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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas] #2071125
04/25/13 11:22 PM
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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas] #2071214
04/26/13 02:57 AM
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Many great composers have been influenced by ethnic music, not just the obvious suspects like Bartok and Kodály.

Debussy was influenced by Javanese gamelan music ('Pagodes' from Estampes), and Ravel by Malaysian verse-form Pantoum in his Piano Trio. Not to mention Dvorák and Smetana.

And Orientalism abounds everywhere, in the form of pentatonic scales whenever the composer wants to convey some exotic place, like Puccini in Madama Butterfly.....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071246
04/26/13 04:29 AM
04/26/13 04:29 AM
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It just occurred to me that Islamey might possibly be the only frequently-played solo work in the standard repertoire that I've never even bothered to read through, not once, not even partially. I guess that means I don't like it.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071258
04/26/13 05:28 AM
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In Mozart's day Orientalism primarly referred to Turkish music - as in The Abduction of the Seraglio, or the Turkish March, with its hint of drums and cymbals. European composers of the 19th century expanded the concept to include all of the Ottoman Empire, and so you get this sense of Orientalism meaning Arabic music - the Arabian Dance by Tchaikovsky.

I don't think European composers were very aware at all of Asia-Pacific music until late in the 19th century, during the Meiji Era when Japan opened up to the West, and the West established colonizing enclaves in China. As Bennevis said, this was the time French composers were discovering the gamelan of Indonesia.

As to Islamey, it fits in very well to the Russian notion of Orientalist music of its time - music of the Ottoman Empire and of Arabian caliphates. It's exotic and obviously crowd pleasing or it wouldn't continue to appear as an encore. If we don't like it here on the Forums, it's probably because of what somebody above said: as amateurs, we can't imagine putting the extensive amount of work in to master Islamey.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071266
04/26/13 05:59 AM
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Numerian, such an informative post with many interesting informations. Also, I didn't find any trolling at all, smile.

Seeing that this piece is a folk music, it has a very specific sound native to the region. As with all music, it takes time to get used to these different sounding music to the vast majority. I have not heard many pieces by him but, I am sure in the place where he originally came from, he is probably well known and appreciated more.

Last edited by Schubertslieder; 04/26/13 06:00 AM.

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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071269
04/26/13 06:08 AM
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I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.


Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas] #2071334
04/26/13 08:20 AM
04/26/13 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas

Now, on classical music we get an attempt to somehow fake things (into the piano in this case). Some things are very real, successful and fine, others not.

But I'm still not sure why I got such a reaction for my post. I already said that I'm Greek, so half the stuff I listen to every day (Greek music lets say) by definition is ethnic to you guys. And I did mention that I'm wondering if my music is influenced by ethnic flavours (which I bet it is, but as I said, I hope not too much)...

Originally Posted by beet
I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.
Exactly right, but I don't really care about polyphponis one bit. He's proven himself to be the kind that I want to avoid in forums, so no problem. The rest of you probably know me too well to judge me that harsh.

But it's exactly what I said above. And if Bartok said that Chopins music wasn't "ethnic enough" I can also say that, can't I? Remember, again, that I'm Greek and thus it was brought to the table that Chopin is the definition of classical music, pretty much.


Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: wr] #2071356
04/26/13 08:49 AM
04/26/13 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.

I thought of the same thing at the start of this thread! smile

Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
I know some people feel as you [beet31424] do about some of Liszt's works, for example, but that's a controversial thing to say because Liszt is a top-tier composer. Is Islamey more easily scorned because Balakirev is not one?

Kreisler recommended a recording by Terence Judd on YouTube, and I think it's so good that I wanted to put up a direct link to it.


Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: didyougethathing] #2071371
04/26/13 09:16 AM
04/26/13 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas] #2071392
04/26/13 09:49 AM
04/26/13 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)


I agree that Islamey sounds like a novelty. And as to your comment about a person of a different ethnic group/nationality learning another folk music, I studied flamenco in Spain years ago, and continue to play it. However, I don't play publicly as I'm not good enough. Nevertheless, I have seen non-Spanish play it effectively, although the rest of the performers were all Spanish.

To your point of composer's carrying around their nationality, I think this is true to an extent. Take the New World Symphony. I've read that most of the thematic material was not taken from American folk, but rather Czech, Dvorak's homeland! Perhaps it's unavoidable for some people.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: didyougethathing] #2071409
04/26/13 10:09 AM
04/26/13 10:09 AM
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I don't know if I'd ever be able to play indian music or something along those lines successfully. Balkans on the other hand a "a piece of cake" for me...

About classical music, and Greece is not exactly a home for such music, I think I've cultivated so many things to do with classical music that I'm a bit successful in that... :-/

But I think it's reasonable to think that we all carry around something from where we grew up and lived, etc...

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071432
04/26/13 10:25 AM
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Ok. And to break the ice completely and ridicule various things, here's a video with Greek children's music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LGBLs_cTc-0

you can enjoy the music (Arabic due to the rhythm, but different continent due to the melodic and harmonic elements)
you can enjoy the video (india, Persia, a tiger and various other things)
and if you could understand Greek you would also enjoy the lyrics (About a Persian Prince going to India, and a Bengal tiger)!!!

Islamey is amazingly better than the above, but I hope you had a laugh with this video! wink

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Nikolas] #2071465
04/26/13 10:58 AM
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From the ridiculous to the sublime (or should that be the other way round? grin ).....

A very English composer (despite his name).....

http://youtu.be/6Ede2QMi5JM

And the piano version (yes, I once played it myself.... blush) http://youtu.be/HMtoSfRmAXk


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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071486
04/26/13 11:19 AM
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Regarding ethnic music, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms wrote a lot of music inspired by music of their respective cultures, too. smile

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Orange Soda King] #2071507
04/26/13 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Regarding ethnic music, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms wrote a lot of music inspired by music of their respective cultures, too. smile


So did Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Scarlatti, and pretty much everybody else.

One thing about Russian composers in general is that they had beautiful themes, but they were not especially good at developing them. So there is a lot of repetition in their music. However, in the case of Islamey, I suspect that the sort of repetition that people here find objectionable is a characteristic of the music itself. It is the way that the melodies would be played when they were originally played on the kanun or similar instrument. You learn dances by repeating what someone else did, so you repeat the music so others can repeat the steps.


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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: BDB] #2071510
04/26/13 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
....I suspect that the sort of repetition that people here find objectionable is a characteristic of the music itself. It is the way that the melodies would be played when they were originally played on the kanun or similar instrument. You learn dances by repeating what someone else did, so you repeat the music so others can repeat the steps.

I suspect that more of us would find it OK for dancing than for what it is.
(Serious.)

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071569
04/26/13 01:02 PM
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How would one dance to this music? Would someone please demonstrate?


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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Schubertslieder] #2071571
04/26/13 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Schubertslieder
How would one dance to this music? Would someone please demonstrate?

Play it for any real young kid and I almost guarantee you'll find out real fast. grin

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Goomer Piles] #2071589
04/26/13 01:33 PM
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I would assume dancing to this type of music would require certain amount of skill even to the natives.


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Re: What's so bad about Islamey? [Re: Schubertslieder] #2071596
04/26/13 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Schubertslieder
I would assume dancing to this type of music would require certain amount of skill even to the natives.

No, just absence of inhibition!

Maybe you're talking about doing it in some "correct" way. I'm not. And IMO there isn't. grin

The main music that I've noticed to have this effect (on little kids) is Joplin rags. I'd think it's true almost to the same degree with Islamey, as long as it's played with pretty good rhythm.

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