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Thread: Schenker gets cancelled

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kilgore Trout View Post
    My guess is that no one with actual knowledge of music has any desire to deal with all the ******** in this thread, because it would obviously be a massive waste of time.
    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    I simply lost interest.
    "Looking at the man in the mirror is a waste of time."

    That's it! Stay positive!

    I leave it now to new, unjaded member Wes Lachot to come rescue the thread.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-13-2020 at 15:10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    ...

    I leave it now to new, unjaded member Wes Lachot to come rescue the thread.
    Okay, I've been called worst things than "unjaded", and it's actually not a bad description, I'm told, so I'll take the bait. But mainly to say this:

    There are obviously a lot of smart, passionate students of music theory on this forum, and I say "students" in the deepest meaning of the word, because even the best teachers are constantly learning, I think it's fair to say. It's so easy to take things the wrong way when the words are in type without vocal intonation, and even the most self-assured among us can become defensive under the wrong set of circumstances. I mean, it's possible for someone's retorical point to be right while their attitude is wrong-headed; you know what I mean.

    I just found this forum and am happy to know that there is a place where folks can discuss music theory in a meaningful way, in public. It's like going to a friend's Christmas party and accidentally ending up in a conversation with a composer or something like that--it doesn't happen often enough, but I love it when it does. If I am so lucky (and have been from time to time) I try, at least, to be all ears and not step on toes, always mindful that there is plenty to learn here, even if the person hates Bill Evans or Brahms (two of my faves) or thinks the Beatles are rudimentary nonsense. I don't want to end the conversation on a "bad note" and wind up back over at the punch bowl too soon. Maybe the person's got some new take on counterpoint or something I need brushing up on. Maybe they can help me to hear Bartok in a different way, and so on. So I know forums can heat up and get testy from time to time (I moderated an acoustics forum years ago), but it seems the smaller our sliver of the world is (and music theory is a pretty tiny sliver), the more responsibility folks have to keep the party happy, because there really aren't a lot of other public parties for nerds like us, at least not that I am aware of.

    Now what was this thread about again? Oh yeah, Shenkerian analysis. I think EdwardBast said it well, and I quote him the old fashioned way (slightly tech-challenged here):

    "I haven't seen Schenkerian analysis taken as seriously as he describes it for decades, which is why its strict practice is relegated to specialized niche journals like the one Jackson edits. Schenkerian theory is an easy target and has been for a long time."

    That doesn't mean that the idea is wholly without validity, although I do find it a little depressing to think that all tonal music reduces down to something like a highly decorated version of "Happy Birthday" (no cake for me, please). Any theory that seeks to reduce things down to their barest essentials is attractive to those with an eye for pattern, but when it all reduces down to nothingness and simply vanishes into thin air, like cotton candy, so that there's no longer any pattern there except the one the magician wants us to see, I say hold the cotton candy as well.

    Now I have to go and write a piece of music that proves Schenker right. That's just how my mind works...

  3. #63
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Lachot View Post

    That doesn't mean that the idea is wholly without validity, although I do find it a little depressing to think that all tonal music reduces down to something like a highly decorated version of "Happy Birthday" (no cake for me, please). Any theory that seeks to reduce things down to their barest essentials is attractive to those with an eye for pattern
    Nice, cogent post, Wes.

    But the most important and relevant part of Schenker analysis is not the fundamental background (Ursatz) but the middle ground. It provides a wealth of information that can even help performers to bring out the salient features that this level reveals.
    Last edited by Vasks; Aug-13-2020 at 20:15.
    "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
    Nice, cogent post, Wes.

    But the most important and relevant part of Schenker analysis is not the fundamental background (Ursatz) but the middle ground. It provides a wealth of information that can even help performers to bring out the salient features that this level reveals.
    Yes, I completely agree with you there, Vasks. Thank you for reeling in my hyperbolic tendencies so quickly and effectively!

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Nice, cogent post, Wes.

    But the most important and relevant part of Schenker analysis is not the fundamental background (Ursatz) but the middle ground. It provides a wealth of information that can even help performers to bring out the salient features that this level reveals.
    To be sure, Schenkerian theory yielded useful concepts and general methods, like recognizing the difference between relatively insignificant local events and the more important middle-ground harmonies and motions they prolong, for example. But the few useful ideas should, IMO, have been extracted long ago from the morass of organicist nonsense and fetishistic graphing conventions that make the whole more like religious ritual than musical analysis. Taking a hierarchical, reductive approach to tonal-harmonic structure is a good idea. It's a much better idea freed from the rest of Schenker's rigmarole.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Aug-13-2020 at 21:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    To be sure, Schenkerian theory yielded useful concepts and general methods, like recognizing the difference between relatively insignificant local events and the more important middle-ground harmonies and motions they prolong, for example. But the few useful ideas should, IMO, have been extracted long ago from the morass of organicist nonsense and fetishistic graphing conventions that make the whole more like religious ritual than musical analysis. Taking a hierarchical, reductive approach to tonal-harmonic structure is a good idea. It's a much better idea freed from the rest of Schenker's rigmarole.
    That sounds like a reasonable approximation of the way I see it. I've been looking for a reasonable explanation, because now I can tell my therapist I've moved on from my love-hate relationship with Schenker, which she thinks is just another in a string of unhealthy relationships.

    Having said that, anything that lets us see the parts in relationship to the whole, in the quest for organic unity, is a good thing, and Schenker can help with that. All things in moderation, anyone?

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    But the few useful ideas should, IMO, have been extracted long ago from the morass of organicist nonsense and fetishistic graphing conventions that make the whole more like religious ritual than musical analysis.
    I assume you mean like trying to decide whether a little black note head should get a stem or not...LOL!!
    "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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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    I assume you mean like trying to decide whether a little black note head should get a stem or not...LOL!!
    Yeah, that sort of thing. And implied notes that don't actually exist. And interruption form. And fudging out of existence parallel octaves in middle-ground graphs. And the whole a$$-backwards idea of starting out with a known structure one is destined to find and then finding it.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    — Basil Valentine

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    I never did Schenker, perhaps that was a blessing reading through this.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

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    I like the idea of reduction, so I'm sympathetic to Schenker. I had a theory teacher who gave us a brief introduction.

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