Another bout of “moderne orchestral music”….

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    David Ice on #145389

    I’m sitting here, trying to count very complex rhythms on a MIDI recording for a new orchestral work with a challenging (and unrewarding) harp part; a piece that I would defy anybody to pick out a theme or even a hummable tune, and have come up with a new definition of such music.

    Henceforth I shall call it “thud and puddle” music. I know, that term makes absolutely no sense at all–but neither does the music.


    David Ice

    carl-swanson on #145390

    If you take the first three letters off the word “contemporary’, as in contemporary music, you get a description of it’s place in the history of music.

    David Ice on #145391

    Amen…it’s is more “music to be endured” than “music to be enjoyed.”

    patricia-jaeger on #145392

    A harpist in Tasmania with whom I correspond

    David Ice on #145393

    Disney did his first CinemaScope cartoon, called “Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom”….very close!

    I always loved the great Anna Russel’s description of an orchestra:

    Tacye on #145394

    Complex rhythms… I am reminded of a piece I faced earlier this year – 2/6 as a time signature?!

    rosalind-beck on #145395

    2/6? And the sixth note (whatever that is) gets one beat??? Or was it 2/16, and the sixteenth note gets one beat? Either way, it sounds pretty goofy . . .

    Tacye and David, I agree that composers make things needlessly complex. Our orchestra has an annual student composition event. You would not believe some of the things we see–or maybe you would!!

    David Ice on #145396


    Tacye on #145397

    Getting some sort of noise out of the harp which doesn’t clash is often my aim- very well put!

    and yes, 2/6, being 2/3 of a triplet 2/4 bar…

    David Ice on #145398

    Re: seeing another harpist’s markings….

    Years ago I was asked to sight read “Pace, pace” from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino.

    tony-morosco on #145399

    The problem with contemporary music isn’t that it’s all bad. It’s that we are looking at it without the filters of time.

    It’s easy to say that music of the past was much better, and the stuff today is crap. Just like it is easy to say how wonderful all the movies of the silver age of cinema were so great and how so much of what is made today is trash, or books, or painting, or sculpture…

    The thing we forget is that the crap from the past gets forgotten. The music that was really bad wasn’t played again. The movies that were trash never got shown, and now never got transferred to digital formats so they are almost certainly never going to be seen. How many crappy paintings made in the Bohemian days of Paris got tossed in the dumpster for every masterpiece sitting in a museum?

    So it’s easy to dismiss contemporary music as trash because a lot of it is. But a lot of it always has been. Only a certain percentage of any art created will survive to the next generation, and that percentage tends to be the cream of the crop.

    It’s perfectly legitimate to look at a particular piece of music and say you think it is garbage. But there really isn’t justification to dismiss an entire genre of music just because “most” of it seems like garbage. Most of all art seems like garbage before time has had a chance to refine the selection for us.

    Also there is a matter of personal taste. I adore the music of HK Gruber. I had the privilege to see him perform his Frankenstein Suite with the San Francisco Symphony. It was the first time I ever saw anyone walk out of a performance there (just a few, all of the silver haired set). But I found the performance one of the best I had ever seen from the SFS, and I have seen a lot of their performances. And what was apparent was that the symphony was having a blast with the challenge of the piece. I never saw so many members of an orchestra grinning like the Cheshire Cat while performing before. It’s a challenging piece, to listen to as well as to play, but worth the effort.

    Once upon a time Debussy was considered by many to be modern trash. Remember, his music was banned from the Paris Conservatory for many years. Stravinsky started a riot with the debut of Rites Of Spring. The simple fact is that those in the midst of something new are in the worst position to evaluate it’s worth or value. Only time and history will do that. One day only the cream of the crop of what is now contemporary music will survive, and a few generations down the line when some new approach to music comes along people will be looking at that subset of surviving pieces from this era and say, “why can’t we make contemporary music that’s as good as they made in the late 20th and early 21st century?”.

    David Ice on #145400

    I don’t disagree with you, Tony.

    Tacye on #145401

    We also have a purely modern phenomena to contend with – compositions which sound great when the computer plays them but are a nightmare on real instruments.

    carl-swanson on #145402

    Tony- I agree with everything you said. I’ve had this discussion with musician friends, and we all agree that the standard repertoire of all music-opera, symphonic, chamber music etc.- is probably less than 1% of what has been written. I do believe that there are probably hidden gems waiting to be rediscovered, but all in all, it’s about 1%.

    Sometimes music is rejected within the life of the composer because it is archaic to the times. This happened to Bach and to Richard Strauss in particular. Strauss was often called by the critics a second rate composer, probably because he was not writing 12 tone or “20th century” music. He himself said(I think with a big smile on his face) “I may be a second rate composer. But I’m a first rate, second rate composer!” Poulenc was savaged by critics for Dialogue of the Carmelites because it sounded so much like music of the early 20th century even though it was written in 1956. Those same critics had to go back 20 years later to explain why they were so wrong. So you’re right. It takes a laps of time for music to be judged purely on its own terms without the judgements of the era in which it was written.

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