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Thread: Ballet verses Opera

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Ballet verses Opera

    OK, this is just my opinion but I would like to hear yours in comparing the two art forms. Which is more talented? Here is my personal experience....

    I attended the Ballet Mozart's "The Magic Flute". We had front row seats and I must admit sitting two feet from the conductor was wonderful. I enjoyed watching the orchestra pit play and the singers. The Ballet was modern in terms of modern clothes. It was wonderful but I got to talking with my wife as I find more talent at the Opera or Symphony we attend. Yes, it is work to perform Ballet. I sort of liken it to being a football player. You have to have muscles as it is work. I hate sports. But they don't say anything, the dancers just move around the stage.

    I have attend several operas but the last was Donizetti's the Elixir of Love. It was wonderful too. The opera singers are so talented. They move around and dance too. I think it is harder to be in opera combining acting with singing. I think it requires much more talent. I recall hearing an interview where one opera star spoke about another opera singer who has CD's out and sings opera but has never been on stage. I think it is totally different to be in an opera than just sing it, but then just having the voice ranks higher than ballet to me.

    The Opera or Symphony requires special talent not just relying on muscles and physique. I am not opposed to Ballet, but it is an interesting discussion. I think I prefer classical ballet as opposed to modern with pink or purple hair and modern costumes.

    I also recently attended Shakespeare and think that acting requires more talent than Ballet.

    So what is your personal experience? What requires more musical talent? What do you prefer and why. Go ahead and disagree with me or provide me with your insight - I won't be offended.

    BTW, just a note to dispel myths that attending these is too expensive. I follow the Ballet, Opera, Symphony on Twitter. I have gotten tickets to the Symphony for $9 via Twitter and codes. I have gotten tickets to the Opera for $17.50 each and also won several tickets free to local theater and other venues. It is a good use of Twitter to follow your local Arts. I support our local Arts and buy season tickets plus charitable contributions. All the Arts deserve your support. I would be sad if we did not have any of them.

    Thanks!
    Bill
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    In terms of preference I much prefer the Ballet.

    There are many problems I find with Opera that stop me from getting into it. Firstly, the way the music is intrinsically linked with the storyline of the piece. If I wanted to be told a story I would go to a play or watch a movie. Why dilute the music to serve the plot.

    Then theres the way they sing, which I am not a fan of. I am not a massive fan of the human voice as an instrument altogether but the way opera singers sing does not appeal to me. I guess I just prefer instrumental music.

    Also, surely the opera is pretty much obsolete nowadays with the arrival of cinema and movies. I much prefer a story accompanied by good music as opposed to music that tells a story.

    Ballet music on the other hand can exist as a stand alone piece separate from the actual ballet dancing. You can can go to a ballet and sit with yor eyes closed for the whole time and still enjoy it or open your eyes and watch athletic people tell a story through dance. This is why I much prefer ballet. The music is enhanced by the ballet dancers not reliant upon them, as opposed to opera which is reliant on great singers who can act as well.

    I do however like parts of operas. Obviously, the overtures of Rossini and most of the Italian school alongside some arias from other works, but as a whole opera leaves me cold. I watched Rigoletto the other day and just found myself waiting for Le Donna e Mobile to appear and having no real interest in the plot. I feel composers who focussed their attention almost exclusively to opera, like Wagner, Verdi, Puccini etc wasted a lot of their potential, but it was their life and their talent they could use it as they saw fit.

    Maybe I will appreciate opera in the future but for now ballet appeals much more to me.

    As for the question of who is most talented musically it has to be opera singers, as dancing is not part of the music (with the exception of tap-dancing possibly). However, watching fit women dance to great music is the most enjoyable experience, surely.

    P.S. I don't want to be a spelling Nazi but before someone else points it out, the title should read versus

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    There are many problems I find with Opera that stop me from getting into it. Firstly, the way the music is intrinsically linked with the storyline of the piece. If I wanted to be told a story I would go to a play or watch a movie. Why dilute the music to serve the plot.

    These are not necessarily problems, but rather personal preferences. Of course I might note that ballets largely convey a narrative as well... albeit without singing. Certainly there are other narrative forms but each is unique. The opera employs song and music to convey the drama in a manner quite different from a film, play... or a book for that matter. The point of a work of art is the experience itself... the journey... and not the destination. Certainly one might convey narrative more economically through the written word... or by simply telling it... but then the experience is not the same.

