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Hi,

I would like to introduce you to an exciting experiment that I discovered.

It's about the Dutch composer Alexander Comitas. He wanted to test whether the modern atonal art music, which is usually promoted nowadays, can be distinguished from hitting random keys on the piano.

For this purpose he "composed" a piece called "Bubbles" by letting his young children, who had no musical education, play random notes on the keyboard. In the end, the children only divided the notes among the instruments. However, the composer did not tell anyone how the piece was made.

And indeed: Alexander Comitas received a grant of 3000 € for this composition! The jury, which consisted of a composer, a musicologist and a conductor, found the piece to be of high quality and even better than the previous (mostly tonal) compositions by Comitas.

You can take a closer look at the story under the following links:

https://aristos.org/aris-13/bubblesetc.htm


And here the composition Bubbles:


What do you think about this? I find the experiment very exciting, as it confirms what I had been thinking for a long time: Most modern classical music can hardly be distinguished from random notes.
I have seriously studied the composition methods of modern composers like Boulez, but came to the conclusion: No matter how "structured" these compositions seem on paper, they are irrelevant to the listener, since these structures are simply not audible.

However, instead of criticizing these compositions constructively, advocates of atonal music are often amazed at the "complex" and "innovative" structures of the compositions - even if they do not exist, as the Bubbles experiment shows.

I think that such experiments should be performed more often so that it becomes clear that the avantgarde mentality is causing damage to modern classical music and hindering the development of new music that actually relates to way humans perceive music.

What do you think?
 

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I don't know who was in that review panel, but I can tell it was badly written. It's a flawed experiment because he took months putting the thing together to make it more structured, which itself is a part of the act of composing, and still came up with bad results. His motive is really to try to fool the judges, and make light of serial music. He may have succeeded in some way, but it's not nearly as conclusive as he is trying to make it seem.
 

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I have seriously studied the composition methods of modern composers like Boulez, but came to the conclusion: No matter how "structured" these compositions seem on paper, they are irrelevant to the listener, since these structures are simply not audible.

What do you think?
This is something I thought when first introduced to things like serialism generally, but the problem is that you can say similar things about CPT techniques like fugal writing, and even harmonization (how many listeners actually keep track of, e.g. the classical rule of home key importance?)

I think these things can actually work better when "inaudible" and when they are put to work for expressive purposes, rather than theoretical ones. It's like the cliche that the best film editing is the type the viewer doesn't notice.
 

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Well as Jim intimates, the inner workings are vital for the composer, especially when working in expanded tonality and atonality. The processes used yield the expression and the listener needs to be able to listen in a different way when a tune is not present. The structures aren't ordinarily meant to be discernible and the impression of randomness although understandable from a superficial pov, is often an illusion based on unfamiliarity or aversion.

There's no doubt though that as far as the general public is concerned and to a certain extent, professionals, the lack of discernible signposts in a piece is an issue that can cloud judgement. Exploitation of the uncertainty is not helpful though because many a fan of contemporary practices (me included), will tell you that there is a great depth of expression to be found in music that on first hearing, may sound utterly bewildering.

As always, some listening effort is often rewarded with a deeper understanding and appreciation, as many a TC'er here will testify.
 

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I made the mistake of reading up on serialism before listening to it, and I think, like a lot of people, I was like, "this is just theoretical, this is dumb, what about the listener?"

This is just kinda tangential but probably the thing that stuck with me the most is someone writing that Schoenberg wasn't trying to destroy musical tradition- he was actually trying to continue/revive the Vienna/Germanic tradition of abstract art music (the big guys in Germanic music at the time were Strauss, who was all programmatic, Bruckner, who had a totally unique compositional technique, and Mahler, who was Mahler), which is why he sometimes gets criticized for applying his serial techniques to "old-world" forms- which of course he would have done if he saw himself as deliberately trying to resuscitate those forms. I think some people (notably Boulez, I think?) criticized him as being at heart a conservative for sticking with those forms, and I don't think that's entirely wrong, though that's not a bad thing.


which is all part of the long Post-Beethoven period where people (except Brahms, to an extent) were seemingly having difficulty continuing that tradition without dipping into late-romantic and programmatic music (or with folk melody, if you were Dvorak or Russian). Which was interesting to me, because I find his music frequently dry and emotionally unsatisfying in almost precisely the same way as I find Bach's keyboard music, as essential as both composers are.


anyway, Webern and Berg provided legitimately affecting serial music that I fell in love with, so it was all good from there
 

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I made the mistake of reading up on serialism before listening to it, and I think, like a lot of people, I was like, "this is just theoretical, this is dumb, what about the listener?"

