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Thread: What Role Does "Skill" Play When Evaluating Music?

  1. #286
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    ^^^^Absolutely...and this...beautiful.




    Mind you, the arranger has added considerably with dreamy strings, and that perfect voice has few equals....
    Last edited by mikeh375; Oct-11-2019 at 15:20.

  2. #287
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eva Yojimbo View Post
    So while we might now say that Mussorgsky's own orchestration and harmony is more original, fits the work, and creates its own kind of standard, we still run into the issue of whether or not we're saying it's skillful only because we like it.
    We may be doing that, but time has a way of resolving the question. It's human nature to resist what's different and to judge it faulty by established standards. Eventually, when those standards are no longer the norm, a thing that didn't conform is revealed to be either flawed or beautiful in its own way, and in the latter case the artist is seen to have known what he was doing after all.

  3. #288
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    I've tried to read most of the posts here, and see many good points. I suppose it's understandable that the focus quickly shifted away from the skill of the listener in evaluating music to the skill of the composer and performer in creating it. But the threshold question that comes to my mind on this subject is "What are the composer's and/or performers goals in creating the work?" Aside from the numerous different genres with shorter or longer traditions, differences in size, scale and scope, artists, very much including musicians, have different goals.

    Some artist seek to capture the zeitgeist or mood of the moment, however transient, and have the greatest possible immediate impact on the largest possible audience. Exactly how long that impact is felt, and whether it leaves echos or aftershocks in our culture in later generations, is usually a secondary goal at best for such artists. It generally takes some skill and talent to accomplish this, and the best art of this type often has great merit imo, if nothing else as a fascinating snapshot effectively illustrating the mood of a particular time and place.

    But another, much smaller, group of artists pay little attention to the mood of the moment but rather seek to depict ideas and emotions that are more fundamental, universal and permanent, but of necessity in a new and compelling way, as great artists before them have already addressed these themes. That requires working in a subtle language, visible, verbal or musical, and one with some unique elements yet with enough frame of reference to be recognizable. Fame and fortune are not their goals. The shrewd businessmen among them may do well enough financially, but almost inevitably the full significance of their work is not appreciated, even among academic specialists, critics, other artists and other professional experts, until after they are dead and gone and the totality of their work can be placed in its full historical, social, and of course cultural context.

    It is the latter group that almost invariably produces the great classical composers. Learning their languages is a skill. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be learned almost entirely by informal means, simply by listening, like any language. And like any language, for most this is much more easily accomplished in childhood. It can still be done as an adult, though these adults often lack the natural, almost intuitive understanding that those who have been listeners since early childhood often have.
    Last edited by fluteman; Oct-11-2019 at 22:06.

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  5. #289
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    I consider skill as the composer’s ability to put the music together and get it down on paper in a way that reflects what he’s hearing in his head. That takes skill. It’s huge! Then there are other qualities, such as the gift for melody, harmonic genius, the ability for writing a narrative, if so desired, and other such factors. But I believe the process starts with some type of demand of inspiration to come up with ideas worth putting down on paper, and that’s another story. It’s important to learn one’s craft and I think it’s fairly easy to tell which composers have it because they’re often great orchestrators and one can consistently hear it in the music. Some of the modernists who have the skill to write complex scores do not generally interest me if they cannot touch the emotions and the human experience in some way... In the Romantic era, Joachim Raff was considered to have more technical ability (skill) than genius, and that’s perhaps why his reputation has faded.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-12-2019 at 04:56.
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  7. #290
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I've tried to read most of the posts here, and see many good points. I suppose it's understandable that the focus quickly shifted away from the skill of the listener in evaluating music to the skill of the composer and performer in creating it. But the threshold question that comes to my mind on this subject is "What are the composer's and/or performers goals in creating the work?" Aside from the numerous different genres with shorter or longer traditions, differences in size, scale and scope, artists, very much including musicians, have different goals.
    I agree. I posted briefly on this earlier in the thread. It's not just a question of the 'skills' on display, but the deployment of them as a means to an end.

    I'm reminded, after watching England lose to the Czech Republic last night, of the obvious analogy of the football team whose star player has an abundance of dribbling skills. He mesmerises the opposition every time he gets into their penalty area, but he fails to pass when he needs to and constantly loses the ball.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    I consider skill as the composer’s ability to put the music together and get it down on paper in a way that reflects what he’s hearing in his head.
    True - similar to purpose. But it can be difficult to tell whether what we end up hearing is what the composer had in his head!

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Some of the modernists who have the skill to write complex scores do not generally interest me if they cannot touch the emotions and the human experience in some way.
    Why pick on "the modernists"? Surely there are composers from all eras who don't touch your emotions?
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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