Greatest Works. I went from having an interest in classical music to becoming passionate about listening to classical music by using that ordered set of composers. All music history classes use something like an ordered set of composers. I doubt any introductory class has mentioned William Herschel.

    c) It's helpful to have an ordered set when suggesting composers to relatively new listeners. The general view being that humans respond relatively similarly to music (e.g. most people will like Dvorak more than William Herschel).

    d) An ordered list does not have to be objective, statistically valid, or even roughly precise to be of value. I was very happy to learn that Messiaen was a highly thought of modern composer so I started listening. The results were wonderful, and I didn't have to listen to hundreds of modern composers to find one I would enjoy so much.

    e) I would say all TC members, not merely most people, has something like an ordered set of composers in their heads. Not a detailed set, but a general ranking such that they could quickly order many pairs of composers. In some sense we all do it on some level.

    So, yes, a precise, objective ordering of composers is not possible, but so what?

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  7. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    Thank you for responding to my OP. Your method is rather detailed which is, of course, fine. If you relatively quickly came up with composers for those tiers, do you think they would differ significantly with a more detailed analysis of the composers. In other words would a quick assessment of the tiers give significantly different results than a well thought out assessment?
    The advantage of this system (which I stress again only works for an individual, in this case me) is that a detailed analysis per composer is not required. I have a pretty good idea already for the works that end up in HC or tier 1, so for the top names, I can quickly assign a composer's tier. For composers who have less impact in my taste, it would take more time, but it's also less interesting whether e.g. Poulenc would be in tier 3 or 4.

    The disadvantage is that it is rather sensitive to the arbitrary number of six works to make a distinction - make that five or seven and even the top tiers change. And as stated, it's rather unfair to long duration works like operas.

    I'm not sure if it could really be fine tuned effectively, and also not if that would be worthwhile.
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  9. #127
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    You can rank them any way you like, people will never fully agree on the criteria to differentiate between the tiers and which composer belongs to what tier. All this time is better spent listening to music.

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  11. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    I believe there is obviously a big three. Those three are most popular, but they are much more. I would guess that they and their works are written about more than other composers and their works.
    Personally, I would avoid using 'big' - it's too tendentious.
    Last edited by janxharris; Jul-16-2019 at 08:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    Reading your posts today, I think perhaps you are missing several points.

    etc

    etc
    I don't think I have missed any points. Your comments suggest that I'm the only one expressing negative views about the value of ranking composers by tiers. That is not correct. All I have tried to do is to amplify and elaborate upon the sceptical views expressed by several others.

    I have been at pains to make clear that I have no problem with anyone's method for placing composers into separate tiers, provided it's for their own purposes. I have expressed some doubts about the actual method proposed in some cases because it seems to produce some odd results (you mentioned one example yourself concerning Brahms.)

    Occasionally, however, it hasn't been clear whether the method suggested is purely for the individual's own benefit, or whether it is seen as a method that can possibly be extended to a group of individuals, with a view to obtaining some kind of collective view thus having greater credibility. In a few posts it has been suggested it ought to be possible to contrive such a method. Here, not unreasonably, I have questioned the validity of some of the methods proposed where they strike me as being defective.

    As for all of your other comments, yes of course some people like constructing lists and I don't doubt doubt that many find them useful as learning devices. I have used such lists myself, and have occasionally referred to the usefulness of the TC Recommended Lists. for individual genres. But these and all other similar lists have huge statistical uncertainties associated with them. You say that people are generally aware of this, so case closed. I reckon you could be rather optimistic about this. As I'm sure you must be aware, there have been a number of quite heated disputes in various threads over the years arising over the exact placing of certain composers on lists.

    On this matter of reliability, all I have tried to do is to bring out more clearly than some people might otherwise believe just how ropy the results can be, such that individual placements could be out by very large amounts. Seasoned data collectors know this only too well, but I've seen evidence that some folk look upon these lists as if they're supposed to have a fundamental validity and begin to criticise the individual rankings they don't like. Some individuals carry out forms of further statistical analysis on the lists that are far too complex to be of any possible value, given the fragile nature of basic data.

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    Whether we like it or not, we find ourselves within particular communities, and all communities have particular traditions. The communities of classical music listeners are no exception.

    The traditions of these communities have handed down to us canons of composers and works. Some of those canons are so explicit that veteran members of the communities are all aware of them: the trinity of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven is so well established that anyone who challenges it forcefully must either have really impressive credentials or understood that they will be regarded as presumptuous attention-seekers.

    Other canons are less clear, harder to discover, and more open to question. One way of exploring and questioning them is to propose lists and to debate the merit of those lists. Not everyone will enjoy an activity so fraught with specificity and disagreement, and some people will love it, but everyone will learn from it.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Besides the questioning of tiers, how many votes go into rating anything that is supposedly representative of the forum? Five, ten, twelve? And further, how does anyone know that the works have actually been heard that people are voting on? Some of the works appear highly obscure. On the other hand, maybe it’s just a game, a casual pastime, and real votes don’t matter. But to me, it’s not clear whether people have actually heard what they’re rating and the ratings are somewhat questionable. I would think that people would have to hear everything they’re voting on for any ratings or tiers to have real value.
    I came to this thread to find this post, which I really like. I haven't been able to forget it since I read it several days ago. But I'll reply to it on the appropriate thread and then post a link to it here (this is the link).
    Last edited by science; Jul-16-2019 at 13:43.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

  15. #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    Whether we like it or not, we find ourselves within particular communities, and all communities have particular traditions. The communities of classical music listeners are no exception.

    The traditions of these communities have handed down to us canons of composers and works. Some of those canons are so explicit that veteran members of the communities are all aware of them: the trinity of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven is so well established that anyone who challenges it forcefully must either have really impressive credentials or understood that they will be regarded as presumptuous attention-seekers.

    Other canons are less clear, harder to discover, and more open to question. One way of exploring and questioning them is to propose lists and to debate the merit of those lists. Not everyone will enjoy an activity so fraught with specificity and disagreement, and some people will love it, but everyone will learn from it.
    It's unclear to me what 'trinity', or 'big three' means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janxharris View Post
    It's unclear to me what 'trinity', or 'big three' means.
    Foundational, at the core of the music, central, essential, foundational in the history of the music (disregarding your usual dissing of Mozart). These three names always come up as greats whether one happens to agree or not. I agree with these three because there’s endless speculation about who’s number four, but these three names come up repeatedly and one can only challenge their status at the risk of damaging one’s own. Better to stay silent than speak unwisely and foolishly about them. They have earned their place and are endless wells of creativity for the wise, receptive, and knowledgeable. Just don’t.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-16-2019 at 22:42.
    "That's all Folks!"

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  18. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Foundational, at the core of the music, central, essential, foundational (disregarding your usual dissing of Mozart). These three names always come up as greats whether one happens to agree or not. I agree with the list because there’s endless speculation about who’s number four, but these three names come up repeatedly and one can only challenge their reputations at the risk of damaging one’s own reputation, status and position. Better to stay silent than speak unwisely and foolishly about them. They have earned their positions and are like endless wells of creativity for the wise, receptive, and knowledgeable.
    I, too, think they are all great but it's arrogant to say they are greater than other composers. To suggest that one should be silent on this is extraordinary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    ... As for all of your other comments, yes of course some people like constructing lists and I don't doubt doubt that many find them useful as learning devices. ...
    I think we basically agree then.

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