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I've discovered, that many members here have 'politicized' modern music.

It has never been my intention to consciously "politicize" modern music, but apparently those who already have will say otherwise. It seems that a political undercurrent has been uncovered. Some members probably knew this all along.

The question arises: is the dialogue of "traditional forms of art and music vs. modern art" political by nature, since it is perceived by some as being liberal, leftist, Marxist, non-traditional, and even destructive of tradition?

Is this an attitude of those traditionalists who feel their tradition is being threatened?

Does "modernism" equate to "liberalism?"

Will we ever be able to discuss such a thing without it having political resonances, intended or not?
I think the answer is yes for some composers, from Lachenmann and Nono donkeys years ago to, for example, Cynthia Zaven and Stefan Prins today. Of course many composers have no interest in politics, obvs.

But where the thread is misconceived is to locate the phenomenon in recent music. For example, Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner all had political agendas, more or less liberal.

It just is a fact that some people who write music have political ideals, and this comes out in their art, and others don't. And my guess is that it's been like that for a good 200 years.
 

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Is there any composer, alive and kicking today, who is expressing ideas about equality and social justice through their instrumental work? I don’t mean 12 operas or songs. I mean instrumental music.

Is it possible today? Was it ever possible?
 

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What about Beethoven in the Appassionata sonata? Doesn't that piece embody a sense of struggle, an opposition to the way in which previous music reflected an immutable divine order.

And what about Cornelius Cardew's Treatise?
 

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. But the pure music itself does not have any semantic content.
It has structural features, symmetries; different types of interactions between voices, instruments; expressive content of timbre, pitch, tempo; it has extramusical relations too - intertextual, for example, and the conventions of the time when it was written.

Have a listen again to the first movement of Brandenburg 5 or the Eroica Symphony.
 

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Well the form of some music can carry a political message. Put it like this, if you genuinely want to express social equality in your art, you're not going to write something like a Chopin piano concerto where the solo instrument dominates the proceedings. You may write something like Art of Fugue, where each voice counts equally.

Also, don't forget that music is designed to be played, not just to be heard. How the performers interact is a microcosm of society, and the required interaction may be based on political ideas. A good case to think about is Christian Wolff's Stones

Another example, Philip Glass's pop music type two dimensionality - all instruments playing equally loud, etc. That's a capitulation to the mediocrity of commercial values, a celebration of capitalism.
 

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None of these examples apply if the audience hearing the music is not familiar with the history/nationality/sociology of the context within which the composer is working. Russians were perfectly happy to listen to Finlandia when labeled Impromptu. The politics is entirely within the context, and not in the music. One of the most interesting borderline cases might be having a cultured Japanese audience listen to Respighi's Circenses without a written program in their laps. What would they make of it?
What about my example of the politics implicit in the inequality of a virtuoso concerto like the ones by Chopin? Or the opposite: the egalitarian nature of a number piece by Cage? Or a graphic score designed to get the creative involvement of people who have never had a musical education like Cardew's Treatise.

When Lachenmann wrote Guero, he was saying to the bourgeois audience of a piano concert: watch out, there's another way to see the world, the old hegemony is over!
 

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i think you use the word politics in a new and unusual way and context. Lewis Carroll would approve:

When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master-that's all."

Orwell, maybe not so much.
I am sure you're wrong about that. Equality and enfranchisement are fundamental political ideas, going back to Aristotle at least.
 

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But surely your appropriating such ideas into "explaining" music sans context (title, program, etc) is novel, quite novel.
I don't know. I'm in free wheeling creative mode at the moment. There's an idea which goes way back, the idea of embodiment. The classic example is Cage's Rionji, which was constructed from measurements of a Zen garden. It doesn't attempt to depict the garden in music like Debussy may have done. It rather embodies it in its form - as the études Australes embody the stars, or the star map at least.

What I'm suggesting is that the various forms of cooperation and attention of the performers in a piece of music can similarly embody a political concept. That's what I was proposing for the first movement of Brandenburg 5.

