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What Drives Creativity In Compositions?

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"Wild" is rather a wild term to use to describe classical music. To me, "wild" is more along the extremities of experimentalism post 1950's, which nobody has yet expressed some thoughts on as far as drivers of creativity is concerned.
I see Boulez as being very much like Beethoven. The same egotism. And to mikeh375' s point, Boulez had an extraordinarily ability to dress his ideas up and present them properly.

Alas, Boulez took his egotism a bit to far. He wanted to be a Primary Mover in classical music, but was only one of several secondary movers in the 20th century. One doesn't get to choose one's place in history. The Primary Move was the change in the whole focus of music, making it less on harmony and more on music's other elements. That move ended the 310-year Common Practice Era, throughout which the focus on harmony was dominant and only increased. Stravinsky was the Primary Mover, along with Debussy, Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith, and also Schoenberg, but to a lesser extent, much to his own chagrin and bitterness.

So Boulez did not represent "extremities in experimentalism". Nor did Stockhausen, Feldman, Cage, Xenakis, or any of the other regular bêtes noire here. Boulez mainly was very skillfully developing some older ideas, mainly those of Schoenberg. After his early work, Cage became mainly a conceptual artist. Others developed in the directions of musique concrete, minimalism, and a few others. Many others, some of whom I've listed, also departed from the Common Practice tradition, significantly but more subtly.

To me, all of that was an inevitable outgrowth of the ideas of Stravinsky, et al., it's all equally experimental, and none of it signifies a new 310-year era. What Strange Magic calls the New Stasis may be the early stages of a long era of this kind of experimentalism. I think the neoclassical modernism of Stravinsky, the serialism of the second Viennese school and the primitivism of Messiaen are examples of now historical movements that have passed into the tradition, or the canon, if you will. I think some day we will be looking at minimalism that way, too. What else from the late 20th century will enter the canon, I'm not so sure, no doubt others have more insight.
 

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By recognition of one's own abilities, do you mean self-recognition by the composer or by the audience? Many of the great composers had some sense of their own gifted abilities. It might be a greater challenge for them to receive that from the audience, however.
It's not a challenge to receive acclaim from an audience actually. Especially today, you can be successful playing the most banal and full of clichè music. So does the "write for the audience" has any merit? And who is the audience? A cultured and extremely knowleadgeable audience that wants to experience something new and/or beautiful? A audience that wants music to be a way to achieve social distinction? An inexperienced but with a love for music? A audience who doesn't even care for quality and uses music for other reasons (say, making an impression on women)? I mean, there are many different kind of listeners.
And unless a composer just want to make money or be successful and recognized, if he's looking for making the best music possible, why should he choose another audience than his own ears and judgement? That's the best possible audience in my opinion.
 

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It's not a challenge to receive acclaim from an audience actually. Especially today, you can be successful playing the most banal and full of clichè music. So does the "write for the audience" has any merit? And who is the audience? A cultured and extremely knowleadgeable audience that wants to experience something new and/or beautiful? A audience that wants music to be a way to achieve social distinction? An inexperienced but with a love for music? A audience who doesn't even care for quality and uses music for other reasons (say, making an impression on women)? I mean, there are many different kind of listeners.
And unless a composer just want to make money or be successful and recognized, if he's looking for making the best music possible, why should he choose another audience than his own ears and judgement? That's the best possible audience in my opinion.
Then, why do your opinions matter at all, and why should anyone read your posts? Unless you are a composer, you are merely in the audience, and according to you, the audience's opinions don't matter.

Of course, I have a much higher opinion of your opinions than that. I think that your opinions, together with the opinions of all other listeners, are all that matters. If you mean that your opinions, or mine, mean very little in isolation and apart from any consensus or agreement of others, then I agree.
 