    Then there's the way they sing, which I am not a fan of. I am not a massive fan of the human voice as an instrument altogether but the way opera singers sing does not appeal to me. I guess I just prefer instrumental music.

    I'm of the complete opposite thought. Choral music, opera, lieder, chanson, orchestral songs are probably my favorite forms within the realm of classical music. Song is the very foundation of music. Of course I will acknowledge that the operatic approach to singing... in which the human voice is used as an instrument that matches the virtuoso and expressive capabilities of nearly any instrument... can be at first challenging to appreciate... especially if one comes to classical music with little knowledge of singing outside that of popular mucic.

    Also, surely the opera is pretty much obsolete nowadays with the arrival of cinema and movies.

    Complete nonsense. The opera is perhaps as important of a musical form within the genre of "classical music" as it ever was. One need only look at the major recent operatic productions by Phillip Glass (Einstein on the Beach, Orphée, Akhnaten, Satyagraha), John Adams (Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, Doctor Atomic), Thomas Adès (Powder Her Face, The Tempest), Tobias Picker (Emmaline, Therese Raquine), Daniel Catan (Rapaccini's Daughter, Florenzia), Osvaldo Golijov (Ainadamar), Pascal Dusapin (Perelà, Uomo di Fumo), Luigi Dallapiccola (Il Prigioniero), Per Norgard (Siddharta), György Ligeti (Le Grand Macabre), Oliver Knussen (Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Where the Wild Things Are), etc... We don't even need to mention the wealth of new operatic productions being performed of older operas... from Monteverdi on through the 20th century.

    I much prefer a story accompanied by good music as opposed to music that tells a story.

    I prefer the option of having both... and many other art forms as well.

    Ballet music on the other hand can exist as a stand alone piece separate from the actual ballet dancing. You can can go to a ballet and sit with your eyes closed for the whole time and still enjoy it or open your eyes and watch athletic people tell a story through dance. This is why I much prefer ballet. The music is enhanced by the ballet dancers not reliant upon them, as opposed to opera which is reliant on great singers who can act as well.

    Of course the difference being that the operatic performers... the singers... are a key element of the music. Again, I don't see that in either case it is the music being enhanced... or not. Opera... like film... or the theater... is an art form that employs several different arts. The individual work succeeds or fails as a whole based upon how well they all work together. Looking at a film I might notice the cinematography, the acting, or the music... but I don't separate these things in my mind. The film as a whole is a culmination of all of these elements. The same is true of the opera.

    I do however like parts of operas. Obviously, the overtures of Rossini and most of the Italian school alongside some arias from other works, but as a whole opera leaves me cold. I watched Rigoletto the other day and just found myself waiting for Le Donna e Mobile to appear and having no real interest in the plot. I feel composers who focussed their attention almost exclusively to opera, like Wagner, Verdi, Puccini etc wasted a lot of their potential, but it was their life and their talent they could use it as they saw fit.

    Acck!! Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini are revered for the very achievements in opera that you dismiss as a waste of potential. Intriguingly, the opera is thought by a great many to be the the greatest challenge and true measure of any composer. The status of not merely Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini but also Handel, Mozart, Gluck, Monteverdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Mussorgsky, Richard Strauss, and any number of others is greatly owed to their achievements in opera. Intriguingly, I came across a critic the other day who bemoaned the loss to music from the fact that Bach never composed an opera. I must somewhat agree... although his cantatas (a central part of his entire oeuvre) certainly employ vocal music and musical drama in a manner not unlike opera.

    As for the question of who is most talented musically it has to be opera singers, as dancing is not part of the music (with the exception of tap-dancing possibly). However, watching fit women dance to great music is the most enjoyable experience, surely.

