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Is this a symphony?
It sounds like a hodgepodge of some kind. The problem for a lot of contemporary composers in my view is self-inflicted. They write for their own satisfaction and according to their own standards, and so they end up being pretty much their only audience. As much as I love him, I blame Beethoven. Beethoven had the genius to pull that off. Not many others have, certainly not in the modern era.
 

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DaveM said:
Many will have to be content with smaller venues, limited recording with perhaps the occasional performances by major orchestras where there is the money for commissions.
The thing is though that orchestras feel some kind of obligation to program this music alongside CP works -- well, usually either sandwiched between CP favorites or leading off -- and if audiences are averse to it then it's the audience's problem. There isn't a dividing line in practical terms. If you love Beethoven then you're narrow-minded if you don't also at least pay your respects to the avant garde. Part of the problem is the insistence that modern music is an organic continuation or development of CP instead of a break with it. Another is the vestigial 19th century "artist as rebel against 'society' " mindset, and the weird bewilderment when "society" displays its indifference. It seems there's a desire to be considered in the same league and tradition as Bach and Beethoven while at the same time being a George Antheil type. It doesn't compute.
 

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I wonder if anyone agrees with this? If someone would have said it in, say, 1980, I think it would have been quite plausible. But now I'm not so sure.

It's hard for me to give examples given the way the discussion has gone because we're focussing on symphonies, and I don't know much about them really. I could give lots of examples of chamber and solo music and song, at least, I think I could. But, to pick an obvious orchestral example, Rihm's third symphony reminds me of old fashioned classical music, if not 19th century then Mahler. See what you make of it

That doesn't sound like Mahler to me, really.
 

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mbhaub said:
Roughly 100 years ago composers decided music had to have social value, to mean something, to be expressive of their times. Well the 20th c had it's share of horrors, and so much of the music exemplifies this. It's not uplifting, it's not fun. It's often brutal
and not something you can listen to for enjoyment. People don't want that.
Waaaaaaait a second. Who decides that "people don't want that"? I've seen comments here that complain about the warhorses being driven into the ground because *that's* what sells tickets with the corollary complaint that "people" aren't interested in this "brutal" music.
 

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Just as I now believe that those of us who prefer CPT music shouldn't be critiquing Avant-garde or highly atonal music as awful in comparison (because it is a distinctly different period) so to do I think those who prefer very contemporary/avant-garde music should stop trying to hang it on the coattails of CPT music as if it is a natural progression.
I think a lot of it just sounds awful, period, no comparisons required.
 

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Let us not turn this into another 'modern music is bad' thread. There have been plenty of other threads for that, and I'm sure there will be plenty more.
Which is why I said "a lot of it". There's also a lot of Romantic era music I find awful. But if you want to discuss the travails of modern composers I don't see how you do so without considering audience reception and perception lest you offend the sensitivities of modern music fans.
 

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...
The ultra-slow musical narrative also seems disorienting because it is almost impossible to deduce the overall form of the musical course. I have no great need to hear music that disorients me. One may then say that contemporary music reflects the disorienting world, but precisely because our reality is chaotic, I - and probably many others - need some things (eg music, art, family life) we can define ourselves in relation to in order not to become confused every single minute of the day. I think this is a completely authentic point of view.
...
Well to put it another way, if the world is ugliness and brutality, why would I want to wallow in that in every facet of life? The fact is all existence isn't ugliness and brutality, at least for people who aren't trapped by circumstances into that sort of thing. And it's probably the realization that ugliness, brutality and chaos aren't the way things should be that leads us to seek out beauty and order.
 

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I watched a documentary about Frank Zappa. There is no other way to describe him than as you described Mozart and Beethoven's obsession.

This dichotomy that some here want to claim divides the composers of the CP with today's composers is false, IMO. Don't fall prey to the idea that because you have trouble connecting with today's new classical music that the motivation behind it is either on a lower level than that for earlier composers whose music connect with easily, or that they don't have the same kind of dedication.

Much in the world has changed but what hasn't changed is that composers and artists are still motivated by an aesthetic vision and have developed the craft and discipline to carry it out.
The dichotomy is that we can't really judge Frank Zappa by the works of Bach, but yet you'd have us believe there's no real qualitative difference. It might be fruitful to ask why so many do have trouble connecting with today's "serious music". It can't all be the fault of the unconnecting audience.
And before you throw out the "only 1% of humanity even knows about Bach" line, the fact remains that a higher percentage would find a lot of modern music repugnant in a way they wouldn't find Bach. And if that isn't true, then there's no problem for contemporary composers.
 

