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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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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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I'm no expert, but I'm sure not all aleatory music is created equal. You can use the same raw material and come up with something that sounds totally different. The part around 2:55 where the composer says in the creative process "I allowed myself to bring my knowledge and craftsmanship into the play, as far as the elements were concerned were not essential to the actual creative process -- distributing the notes among the available instruments, tempo, dynamics, articulation, etc." already doomed the piece. They are more essential than the notes themselves, since in that way the randomness is contained, or made good use of.

That's where the music fails, it doesn't make good use of rhythms, dynamics, etc., and the distribution among the instruments is poor. Overall has bad balance. He never really believed in the music's potential in the first place. Or just doesn't have the skill to make good use of it.

Here in John Cage's work, he is able to distribute the randomly derived notes well between the registers, make good use of rhythms, etc. (the stuff that Comitas said was NOT ESSENTIAL to the actual creative process). You could give Comitas the same source material, and he'd ruin it.

Plus randomness and serialism is really a minor process of contemporary music, which he is trying to pigeonhole.
Just out of curiosity, can you think of any other similarly "badly written" pieces? Also in the OP's example the music is indeed distributed between the registers, although I don't know what you mean exactly by "well", as in "well distributed". Or "bad balance" for that matter. Also I think the concocted piece does have some interesting rhythmic characteristics, more so than in that Cage piece.
 

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I once started a thread on that question
Great avant-garde music vs. Average/Mediocre avant-garde music
Great avant-garde music vs. Average/Mediocre avant-garde music

Is there a line (standard of quality) differentiating between the two? What are some examples of "masterpieces" by John Cage, and "less successful/valuable works" by him, for example? What are the individual elements or traits that determine "quality" in those works?

Here's an example of "standard of quality" in common practice music":
Malcolm Bilson: Taste in Mozart and Chopin
(3:02~5:40)

Is there a similar method of reasoning for avant-garde music, in distinguishing the great stuff from the average/mediocre stuff?
Well yeah I'm a little familiar with the mindset: we can't make value judgements on "new music" because art is intensely personal and so on and so forth. But ironically the piece in the OP is "bad", apparently because it's satirical... and most of what the satirist/composer has done otherwise is "bad", tainted by his lack of respect for some "new music" and arts councils and the like. More to the point, I wonder how much of the satirical basis this music has influenced the judgement of its value. If this very same "piece" had been offered up as a legit new composition from a legit new composer I wonder if the overall verdict would've been different. In fact the fatal weakness of the "joke" is that the punch line was delivered too early, at the beginning even.
And so...
^ Ah, so he was responding to a "conspiracy" by the evil followers of contemporary music to put a stop to the new and innovative. I imagine he will have harmed his own reputation as a serious artist but perhaps that wasn't worth preserving?
Maybe "Bubbles" is just as "new and innovative" as a lot of other things out there. Honestly, I find some of it kinda interesting.
...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.
...
It might be interesting to dissect that a little: why this divide between "professionals" and "lay listeners", and why a rejoinder is difficult to come up with.
 

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Imo, the reason it's hard to counter the implication that dissonance has the same effect as randomness is simply because of the gulf in aesthetics between the listeners lay ears and composer's trained ears. There is also a difference in the expectation of each group as to what music is supposed to be and what it's meant to do. Composers do have the choice when writing as to whether or not to guide and help the listener in varying degrees as their work progresses. But if they choose to pursue the music for its own sake and without regard for anything other than their own instincts, then I don't see why they should be lampooned, specifically via cynical exploitation of the gulf between modernity's dissonance and the general listener and especially when dissonance is only a question of tolerated, acclimatised degrees. It's just not helpful imv.
Well with all due respect I think this is a big part of the reason that "modern music" has such a moribund feel to it at times. It's too much of a little in-game.

Why shouldn't they be lampooned? As I said even Bach has gotten the treatment.
 

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the gulf between listener and the modern tending composer will probably never be fully bridged so any echo-chamber negativity generated by it doesn't really matter anyway.
But the "pro" camp can also be an echo chamber. Instead of being indignant, modern fans should probably be glad for the discussions whenever they arise.
 

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I just think it's very interesting that some people who usually eschew artistic hierarchies of "this is better than that" can find such a hierarchy and place this piece on the lower level of it, and apparently without much basis other than the intent of the creator of it. To put it another way, Bach can't really be any "better" than Elliott Carter, but anything by Elliott Carter is somehow self-evidently better than "Bubbles".
 

