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Thread: Music for the apocalypse

  1. #76
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    dunce tunes, like Imagine
    Totally agree about Schubert! Not to derail the thread, but I seriously do not get why everyone thinks singing "Imagine" is inspirational/moving during times like these. I can recognize the artistry of many popular songs (even if I personally do not enjoy them), but that one almost drives me to tears of annoyance. The same little piano figure with that cheeky dissonance repeated over and over and over and over to lyrics about a maudlin vision of utopia. I mean, there are so many other inspirational songs out there. Another one that people seem to find moving but which strikes me the same way is "Hallelujah."
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-25-2020 at 01:32.

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    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Totally agree about Schubert! Not to derail the thread, but I seriously do not get why everyone thinks singing "Imagine" is inspirational/moving during times like these. I can recognize the artistry of many popular songs (even if I personally do not enjoy them), but that one almost drives me to tears of annoyance. The same little piano figure with that cheeky dissonance repeated over and over and over and over to lyrics about a maudlin vision of utopia. I mean, there are so many other inspirational songs out there. Another one that people seem to find moving but which strikes me the same way is "Hallelujah."
    Imagine is a profound song for people who think like children think.

    Schubert is really doing it for me these days. Those long symphonies kind of go hand in hand with long bouts of isolation, and as I say, even his inability to get to the point is perfect, nobody wants somebody to hurry to the point when their voice is all you hear...
    The Brain - is wider than the Sky

  4. #78
    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Hmmm . . .

    JL's Imagine vs. Schubert's Symphony No. 5 (or 3, or 9)


    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great dessert to a great 7-course meal.
    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great football play to a team's entire season.
    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great song to a great album.

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    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianozach View Post
    Hmmm . . .

    JL's Imagine vs. Schubert's Symphony No. 5 (or 3, or 9)


    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great dessert to a great 7-course meal.
    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great football play to a team's entire season.
    Kind of like comparing like comparing a great song to a great album.
    Or comparing a shallow sentimentalist to one of the most profound artists ever...
    The Brain - is wider than the Sky

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Or comparing a shallow sentimentalist to one of the most profound artists ever...
    That's just your brain talkin'.

    Actually I agree with your assessment that JL was "a shallow sentimentalist". But he was more than that . . . he was also an extremely self-loathing, lazy, imperfect man, if you want to criticize.

    But he was more than those flaws.

    He was a creative genius, great with a lyrical or musical hook, great with words and wordplay, able to create strong visual images and strong feelings with an economy of words.

    It's an entirely different art form to write a song that touches millions and lasts more than a season than to write a symphony (although Schubert was also a songwriter!). John Lennon has written songs that will endure, and that includes Imagine.

    I'll bet you could win the $100,000 on the last round of Ellen's Game of Games if the theme were to name 10 John Lennon songs off the top of your head in 30 seconds or less.

    JL was an "idea" man. With the Beatles he worked much harder on songs, I think, due to his brotherly rivalry with Paul McCartney, and the guidance of producer George Martin.

    As a solo artist Lennon was sloppy, lazy, and self indulgent, yet still managed to write and record songs that resonated deeply with many, many people.

    Imagine wasn't written as an intellectual challenge to your logic lobe. It most certainly was sentimental and childlike (though not 'childish'), and written to touch your heart and soul. The tune and chords ARE simple, as is the arrangement. Simplicity is an effective tool in writing music, and is often more effective than complexity.

    The problem here is the concept of comparing a single Lennon song to the collective works of Schubert. They shouldn't be compared. They are different art forms.

    What's better - Van Gogh's Starry Night, or Debussey's Sur la Mer?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Or comparing a shallow sentimentalist to one of the most profound artists ever...
    Ask hammeredklavier about the profundity of Schubert.

    I'll just watch this time.

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    Senior Member Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Ask hammeredklavier about the profundity of Schubert.

    I'll just watch this time.
    -------------------------------

  13. #83
    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianozach View Post
    That's just your brain talkin'.

    Actually I agree with your assessment that JL was "a shallow sentimentalist". But he was more than that . . . he was also an extremely self-loathing, lazy, imperfect man, if you want to criticize.

