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#1147981 - 12/02/08 03:54 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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RogerW Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Larisa:
Oh, but if that's what they were doing, wouldn't they also teach their students to write fugues, sonatas, minuets, and other classical forms - in the consonant style that existed at the time these forms were created?
Where I study, and at all other composition departments I'm familiar with, writing in these styles is indeed part of the curriculum. I've studied in depth and written music in the style of Palestrina, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, Webern, Messiaen and Lutoslawski. These styles are studied as separate subject (don't know what this subject would be called in English), not part of the actual composition classes. I have a hard time believing that there would exist a composition program that don't include very thourough study of our musical past. If you don't know the music of the 18th-19th century, there is no way you can understand the music of the 20th and 21st century.

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#1147982 - 12/02/08 05:50 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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epf Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Larisa:
Oh, but if that's what they were doing, wouldn't they also teach their students to write fugues, sonatas, minuets, and other classical forms - in the consonant style that existed at the time these forms were created?
Where I studied they did, indeed, do just that. Now, I was there in the 1960's but they still teach those classic forms! As I said, I haven't encountered what Danny is reporting -- but then again, I haven't been involved in academia as far as music is concerned in nearly 40 years!

Ed


"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria
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#1147983 - 12/02/08 06:21 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Larisa:
Oh, but if that's what they were doing, wouldn't they also teach their students to write fugues, sonatas, minuets, and other classical forms - in the consonant style that existed at the time these forms were created?
I'll add a third voice. Where I studied composition they also did just that.


Du holde Kunst...
#1147984 - 12/02/08 07:02 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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I must have been unlucky in my choice of composition classes at college. Fortunately, I was luckier in my choice of private lessons.

#1147985 - 12/03/08 04:42 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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In the accademies where I have been you HAD HAD HAD HAD to write atonal, serial, experimental music. You had to make sure "few" people attended your representations because if your music was "liked" it was not serious and intellectual enough. You had a metaphorical gun pointed at your head, but I wouldn't be surprised if they substitued that for a real gun. Pre-darmstadt forms were skimmed for like few weeks, then you jumped on "the only acceptable standard of educated music of the future" and if you chose to write some expressionism or romanticism instead, you were showed the door. The great composer Elisabetta Brusa has a lot to say about the psychological terrorism sha had to suffer in accademies. As she said "composers who broke out of that mold and now write whatever music they want discuss the serialism years with a ghastly remembrance usually reserved for victims of political oppression". David del Tredici is a big example of a composer who have a lot of horror stories to share about the unoriginal and oppressive accademy establishment.

My problem with the establihsment is not the "sound" of serial and stochastic music per se, but paradoxically the fake intellectualism it promotes. We want to be intellectual and we chose to be hermetic for the sake of it, removing whatever purpose from the act of making music, while failing to elaborate on more important intellectal concepts. For example: does the demarcation between classic and pop music has any meaning at all in the modern era? Should we really expect the next "innovation" from the formal writing of accademic composers as we did in the past? In an era in which our languages have progressed from primitive to a basically definite form, should we "expect" innovation to come from "structural discoveries" or we have simply run out of such discoveries and should expect "innovation" from other attributes of the creative works? Can we really, like Debussy or Mozart or Bach, contribute to an "historical progress" or maybe there's no "formal historical progress" anymore to be part of, just a creative stable fragmentation? Can and should the creative genius, like in the past, be the one who mould the language and revolution it, or actually nowadays creative genius must work within standard languages by manipulating the content rather than the structure? Can and should we really have a modern standard unified style representing modern music, or we should accept that such thing is nowadays impossible not productive? Should we really create the -isms and then work within them, rather than the opposite? Does history really is something you make happen by planning your role in it, or it just happens while you only worry about writing music? Can composers really consciously choose to fit into a narrative selection of "educated classical works" or is it just a big illusion?

#1147986 - 12/03/08 10:51 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Musgrave has written about that with regard to Brahms. He called Brahms the first "postmodern" composer because he was the first composer to consciously think of himself in the context of history, both before and after.

From reading your posts, I'm starting to wonder if the academic view is strictly European. Many of your criticisms of academia just don't fit here in the US. Composition programs in universities here often foster an interest in things like film music, style/genre crossover, video game music, etc...