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Art Rock,

I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish but the enemies of living composers will continue to appear in threads like this and try to sabotage the discussion. Over the years many of us have tried to provide examples of good modern music to no avail.
Disagreeing and pointing out that all is not hunky dory and sweetness and light in the art music world is not "sabotage" or "trolling" or "bullying", and pointing out the problems doesn't make me or anyone else an "enemy of living composers". There are some whose work I do not like, as is my prerogative. That's just inflammatory gunk. Blame the audience, blame governments, blame technology, blame anybody but the artists. Bull****.
fluteman said:
Two of the biggest classical 'hits' of recent years that I have mentioned here, John Corigliano's score for The Red Violin and Tan Dun's Score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, are both very much modern (really postmodern), yet both still largely are written in the conventional practice idiom for the traditional symphony orchestra.
Two film scores, which I'm told puts them out of contention as "serious music".
 

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I have provided lists of composers.

Why bother if the list will be rejected as over-intellectualized garbage.
Well if it's quality work, I don't know why it would matter to you what anyone calls it. Some would call Bach's cantatas the bloviating of a religious fanatic. I don't care and don't have to cry about it.

I listened to the Balch piece "Drip Music" mentioned above. Sorry, but it sounds like some string players noodling around. One of the things that irritates me a little is the focus purely on sound characteristics. Ok, I'll write a work for cello played with a toothbrush and steel wool...some really interesting sonorities...So much seems to be sonorities and soundscapes, which strikes me as "I really don't have much to say."
 

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Even though I'm aware contemporary and AV-G music isn't your thing, I'm still surprised you weren't able to make out any themes or musical characteristics from the Balch. To me, it gets very emotive and even lyrical. It feels definitely musical to me, far far more than other pieces I've listened to that fit the bill of what you're describing.
Here's the thing though, Gucci. Why not just treat the themes in a more straightforward manner? If there are themes they're so obfuscated behind glissandi and plucking and whatever that *that* is what draws the attention. To me it's partly gimmickry and partly the over-intellectualization someone mentioned earlier.
 

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The problem is that in the real world I have had to deal with orchestra boards who think just like you do who believed that our music organizations should never program modern music.
Where did I ever say none of this music should ever be programned or heard? I'm so sorry about your traumatic experiences with orchestra boards, but that doesn't mean I have to like every tiny bit of cacophony out there.
 

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I'm impressed by the Balch piece, but I think those of us who enjoy contemporary music (and I'd put myself at the conservative end of the scale in this regard) can easily forget, or not realise, that this kind of music, while it might seem musical and "accessible" to us, is very far beyond the limits of what those who don't like contemporary music will tolerate. There was a poster a few years ago describing their experience of a chamber music concert where they and some other audience members they spoke to agreed that one of the pieces was off-puttingly modern. The piece in question IIRC was Poulenc's clarinet sonata.

A large chunk of the mainstream classical audience has about a hundred years' worth of catching-up to do first, before they can come to terms with today's music. (This isn't intended as a negative comment: speaking from my own experience, there's some modern music I fell in love with instantly, but a lot of it that I could only appreciate by approaching gradually.)
That's still a condescending attitude which assumes total ignorance on the part of those who might not like all the twists and turns taken over those 100 years. And it also assumes that you'll like anything if you just approach it gradually. There's some modern music I like, and there's some I won't like after years of gradualization or in any universe.
Being as specific as you can be, what is impressive about the Balch piece?
Art Rock said:
The reality of life for contemporary composers
Just reminding people of the thread title. Part of that reality is that there is a large group of classical music listeners that rejects most contemporary classical music. As it obviously affects these composers, there is validity in stating this observation in this thread, even though I'm sure it is not news to the contemporary composers or to those listeners who are interested in their works.

The point has been made in this thread. Can we now continue the discussion without repeating it?
Then I guess all that's left to discuss is how great these composers are and how nasty most in the audience are for not recognizing this. Carry on.
 

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SanAntone said:
First of all, there is nothing I or anyone can say to you that will change your opinion if you do not find anything of merit in the work. But I will tell you why it got and held my attention. Is it impressive? That's your word, and a relative term that I don't often use for any music. One either hears a work and responds positively or not...
Actually it was Nereffid's term. But thanks for your explication, sincerely. I'll listen to it again.
 

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Frustrated yes, but traumatized?
Well, given how often you bring it up, it must've been kinda traumatic.

People have a right to like and dislike whatever they want.
Absolutely.
There are some members here who are very critical of contemporary music. The question that I am searching the answer for is what do they hope to accomplish by winning the argument?
I'm not trying to win any argument. I'm just stating my opinion. The question I have is why do I have to be silent or pretend to like something that I don't?
 

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Portamento said:
In addition to necessary conditions to access the music, there are deeply engrained values in the classical music world that harm its credibility; this is why most people would rather go to a pop concert even even when orchestra ticket are cheaper.
Those "deeply ingrained values" are artistic skill and a greater complexity that take more work to understand, whether it's Bach, Beethoven, Webern or Ligeti. People also buy romance novels and Stephen King novels and Harry Potter books more often than Dostoyevsky, Hemingway or Vergil. I don't see what's to be gained by leveling things to the extent that the latter three are "no better than" the former examples. It's not "elitist" in the socio-economic sense; access to it is available to anyone who wants it. I'm of working class background myself, common as dirt. The thing is, pop is more easily digested and always has been. Thus, "popular".
 
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