    Certainly the ballet dancers are largely in better shape by necessity than many singers... although I wouldn't sneeze at someone like Anna Netrebko:


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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    By the way... as to which is demands the greater talent? I couldn't care less. Playing Paganini's caprices demands a virtuosity far beyond what is demanded by most of Schubert's lieder... but I'll take Schubert any day. Each art form is unique and makes unique demands upon the performer/creator. I don't imagine one form as inherently better than the other (although certainly some art forms have a more illustrious history than others). It all comes down to a question of individual art works.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Acck!! Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini are revered for the very achievements in opera that you dismiss as a waste of potential. Intriguingly, the opera is thought by a great many to be the the greatest challenge and true measure of any composer. The status of not merely Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini but also Handel, Mozart, Gluck, Monteverdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Mussorgsky, Richard Strauss, and any number of others is greatly owed to their achievements in opera. Intriguingly, I came across a critic the other day who bemoaned the loss to music from the fact that Bach never composed an opera. I must somewhat agree... although his cantatas (a central part of his entire oeuvre) certainly employ vocal music and musical drama in a manner not unlike opera.

    I agree that writing an opera is probably a very difficult challenge because, unlike say a symphony where you have a blank slate and can write anything you want, the music of the opera in some way must serve to tell the story and be true to the source/libretto. However, I disagree with the idea that just because the opera is hard to write for it is somehow a better way of judging the quality of composers. I don't think Chopin or Grieg wrote any operas but their quality is rarely disputed. I also believe Philip Glass' best works are for small ensemble or solo piano and film soundtracks, but I will concede Akhnaten has it's moments and I remember watching a very interesting documentary on the making and staging of Akhnaten for its American and German premieres.

    Again, the overtures are my favourite part of the opera. Wagners Tannhauser overture and Tristan und Isolde prelude, Mozarts overures to the Magic Flute and the Marriage of Figaro, Verdi's Nabucco and La Traviata overture, Suppes Poet and Peasant and Light Cavalry and the list goes on. I even like a lot of the music contained within re-arranged for other instruments like Chanson d'Boheme and Habanera from Carmen for piano and violin concerto, respectively. I even play and perform a lot of the pieces from 19th century operas that have been arranged for guitar by people like J.K. Mertz, Ed. Mayer, Matteo Carcassi and Pietro Tonassi. But the format the music is interpretted into by the opera does not appeal to me.

    Wouldn't you agree that a Verdi concerto or a Wagner symphony (although Bruckner may be substitute) would have been a welcome change just like Richard Strauss and Mussorgsky did some wonderful tone poems. Also, I would say in my opinion, Mozarts fame rests less on his operas, as good as they may be, than on his orchestral and solo piano works.

    I would like to get into opera but it just isn't clicking with me. If you've any recommendations I'll give them a go.

    Finally, I will admit that many opera singers are in a lot better shape than the old adage 'it ain't over till the fat lady sings' and their 'Brunhilde'-like image in popular culture leads one to believe, as Anna Netrebko and others prove. Maybe an operatic ballet would be a good idea. Now THAT would require serious talent, to sing, dance and act at the same time.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    I agree that writing an opera is probably a very difficult challenge because, unlike say a symphony where you have a blank slate and can write anything you want, the music of the opera in some way must serve to tell the story and be true to the source/libretto. However, I disagree with the idea that just because the opera is hard to write for it is somehow a better way of judging the quality of composers. I don't think Chopin or Grieg wrote any operas but their quality is rarely disputed.

    I'm not saying that the difficulty of a given art form makes it inherently better or worse. Of course judging or comparing works of art... especially stylistically different works of art... is a near impossibility. Nevertheless, I believe that part of what we look at when comparing any two artists is the scale of the work and the breadth of the work. The sheer volume of masterful work produced by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Handel, and Wagner is one of the reasons for their towering status. As brilliant or original as Mussorgsky was his output was greatly limited (undoubtedly due to his alcoholism). A single piece of music for solo keyboard... one of Bach's preludes, for example... may be as perfect (if not more so) than a grandiose opera by Wagner or Strauss... but seriously... a single such perfect gem doesn't earn an artist a position among the giants. Bach's entire Well Tempered Clavier or Chopin's collected Nocturnes are another story altogether. Opera has both scale and breadth. It is a musical score that may employ the full symphonic orchestra, chorus, and various combinations of vocal and instrumental soloists. We also find that the music may travel through an entire spectrum (breadth) of moods, colors, and emotional expressions. Again... I'm not suggesting that opera or any musical form is inherently superior to another (it all comes down to the individual works)... but a masterful grand opera ala Wagner or Strauss or Mozart certainly impresses beyond most concertos, sonatas, or even symphonies.