Composition in the states seems to be doing very well and I can think of many different composers who have done very well in a wide variety of styles. (Ewazen, Yi, Whitacre, Corigliano, and Bolcom are a few of my favorites.)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1147987 - 12/03/08 12:16 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
David del Tredici is a big example of a composer who have a lot of horror stories to share about the unoriginal and oppressive accademy establishment.
My teacher studied with del Tredici, perhaps that's why I haven't experienced the problems that you have...

I think it very much depends on where you study. I know that in central Europe, it might be very strict. Up here in the north, it's not quite as bad.

#1147988 - 12/03/08 05:58 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Musgrave has written about that with regard to Brahms. He called Brahms the first "postmodern" composer because he was the first composer to consciously think of himself in the context of history, both before and after.

From reading your posts, I'm starting to wonder if the academic view is strictly European. Many of your criticisms of academia just don't fit here in the US. Composition programs in universities here often foster an interest in things like film music, style/genre crossover, video game music, etc...

Composition in the states seems to be doing very well and I can think of many different composers who have done very well in a wide variety of styles. (Ewazen, Yi, Whitacre, Corigliano, and Bolcom are a few of my favorites.)
It could be that my reflexive horror of the "compositional establishment" stems from my experiences in a Russian music school as a child. My composition classes there were definitely dissonance-only. No other "musical language" was even considered.

But I did notice a curious lack of consonance - and a curious identicalness - in the pieces that the other students wrote in the one composition class I audited. They were all in the same dissonant musical language, and I wonder if that is because of the culture of the music department in question. Again, I don't know enough to really comment - I was an outsider to that music department.

I also know that with certain rare exceptions (and Bolcom is certainly one of them), when I see a modern composer on a classical music program, I expect dissonance. Film music, sure - that has to be comprehensible to the audience. But "pure music"? Yeah, you've got exceptions like Bolcom or Corigliano (haven't heard the other ones you mentioned), but the overwhelming majority is writing dissonance.

#1147989 - 12/03/08 06:53 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Larisa:
I also know that with certain rare exceptions (and Bolcom is certainly one of them), when I see a modern composer on a classical music program, I expect dissonance. Film music, sure - that has to be comprehensible to the audience. But "pure music"? Yeah, you've got exceptions like Bolcom or Corigliano (haven't heard the other ones you mentioned), but the overwhelming majority is writing dissonance.
But bear in mind that regardless of whether your perception of this is accurate, the fact that composers are writing "dissonant" music doesn't mean they do so because they are pressured to.

Also, another side issue smile - when you say "dissonant" do you mean, well, dissonant? (Debussy wrote plenty of dissonant music) or atonal? I wouldn't at all have said from my observation and listening that the "overwhelming majority" of modern classical composers (for want of a better definition) are writing atonal music.


Du holde Kunst...
#1147990 - 12/03/08 09:14 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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If you mention "movie music" in accademies here in Europe you get shot right there. Special angst is reserved to Philip Glass, John Williams, James Horner and Rachel Portman, to classical piano players who chose to got popular expecially Allevi and Einaudi and to directors who specialized in non-modernist music expecially Tilton Thomas and Gergiev. That crazy man Boulez once said that "whatever composer who don't feel the need to write serial music is useless" and here in accademies they love these words.

#1147991 - 12/04/08 12:30 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
That crazy man Boulez once said that "whatever composer who don't feel the need to write serial music is useless" and here in accademies they love these words.
Haha, I was wondering when Boulez would come up.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love his piano sonatas, Marteau, and Pli selon pli, and he's certainly a champion of new music; but it's a little hypocritical for the European experimentalists to revere a guy who pays the bills by recording Mahler and Debussy.

wink


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1147992 - 12/04/08 06:05 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
And if you ever feel like doing a degree in atonal electro-acoustic gamelan with dancing and poetry, they'd probably give you a big scholarship.
LOL. This is the best post I have seen on PW in a long time! Where can I sign up?

BTW, don't forget selling insurance as a lucrative way to support your composing self. It was good enough for Charles Ives and he was no slouch when it came down to innovation.