In the discussions on this forum we tend to focus exclusively on what the music sounds like, the experience of listening. But that's one sided because equally important is the experience of performing and indeed the experience of watching the performers create together.

Politics is about transforming the world, it's about imagining a new world and creating it, just like music is about imagining and creating . . .
 

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How "widespread" can"Cultural Marxism" be if the only name you can dig up is Theodor Adorno, a composer/philosopher that almost no one has ever heard of, whose been dead for more than 50 years? Then you say that you "hear" that some exhibition rooms are allocated by ethnic quotas. I'm asking for specifics not hearsay. And even if museums are making sure that a certain percentage of their display represents minority groups what does that have to do with Marxism, again an economic philosophy; and why wouldn't American art museums want the art of oppressed minority groups represented in their museums in the first place, and why should anyone be upset by it?

The one thing you've said that makes perfect sense so far is when you say that "'Cultural marxism' is maybe not the best scientific term, but it is a good battle term."

So in other words the term is a fabrication; but remains a good way to label someone or something as "Marxist" ("communist") just because you oppose it for other reasons, and what those other reasons REALLY are is what I want to know. If it's not Marxism, then what is it?
Have a look ar Mark Fischer's work for example, I just dug out Capitalist Realism. He looks at how contemporary culture serves to entrench the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism.
 

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That's me, too. I've almost given up on this forum, but then I see a post like this.
You can't resist getting into arguments with people who IMO are not very interesting to argue with - I mean they don't bring reasonable or imaginative thinking to the table. So I can imagine that if I did the same I'd feel that I was banging my head against a brick wall and getting no gain in return for the pain.

But you know, my own experience on this forum has been positive over the past 48 hours -- I've been encouraged to explore the link between Ives, Cage and Cowell on the one hand, and to think about improvisation and ragas on the other.
 

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What I think is more interesting about Stockhausen is whether he was funded, supported, by the US and or Europe as part of a sort of anti USSR initiative. As if the Western countries wanted to say: just look what bold music the free world can make compared with the communist block.

Somehow he got the money for his computers to do work with sound, somehow he got commissions to travel the world. Stockhausen’s electroacoustic music was the musical equivalent of the space launches!

The early post war Darmstadt was supposed to be apolitical, as a reaction to the third Reich I guess, they said they wanted to find an apolitical purity in music - all the previous stuff stank of the gestapo. And officially this is Stockhausen’s line too. (Listen to his lecture on Telemusik on YouTube where he talks about this.) But the reality is very different (Nono is another example, in a different way.) Woodduck will know more than me, but I think the same ideas were present in the creation of the Neue Beyreuth.
 

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MR. MR, I told you before,- if you found that video too offensive due to the political backgrounds of its creators, you should try instead:
I don't think anyone's arguments should be judged based on their political backgrounds. They should only be judged for the soundness of their logic.
The political bias is at about 40 seconds in, identifying modernism with dictatorship and revolution, and the past with a beautiful golden age. This guy's either manipulating people or he's an ignorant idiot. The rest of the video is full of gauche rhetoric and disgraceful misinformation, particularly annoying is the comparison of the Sistine chapel with a bit of laser printed paper. It's not as if there's a shortage of inspiring modern buildings!

It's utter crap of the lowest order. Rubbish. Please delete it.
 

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The PraegerU video was first posted in 2016, then resurfaced when I commented on it.

https://www.talkclassical.com/41624-why-modern-art-so.html?highlight=Praeger

I agree with Mandryka. The disturbing thing is how subtle and artful some of this information is. The video on "the Left and Liberalism" makes some distorted comments on race and "color-blindness;" on immigration and nationalism, they even defend Trump!

I wish our members did not support this sort of trash.
MIICMM
I've seen at least one of our members argue like that on the forum. I'm British, and I'd seen people arguing like that before on TV, pictures of Americans in the last US election "arguing" against global warming or for the idea that Biden's victory was a fraud. But it was the first time that I'd been subjected to it for real. I was horrified.

