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199223Re: OT: Sophisticated music (was: Native languages of the Americas ...)

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  • Garth Wallace
    Oct 22, 2013
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      On Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:
      > Hallo conlangers!
      >
      > On Monday 21 October 2013 17:30:00 Garth Wallace wrote:
      >
      >> On Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 4:04 AM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
      >> <tsela.cg@...> wrote:
      >> [...]
      >> > Not necessarily. At home I can get two TV channels devoted to classical
      >> > music. Both also feature jazz concerts prominently. So clearly for the
      >> > people who run those classical music channels, jazz falls under the
      >> > "classical music" moniker.
      >>
      >> I think it has more to do with the fact that they are both now
      >> considered "sophisticated music for intellectuals".
      >
      > When will they start playing progressive rock? That certainly
      > also is sophisticated music for intellectuals ;)

      When it stops being a punchline. ;)

      (I like a lot of prog rock, but it's had image problems for decades)

      > But the victory of the serialist avant-garde after 1945 (before
      > 1945, there still was the classical modern current represented
      > by Hindemith, Stravinsky and others; and that was considered
      > the mainstream of modern classical music, and the avant-garde
      > was a specialized minority current) left a vacuum. There simply
      > is a demand for music that is new, sophisticated and listenable.
      > The avant-garde was new and sophisticated but widely considered
      > unlistenable. And what happened? People "discovered" modern
      > jazz, which gave them new, sophisticated and listenable music.
      > (Bebop, the first genre of modern jazz, began about 1940.)

      I like some of that "unlistenable" stuff... :P

      > History repeated itself when modern jazz began to stagnate and
      > was eclipsed by free jazz in the 1960s. Again, the new
      > sophisticated music was "unlistenable" to many. Again, there
      > was an unfulfilled demand. And that is part of the reason why
      > progressive rock became so immensely popular in the late 1960s:
      > it fulfilled the demand for new, sophisticated and listenable
      > music.

      Wellll, kind of. Rock is very faddish and seems to swing between
      periods where artists try to branch out, and where artists try to
      "return to a more pure style". Even punk, the DIY-above-all movement,
      has given rise to progressive offshoots like No Wave and
      post-hardcore.

      > The decline of classical progressive rock, no as much due to
      > punk or disco (which appealed to *different* audiences than
      > progressive rock)

      Yes, the "punk killed prog" narrative is nonsense. Progressive rock
      had already gone into eclipse by the time punk started to get big.
      Punk was reacting more to the perceived inauthenticity of arena rock.

      > as due to the hostility of rock journalists
      > whom the progressive rock musicians gave too little "sex, drugs
      > and rock'n'roll" to write about, and also due to unmistakable
      > stagnation in the works of the major progressive rock bands,

      Not sure how much influence the rock journalists had. I'd say the
      shift in radio formats probably had a bigger impact. In the early
      '70s, DJs on FM stations had wide leeway to play whatever they liked.
      In the mid-'70s, program directors and consultants took more control
      and the focus shifted to more commercial and slickly produced, less
      experimental material.

      Also, the USA never went in for progressive rock in a big way; the big
      '70s English-language prog bands were all from the UK. Those bands
      either broke up from internal pressures (King Crimson) or gone chasing
      after a more mainstream audience (Genesis and Yes successfully, Gentle
      Giant disastrously)

      > left a yawning gap, and most people seeking sophisticated music
      > turn to classical music and modern jazz, grudgingly accepting
      > that "no good music is made anymore these days", often being
      > unaware of the fact that progressive rock never really died,
      > but continued to flourish in the unlit no-man's land between
      > mainstream, underground and avant-garde.
      >
      > I somehow do not expect hip-hop or electronic dance music
      > to spawn anything that can be compared to modern jazz or
      > progressive rock in its sophistication in the foreseeable
      > future, though. These musics seem way too limited and
      > formulaic to me. However, jazz and rock were that before
      > 1940 and before 1965, respectively, too (at least, those
      > genres were at least *hand-made* and not parasitizing music
      > recorded earlier), so we are perhaps in to a surprise.

      I'd say you're not looking in the right place. There's some very
      experimental electronic stuff out there, particularly the IDM genre
      (it stands for "intelligent dance music", a term that nobody likes
      including the DJs, but seems to have stuck regardless), like Aphex
      Twin, Squarepusher, and Boards Of Canada. I have an album of Aphex
      Twin music played by the avant-garde chamber group Alarm Will Sound,
      and the modern jazz trio The Bad Plus has recorded a cover of "Flim".
      As for hip-hop, the focus is usually on lyrics and vocal delivery,
      with backing beats of secondary importance (especially since
      scrathcing fell out of fashion), but guys like DJ Shadow and DJ Spooky
      That Subliminal Kid have done interesting work in the instrumental
      realm.

      >> > rather than the weird and atonal "modern classical music" that is
      >> > being made nowadays.
      >>
      >> If by "nowadays" you mean "a brief period in the middle of the last
      >> century". Even Boulez doesn't really mess with serialism anymore, and
      >> he was one of its biggest purists in its heyday.
      >
      > Indeed, serialism is no longer the thing in academic music
      > composition, and much of the more recent music, starting with
      > minimalism and New Simplicity, is indeed quite listenable.
      > But the classical music audience has developed a very strongly
      > conservative attitude which looks upon anything composed after
      > 1945 with distrust. The "unlistenability" of "modern classical
      > music" is a cliché and a prejudice that few people are willing
      > to put to the test. Contemporary academic music, whatever it
      > may sound like, exists in an ivory tower at the exclusion of a
      > wider audience.

      This seems to be slowly changing. But I live in an area that's pretty
      open to new musical ideas.
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