#1147993 - 12/09/08 12:28 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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If you really want to deal with elitism firsthand, try posting something contrary to classical music on the Teacher's Forum right here in PW. Quite a revelation.

----------------------------
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#1147994 - 12/09/08 06:21 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quiescen...careful how you cast the academia and piano teacher stones. Not all of us are how you perceive mate smile

The ebb flows both ways, and some of us operate holistically as is the best way to be in my opinion. Dualism constricts when it originates from any side of the fence.

Elitism is a subjective experience amongst all genres...I've witnessed it amongst the classicists, the new-agers, improv jazz musos, and rock based artists.

In a perfect world, there'd be no such thing...Elitism, like any class system is rubbish. We all have a calling, and that's all that matters smile

#1147995 - 12/09/08 06:27 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by quiescen:
If you really want to deal with elitism firsthand, try posting something contrary to classical music on the Teacher's Forum right here in PW. Quite a revelation.
I think it must be the way you tell 'em.


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#1147996 - 12/09/08 11:30 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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I thought I'd share a story about a piece of music I was looking into just this week. I've been looking into the meaning of the text by James Agee that Morten Lauridsen in Sure on this Shining Night.

Somewhere in my searches I came across some discussion by people who apparently know Lauridsen at USC. They were saying that they were at the premiere of this work and how disappointed they were in it. So here I am searching the internet looking for discussion of the meaning of this text because I find the music deeply moving and these kids are saying they were disappointed by it because it was not daring enough for them.

Which brings up the central question of this thread what is the purpose of music? Is it to be technically daring or to express something which will hopefully be appreciated by an audience? I personally fall squarely into the latter camp.

FYI, anyone interested in the piece which I found so moving, here is the text (from James Agee's "A Death in the Family").

Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground

The late year lies down the north,
All is healed, all is health
High summer holds the earth,
Hearts all whole

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandr’ing far alone
Of shadows on the stars.


And here's a link to a fine performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icp4bNb7TDI

#1147997 - 12/09/08 02:47 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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quiescen Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Quote
Originally posted by quiescen:
[b] If you really want to deal with elitism firsthand, try posting something contrary to classical music on the Teacher's Forum right here in PW. Quite a revelation.
I think it must be the way you tell 'em. [/b]
Huh?


Edward Weiss
Quiescence Music
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#1147998 - 12/09/08 02:52 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by lotuscrystal:
Quiescen...careful how you cast the academia and piano teacher stones. Not all of us are how you perceive mate smile

The ebb flows both ways, and some of us operate holistically as is the best way to be in my opinion. Dualism constricts when it originates from any side of the fence.

Elitism is a subjective experience amongst all genres...I've witnessed it amongst the classicists, the new-agers, improv jazz musos, and rock based artists.

In a perfect world, there'd be no such thing...Elitism, like any class system is rubbish. We all have a calling, and that's all that matters smile
Hi Lotus,

You're right of course. And I didn't mean to say "all." Just overwhelmed at the response I got from some when expressing a contrary opinion.

-- Edward


Edward Weiss
Quiescence Music
http://www.quiescencemusic.com
#1147999 - 12/09/08 06:47 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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No worries smile

#1148000 - 12/11/08 09:59 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Poem posted by Steve Chandler

Quote
Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground

The late year lies down the north,
All is healed, all is health
High summer holds the earth,
Hearts all whole

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandr’ing far alone
Of shadows on the stars
Steve,

Thanks for posting the poem. It's been a few years since I've thought of it. I don't know what it means. What I do know, though, is that anything James Agee involved himself with moves me in inexplicable ways. I think Barber's setting of "Sure on this shining night is one of most beautiful songs in the English language, but I can't tell you what the poem means. I feel the same way about "Knoxville: Summer 1915." And the same way when he associates with Walker Evans in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." James Agee always reaches me deeply, but I don't know why.

Tomasino


"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

#1148001 - 12/12/08 03:26 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by epf:
Danny,

Your first two citations appear not to be elitism per se but, rather, musical gnosticism! Indeed, the comment that "eternal truths [are] accessable[sic] only to a group very small in number" is precisely the definition of gnosticism.