We're living in an age where something more serious than COVID menaces -- the opposite of enlightenment. This is the dawning of the age of endarkenment.
 

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Your use of the video and your comment on it was dishonest, meaningless, and useless.

What information?

This has nothing to do with art.

Some of our members wish you wouldn't fill the pages of this forum with trashy provocations and prejudices disguised as intellectual positions. So far, this thread is about as valuable and informative as its source would lead us to expect.

Musical tastes have no political meaning. Political philosophies have no musical implications. But you won't stop telling us that our views on Cage are political (and reprehensible) until we drop from exhaustion or simply fade away, leaving you standing there claiming a nonexistent victory over something or other.

I happen to agree with Robert Florczak's remarks on the deterioration of modern art and the incredible stupidity of much of what hangs on the walls of museums. I also happen to disagree strongly with the politics of PragerU. I can assure you that many, many other people hold such (to you) anomalous positions. If you could process that correctly it might give you an unfamiliar sensation of humility, and might persuade you to talk about things you actually understand or - God forbid! - lead you to ask people, rather than tell them, what they're all about.
Just asserting yourself over and over again without any argument won't make what you say true.
 

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...
My problem with modern art is not any politics associated with it, it's that I generally don't find a lot of value in it. I have been told that I just don't get it, but even when it is explained I still little value in the what has been explicated. Many older more classic works (and plenty of newer works that are not what we are broadly calling "modern art" as well) have been difficult or boring or confusing at first approach, and have turned out of further inspection or through discussion or through explanation to have yielded insights, moved me, and provided me what I can only describe as a view of human nature at its core. I call whatever does this art. It's not because of my political views (which are not what you might think given the tenor of my comments if you are operating on the assumptions set out at the beginning of this thread), it's just my experience and my reflections on that experience.

Generally speaking, I find many popular arts in the second half of the 20th century more interesting than work by prestige artists of the same period. But I overall prefer more "classic works". Does that make me conservative or liberal? I hate modern architecture, does that make me a reactionary? But this Chomskyite socialist journalist has the same view. I don't like much postmodern literature, and this Green Party voting journalist agrees. I love the operas of a musician often lumped in with the musical conservatives (Puccini), but my favorite works by him are his most modernist (Fanciulla, Tabarro, and Turandot) and focus on the suffering of the poor and working classes and the inhuman cruelty and indifference of rulers.

Anyway, to my mind the most interesting thinkers on the relationship between the arts and politics are two famous artists whose more philosophical work has generally been neglected: Albert Camus (The Rebel and Create Dangerously and Friedrich Schiller (On the Aesthetic Education of the Human Being. Though they had wildly different worldviews, they both were great artists who could speak from experience of having created profound works of art. Camus ended up rejecting both realism and abstraction as hollow pursuits, and described art as mediating between our experience of reality and our rejection of reality (or rebellion, in which he located such things as moral impulses). Schiller saw art as a mediator between the sense drive and formal drive, which, through a complicated and fascinating argument, he claimed could have a freeing (in a metaphysical sense) and morally positive effect on artist and viewer, which would ultimately result in cultural and political renewal (freedom in a political sense). Camus called for a "creative classicism" which would neither reject tradition entirely nor be held captive to it, and which would neither reject reality entirely nor simply seek to describe it objectively. I think he described what it feels like to experience a great work of art better than anyone I know:

That's what I'm missing in so much modern art.
But it's all so subjective, I mean whether a piece of music is one in which "a new world appears, different from the everyday world and yet the same, particular but universal, full of innocent insecurity-called forth for a few hours by the power and longing of genius." As I was reading your post I was listening to Simon Emmerson's Five Spaces. And it crossed my mind that this music fits Camus words perfectly. I'm not suggesting that Emmerson, an obscure music prof from a small provincial English town, is the same stature in music as Euripides is in drama. I am saying that Camus' conception of stature is not an intrinsic quality of the work of art.
 
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