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Thread: Can a name make or break a piece?

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    Default Can a name make or break a piece?

    How much can a name matter in how a piece is viewed and performed?

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    Senior Member Captainnumber36's Avatar
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    In Classical I don't think it matters much since works are typically named after the form of piece it is, like Sonata or Symphony. But, I think name can influence how we feel about it, but I don't think it's strong enough to make or break our enjoyment of it. We would just say, that's a poor name.

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    or you talking "title of piece" or "name of composers"?

    Regardless, my take: it does not influence me one iota.
    Last edited by Vasks; Feb-02-2020 at 02:53.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    or you talking "title of piece" or "name of composers"?

    Regardless, my take it does not influence me one iota.
    This is what I thought until I was influenced by the names of some pieces
    I think it's hard to know the answer to this if everything is just titled "Sonata" or "Orchestral Variations".

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soni View Post
    This is what I thought until I was influenced by the names of some pieces
    I think it's hard to know the answer to this if everything is just titled "Sonata" or "Orchestral Variations".
    Because they are very common names in music.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    I wonder if Penderecki's famous piece for 52 strings would be as popular had it simply been called 8'37" (referring to its time length) or Etude for Strings (referring to its nature). The name Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima proves rather intriguing and inviting, and certainly describes the harsh sound of a piece that could be logically discussed in terms like "the ugliness of the sounds Penderecki produces reflects the ugliness of the situation brought on by nuclear war" and such stuff. I agree with such arguments even though I'm aware that Penderecki had written the work prior to naming it after the victims of Hiroshima.

    John Cage, on the other hand, is most famous for a work named for its duration: 4'33". Would this be even more popular if titled "Ode to Silence" or maybe "Nocturne on an Unwritten Melody"?

    Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue has a wonderful ring to it, moreso than does a title like "Rhapsody for Piano and Jazz Orchestra".

    Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs provides that wonderful work with a wonderful romantic title. I'm pleased he did not allow it to stand as simply Symphony No. 3. Gorecki's Symphony No. 1 is titled "1959" and his Symphony No. 2 "Copernican"; though meaningful, neither title helps the music, in my opinion. And the Symphony No. 4 has the title "Tansman Episodes", which I find fascinating (as I remain a fan of the music of Alexandre Tansman), yet also find that same symphony 4 to be probably the single worst piece of "classical" music I've ever heard -- unbelievably bad. I almost feel glad that poor A. Tansman is dead and never lived to hear this apparent homage to his music.

    So, whether or not names matter I can't say. But I am glad that someone stuck the title "Moonlight Sonata" onto Beethoven's otherwise named Sonata No. 14 In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2. I'd probably love the music as much with that latter title, but I so love moreso saying "Moonlight Sonata". Call me a romantic at heart.

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    With composers who wrote a lot of music in a given form - symphonies, sonatas etc. - I might often have gone for the named pieces first but I usually move beyond those. I guess that pieces getting names is a sign that those pieces stand out in some way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogerx View Post
    Because they are very common names in music.
    Yes this is what I mean, maybe my post was not worded so clearly

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    The named Haydn symphonies are more popular than the unnamed ones, though they're not necessarily better pieces.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    How much can a name matter in how a piece is viewed and performed?
    It's not clear if you mean the name of the composer or the title of the piece.
    If you mean the latter, are you worried about the title of your soon-to-be-released and long-awaited magnum opus, the one that will put all other works into the shade?
    If that is the case, would you like us to make suggestions?

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    People will always be attracted by a name for a work, especially if it's mysterious or quirky in some way. For example I always wanted to hear Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine just because it sounded interesting. Would I have been as eager if it had the title 'Fanfare for Orchestra' ? It's also often good to have a title as it can make pieces more memorable to you and easier to refer to. It's not necessary but I do like a name. A name can also tell you so much about a piece and tempt you to listen.
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-02-2020 at 12:32.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    People will always be attracted by a name for a work, especially if it's mysterious or quirky in some way. For example I always wanted to hear Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine just because it sounded interesting. Would I have been as eager if it had the title 'Fanfare for Orchestra' ? It's also often good to have a title as it can make pieces more memorable to you and easier to refer to. It's not necessary but I do like a name. A name can also tell you so much about a piece and tempt you to listen.
    Very true. When I hear people write or talk about "the Eroica" I know immediately what they're referring to. On the other hand, it takes me a second or two longer to recall "Beethoven's Symphony N° 3".

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    Senior Member Blancrocher's Avatar
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    Otoh, it's good for a composer to include "Fanfare for Orchestra" as a backup name so that it can be included in TC's eventual list of the greatest fanfares.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blancrocher View Post
    Otoh, it's good for a composer to include "Fanfare for Orchestra" as a backup name so that it can be included in TC's eventual list of the greatest fanfares.
    To which will soon be added -not in the fanfare section - works composed via direct dictation from God, which seems to be the case for 1996D's upcoming compositional revelation. I really can't wait.
    Last edited by TalkingHead; Feb-02-2020 at 13:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SONNET CLV View Post
    So, whether or not names matter I can't say. But I am glad that someone stuck the title "Moonlight Sonata" onto Beethoven's otherwise named Sonata No. 14 In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2. I'd probably love the music as much with that latter title, but I so love moreso saying "Moonlight Sonata". Call me a romantic at heart.
    my thinking exactly.
    the names dont really affect the music but its always nice if the title adds something to it.

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