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I have had it. I refuse to believe living composers and not as good as dead ones.
They're mostly better educated, but they're quite unlucky to be born so late, after so much developmental history. What's to be done today? There's so many pitfalls.
 
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In line with what I think Portamento is trying to do -and in my attempt to bring the discussion back to the subject-, I think that "non-popular music" composers today are facing two problems, one of which is common to all artists in any and every discipline, that is, an overproduction, overabundance -which does not translate directly to over supply, of which of course there's already a lot, due to a matter of visibility- of art and entertainment and a fierce competition for the attention of the consumers who are at the same time bombarded by media. The other problem is that since the invention of recorded music, their segment of the market has diminished, and the economy of "non-popular music" is very different from the economy of "popular music" which shapes the music market in its image and taylors it to its needs, which are not aligned with the needs of "non-popular music" composers, but perhaps more so with some star performers (Hahn comes to mind), although these are few. Of course, the Internet could change this slightly, but would that create new paying consumers for contemporary art? I don't know. In my country musical education -well, perhaps all of it- has gone down the drain, and I think that's a western issue in general too, music is being taken for granted, it is undervalued by society, the State and the education system. So if people have no clue who Bach is or have only heard the choral theme from Beethoven's 9th, then how the hell are they going to find out about -let alone like- someone like Ligeti? At one point in the second half of the last century, cartoons, TV and movies did a lot for classical music, surely Ligeti benefited from having his music played in Kubrick's film. That's not happening today, there's an extreme risk aversion in the entertainment business.
Why is it so difficult to teach music? Too time consuming? Shouldn't that attest to its incomparable value for a young mind (for when they get to be 40-50 years old)?
 

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You paint a sad picture, but I think all of your points also apply to any kind of education, that's the reality of life, unfortunately. It shouldn't be like that, but a kid's education depends a lot on luck. I also want to clarify that I'm talking about education in primary and secondary school, not conservatories or anything like that, but that aimed towards the general population.
Can we understand how we (our young selves) have come to deeply appreciate the old music? If so, and it worked, how can we teach according to that sequence?

Was it an initial fascination with the arithmetic of music?, were we influenced in a positive manner by a peer group?, was it music appreciation class info?, was it a special sensitivity to the metaphors?, were we 'special'? I like thinking that I'm special, but all 4 of these helped me, and I reckon it was just luck..
 

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It was a post under my name. Good work figuring that out.

Why not stick your neck out and suggest other genres that are more sophisticated or complex?
Intelligent people (and especially artists) are mannerly aware of what's politically correct.
 

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My question is, in what terms? Though it pains me, more ink has been used on analyzing popular music's trends than for Ligeti's music and life. That not only speaks of a greater market for these things, but also of a certain complexity which is different than Ligeti's or Beethoven's music. Are those analysis purely musical? Certainly not, that's why I said that it all hangs on the variables you choose to make your study subject complex. And that's why I said that in the end, despite all of that, there's just music, there's nothing inherently there to understand, no secret code, nothing. If you go hunting for it, that's your call. People like to make any matter complex, implying that interpretations, theoretical frameworks, etc. are subjective.
It seems that your conclusion would be that there's little in pop culture music, and only just a little bit more to study and understand in CM. Can you read a score and compare scores? How have you ended up a CM fan?
 

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The title of this thread is "The reality of life for contemporary composers" but we have strayed away from that and into one of the discussions that repeatedly occurs on TC between those who are almost exclusively interested in the classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries and those who find new music interesting.

While the discussion has taken a left turn from the main subject it does highlight a phenomenon that does impact on the reality of life for contemporary composers, i.e. rejection of their music by the traditional classical music audience. The motivation of these composers has been called into question; along with their artistic integrity. The general tone is one of hostility and antipathy toward their very existence.

Another aspect of that rejection that I've seen expressed on TC is the idea that experimental new music poses a threat to traditional classical music.

How can music, whose audience is tiny compared to the traditional classical music audience, be threatening? Since it has been claimed that much of new music occurs on the fringes, and is not a continuation of the classical music tradition, why is its existence such a lightening rod of opposition?
What's important is peoples' lives as they mature and need a serious outlet.
Also it's important to support the CM industry and everybody's livelihoods therein.

I think it's difficult to get there with all this (many decades now) pervasive relativism. We've talked about this at length and the subjectivists don't seem to care about what I see as the sorry future (for the students and the whole industry). They care about about their own feelings and politeness and egalitarianism/extreme impartiality and cross-cultural considerations. On and on. I blame NPR
 

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This right there, ladies and gentlemen, is elitism. What the h*** do you care how I ended up a CM fan?

