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Thread: Polystylism

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    Default Polystylism

    Polystylism is a movement in the modern arts that includes the use of multiple styles. Some great polystylist composers include Schnittke, Davies, and Zorn. What are your favorite polystylist composers/works.

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams...
    Last edited by Fabulin; Feb-21-2020 at 00:53.

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    Zorn’s Memento Mori is something I remember thinking was interesting. Is it an example of polystylism?
    Last edited by Mandryka; Feb-21-2020 at 06:26.

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    I suspect Polystylism can mean either of two things: the composer can switch easily between styles, creating works in, say, a Baroque mode, a Classical mode, a Romantic mode, as well as a Serial mode (and Schoenberg is an example here), or the composer's individual works are a blending of styles, where Baroque melodic passages bump into Impressionistic chord clusters and dissolve into post-Modern minimalism (with a bit of everything else thrown in as mortar and glue) (and Schnittke's First Symphony is a good example here).

    But there is a third type of Polystylism, and that's the one that defines me -- the listener. I have the capabilities to create for myself a concert of music in my listening room that consists of pieces from eras as early as the 10th century up to and including the 21st century, with genres to choose from such as Early Music, Baroque Music, Classical and Romantic Music, Impressionism and Expressionism, Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Folk Music, World Music, Serialism, Post-Schoenbergian Modernism, Contemporary Avant-garde … the possibilities seem endless.

    Welcome to the era of true Polystylism. Enjoy.

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Russians like Rimsky-Korsakov / Borodin were searching for a new sound to represent themselves, borrowing some styles from Arabia and the Orient. I particularly adore these composers.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Feb-21-2020 at 07:11.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I'm not sure polystylistic needs an -ism, does it? Is it more that a "method of construction" for some pieces?

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    https://www.theodysseyonline.com/alf...ke-polystylism
    I just learned that polystylism is a term first used by Schnittke in an article from 1971. I also found other articles discussing the term (in PDF).
    Last edited by Kjetil Heggelund; Feb-22-2020 at 12:01.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SONNET CLV View Post
    I suspect Polystylism can mean either of two things: the composer can switch easily between styles, creating works in, say, a Baroque mode, a Classical mode, a Romantic mode, as well as a Serial mode (and Schoenberg is an example here), or the composer's individual works are a blending of styles, where Baroque melodic passages bump into Impressionistic chord clusters and dissolve into post-Modern minimalism (with a bit of everything else thrown in as mortar and glue) (and Schnittke's First Symphony is a good example here).
    It's that ^ ^ ^, and it’s everywhere in Schnittke, but it’s not exclusively a late 20thc phenomenon. From the Classical Era on, composers routinely mixed diverse styles in their instrumental works. Tchaikovsky would follow dramatic principal themes with balletic second themes, Beethoven might mix heroic allegro, recitative, arioso, fugal, and opera buffo styles in the same work, nationalist composers integrated various folk styles with the materials of art music. Composers used every resource available, every current and even some retrospective styles, to expressively differentiate their themes, and they built large structures around the resulting stylistic and expressive oppositions. Schnittke was doing the same thing, but the result seems more striking and heterogeneous because he worked in an era of extreme eclecticism. Neoclassical, neoromantic, minimalist, serial, tonal, atonal, aleatoric, spectral, jazz and diverse national styles were all current in the art music of his day. He followed the time-honored tradition of using all the available resources in differentiating his materials and creating fertile structural oppositions.

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    I haven't heard of the term before, but I associate the idea of "polystylism" with a move in he last half of the 1960's by a number of composers to incorporate quotation and different styles in a single work. Some composers during those particular years were George Rochberg, Lukas Foss, Michael Colgrass, and Luciano Berio (Sinfonia).

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    Yeah, Rochberg's string quartets, beginning with no. 3, were considered at the time daringly polystylistic (a word that didn't exist back then (early 1970s).

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    A mere three decades after Schnittke’s concepts, rock and pop musicians have been dabbling in polystylism since the mid 1960s, incorporating Classical elements, one by one, into their recorded tracks, whether it's the Beatles Indian-influenced tracks by George Harrison, their string quartets and octets of Eleanor Rigby and She's Leaving Home, or other groups such as ELP releasing albums with jazz fugues and interpolations of Bach in the middle of pieces. How about Chick Corea

    Fusion, Prog rock, etc, all of which were touched on in the 4th post in this thread by SONNET CLV:

    "I have the capabilities to create for myself a concert of music in my listening room that consists of pieces from eras as early as the 10th century up to and including the 21st century, with genres to choose from such as Early Music, Baroque Music, Classical and Romantic Music, Impressionism and Expressionism, Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Folk Music, World Music, Serialism, Post-Schoenbergian Modernism, Contemporary Avant-garde … the possibilities seem endless."
    Moody Blues, Return to Forever, Ambrosia, Queen . . . the list really goes on and on.

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