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Thread: Does music progress?

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I don’t know if classical music has had this sort of social importance.
    Controversial suggestion: maybe classical music doesn't have any importance in today's society because music has progressed beyond it into pop? Not related to your point, just nobody has brought this up so far...

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    "Are you, like me, puzzled to learn that Popular Science magazine recently shut down comments on its website, declaring that they were bad for science? Are you amazed, like me, that Duck Dynasty is the most-watched nonfiction cable show in TV history? Are you dismayed, like me, that crappy Hollywood films about comic book heroes and defunct TV shows have taken over every movie theater? Are you depressed, like me, that symphony orchestras are declaring bankruptcy, but Justin Bieber earned $58 million last year?

    If so, you need to read The Revolt of the Masses. You’ve got questions. Ortega’s got answers."

    The above remarks are found near the beginning of Ted Giola's wonderful Daily Beast appraisal of Ortega y Gasset's groundbreaking 1929 book, The Revolt of the Masses. As Giola points out, Ortega y Gasset wrote of the rise of mass opinion and the collapse of the reign of the judgements of elites and experts. He was shocked by this and foretold of a new era in politics and art (and, for our purposes, music).

    Giola's fine, brief article: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-sm...lished-in-1929

    Much of this trend toward overthrow of cultural elites was discerned even earlier by Alexis de Tocqueville when he interacted with ordinary Americans during his tour of the new country; he found then in the early 1800s that same indifference--even contempt--for received opinion from higher authority or experts in a field.

    When we couple Ortega y Gasset's analysis with Leonard Meyer's 1960s-era explorations of the New Stasis in Music and the Arts (Music, the Arts, and Ideas, Part II) which then are reinforced by the explosion of universal and instantaneous transmission of ideas and trends, and the retention of all past data, we are confronted with today's peculiar situation wherein all thoughts of "progress" in music and art are rendered null and void. Instead, we are confronted with a white noise of artistic micro-movements in all directions simultaneously. This can be seen as both a curse and a blessing: those hoping to see their particular trend grow into a mature and dominant genre or school or movement will be bitterly disappointed; those who hope their particular niche enthusiasm will have a home and some followers somewhere can count on a certain immortality for said enthusiasm.

    I encourage anyone interested in the present and future of Art and Music to read The Revolt of the Masses and also Meyer's book. Both rise above the "ground clutter" of more local concerns of immediate art trends, and see beyond to the horizon.....

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  4. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by soni View Post
    Controversial suggestion: maybe classical music doesn't have any importance in today's society because music has progressed beyond it into pop? Not related to your point, just nobody has brought this up so far...
    I thought I had seen several posts suggesting this (maybe a different thread??) but it seems wrong to me. It isn't about what the majority like, it's about a growing diversity of choices for musicians and audiences.

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    Controversial suggestion: maybe classical music doesn't have any importance in today's society because music has progressed beyond it into pop?

    It's questionable whether pop is a progression of classical music since there isn't much in common between the two. Pop is more a progression of spirituals or religious hymns written in the 17th and 18th century than classical music. Hymns are based on three repeating stanzas with an interval in the third. Classical music was for centuries based on sonata format that is far more sophisticated in development.

    I think if classical music is dying, as some suggest, it is probably more likely that we no longer need it as an art form. Until the 20th century classical music was for the most part written for the aristocracy or religious leadership. It relied on wealthy patrons and others with money. This changed in the 20th century but still most classical music is either created at conservatories or in university musical departments, not in the cellars or poor people's homes.

    Pop music can be written or developed in a garage, has no need for people of wealth since anyone can afford it, and still has not for the most part developed beyond the strophic. Going back to Elvis for every creation such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" there are 10 zillion strophes.

    I think big band music of the 1940s and postwar era, one of the last forms of popular music before pop and rock, was more closely related to classical music. Many also see a debt to classical in American jazz though I am not one of them.
    Last edited by larold; Jan-20-2020 at 19:41.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Music is decoration and diversion in sound.