EDIT: Interpretation, performance, setting of said performance, staging decisions, recording and how, etc. Then there's the interpretation of the audience, the connections they make with the work and the connection they make between that work and everything else they've ever heard. There's also the whole social aspect of listening to music, going to see music live, what you listen, how you listen, etc.
I'm not. I'm not.
I ask about reading scores and how you came to be a CM fan and I'm elitist. Gosh, I didn't use the phrase musical analysis. heh

You can see how poisonous this relativism is.
 

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CM is not the only music that offers a serious outlet to mature people. Your condescending attitude about other kinds of music is more of problem for finding new audiences and support for traditional classical music than anything else.

Relativism is a red herring. I am a professional musician trained in classical music and yet I take seriously other genres of music which you don't think have merit. The reason I hear something in those genres that you don't is not because of "relativism" I've imbibed from NPR but because I have a curious and open mind for all kinds of music and the perception to hear what is finely wrought and creative in many examples of non-classical music.

You would do yourself and classical music well to stop looking down on other kinds of music.
I will be getting back to improvising on all the popular songs again every week in an ensemble. I look down on much of the commercial fare and I expect that you do too. We get this question all the time in our talk back. It gives us a lot to talk about.

Getting emotional about other cultures and the travesties of the past (and the injustices of the present) is completely irrelevant for evaluating scores. Thankfully we don't get that far into it, but we do have some heated conversations about the greatest songs of the past century.
 

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You're not elitist, gotcha. You were just asking an honest question with no poison behind it. Thing is, even if your question could be interpreted as elitist but it's not, it is pointless to ask if I can read a score, you're just trying to measure me and see where I stand in your list of values.

And relativism is poisonous as opposed to a what would be a very loving, nice, pure objective standard for everything, right?

EDIT: It's of no interest to me to discuss relativism, objectivity and subjectivity or even elitism -I tried to steer clear of that and tried to understand everyone's position without making harmful accusations until your comment that was way out of line. This forum has gone on and on about these things and no one ever changes their mind
When yours is a common reaction from intelligent people we have to wonder what is going on in the world of the arts? Am I wrong? Are they missing out? Are we more interested in stating over and over that everyone's different? The absurdity of 'correcting' past wrongs with our perfected feelings? It's a strawman, because everyone can tear it down
 

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You seem to be fighting a battle here that nobody else is involved in.

SanAntone put it succinctly, and it's the same position I (and I assume others) have:

Ultimately it's just about being interested in, and liking, other kinds of music. Do some people also care about particular historical issues relating to music? Sure, but that's not why they listen to non-classical music.
I'm trying to get at the underlying motivations. I'm thinking out loud (and trying not to use any accusatory words). I think you work in science, don't you?
 

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I don't "look down" on any music because I realize that when I do that I am also "looking down" on all the people who do value it. Just because I don't find an example of music interesting doesn't cause me to question its value. It causes me to move on to music that I do find interesting.

I am not sure what in my post caused this response. However, sometimes the greatest music is the song of an oppressed people, the Blues for example, but my focus is mostly on the music itself. I am interested in the historical context that produced music I am interested in, but I don't use any context as a pretext to listen to or enjoying any music.
I have to disagree with this, because I don't think we can stop ourselves from using our long= derived contexts. And so we can't begin with a false premise. We know where music comes from scientifically and we can learn a lot from that premise.
 

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I don't follow you, maybe because we started on the wrong foot and it's not quite clear to me what you're railing against especifically although I have a hunch.
But please, I'm not from the US -don't know if you're either, sorry if you're not-, I know what NPR is but have never listened to it, my education was different to the supossedly devious standards of education and the "overcorrection" in the US today. I have no agenda, no connections with anything and least to the art world, I'm merely a 24 year old music lover.
That said, genuine question: what would I or an imaginary we who shares my opinions -though I'm weary of being a part of any collective- be missing out on? I have no interest in stating over and over that everyone's different, on the contrary, I think we're all quite similar. Not in a silly and cynic way, but people can be put into boxes quite easily. What interests me only is discussing music and the topic at hand which was about the situation for contemporary composers, which in my initial comments I compared and extended to musicians and artists in other areas and genres. If you have an axe to grind against modern music, very well then, go ahead, I'm not gonna debate you nor am I going to stop you. Just as you won't ever stop change. If you think that everything's going down the drain you're very welcome to join a vast history of people who thought the very same thing that you did, read what they wrote, share their feelings, feel better because others shared your opinions, etc. -and yet here we are.
So you were born in the late 90s. I'm so thankful for TC for affording us the opportunity to have this exploration. Where else?
 

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My underlying motivation for listening to any music, classical or otherwise, is simply "I like how it sounds" (or, for music I've never heard before, "I want to find out what it sounds like"). That's it.