    But he was more than those flaws.

    He was a creative genius, great with a lyrical or musical hook, great with words and wordplay, able to create strong visual images and strong feelings with an economy of words.

    It's an entirely different art form to write a song that touches millions and lasts more than a season than to write a symphony (although Schubert was also a songwriter!). John Lennon has written songs that will endure, and that includes Imagine.

    I'll bet you could win the $100,000 on the last round of Ellen's Game of Games if the theme were to name 10 John Lennon songs off the top of your head in 30 seconds or less.

    JL was an "idea" man. With the Beatles he worked much harder on songs, I think, due to his brotherly rivalry with Paul McCartney, and the guidance of producer George Martin.

    As a solo artist Lennon was sloppy, lazy, and self indulgent, yet still managed to write and record songs that resonated deeply with many, many people.

    Imagine wasn't written as an intellectual challenge to your logic lobe. It most certainly was sentimental and childlike (though not 'childish'), and written to touch your heart and soul. The tune and chords ARE simple, as is the arrangement. Simplicity is an effective tool in writing music, and is often more effective than complexity.

    The problem here is the concept of comparing a single Lennon song to the collective works of Schubert. They shouldn't be compared. They are different art forms.

    What's better - Van Gogh's Starry Night, or Debussey's Sur la Mer?
    The big trouble with “that song” isn’t only it’s cynical sentimentality and his own hypocritical opportunism, it’s that every daft flag waving child wheels it out as the ultimate they know of in Idealism as soon as something horrific happens. The song itself I steer clear with great ease during my average lolling about day, but that it’s taken on as an anthem by loud people eager to publicly display their holiness, well, you’d need a heart of stone not to laugh, as they say. I agree with you wholeheartedly that it’s a whole different species to what Schubert does...

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    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Ask hammeredklavier about the profundity of Schubert.

    I'll just watch this time.
    One of my other favourite apocalypse pastimes, to haggle over what is or isn’t profound, and according to who or whom, and why it matters, and does it actually matter at all.

    Seats are still available and popcorn is the same price it was during the last apocalypse a few months ago, WW3 with Iran...

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    The big trouble with “that song” isn’t only it’s cynical sentimentality and his own hypocritical opportunism, it’s that every daft flag waving child wheels it out as the ultimate they know of in Idealism as soon as something horrific happens. The song itself I steer clear with great ease during my average lolling about day, but that it’s taken on as an anthem by loud people eager to publicly display their holiness, well, you’d need a heart of stone not to laugh, as they say. I agree with you wholeheartedly that it’s a whole different species to what Schubert does...
    Yeah, but you can't blame the song Imagine for that.

    I cannot explain why, on the 4th of July, they always drag out the 1812 Overture and Springsteen's Born in the USA. But they do.

    Yes always drags out Roundabout for the encore, making it the most played song in their repertoire.

    And 17 years after its initial release Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA became the anthem of 9/11. Doubly ironic since the original music video in 1984 starred Greenwood as a farmer who loses the family farm. Ronald Reagan successfully used it as the soundtrack for his Presidential campaign in 1984. [note the Twin Towers in the background at 0:20]

    .

    So, while Lennon's Imagine is sentimental, it's not on the long list of "cynical John Lennon songs".

    Yeah, it gets trotted out and used as an anthem ad nauseum, but again, it's not the song's fault.

    Fortunately for Schubert, few of his 600 songs have been subject to "anthemization", although Ave Maria for every other funeral with 'entertainment', whether it's grandma or some head of state, and every other pop concert.

    Mirusia with André Rieu



    And Schubert doesn't get off that easily; you can hear his music misappropriated in the films Minority Report, The Sixth Sense, Ex Machina, The Avengers, and all over last year's Little Women (They used "Der Erlkönig" in the 1933 release). His Trout Quintet was in Rocket Man AND Spiderman 2, and the producers of the TV series Gotham seem to be big fans. In fact, the Trout has been used in over 30 films and TV shows, while Ave Maria has been in well over a hundred.