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Then, why do your opinions matter at all, and why should anyone read your posts? Unless you are a composer, you are merely in the audience, and according to you, the audience's opinions don't matter.
I'm not saying at all that it doesn't matter: I'm saying that there's no such a a thing like THE audience. There are many listeners with different levels of experience, taste, and with different expectactions. So since it's impossible to please everybody, unless one wants to go to the lowest common denominator (which is the best way to please the widest part of the audience, and at the same time making the most banal things) looking for financial success, why one should not rely on the only ears and brain he has? Because if a composer asks me* and fluteman and Artmusic what kind of things whe would like to listen, he would probably have different answers, and why should he go for an impossible weighted average three persons, oer even worse, of billions of potential listeners on the planet?
If I'm making music, I have my ears, my brain, my preferences, my ambitions, my ideas, I don't have yours. So if a composer is looking to make the best he can in a artistic way with no concerns for financial success or recognition, he should follow his muse, not try to please everybody. Then of course, it's a matter of prerogatives. If a composers feels that his scope is just please an audience, he could do that too. But even then, there will be a part of the audience that will find his music unsatisfying because that audience is looking for something else.
That brings again to what I was saying: it's impossible to please everybody, the best audience the composer should consider when writing music is the composer himself if he's just looking for artistic quality.

*and personally, even as a single person I'm not the same audience: my tastes has changed a lot during time, and I love things that when I started listening music I hated, so I don't even want a composer that justy tries to please me, I want to learn, be surprised and discover new things.
 

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It's not a challenge to receive acclaim from an audience actually. Especially today, you can be successful playing the most banal and full of clichè music. So does the "write for the audience" has any merit? And who is the audience? A cultured and extremely knowleadgeable audience that wants to experience something new and/or beautiful? A audience that wants music to be a way to achieve social distinction? An inexperienced but with a love for music? A audience who doesn't even care for quality and uses music for other reasons (say, making an impression on women)? I mean, there are many different kind of listeners.
And unless a composer just want to make money or be successful and recognized, if he's looking for making the best music possible, why should he choose another audience than his own ears and judgement? That's the best possible audience in my opinion.
All, or let's say nearly all, composers desire to have their music heard, but those with artistic integrity will only write what they believe in and not just to chase an audience (of course those composers exist, too).

I also feel that almost any kind of music can, and should, find an audience.
 

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There are many listeners with different levels of experience, taste, and with different expectactions.
Very true. And that is what I mean by "the audience". I didn't mean a monolithic mass with predictably identical opinions. That is why the job of artist, as perfectly summarized by SanAntone, is so hard. He wants to have integrity, i.e., be true to his own values. But he also wants to create something that resonates with someone else, somewhere, because it also speaks to their values. And that person's values never will be absolutely identical to his own.

So it can be a tightrope walk, with a lot of soul searching, and no easy answers, including no arbitrary and elitist easy answers. Everyone's values matter, but no one's values are decisive by themselves.
 

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Very true. And that is what I mean by "the audience". I didn't mean a monolithic mass with predictably identical opinions. That is why the job of artist, as perfectly summarized by SanAntone, is so hard. He wants to have integrity, i.e., be true to his own values. But he also wants to create something that resonates with someone else, somewhere, because it also speaks to their values. And that person's values never will be absolutely identical to his own.
then if you think that no other person will have absolutely identical reactions, why even try to look for an impossible balance, if a. we don't know who exactly will listen the music b. we don't have their ears, experience, taste c. those persons themselves could change their opinion of the same piece of music with time and experience.

And I don't believe in total subjectivity, I believe that even with those difference, we can hear music in a similar way, that's why we consider music and art a way of communicating, and that's why the person who compose should judge with his own ears and brain and not look for the idea of pleasing more people possible, something that to me means just "even if to me this sounds great, I should not play it because I fear that a lot of people would not get it".
 

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then if you think that no other person will have absolutely identical reactions, why even try to look for an impossible balance, if a. we don't know who exactly will listen the music b. we don't have their ears, experience, taste c. those persons themselves could change their opinion of the same piece of music with time and experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 · (Edited)
I see Boulez as being very much like Beethoven. The same egotism. And to mikeh375' s point, Boulez had an extraordinarily ability to dress his ideas up and present them properly.

Alas, Boulez took his egotism a bit to far. He wanted to be a Primary Mover in classical music, but was only one of several secondary movers in the 20th century. One doesn't get to choose one's place in history. The Primary Move was the change in the whole focus of music, making it less on harmony and more on music's other elements. That move ended the 310-year Common Practice Era, throughout which the focus on harmony was dominant and only increased. Stravinsky was the Primary Mover, along with Debussy, Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith, and also Schoenberg, but to a lesser extent, much to his own chagrin and bitterness.