As to why I believe no one kind music is inherently superior to any other kind, that's because it strikes me as the most straightforward explanation for why all sorts of people like all sorts of music.

I'm curious as to where you're going with your thoughts, but if it helps you form some sort of theory then sure, yes, I work in science.
Since the 1970s I've been trying to pin down what the motivation is for elevating entertainment music so highly. I guess I'll have to just be satisfied with the mystery of it all. Art is artifice.
I've worked in science for a long time (we monitor low latitude stratospheric ozone and any related experimental projects). I also teach piano and piano tuning, so with that sensitivity I want others (this younger generation) to have the opportunity I've had. How do we do that? In science we try to keep up with the latest papers in our field, but how do we mature in the arts? Hero worship is no longer the easy solution for educators.

I'll have to rewrite this post, but we have some VIPs coming through..
 

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There are approaches to aesthetics too which deny that they are a matter of personal opinion; the way I see it the arguments in both cases - whether promoted by philosophers or laymen - are made by people who just want to feel good about themselves and (perhaps) to put down others.

Ethics and aesthetics are both matters of personal opinion. Simple as that.
It's not worth fighting about, but aesthetics is a science. There's large books written about this. You probably already know this. We don't want to be anti-intellectual.
 

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In what sense is aesthetics a science?

You can analyze individuals' and cultures' aesthetic preferences, connect them with other aspects of belief systems and lifestyle, hypothesize and test causal relationships, etc. Economists frequently do this.

But you cannot scientifically attribute "beauty", "greatness", "goodness", etc to aesthetics (or ethics for that matter). That doesn't even make logical sense.
No, not those old truth is beauty and beauty truth etc. concepts. Neurologists and evolutionary psychologists are now offering this list. I think it's interesting.
I'm paraphrasing ..and i might have them slightly wrong.

an artwork offers a window to the real world from the artist's mysterious toolbox of abstractions

an artwork expresses universal feelings and moods which we all experience. How?

an artwork gives us a sense of significant form

an art piece flings about thought-provoking statements/outbursts (reminiscent of our ancient hominid behaviorisms)

If a composer intends to compose entertainment music he's not concerned with all these.
 

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Classical music is more sophisticated and complex than most other music genres including hip hop. Chess is a more sophisticated and complex game than most other, if not all, games. That does not mean that classical music is of more value to any given individual than, say, hip hop and it doesn't mean that chess is of more value to any given individual than, say, backgammon. Value is determined by what appeals to the individual.
Huh? How can value be determined by individuals for everyone? Maybe you're not saying that? You mean individuals like it or they don't, depending upon the specifics and experiences of their lives? Who are these people? Do we admire them?

No, IMO that's so wildly unreliable to anyone else that it's a worthless approach. Value is what's already in the scores or in the chess games or in a subject of science. The value comes from the information content and the significance of it conceptually applied to something else, far into the future, regardless of the awareness level of the receiver. Music isn't different in terms of valuable information content. The value might be imperceptible to many folks, but that's irrelevant. They would need to be suitably exposed and educated. A car manual might not be valuable to a person who doesn't understand the clever engineering concepts it contains, but the value is in there for anyone.
 
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I think we're talking about different things. Generally, I agree with what you're saying. What I'm saying is that, in the end, individuals determine what has value for themselves. I can't tell someone who is into another music genre that they aren't getting as much value in their life out of it as I am in mine.
Yes, that's true, but if individuals find no value for themselves in CM, then what can we conclude about the values in CM? Not much at all. So why even talk about it if it's irrelevant and so confusing to people?
Anyway, it's confusing to me, to think about such blurry topics in psychology.
 

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As I've stated before, CM was always a niche. The general population had no interest in it, or, more importantly, didn't have the means to pay for a theater ticket, nor would have they been welcome. When art became reproducible, popular musics started to gain ground, as a huge market wanted it. That has never been the case for CM, we should keep that in mind.
I agree, and also I've stated it before in this thread, with what you say regarding competition, and you add an interesting point, today's composers have to fight against the greats of the past -such a shame that that is the case, I think there's room for everything-, and not only with their contemporaries.

I also want to say that CM will never stop being a niche, and we're living in a society in which every time more and more niches emerge. That doesn't mean that the mainstream is seeing its share of the market reduced, on the contrary, it's expanding. But I say this because if anyone here has any hope that classical will be the most listened music, they should get that out of their head. And that it'll never be mainstream, that our favourite contemporary composers -for those of us who keep up with new music and find new things to like- will never be as big as the current pop star or any future pop star. This is not a bad thing, just the reality of life.
Yes, it's sad to say but the 400 year history of the development of music, highlighted by the great achievements by the great composers - is merely a niche.
 
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