    I also believe Philip Glass' best works are for small ensemble or solo piano and film soundtracks, but I will concede Akhnaten has it's moments and I remember watching a very interesting documentary on the making and staging of Akhnaten for its American and German premieres.

    There we must agree to disagree... although I certainly like any number of Glass' smaller works as well.

    Again, the overtures are my favourite part of the opera. Wagners Tannhauser overture and Tristan und Isolde prelude, Mozarts overures to the Magic Flute and the Marriage of Figaro, Verdi's Nabucco and La Traviata overture, Suppes Poet and Peasant and Light Cavalry and the list goes on.

    I used to be of a like mind... and I still have my collections of overtures and incidental music and the like. I will admit that in some instances it is only the highlights that are essential.

    I even like a lot of the music contained within re-arranged for other instruments like Chanson d'Boheme and Habanera from Carmen for piano and violin concerto, respectively. I even play and perform a lot of the pieces from 19th century operas that have been arranged for guitar by people like J.K. Mertz, Ed. Mayer, Matteo Carcassi and Pietro Tonassi. But the format the music is interpretted into by the opera does not appeal to me.

    Again... I listen to various highlights from operas... collections of favorite arias by favorite singers, transcription less often... but just as I don't want to hear a "Best of Beethoven" collection with snippets from this or that symphony, concerto, or sonata... I also want the whole opera.

    Wouldn't you agree that a Verdi concerto or a Wagner symphony (although Bruckner may be substitute) would have been a welcome change just like Richard Strauss and Mussorgsky did some wonderful tone poems.

    Certainly non-operatic music by Wagner would have been welcome... and we so have the symphonic poem, Siegfried Idyll... but Wagner was at heart a dramatic composer. Remember he wrote the dramas as well as the music. Bruckner might give some idea of what a Wagnerian symphony might have sounded like... but at the same time they are also very different composers.

    Also, I would say in my opinion, Mozarts fame rests less on his operas, as good as they may be, than on his orchestral and solo piano works.

    Perhaps his fame... but not his reputation as a classical composer. I agree that his piano concertos, his works for clarinet, his late string quartets... and perhaps his late symphonies are among his finest achievements, but he would in no way stand along side Bach and Beethoven without the operas and the other vocal music... especially the Requiem and Great Mass in C. Haydn's reputation would have stood to a greater extent even without his vocal works... but his late choral creations such as the Creation and the various masses are crowning achievements. Handel without his choral and operatic output is almost nothing... although I quite like his keyboard suites.

    I would like to get into opera but it just isn't clicking with me. If you've any recommendations I'll give them a go.

    The best way to approach opera is probably through a good collection of arias by a really talented singer such as Rene Fleming, Magdalena Kozena, etc... followed by experiencing an actual opera in person... preferably a pre-Wagnerian opera (Mozart's Magic Flute or Don Giovanni, Rossini's Barber of Seville or Cinderella; Verdi's Aida, etc... Ultimately... as with any art serious art form... opera involves an investment on the part of the audience and ultimately one either finds that such an investment is worth the effort or not.

    Finally, I will admit that many opera singers are in a lot better shape than the old adage 'it ain't over till the fat lady sings' and their 'Brunhilde'-like image in popular culture leads one to believe, as Anna Netrebko and others prove. Maybe an operatic ballet would be a good idea. Now THAT would require serious talent, to sing, dance and act at the same time.

    I believe Rameau did something along those lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    Wouldn't you agree that a Verdi concerto or a Wagner symphony (although Bruckner may be substitute) would have been a welcome change just like Richard Strauss and Mussorgsky did some wonderful tone poems.
    The skillset you need to write a good opera is very different from what you need to write a good symphony or concerto.... the scale is completely different. Just because you can write a good opera doesn't mean you can write a good symphony or concerto.