So Boulez did not represent "extremities in experimentalism". Nor did Stockhausen, Feldman, Cage, Xenakis, or any of the other regular bêtes noire here. Boulez mainly was very skillfully developing some older ideas, mainly those of Schoenberg. After his early work, Cage became mainly a conceptual artist. Others developed in the directions of musique concrete, minimalism, and a few others. Many others, some of whom I've listed, also departed from the Common Practice tradition, significantly but more subtly.

To me, all of that was an inevitable outgrowth of the ideas of Stravinsky, et al., it's all equally experimental, and none of it signifies a new 310-year era. What Strange Magic calls the New Stasis may be the early stages of a long era of this kind of experimentalism. I think the neoclassical modernism of Stravinsky, the serialism of the second Viennese school and the primitivism of Messiaen are examples of now historical movements that have passed into the tradition, or the canon, if you will. I think some day we will be looking at minimalism that way, too. What else from the late 20th century will enter the canon, I'm not so sure, no doubt others have more insight.
I don't see Boulez much like Beethoven at all. You might like to read up on Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament to clear this some confusion between Boulez (in my view, a minor composer in history) and Beethoven. It reflects Beethoven's despair over his increasing deafness, even his contemplation of suicide, and his continued desire to overcome his physical and emotional ailments to complete his artistic destiny. There are be no more chalk and cheese between the two. Boulez in his younger years was a dangerous idealogue. Today, his ideology is archaic thanks to his short sighted ego that "modern" music should liquidate the past. I also think Boulez, being sexually repressed about his sexual orientation, had more emotional expressionism that was in turmoil. Two different egos and thankfully history is ever more grateful to Beethoven.
 
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I see Boulez as being very much like Beethoven.
There is a direct connection between Boulez's 2nd piano sonata and Beethoven, "A number of writers later compared the monumental profile of the work to Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata (Griffiths 1978, 13)(Rosen 1986, 91)(Jameux 1991, 29)."

But Boulez was writing something like an anti-sonata: "I tried to destroy the first-movement sonata form, to disintegrate slow movement form by the use of the trope, and repetitive scherzo form by the use of variation form, and finally, in the fourth movement, to demolish fugal and canonic form. Perhaps I am using too many negative terms, but the Second Sonata does have this explosive, disintegrating and dispersive character, and in spite of it own very restricting form the destruction of all these classical moulds was quite deliberate (Boulez 1976, 41-42)."

He recalled that this was a reaction against the use of such forms in the music of the Viennese school.
 

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come on... a composer is no idiot, neither he should be insane... for writing a music piece is a serious business, especially if you intend creating a masterpiece.
Intending to create a masterpiece ? Yes , many do that . 'Tis not an awfully bad idea . Seems mostly positive , and most who try are creatively repressed otherwise . Perhaps they were abused .
 

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This has been an interesting thread so far.

One of my points in creating this thread is to gauge perspectives. Perspectives that reveal which period one might be assuming (consciously or not). You post is interesting. I don't think early music, Baroque and Classical composers were "wild and beyond command" if I may guess what those terms might mean. Sometimes they were when they were dazzling audiences with bravura
and virtuosity. When I read "wild and beyond command", I usually take that as meaning say, with experimental music from the mid to late 20th century. You might be right in suggesting that this is an aspect of creativity, the spirit of the jungle can produce something different.
I say that within creativity of the artist is a wild aspect . It is somewhat schizoid , not in a disturbing way . Dream music . Who is the composer ?
 

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I don't see Boulez much like Beethoven at all. You might like to read up on Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament to clear this some confusion between Boulez (in my view, a minor composer in history) and Beethoven. It reflects Beethoven's despair over his increasing deafness, even his contemplation of suicide, and his continued desire to overcome his physical and emotional ailments to complete his artistic destiny. There are be no more chalk and cheese between the two. Boulez in his younger years was a dangerous idealogue. Today, his ideology is archaic thanks to his short sighted ego that "modern" music should liquidate the past. I also think Boulez, being sexually repressed about his sexual orientation, had more emotional expressionism that was in turmoil. Two different egos and thankfully history is ever more grateful to Beethoven.
Nicely put. Except, please don't make assumptions about what I know about Beethoven and Boulez, and I won't make assumptions about what you know. It looks like we just have different views on the same set of facts. For example, you seem to think the cultural ideology of Boulez was 'dangerous' while that of Hitler (that I quoted at length in another thread) was not. You'll have to accept that many don't share that view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
Nicely put. Except, please don't make assumptions about what I know about Beethoven and Boulez, and I won't make assumptions about what you know. It looks like we just have different views on the same set of facts. For example, you seem to think the cultural ideology of Boulez was 'dangerous' while that of Hitler (that I quoted at length in another thread) was not. You'll have to accept that many don't share that view.
I must have lost track of that Hitler discussion. I don't recall where that came from. Of course anyone born well after WWII with a sense of history would and should know Hitler was an idealogue.
 