    Diversion and decoration can be expressive, some sorts of wallpaper make you feel cheerful, some paint colours are depressing. I don’t hear anything in Brahms which goes beyond that in any fundamental way. I don’t see how it could.
    I never realized before this that I should have had a career in wallpaper instead of music. It wouldn't have required a college degree, I'd have made more money, and it would have made me feel just as cheerful. I wonder if Brahms ever thought about that?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-20-2020 at 19:04.

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  8. #96
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    Music is decoration and diversion in sound. Diversion and decoration can be expressive, some sorts of wallpaper make you feel cheerful, some paint colours are depressing. I don’t hear anything in Brahms which goes beyond that in any fundamental way. I don’t see how it could...I never realized before this that I should have had a career in wallpaper instead of music.

    Bach didn't realize it when he invented the fugue and equal temperament. Haydn didn't realize it either when he invented the string quartet. Schubert didn't realize that either when he invented the art song. Beethoven didn't realize it either when he created a symphony twice as long as any ever written. Wagner didn't realize it either when he created the concept of music-drama-scene.

    I think it possible, however, that Steve Reich realized it when he wrote 18, the first minimalist hit.

    John Cage definitely knew it and was up front saying everyone determines their own value and assigns it to music.
    Last edited by larold; Jan-20-2020 at 19:27.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    It wouldn't have required a college degree,
    You might just be wrong about that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    You might just be wrong about that!
    Nowadays you may be right.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larold View Post
    Bach didn't realize it when he invented the fugue and equal temperament. Schubert didn't realize that either when he invented the art song. Beethoven didn't realize it either when he created a symphony twice as long as any ever written.
    Bach invented the fugue? Didn't Johann Pachelbel, Dieterich Buxtehude, Girolamo Frescobaldi write theirs before Bach did his?
    Bach invented the Equal Temperament? This is also something I've never heard before.
    Also, didn't Beethoven write song cycles before Schubert did? I'm not sure what you mean "Beethoven didn't know he was writing a symphony twice as long as any ever written." He clearly meant to write it that way and did it knowing clearly what he was doing and the implications of his actions.
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Jan-20-2020 at 20:53.

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  13. #100
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    I'm not sure what you mean "Beethoven didn't know he was writing a symphony twice as long as any ever written." He clearly meant to write it that way and did it knowing clearly what he was doing and the implications of his actions.

    Go back to the original thesis: Beethoven didn't realize music is nothing more than decoration and diversion in sound and comparable to wallpaper. He thought it could actually change the world.

  14. #101
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    In the c19 there was an idea that artists, musicians, were a spiritual elite because they had perceived some aspect of reality not readily available to the rest of us, and they used their paintings, music etc to try and communicate their wisdom to the people.

    But this is nonsense! I mean you just have to say it to see that it’s nonsense. No one except some crazy neo-platonist would say that today.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-20-2020 at 22:07.

  15. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    In the c19 there was an idea that artists, musicians, were a spiritual elite because they had perceived some aspect of reality not readily available to the rest of us, and they used their paintings, music etc to try and communicate their wisdom to the people.

    But this is nonsense! I mean you just have to say it to see that it’s nonsense. No one except some crazy neo-platonist would say that today.
    Well, I'm not a neo-platonist, and I haven't been diagnosed as crazy, but I think the idea that great artists are more sensitive to some aspects of reality than most other people is not bizarre. Note that my statement is a little less strong than yours. If we can grant that not all people are equally aware and sensitive, that most of us are at any given time unconscious of things humans can become conscious of, and that artists - poets, painters, composers - bring us observations of our inner and outer worlds that we might otherwise miss, it isn't far-fetched to call the greatest artists a spiritual elite - or, to sound less religious, an elite of consciousness.

    As an artist I've always known that the state of mental and emotional receptivity involved in creation entails a significant increase in awareness, and that the attempt to record what is seen and imagined necessitates that enrichment and intensification of everyday consciousness. I'd say that the exceptional ability to experience and transmit an expanded and intensified reality is primarily what distinguishes the artists we call great. To participate in an artist's reality, and in consequence to see our own reality altered, however subtly, has been seen as a kind of sacred rite, not merely by 19th-century Romantics but by primitive cultures where art is intimately tied to religious ritual. It's the culture that sees art purely as a commodity made for momentary pleasure that's the outlier.