    I mean, Schubert has over 800 film and TV credits.

    So is Ave Maria overly sentimental, with it's "big trouble" being that it's "wheeled out" constantly? No, of course not. Being overplayed doesn't diminish it's impact despite the overused subject matter overtly romanticized harmonic structure.

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  17. #86
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    I think some posters have too much time on their hands. I envy all the time spent doing detail analysis of this and that symphony, works by composers that one could simply sum up in a few mere words. Anyway, Imagine was released in 1971 before y'all was even born I am sure, perhaps your parents as well. Try not to embarrass yourself on national TV with this kind of talk. JL was speaking to a different crowd here and I noticed that it is free of the religious tone so perhaps it might grate on the minds of those more inclined to the religiosity of songs. I like the song and it needs no comparison to any other work as it stands on its own.

    I wish I could make money being lazy but I do not concern myself with what other people think. So if JL was successful any opinions of those who did not even know him are completely worthless.

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was there.

    I was also remember walking home from school the day JFK was assassinated.

    Hey, now that were living through a pandemic a lot of us have a lot of time on our hands.

    And, as a lifelong Beatles fanatic, I actually do know a great deal about the history of the Beatles.

    Imagine's a great song. Lennon wrote quite a few very memorable songs. He wrote some real dogs during his solo career, but, Hey!, so what. Writing great songs isn't necessarily a walk in the park.

    Without Googling, I could probably give you Lennon's discography, both singles and albums. Same with the others (well, maybe not Ringo - I kinda wrote him off completely after Bad Boy - come to think of it, he wrote himself off for a while as well . . . hell, he struggled to even find a distributor for his album Old Wave)

    Anyway, John's productivity actually seems greater than it actually was . . . his albums were short, many of his singles had a Yoko B-side. He shared entire albums with Yoko (. . . a John song, a Yoko song, etc.).

    In spite of being a superfan, I'm also a pragmatist and a realist . . . John, for all the great material he produced, was still an underachiever. We should all aspire to that level of underachievement.

    For my money, John is overrated, and Paul and George were underrated. For an extended amount of time many of George's albums were out-of-print.

    It's funny about Imagine though . . . . Kieran IS right about the song being trotted out as some sort of religious salve in disasters . . . even though it could just as easily be used as an anthem for atheists, indeed, John Lennon may have had the first Top Ten atheist song:

    "Imagine there's no Heaven,
    it's easy if you try,
    no Hell below us,
    above us only sky . . . "

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    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Pianozach,

    We may agree or disagree on the merits of the song, but I wholeheartedly concur that it isn’t the songs fault that the needy masses have appropriated it for their own bad purposes. As I said, this is my main complaint about the song, is that the unthinking have confused it for being an idealistic manifesto and in ugly scenes repeated around the world, after every horrible tragedy, they haul their egos to the public square and moan out the song.

    My preference for Schubert at this time isn’t to set him at competition with Lennon (who I agree had talent but was overrated, it seems that even in the Beatles Paul did more of the heavy lifting - but I do like some Lennon songs) but to say that for me at this time, isolated in the countryside and witnessing the negative effects of social distancing, the great fear and social degradation that’s occurring, the great fear we see in people who used to greet each other, the terrible economic impact, and the not knowing what comes in the near future, that the music I need right now isn’t idealistic, and nor is it defiant Romantic windbaggery, I don’t want anything “dark” that’s supposed to reflect the movement of a plague through a helpless population, but something that helps my spirit soar in anticipation of something hopeful, something of the human soul that finds solace in impermanence, while also touching on the transcendent. I know this sounds equally shallow and idealistic, it maybe more of a psychological crutch than anything, but it’s my poison for the moment. I much prefer music that says, “Imagine there is a heaven!”

    When I listen to pop or rock music, it’s generally Dylan, but Bill Callahan’s Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is getting plenty spins too...
    Last edited by Kieran; Mar-26-2020 at 09:27.

