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Kinimod Offline OP
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Hi,

I would like to introduce you to an exciting experiment that I discovered.

It's about the Dutch composer Alexander Comitas. He wanted to test whether the modern atonal art music, which is usually promoted nowadays, can be distinguished from banging random keys on the piano.

For this purpose he "composed" a piece called "Bubbles" by letting his young children, who had no musical education, play random notes on the keyboard. In the end, the children only divided the notes among the instruments. However, the composer did not tell anyone how the piece was made.

And indeed: Alexander Comitas received a grant of 3000 € for this composition! The jury, which consisted of a composer, a musicologist and a conductor, found the piece to be of high quality and even better than the previous (mostly tonal) compositions by Comitas.

You can take a closer look at the story under the following links:


https://aristos.org/aris-13/bubblesetc.htm



And here the composition Bubbles:



What do you think about this? I find the experiment very exciting, as it confirms exactly what I had been thinking for a long time: Most modern classical music can hardly be distinguished from random notes.
I have seriously studied the composition methods of modern composers like Boulez and Xenakis, but came to the conclusion: No matter how "structured" these compositions seem on paper, they are irrelevant for the listener, since these structures are simply not audible.

However, instead of criticizing these compositions constructively, advocates of atonal music are amazed at the "complex" and "innovative" structures of the compositions - even if they do not exist, as the Bubbles experiment shows.


I think that such pranks should be performed more often so that it becomes clear that the avantgarde mentality is causing damage to modern classical music and hindering the development of new music that actually shows musical understanding.

What do you think?

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I had a cat named Cosmo that jumped on and walked upon my upright. Sometimes he would test a key a couple extra times with a paw.

*silence*

SPROING!! {discordant}

Plonk - spink - tink... {a meandering tonal journey}

tink? {a question}

Tink, tink {resolution}

..Now I can only lament the lost riches of these 'found' masterpieces.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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Kinimod
I would rather listen to Hawgdriver’s cat vs. ‘Bubbles’. ‘Bubbles’ made my ears hurt 🙀
Music? Not hardly


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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This has been done in visual arts as well. I believe that there are websites where you have paintings by modern artists, and by children; and the website is asking you to guess which is by which. Often the odds are indeed 50/50.

As for music: It's true that banging random keys on the piano (which I sometimes do when I'm frustrated with a piece I'm trying to learn) does not sound that different from serial music. To me, at least.

But does this mean it should not be done?

People should do what they like. If it makes them happy, it doesn't matter if it could also have been done by a six-year old. Same goes for new classics.


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It's not much different to some contemporary art. Animals (sometimes sawed into half) and pickled in formaldehyde (akin to the human body parts exhibits I saw so much of during my university days - though no-one ever called them 'art'......), bent pieces of metal (probably by the "artist's" baby son, flexing his new-found muscles), streaks of paint across the wall (achieved by the 'artist's' 'artistic' flicks of his paintbrush) and so on.

It's art if the "artist" says it is.

Similarly, it's "music" if the so-called 'composer' says it is.

However, I believe that though the avant-gardists are still around (with their tone-deaf acolytes), most of the current crop of living composers can actually compose, and produce beautiful as well as challenging music, which also sounds contemporary and not a pastiche of earlier styles or 'Neo-Romantic'. Some are good enough performers that they can play their own music properly (- and I'm much more inclined to take them seriously if they can, and do.) Why, even I have played some of it (therefore it must be real music whistle).

Here for example, is real contemporary piano music by a well-known composer-pianist-conductor:




"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."
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Many art and auction organizations are large fronts for money laundering. This is responsible for alot of the scrap metal and pickled animal organs stuff. grin

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Originally Posted by hawgdriver
I had a cat named Cosmo that jumped on and walked upon my upright. Sometimes he would test a key a couple extra times with a paw.

*silence*

SPROING!! {discordant}

Plonk - spink - tink... {a meandering tonal journey}

tink? {a question}

Tink, tink {resolution}

..Now I can only lament the lost riches of these 'found' masterpieces.

A tragedy for posterity...

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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by hawgdriver
I had a cat named Cosmo that jumped on and walked upon my upright. Sometimes he would test a key a couple extra times with a paw.