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I must have lost track of that Hitler discussion. I don't recall where that came from. Of course anyone born well after WWII with a sense of history would and should know Hitler was an idealogue.
I'm not trying to play 'gotcha', but you can look at my post no. 115 in the 'politics of objective greatness in art' thread:

the politics of objective greatness in art

and your response at post no. 117:

the politics of objective greatness in art

Of course, I cut out the part of Hitler's speech where he says the real problem with modern art is the Jews. That could have been viewed as an accusation against you or others here. And there is a certain similarity between Boulez's rhetorical technique and Hitler's. The later said, get rid of the -isms -- Impressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Cubism, while the former said, burn down the opera houses. The key difference is, Boulez was speaking metaphorically. Hitler meant he would send the SS to arrest and imprison, if not murder artists (certainly if they were Jewish), and ban, confiscate and destroy their art.
 

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As I wrote in the first post, he saw tonality was virtually exhausted one hundred years ago and wanted to expand that by way of twelve tone. For Schoenberg, I think it was his drive to develop composed music beyond traditional tonal harmonies but making it purely based on or as much as possible, on the twelve tone, hence a new school (the Second Viennese School) as well.
Was tonality really 'virtually exhausted,' or was he just not capable of writing great tonal music? Tonal music is nowhere near exhaustion, except perhaps in his limited thinking. Yes, Schoenberg had an interesting new idea (and turned it into a great career, including even getting a building named after himself at UCLA), but his twelve tone and other ultra-atonal 'music' has long since run its course and has become virtually exhausted. Most people don't like twelve tone and its ilk and never will. Time to move on. There is a vast amount of truly great music that will fill the concert halls that is waiting to be written by someone with the ability - and with the courage to ignore [the narrow minded and lacking in composing ability] academia and other critics.
 

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Was tonality really 'virtually exhausted,' or was he just not capable of writing great tonal music? Tonal music is nowhere near exhaustion, except perhaps in his limited thinking. Yes, Schoenberg had an interesting new idea (and turned it into a great career, including even getting a building named after himself at UCLA), but his twelve tone and other ultra-atonal 'music' has long since run its course and has become virtually exhausted. Most people don't like twelve tone and its ilk and never will. Time to move on. There is a vast amount of truly great music that will fill the concert halls that is waiting to be written by someone with the ability - and with the courage to ignore [the narrow minded and lacking in composing ability] academia and other critics.


I'm sorry but you don't know what you're talking about. Most of the new music being written today is a form of atonal music, in fact, many people think it more closely resembles noise, not music. Where tonal music is still being written are in non-classical genres: pop, rock, jazz, blues, and others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Was tonality really 'virtually exhausted,' or was he just not capable of writing great tonal music? Tonal music is nowhere near exhaustion, except perhaps in his limited thinking. Yes, Schoenberg had an interesting new idea (and turned it into a great career, including even getting a building named after himself at UCLA), but his twelve tone and other ultra-atonal 'music' has long since run its course and has become virtually exhausted. Most people don't like twelve tone and its ilk and never will. Time to move on. There is a vast amount of truly great music that will fill the concert halls that is waiting to be written by someone with the ability - and with the courage to ignore [the narrow minded and lacking in composing ability] academia and other critics.


Good post. As I wrote in my post: "he saw tonality was virtually exhausted"; in his view. I agree with you and this also has been the trajectory of much of the 20th century in any arts, likewise with composers like John Cage who thought music had come full circle. With Cage, it most mostly musical-philosophy that drove him with his works like 4'33"; musical-philosophy for the mid to late 20th century.
 
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