    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    I would like to get into opera but it just isn't clicking with me. If you've any recommendations I'll give them a go.
    What opera have you watched before? If you are looking for operas that don't treat their plot as a sideshow I'll recommend the stuff from Donizetti or Puccini. L'elisir d'amore is a good starting place, I'll recommend this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Donizetti-LEli...d_bxgy_m_img_b

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scytheavatar View Post
    The skillset you need to write a good opera is very different from what you need to write a good symphony or concerto.... the scale is completely different. Just because you can write a good opera doesn't mean you can write a good symphony or concerto.




    What opera have you watched before? If you are looking for operas that don't treat their plot as a sideshow I'll recommend the stuff from Donizetti or Puccini. L'elisir d'amore is a good starting place, I'll recommend this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Donizetti-LEli...d_bxgy_m_img_b
    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check out that Donizetti out when I get the chance.

    The only operas I can remember watching in their entirety were Carmen, Rigoletto and The Barber of Seville. I did enjoy parts of them but just didn't connect wih them in the same way as, say a symphony. The opera is probably something I'll 'grow' into in the future but right now I have taken a turn away from vocal music in all styles, even rock and jazz.

    I think it's because I don't really have any interest in the actual lyrics, more the tones, timbre and general sound the singer produces. And since I have no interest in the lyrics, why not just listen to instruments play the same notes in a manner more pleasing to my ears. The human voice can obviously produce some amazing sounds but its limitations are very apparent compared to a piano/guitar/violin.

    In regards to the skills needed to write an opera compared to other forms, I agree they are quite different but can a composer be considered truly great if he only specialises in one section like opera. Mozart, Handel, Smetana, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss and some others could write for opera as well as symphonies, tone poems, concerti and ballet. This does not necessarily make them greater than say Wagner or Puccini or someone who focussed on opera only, but it definitely means there music is more likely appeal to more people. The amount of operas compared to ther works a composers produces surely doesn't rest on their skillset, but ultimately their preferred method of conveying their artform. I agree, however, though that someone like Chopin, for example, probably did not have the necessary skillset to compose a great opera.

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I think it is impossible to compare the amount of talent needed.

    Your post seems to lean towards the idea that ballet is less talented than opera, and I will disagree in the context of the sentence above.

    Whats wrong with sports?

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    The human voice can obviously produce some amazing sounds but its limitations are very apparent compared to a piano/guitar/violin.

    It seems you haven't heard the right voices. Maria Callas at her best can raise the hair on the back of my neck. Kathleen Ferrier... nearing death herself and fully aware of this fact... sang Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (expressing the composer's own intimations of early death) with so much emotion it is impossible to listen to with a dry eye. Right now I am listening to Renne Fleming singing Strauss Four Last Songs. Her voice is so ravishing that I cannot help but understand why Solti spoke of having a love affair with her voice. This says nothing of the power of a chorus of deep male voices in a Russian choral piece or the angelic chorus in Mozart's Great Mass in C. The human voice may not always have the range of this or that given instrument... but I don't think there is a single instrument that can come near the expressive possibilities of the human voice.

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    Senior Member Il Seraglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StlukesguildOhio View Post
    The human voice can obviously produce some amazing sounds but its limitations are very apparent compared to a piano/guitar/violin.

    It seems you haven't heard the right voices. Maria Callas at her best can raise the hair on the back of my neck. Kathleen Ferrier... nearing death herself and fully aware of this fact... sang Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (expressing the composer's own intimations of early death) with so much emotion it is impossible to listen to with a dry eye. Right now I am listening to Renne Fleming singing Strauss Four Last Songs. Her voice is so ravishing that I cannot help but understand why Solti spoke of having a love affair with her voice. This says nothing of the power of a chorus of deep male voices in a Russian choral piece or the angelic chorus in Mozart's Great Mass in C. The human voice may not always have the range of this or that given instrument... but I don't think there is a single instrument that can come near the expressive possibilities of the human voice.
    I more or less agree with this. The Coronation Mass in particular is probably my favourite of Mozart's and I would say he was pretty much born to write music to be sung. His operas and masses are what really set him apart from the rest.

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the replies.....

    I really appreciate all your insight and input. Working 12 hours days it is hard to follow the posts religiously.

    Argus, you may not be a huge fan of voice but I was amazed that there was not an empty seat in the opera house. I have been to the symphony several times including last night after work and I amazed and sadden that often there are many empty seats and rows. I just wish all performances were sold out.