*silence*

SPROING!! {discordant}

Plonk - spink - tink... {a meandering tonal journey}

tink? {a question}

Tink, tink {resolution}

..Now I can only lament the lost riches of these 'found' masterpieces.

A tragedy for posterity...

No kidding. His ability to suspend and defy the conventions of tempo was...unhuman.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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Originally Posted by patH
But does this mean it should not be done?

People should do what they like. If it makes them happy, it doesn't matter if it could also have been done by a six-year old. Same goes for new classics.

Of course people should be allowed to make whatever music they want.

But the real question here is: Does this kind of music deserve governmental funding? At the expense of music that actually makes sense and shows craftmanship?

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You have a minimally polished rock, next to a random rock that's only slightly surface weathered. You take both these rocks to a rock expert, and ask him which rock he likes better. This is all that this experiment proves, that two things which approximate randomness is difficult to categorically arrange. You've basically asked someone who looks for patterns to assess 2 nearly random patterns. Of course the result is more/less random and meaningless. grin

Last edited by EinLudov; 04/23/21 09:40 AM.
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Originally Posted by EinLudov
You have a minimally polished rock, next to a random rock that's only slightly surface weathered. You take both these rocks to a rock expert, and ask him which rock he likes better. This is all that this experiment proves, that two things which approximate randomness is difficult to categorically arrange. You've basically asked someone who looks for patterns to assess 2 nearly random patterns. Of course the result is more/less random and meaningless. grin

Yes, but this proof is very significant in the context of atonal music.

Defenders of atonal music usual argue that the music is not random at all, and that the people who think so don't listen closely or are too conservative.

This attitude has prevented the development of a new music which proves musical craftmanship.

I think that this experiment shows that it is indeed possible, that people who hear structures and patterns in atonal music may be deceiving themselves.

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Bubbles reminds me of art trouvée, or ready-made art. Of course it's a joke, but it's also a statement and an experiment with its own merits. Think of Duchamps' urinal.

Do I like the 'music'? Nah.

Music has been reinventing itself since the middle ages and somewhere in the last century it exploded in a big cloud of nothingness. I remember reading a novel about a young composer in the sixties or seventies who presented a piece to his professor and fellow students, asking if they thought it was beautiful. The professor replies: Yeah, it's beautiful, if you're still into that.

My 2 cts: music should move us. It has to touch some emotion. And there should be some kind of structure. Nobody like to listen to chaos. At least nobody that I know.

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Originally Posted by Kinimod
Yes, but this proof is very significant in the context of atonal music.

Defenders of atonal music usual argue that the music is not random at all, and that the people who think so don't listen closely or are too conservative.

This attitude has prevented the development of a new music which proves musical craftmanship.

I think that this experiment shows that it is indeed possible, that people who hear structures and patterns in atonal music may be deceiving themselves.

Atonal music in the 12 tone system is pretty specific, whether an amateur can pick up on the row is another story, it's like sudoku, there is a pattern but it can be laboriously convoluted to pick up.

If you're talking about the more liberal random garbage heap in a museum type music. Well, sigh. In the greater context of what is and isn't, what is, is dependent on the size of the intelligence which applies the operation to model the behavior of the subject. An infinitely powerful computer could model any subject, and therefore derive meaning. But because such a computer is only theoretical, some believe that any single frame of analysis is meaningless and the model will always be lacking and inaccurate relative to the whole.

I'm of the belief that human driven philosophy and art has become obsolete and it is up to AI-science to deduce greater states of meaning. grin

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Originally Posted by Ostinato
My 2 cts: music should move us. It has to touch some emotion. And there should be some kind of structure. Nobody like to listen to chaos. At least nobody that I know.

That is a general adaptation of the life equation which narrowly produces more life. Following our charge as the living, we apply intellect to jostle our pleasure centers in the belief that this is good and on the right path to more life. No one can say for sure life and pleasure is the right path, but as we are life, we are not given the liberty to choose, as only those who choose life speaks.