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    Senior Member Room2201974's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Mandryka

    Music is decoration and diversion in sound.

    Diversion and decoration can be expressive, some sorts of wallpaper make you feel cheerful, some paint colours are depressing. I don’t hear anything in Brahms which goes beyond that in any fundamental way. I don’t see how it could.


    I don't hear diversion and decoration in Brahms, nor do I listen to his music so that it will make me feel an emotion one way or the other. I don't listen to or study classical music for any of that. If all that is going through someone's brain while listening to the third movement of Brahms 3rd Symphony is, "Isn't this music sad sounding," then boy are they missing the music. If someone tells me that Brahms wrote two "pretty sounding melodies" in the first 8 measures to open the fourth movement of Ein Deutsches Requiem, I'd tell them a class in music theory may do them some good.

    I want to know why a piece of music works, how it's organized, why the composer did A instead of B, what are the unifying elements, how are they used, and so forth. You see, I'm just like one of the Schuyler sisters....I'm looking for "a mind at work." Why here is a mind at work....nearly 7 minutes of thematic development over the course of multiple key changes....and all of it...all nearly 7 minutes including the contrasting theme...... are derived from the first four measures. Brahms Piano Trio, first mvt, Opus 101.

    Diversion and decoration??? Hardly!
    Last edited by Room2201974; Jan-21-2020 at 01:13.
    "One man's symphony is another man's earworm." ~ riffing on a R.A.H quote.

  18. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Room2201974 View Post
    I don't hear diversion and decoration in Brahms, nor do I listen to his music so that it will make me feel an emotion one way or the other. I don't listen to or study classical music for any of that. If all that is going through someone's brain while listening to the third movement of Brahms 3rd Symphony is, "Isn't this music sad sounding," then boy are they missing the music. If someone tells me that Brahms wrote two "pretty sounding melodies" in the first 8 measures to open the fourth movement of Ein Deutsches Requiem, I'd tell them a class in music theory may do them some good.

    I want to know why a piece of music works, how it's organized, why the composer did A instead of B, what are the unifying elements, how are they used, and so forth. You see, I'm just like one of the Schuyler sisters....I'm looking for "a mind at work." Why here is a mind at work....nearly 7 minutes of thematic development over the course of multiple key changes....and all of it...all nearly 7 minutes including the contrasting theme...... are derived from the first four measures. Brahms Piano Trio, first mvt, Opus 101.

    Diversion and decoration??? Hardly!
    Why this either/or? Music offers a variety of experiences. Noting how music makes us feel, and listening because it makes us feel fantastic, is as natural as, and certainly more common than (since most people haven't studied or composed music), analyzing its structure. An exclusive preoccupation with how a composer does what he does could just as validly be called "missing the music," or maybe missing the landscape for the trees. Art regarded purely as a formal exercise is just another kind of diversion, albeit a sophisticated diversion for minds trained in composition or formal analysis. But music is more than a sonic erector set, and the range of emphasis on one aesthetic value or another between Der Kust der Fuge and Das Lied von der Erde is incalculably wide.

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  20. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    But music is more than a sonic erector set, and the range of emphasis on one aesthetic value or another between Der Kust der Fuge and Das Lied von der Erde is incalculably wide.
    At the end of the day music is music, and all creative human brains work alike. The counterpoint of Bach and Mahler is similar enough, the latter just has more emotional range.

    I want to know why a piece of music works, how it's organized, why the composer did A instead of B, what are the unifying elements, how are they used, and so forth.
    It's largely creative and not planned, when you reach mastery you just write the music without thinking, even before it's just something natural. It's hilarious how some people overanalyze everything when it was done in the moment as a creative spark; you can't learn that.

    Why did the composer do A instead of B? Because it was tasteful, because it enhanced the structure, because it made logical sense, because the idea happened to pop in his head in the moment. Composing is creative, you just do.

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