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  22. #89
    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Pianozach,

    We may agree or disagree on the merits of the song, but I wholeheartedly concur that it isn’t the songs fault that the needy masses have appropriated it for their own bad purposes. As I said, this is my main complaint about the song, is that the unthinking have confused it for being an idealistic manifesto and in ugly scenes repeated around the world, after every horrible tragedy, they haul their egos to the public square and moan out the song.

    My preference for Schubert at this time isn’t to set him at competition with Lennon (who I agree had talent but was overrated, it seems that even in the Beatles Paul did more of the heavy lifting - but I do like some Lennon songs) but to say that for me at this time, isolated in the countryside and witnessing the negative effects of social distancing, the great fear and social degradation that’s occurring, the great fear we see in people who used to greet each other, the terrible economic impact, and the not knowing what comes in the near future, that the music I need right now isn’t idealistic, and nor is it defiant Romantic windbaggery, I don’t want anything “dark” that’s supposed to reflect the movement of a plague through a helpless population, but something that helps my spirit soar in anticipation of something hopeful, something of the human soul that finds solace in impermanence, while also touching on the transcendent. I know this sounds equally shallow and idealistic, it maybe more of a psychological crutch than anything, but it’s my poison for the moment. I much prefer music that says, “Imagine there is a heaven!”

    When I listen to pop or rock music, it’s generally Dylan, but Bill Callahan’s Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is getting plenty spins too...
    Yeah, we're pretty much on the same page, I think.

    Except for the Dylan . . . my brain generally prefers to not be bothered by intellectual lyrics, especially those of Dylan, with major exceptions of course. There's some Dylan I love . . . go figure, his first album's my favorite - there's positively at least 5 songs on that raw album that I love.

    But in these pandemic pandemonium times, long form complex music is a blessing to have access to.

    Here's 8 of the most uplifting classical pieces to brighten your day

    Mozart - Sonata No. 17 in C.
    The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart.
    Ruslan and Ludmilla (Overture) – Glinka.
    *** Down – Copland.
    'Largo al factotum' (from The Barber of Seville) – Rossini.
    Jupiter the bringer of jollity (The Planets) – Holst.
    Holberg Suite (Rigaudon) – Grieg

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  24. #90
    Senior Member Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianozach View Post
    Yeah, we're pretty much on the same page, I think.

    Except for the Dylan . . . my brain generally prefers to not be bothered by intellectual lyrics, especially those of Dylan, with major exceptions of course. There's some Dylan I love . . . go figure, his first album's my favorite - there's positively at least 5 songs on that raw album that I love.

    But in these pandemic pandemonium times, long form complex music is a blessing to have access to.

    Here's 8 of the most uplifting classical pieces to brighten your day

    Mozart - Sonata No. 17 in C.
    The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart.
    Ruslan and Ludmilla (Overture) – Glinka.
    *** Down – Copland.
    'Largo al factotum' (from The Barber of Seville) – Rossini.
    Jupiter the bringer of jollity (The Planets) – Holst.
    Holberg Suite (Rigaudon) – Grieg
    Oh you've got a whole world of Bob ahead of you...but I do accept, he's not to everybody's taste. I've been into Bob longer than I even listened to Mozart, so we're talking..."a while" here, but Bob isn't great for the apocalypse for me. Unless it's a typically ravaged love song that reflects some level of loneliness or isolation.

    It isn't even that I'm looking for "uplifting" music to brighten the day, though coincidentally, already today I listened to some Figaro, and last night piano sonata #17. It's that otherliness of the music, and that's not even a word. Ave Maria, which was mentioned earlier, would do it for me, but if it could be dismembered from its commercial abuses. From Mozart, The Magic Flute, or the last piano concerto's slow set, the clarinet concerto. Mozart, Schubert have this off-world thing, that incites cliches and allegations of "angelic" music, "divine music", ethereal, etc. Music that transforms, not by necessarily brightening things, but by inspiring a feeling that just maybe there is a heaven, just maybe there is a meaning that we can't grasp here, but we hold out for the promise of it some fine day. Not that I'm looking for God through music, not that at all, but that the music inspires a sense of the transcendent, where maybe there'll be some meaning to all the weirdness we're living through right now...
    The Brain - is wider than the Sky

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