    St.LukesguildOhio

    Funny you should mention Nixon in China I was thinking of getting that one after hearing it. I also love the Little Match Girl Passion. I am hard to peg, early on I would say that I was stuck in one era, but with this Forum and experiementing I like old and new music. I just adore Anna Netrebko and Kozena two of my favorites. I bet they are really nice in person too.

    My original assessment may have been a little hasty. I went to see the Ballet Mozart's the Magic flute. It was a new modern ballet. I like the more traditional ballet. This was more running accross the stage, less dance, modern clothes, pink or purple hair wigs and so on. Well done but I was disctracted as I had front row seats.

    I could read the score on the conductors stand, see the whole orchestra in the pit and chat with them. See the singers in front of the conductor facing me singing in German. So what was I to watch? The conductor? The orchastra? The singers? or the ballet?

    All was good but so many choices. It felt like I was sitting in the middle of the symphony. The best of both worlds. I was given the tickets from my office.

    Given a choice I love ballet, opera, symphony and even Shakespeare plays. All different, and hard to compare. We have different preferences, but isn't wonderful to have these choices?

    Oh, sorry about the sports remark. I don't understand sports just don't care for it. Was given tickets to the local football game at my office too, I much prefer the arts. I don't even know how to tell when a football or baseball game is almost over or how to read the scoreboard. But I can read a music score!

    As the Duke says in Twelfth Night, "If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die."
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    In fact until the Baroque era the voice was the primary instrument used was the voice as other instruments couldnt match up to its volume and flexibility.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    In fact until the Baroque era the voice was the primary instrument used was the voice as other instruments couldnt match up to its volume and flexibility.
    I would go as far to say the voice remains the primary instrument in most music up until the present day. I can't recall hearing that many entirely instrumental tunes in the charts. Also, the SATB format is still widely used in music books to teach students theory.

    I think one of reasons the voice is so universal is, obviously, pretty much everyone has a voice and with enough practice and training can control it well enough to sing basic melodies and lines. This means anyone can convey some form of music without the need to buy or make a tool and spend years learning that tool to reach a somewhat similar result.

    Up until the Baroque period the voice was used because it was as much necessity as it was a composers choice. With advancements in technology both acoustic and electric instruments are capable of much more range in volume and flexibility than before the Baroque era. We have a wider tonal spectrum now that at any time in history yet the voice still plays an important role, which I suppose is testament to it's appeal, but does not make it superior to other instruments. It's also a very versatile instrument in that it features in classical, blues, jazz, pop, folk and music from around the world. What other instrument has such complete ubiquity.

    Another reason why songs and operas remain more popular than purely instrumental work is that an audience member can hear one of these and then sing, hum or whistle the melody at a later point in time. It's a lot harder to hum a fast violin run in a symphony or cascading arpeggios in a piano sonata. The Old Grey Whistle Test as it were. The listener feels more common ground between opera than the symphony, and this is possibly why kg4fxg noticed more people at the former than the latter.

    Similarly, using that logic ballet should be more popular as just as many people like to dance to music as sing. Obviously, the average person can't dance like ballet dancers can but they can still try and enjoy themselves, and it's probably a great way of keeping in shape.

    Just to add, probably unsurprisingly I can neither sing nor dance very well at all but I have a try now and again.

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Ballet vs. Opera?

    To watch: Opera.

    To listen to: I'll sit on the fence, so either. Opera I like for it's drama, while ballet for the way in which the orchestration can really be a strong feature (eg. Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Ravel, Khatchaturian, Debussy - all are, funnily enough, often noted for their fine orchestration...).

    I won't compare the skills required for both, as I think it's pointless & academic.

    It's also interesting how, since the ballet came to the fore during the time orchestral concerts also became popular, it was customary for composers to extract an orchestral suite from the full score of the ballet. So often the ballet suite we hear in the concert hall or on a recording is twice removed from the original ballet - it has become purely orchestral (no dancing, choreography, scenery), and the work heard is also different, with numbers appearing often in a different order to the ballet. Just thought I'd make this point, how these suites have more in common with a symphony than a 'real' ballet...
    Totally fossilised listener of highbrow music since the last century.

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