View Poll Results: Do you think strong structure and rhythmic skills make for better composers?

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Thread: Rhythmic structural composers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Default Rhythmic structural composers

    I think of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Holst as very structurally tight and heavily focused on rhythmic development.

    compared to Mahler, Wagner, Sibelius, Schumann, Strauss, and Bruckner whose composition seems more amorphous or blob-like.

    Perhaps what I mean by heavy rhythm and structure is that the first row of composers have form that is very straightforward and dynamically rhythmic, catchy, and I thought it might be why people enjoy Beethoven and Mozart so much, on top of their counterpoint. Their structure seems more similar to Brahms than it does Schumann, more like Rachmaninoff than it is Mahler, etc. so I'd group them all together here.

    Do you think strong structure and rhythmic skills make for better composers? Or what do you believe makes a better composer?
    Last edited by Ethereality; Oct-30-2020 at 04:04.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    There are exceptions of course, but do you think strong structure and rhythmic skills make for better composers?
    No. Cornelius Cardew, for example wasn't so interested in specifying structure and rhythm in the compositions. Neither was John Cage. Stockhausen was though

    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-29-2020 at 20:58.

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    I doubt anyone would disagree that rhythm is important—scholarship (by Caplin for instance) has shown that it is much more important in classical form than Schoenberg thought. Although I disagree that Schubert is blob-like—I mean listen to Sonata No. 17, which is even more rhythmic than a lot of Beethoven's piano music. The real rhythmic masters of the 20th century are of course my friends from Hungary, Bartók and Ligeti. Although of course Ligeti doesn't develop rhythmic ideas so much as overlap musical planes with different pulses.

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    I think of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Holst as very structurally tight and heavily focused on rhythmic development.

    compared to Mahler, Wagner, Schumann, Schubert, Sibelius, Strauss, whose composition seems more amorphous or blob-like.

    There are exceptions of course, but do you think strong structure and rhythmic skills make for better composers?
    I love the expression "blob-like". It's actually pretty accurate

    I would say that thoughtful work going into rhytm, deciding not only on meters, but about all those dotted notes, duplets / triplets / quintuplets / septuplets, pauses and all sorts of combinations thereof, can serve to retain a catchy sense of motion even if pitches were to be significantly altered, which makes it seem paramount to the success of any cantabile melody.

    The thought experiment can be made on this example [1:40+]:


    On the other hand, studies show that rhytm is not in itself a source of identity of music pieces. A different melody far outweights the same rhytm as far as human brain is concerned.

    But the effect is surely there, and gets even better with tight playing by the musicians (think: some of Toscanini's and Szell's recordings)
    Last edited by Fabulin; Oct-29-2020 at 21:20.

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    Rachmaninoff is the most blob-like composer I've ever encountered....thick, muddy, sprawling, repetitious, very "blobbish"... the orchestration is generally such a mess, it virtually defines "blob-like".

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Rachmaninoff is the most blob-like composer I've ever encountered....thick, muddy, sprawling, repetitious, very "blobbish"... the orchestration is generally such a mess, it virtually defines "blob-like".
    We need to distinguish between vertical and horizontal blobs now

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmperorOfIceCream View Post
    I doubt anyone would disagree that rhythm is important—
    Rhythm was important because music was connected to dance. But these days there are more listeners than dancers!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-29-2020 at 21:25.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    I think of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Holst as very structurally tight and heavily focused on rhythmic development.

    compared to Mahler, Wagner, Schumann, Schubert, Sibelius, Strauss, whose composition seems more amorphous or blob-like.

    There are exceptions of course, but do you think strong structure and rhythmic skills make for better composers?
    What is rhythmic development? I always thought variety in rhythms was just one way to keep music from being boring.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Rachmaninoff is the most blob-like composer I've ever encountered....thick, muddy, sprawling, repetitious, very "blobbish"... the orchestration is generally such a mess, it virtually defines "blob-like".
    That's interesting! I don't hear it.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Oct-29-2020 at 23:33.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulin View Post
    We need to distinguish between vertical and horizontal blobs now
    LOL!! I think Rach-y exhibits omni-directional "blobbishness"...:-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    That's interesting! I don't hear it.
    That's because it's all covered up by the heavy murk and muddy texture!! Lol!!

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    'Blobbish' maybe compared to Beethoven and Brahms?



    What musical aspects of composers would you say are more catchy or meaningful, I'm interested to hear your and others' opinions since I very well may agree. I think the first row of composers above have very straightforward, dynamically rhythmic and catchy form. But there are other aspects to music than this, I just noticed it about these composers.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Oct-30-2020 at 03:43.

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    Composers need more than structure and rhythm-- think of all the forgettable Classical and Romantic symphonies. But when a great composer has structure and rhythm, the results are better than those composers who are more amorphous.

    Also, I would add Haydn and Mendelssohn to the first group.

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    Steve Reich comes to mind-- a song like "Clapping Music" is all about the rhythmic structure and its displacement

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    You know what's interesting, the examples in the first row of the OP seem to perfectly fit composers whom people speak of their 'fast movements' and their 'slow movements.'

    This is not because composers in the first row always simplify their movements into fast, medium or slow, but because we can actually measure them as fast or slow in the first place. With the second row composers to say that something is composed to sound 'fast' or 'slow' is a bit harder to picture, because a conceptual speed doesn't manifest all the time in interpretation, ie. "the passage is not going slow, or fast. It just sounds like it's going 1 second at a time as always":

    What is the inherent essence with which we can measure speed? Not tempo. A slow tempo can easily seem fast with shorter notes, or seem like anything. Speed is easily measureable in the first row composers because, all their phrases have a clear benchmark of rhythmic and dynamic structure we can compare it to. The frequencies and amplitudes (dynamics) of the waves tell us their relative closeness and structure.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Oct-30-2020 at 04:53.

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