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Seems to me like you're creating straw men to knock down. Who are these people who eschew artistic judgements of any sort? Care to name names?
I didn't say "artistic judgements of any sort". I said Bach couldn't be "better" than Carter and anything by Carter would be better than "Bubbles". So there are artistic hierarchies? And now we'll get the "but yeah it's subjective but we can be indignant as if our spouse was insulted over someone else's subjective tastes".
Looking back though there was a whole 50-page thread or thereabouts that touched on the subject. So you're a proponent of artistic hierarchies? Good to know.
Simon Moon said:
Of course Bach is better than Carter, for those who's subjective tastes judge Bach as being better. But not for my subjective tastes. See how that works?
Not really. If it was all just individual subjective tastes then there wouldn't have been the small-group-indignation-session.
SanAntone said:
I'm curious who are the members on TC who usually eschew artistic hierarchies of "this is better than that"?
"Bach is superior to hip hop." Discuss.
 

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You persistently ignore several people, including myself, who have told you that they recognize hierarchies as subjective assessments made individually. Your opinion might be that Bach is superior to Hip-hop, but another person may disagree.

Why are you incapable of understanding this fairly simply concept?
Subjective assessments made individually are really no more meaningful than "blue is my favorite color", and I'm certainly not going to get my knickers in a twist if someone prefers red. Or ridicules blue. I'm not emotionally invested in blue though it's my favorite color.
 

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Again, for the umpteenth time: Bach is greater than Carter to someone who thinks that, but not to someone who thinks the opposite.

There is really nothing else to say.
So he really isn't, and "Bubbles" may very well be better than Carter's entire output to someone who thinks so. Therefore why the consternation?
 

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Well I really don't want to debate objective/subjective because it goes nowhere. But someone earlier in the thread said that the "stunt" proves nothing. I disagree. Like it or not, it does show that an atonal piece composed as a "stunt" can be mistaken for something more "serious". On the other hand I don't think PDQ Bach and the real thing can ever really be mistaken for each other...but if on occasion even that is possible, then big deal. So what. Lighten up.
 

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For those of you grasping for anything to undermine avant-garde music, Comitas is your patron saint. For those of us who appreciate and enjoy an assortment of the avant-garde, Comitas is a clown who achieved his 15 minutes of attention. Sad that this is the only way he got some.
That's a little overboard. From what I understand Alexander Comitas was a pseudonym for the conservatory-trained composer Eduard de Boer, of whom I had honestly never heard (I haven't heard of a lot of modern composers, unfortunately) and I don't think he's a "clown" just because his views on modern composition techniques don't jibe with yours or mine or just because he satirized a mindset through the "Bubbles" thing. It's this sort of hyper-defensiveness that partly arouses hostility.

https://www.eduarddeboer.org/alexander-comitas/
 

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I initially thought that too, but I was wrong. The publishers of Comitas' 2013 article say that they are "critical of both modernism and postmodernism." They oppose "the increasingly bizarre and inscrutable work promoted in the name of art since the early years of the twentieth century." (source: https://aristos.org/aristos2.htm). So we're going back at least 100 years, not only 50. To quote San Antone, this may be the biggest "red herring" to grace TC forum, and I've come across quite a few in my time.
I think that's kind of a deflection. We're still debating a lot of things with roots in the 19th century. I absolutely do *not* want to debate politics, but if the role of the state hasn't been "settled" in that time I don't know why the role and techniques of art would be. It's not a case of "well we've established this is 'good', so let's shut up and move on". The fact that some stunt from 2011 has sparked 8 pages of indignation says...something. In the end I think it comes down to conflicting political/philosophical worldviews and so it just goes round and round and round.
 

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I guess these objective standards whatever they are, aren't to be found in the likes of Salome, let alone Rite of Spring or Pierrot Lunaire. So I guess we'd need to go by the standards of someone like Max Bruch, who was a fine composer and a respected academic, to do things like judge grant applications. He died in 1921, was still composing following a mid-19th century aesthetic
So, in a way, were Sibelius and Strauss. Well Sibelius gave it up perhaps partly because of the direction in which composition was heading. But I don't think even strident critics of "modernism" or whatever are suggesting that composers go back to composing in the style of Beethoven or Brahms. I think with a lot of them it begins with the conviction that "serious/art/classical music" is dead and they're trying to perform a post-mortem. Personally I think Schoenberg and all who followed him to the present day were part of a probably inevitable development. Not "progressive" in the literal sense necessarily, but an inevitable change of direction.

So you don't have to shut up, but in fact we have moved on.
Apparently we haven't.
 

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honestly i kind of find the conservative rejection of the minimalists kinda funny. "write tonal music" *morton feldman does something astonishingly beautiful* "nooooo not that way"
Is it only "conservatives" who reject minimalism? And what's "astonishingly beautiful" to you may not be to someone else. People who reject atonality aren't under an obligation to love everything that's tonal. Anyway I'm a fan of a lot of minimalist music and atonal music for that matter.
 
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