We choose to listen to music. In many more hours we live in chaos. Under that context music is a reprieve from the greater reality which we are incapable of processing. That is to say, if we were much smarter, maybe we would listen to something more chaotic. shocked

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In my music theory class series that I took in college, when we got to modern music, that random type of music was referred to as "aleatory music." It is a valid way of composing. Typically only some element[s] of the music, such as pitch, are left to chance. The other elements such as note duration, rhythm, dynamics, texture, orchestration, etc. still require craft on the part of the composer. It is not completely clear in the Original Post of this thread which elements of the Comitas piece were left to chance and which were not. But it is clear to me from just looking at the bit of the score shown in the YouTube video preview that there is a good deal in the way of rhythmic organization. So the composition is by no means a completely "random" composition per se. It's just not using pitch organization. This is nothing new; it has been done many many times before.

I remember from theory class how it was discussed that with aleatory music, you might accidentally have certain pitches more prevalent than others. Serial music, on the other hand, is an organizational method that guarantees that you will NOT get that. Other than that small difference between aleatory and serial music, they are for all practical purposes very similar. So that Comitas experiment doesn't prove anything new at all....it's just validating something which was very well known and taught in undergraduate college music theory classes decades ago!

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Originally Posted by scriabinfanatic
It is not completely clear in the Original Post of this thread which elements of the Comitas piece were left to chance and which were not. But it is clear to me from just looking at the bit of the score shown in the YouTube video preview that there is a good deal in the way of rhythmic organization.

The process is very well explained in the first video I've linked to: Comitas sat his 5-year-old son, who had no musical education, at the piano and told him to bang random keys to his hearts content. He transcribed this "improvisation" and distributed it among 10 instruments (chosen by his son).

He only changed the rhythmic notation of the automatic transcription to make the the score more readable; he also added random time signature changes (without actually changing the music!) to create an impression of rhythmic complexity.



Originally Posted by scriabinfanatic
So that Comitas experiment doesn't prove anything new at all....it's just validating something which was very well known and taught in undergraduate college music theory classes decades ago!

If this has been known for decades, then why do modern music institutions still insist on funding music that sounds like random mess??? Shouldn't they promote music that is composed in an audibly (!) meaningful way? In my opinion, if a piece is indistinguishable from random noise, then it is music of low quality.

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OK, I watched/listened to the YouTube video. So, he got some random pitches from kids playing on a keyboard. That's just one of countless ways to get some random pitch material. It doesn't really matter how you get the material. I remember learning in theory class that one of the early aleatory composers rolled dice. In my theory class, one student got their random pitches for their aleatory composition assignment from sunspot data. I forget how I did it for my assignment. The point is, it's what you do with the pitches after you get them where the composition process comes into play, and that is not random. If the dynamics were truly random, then every note would be assigned a random dynamic. Clearly that's not going on in the Comitas composition...and Comitas himself says "at my own discretion I added tempo indications, dynamics, etc."

One of the points of both aleatory and serial music is to look at how our musical ears have been heavily conditioned to expect pitches to be organized in a certain way. Then, to propose that music can still be made after stripping away that shopworn pitch organization, but still applying compositional craft to the non-pitch elements. If your way of listening to such music is to stubbornly try to make some traditional organizational sense out of the pitches when in fact none is there, of course you are going to be disappointed.

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Originally Posted by Kinimod
I have seriously studied the composition methods of modern composers like Boulez and Xenakis, but came to the conclusion: No matter how "structured" these compositions seem on paper, they are irrelevant for the listener, since these structures are simply not audible.

They're not irrelevant to this listener. I love Xenakis.

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Originally Posted by Kinimod
In my opinion, if a piece is indistinguishable from random noise, then it is music of low quality.
As you said, that's your opinion. But it's not the only one.
Another equally valid opinion is: If music could be composed by a computer, then it's not high art. And guess what? AI computers and networks are getting better and better at composing music that sounds like it was composed by highly regarded musicians of the past, from MuseNet to the Lost Tapes of the Club 27.

Ultimately, as already mentioned before: It's art if you say it's art, and one person's trash is another person's treasure.


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Originally Posted by patH
[quote=Kinimod]
Ultimately, as already mentioned before: It's art if you say it's art, and one person's trash is another person's treasure.

That's not the question here. Of course if some people enjoy it, they should play and listen to this music

But real the real question is: Does this kind of music deserve governmental funding AT THE EXPENSE of other aesthetic viewpoints that create music that sounds meaningfully different from random noise? This kind of attitude is a major reason, why there was so little classical music with audible melodic and harmonic consistency composed in the last 60 years.

Last edited by Kinimod; 04/24/21 06:44 AM.
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