I don't really agree with that definition of gnosticism. :rolleyes:

#1148002 - 12/18/08 12:26 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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#1148003 - 12/19/08 09:14 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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This is already a long thread and much of what can be written has been. Maybe a few things, perhaps as reinforcement.

The emotions that music engenders in the listener span a wide spectrum that by the turn of the 19th century seemed to have been exhaustively explored.

Along comes Sibelius, utterly within the romantic tradition, and nevertheless says something new. Likewise Rachmaninov. The 'Rite of Spring' appears, also not radically breaking the rules of harmony (though just about every other rule!). Likewise Shostakovich, Bartok ....

Schoenberg may have led a lot of musicians down a cul-de-sac, but no-one can be untouched by his Verklaerte Nacht, or by the violin concerto of disciple Webern (whose appeal, I would contend, is in spite of rather than because of the 12 tone architecture).

Always, composers find new ways to tap into the well-spring of human emotion. The means are irrelevant.

Was the Beatle's music art? Or the Stones'?

I think the answer is the test of time. Emotions have evolved much more slowly than the evolution of musical composition. Some music hits the Zeitgeist, but when this shifts becomes ineffective. Some does not.

Great music is timeless. One can safely predict that the interpretation of Beethoven's late work, Opus 111, for example, will be as controversial in 2108 as it is today. This is because the notes on the page together with the composer's instructions imply, but do not uniquely identify, an appeal to our most secret longings, fears, hatreds, and to a desire for internal peace which Beethoven strove for in his life, but never found.

How does one know whether a composition is 'timeless', or appeals because it strikes a concordant note in the times in which it is composed? Hard question.

The only answer I can offer is the canonical response to 'What is beauty?'. One knows it when one sees it.


Rob
#1148004 - 01/21/09 09:29 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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All art is quite useless.
Even more useless are discussions on art.
.What often happens in these discussions is that the ears get pulled forward and cover the hearing mechanism so nothing gets heard anyway.

What matters is virtue. if something is good or has merit it will endure. this applies to less than 1% of all creative endevour.
This proves the point that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration


vcz
#1148005 - 01/23/09 05:25 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Tar Offline
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"arts"
"music"
"noise"

Labels? You know, this really reminds me of the HSBC adverts you get to see through the airport gates (like the one that says "Dull?" and "Riveting?" on the pictures of cricketers and ballet dancers and then swap them round) Maybe soon there'll be one with "Music?" and "Noise?" with pictures of - I dunno - a chamber orchestra and rock band or something...

You get my point!


Tar Viturawong
Amateur composer and pianist
Known on YouTube as pianoinspiration
verbis defectis musica incipit
#1148006 - 01/27/09 04:12 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Tar Offline
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Searching within my memory now I remember that there's exactly one HSBC advert on that context. It's the pictures of a rock singer and an ethnic (Indian?) musician with the labels "enjoyable" and "unbearable", then they're swapped around.


Tar Viturawong
Amateur composer and pianist
Known on YouTube as pianoinspiration
verbis defectis musica incipit
#1148007 - 01/27/09 11:29 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Mocheol:
All art is quite useless.
Even more useless are discussions on art.
I let this answer sit for a few days because itbothered me, but feel I must respond. I find answers like this rather disingenuous. If art is useless and discussions about art even more useless then what are you doing here? There is some truth to the quote that, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture," but the reality is that we can describe more accurately with words our thoughts and feelings about music that we can express ourselves with body movements (excepting sign language). Because music is abstract complete accuracy of expression is not possible, that afterall is what the music itself is for. However, discussions are far from useless. If they really were you wouldn't be here.

#1148008 - 01/27/09 11:53 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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I believe he's quoting Oscar Wilde:

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~garden/art.html


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed
#1148009 - 01/27/09 11:57 AM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Steve Chandler:
However, discussions are far from useless. If they really were you wouldn't be here.
Oh yeh?


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#1148010 - 01/27/09 12:29 PM Re: Dealing with elitism (what is art?)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
I believe he's quoting Oscar Wilde:

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~garden/art.html
Ah! I get it. Interesting preface. Thanks for pointing out the literary reference.

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