This is just kinda tangential but probably the thing that stuck with me the most is someone writing that Schoenberg wasn't trying to destroy musical tradition- he was actually trying to continue/revive the Vienna/Germanic tradition of abstract art music (the big guys in Germanic music at the time were Strauss, who was all programmatic, and Mahler, who was Mahler), which is why he sometimes gets criticized for applying his serial techniques to "old-world" forms- which of course he would have done if he saw himself as deliberately trying to resuscitate those forms. I think some people (notably Boulez, I think?) criticized him as being at heart a conservative for sticking with those forms, and I don't think that's entirely wrong, though that's not a bad thing.

which is all part of the long Post-Beethoven period where people (except Brahms, to an extent) were seemingly having difficulty continuing that tradition without dipping into late-romantic and programmatic music (or with folk melody, if you were Dvorak or Russian). Which was interesting to me, because I find his music frequently dry and emotionally unsatisfying in almost precisely the same way as I find Bach's keyboard music, as essential as both composers are.
Schoenberg did indeed try to carry on in the old way which was his intention for developing serialism in the first place as you say. But his serialism and its implications could not ultimately be fully contained within the regular barline and animated with regular, common rhythms, so a new syntax was developed that gave the (nascent) sonic expanses he had opened up the acoustic freedom they needed to flourish. Boulez's criticism was fair imo and yet some of Schoenberg's music is very special.
 

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I'm extremely embarrassed for the OP thay they apparently didn't notice how exceedingly poor this is as an "experiment". In fact, it doesnt even qualify as an experiment at all; literally nothing can be concluded from this anecdote beyond the banal observation that some people are totally ashholes and cannot get over the trauma of other people liking music they don't.

The composer used a chaotic source-N.B. not random, chaotic-and brought to it fundamentally altering organization by scoring it in standard music notation and providing instrumentation. Composers have been doing this sort of thing for literally centuries. This particular example is not very interesting, but juries often give out awards to banal shirt so that's hardly a surprise, either.

What it emphatically does not and cannot "prove" is anything at all that the OP says it did. One single, pathetic, deliberately misleading non-experiment proves nothing.
 

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There are a few songs available on Youtube that were "composed" by AI, using its understanding of the components of popular music. They are pretty strange.

Of course, they, too, had a human "adjust" things afterwards, but still . . .

Here's one called Daddy's Car, supposedly in the style of the Beatles.

 

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Im extremely embarrassed for the OP thay they apparently didn't notice how exceedingly poor this is as an "experiment". In fact, it doesnt even qualify as an experiment at all; literally nothing can be concluded from this anecdote beyond the banal observation that some people are totally ashholes and cannot get over the trauma of other people liking music they don't.

The composer used a chaotic source-N.B. not random, chaotic-and brought to it fundamentally altering organization to it by scoring it in standard music notation and providing instrumentation. Composers have been doing this sort of thing for literally centuries. This particular example is not very interesting, but juries often give out awards to banal shirt so that's hardly a surprise, either.

What it emphatically does not and cannot "prove" is anything at all that the OP says it did. One single, pathetic, deliberately misleading non-experiment proves nothing.
True. I believe I once heard a tune composed by taking a photo of birds on some power lines, and using that as a staff and notes.

People have been creating random (or chaotic) music for a long long time.
 

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I think we have the answer to Alma Deutscher right here. This guy's kids were prodigies who could compose contemporary music.

But more seriously, what would Cage have to say about this? And once we've learned to understand that noise itself can be musical, what does this actually prove?
 

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I haven't a problem with the premise - musical jokes should come in all shapes and sizes. For each person who thinks it brings music into disrepute maybe there is someone else who thinks that a little debunking never did any harm. Let it be and then it will be quietly forgotten (while hoping there won't be a transcription by some forgettable death metal band in the meantime...).
 
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I don't know who was in that review panel, but I can tell it was badly written. It's a flawed experiment because he took months putting the thing together to make it more structured, which itself is a part of the act of composing, and still came up with bad results. His motive is really to try to fool the judges, and make light of serial music. He may have succeeded in some way, but it's not nearly as conclusive as he is trying to make it seem.
That's an interesting take. How is it "badly written"?

Those who are indignant seem to be indignant over the fact that some jurors were duped, and at the sentiments expressed by the OP. But the "piece" in question seems like it would fit under the heading of "aleatory music", which I guess is legit.
 

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That's an interesting take. How is it "badly written"?

Those who are indignant seem to be indignant over the fact that some jurors were duped, and at the sentiments expressed by the OP. But the "piece" in question seems like it would fit under the heading of "aleatory music", which I guess is legit.
For me a stunt like this just fuels a fire, one intent on burning down something not fully understood or that doesn't conform to entertainment. I'm the first to admit and accept that music that is more individual is going to sever ties with the norm and isolate itself, but this stunt displays ignorance and is a cheap shot imv. Stuff like this matters to professionals but I will admit that so far as the lay listener is concerned, it's a shot on target, a direct hit at modernity's Achilles heel. It's a difficult one to find a rejoinder to.

This music can't be considered aleatoric btw because within that genre, there is more often than not an overarching, considered control and a dictating of basic material by the composer. Besides, it is precisely written out fwiw. I couldn't care less for the opinion of a jury btw, nor that of academia.
 

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This music can't be considered aleatoric btw because within that genre, there is more often than not an overarching, considered control and dictating of material by the composer. Besides, it is precisely written out fwiw. I couldn't care less for the opinion of a jury btw.
But it seems that wouldn't make such music "aleatoric" any longer. As I understand from the first video, the man's sons sat at a digital keyboard and the result was transcribed by the Sibelius software. And the children's father could be that "overarching, considered control" in post-production. I actually think some of this sounds kind of interesting rhythmically. Some of it as described in the video is pretty funny satire. Maybe some modern music is a little too self-important. Even Bach has his PDQ Bach.
 
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