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199230Re: OT: Sophisticated music (was: Native languages of the Americas ...)

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  • Jörg Rhiemeier
    Oct 23, 2013
      Hallo conlangers!

      On Tuesday 22 October 2013 09:12:32 -0700 Garth Wallace wrote:

      > On Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier <...> wrote:
      > > Hallo conlangers!
      > >
      > > On Monday 21 October 2013 17:30:00 Garth Wallace wrote:
      > [...]
      > >>
      > >> 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)

      Indeed it has had image problems, and perhaps the progressive
      rock aficionados (of whom I am one) just take their thing too
      seriously ;)

      > > [...]
      > > 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

      There is some beautiful stuff in that area, and it is of course
      a matter of taste and "getting used to", but many people find
      it hard to get into.

      > > 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.

      Or rather, free jazz lost its orientation. If everything that
      can be done is allowed and is actually done by somebody, what
      follows next? Fusion music, i.e. rock-influenced jazz, overcame
      that disorientation in the early 70s, but a few years later,
      jazz went into stagnation. At least, the vast majority of jazz
      that is played these days feels manneristic to me, and I find
      it boring.

      > > 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.

      Yes.

      > > 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.

      Sure. Compare _Going for the One_ (Yes, 1977) to _Close to the
      Edge_ (Yes, 1972), for instance. Classical progressive rock was
      on the qualitative downturn after 1973, there is no way denying that.

      > Punk was reacting more to the perceived inauthenticity of arena rock.

      Right; and progressive rock was only part of "arena rock".
      Other parts were AOR, glam rock and hard rock. That the glam
      rockers and hard rockers were rehabilitated much earlier than
      their prog colleagues was simply due to the fact that they
      offered the press more "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll", and that
      their music is mostly within single format.

      > > 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.

      Yes. The influence of the rock journalists is probably vastly
      overrated. How many people bought records? How many people
      read rock magazines? The developments in radio formats certainly
      played a bigger role.

      > 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)

      Yes. Progressive rock started in England; there weren't many
      North American prog bands before 1975. Italy and West Germany
      had much larger progressive rock scenes. Kansas, Styx and Rush
      came later.

      > > [...]
      > > 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".

      Yes. I have heard of that, but did not pursue it in earnest,
      because I could never really get into it. Aphex Twin have made
      some weird stuff where you can see images, among other things of
      a human face, in the spectrogram. Now that is truly avant-garde
      in the sense that it has not been done before and *could not* be
      done much before because the required technology was not yet
      available! Of course, you need a spectral analysis program to
      see the images; you cannot hear them (what you hear appears to
      be just random noise). It thus falls under the same point of
      criticism that was levelled at serialism earlier: the structures
      are too intricate and hidden to actually hear them; it is "music
      for the eyes" rather than "music for the ears".

      > 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.

      Yes. The music is not really what matters in most hip-hop; it
      is just an auditory backdrop for the words. This is the reason
      why most rappers are content with a 2- to 8-bar ostinato.

      > > [...]
      > > 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.

      I don't know where you live, but here in Germany, academic music
      composed after 1945 is only rarely performed, and mostly by
      specialized ensembles. There simply is not much of an audience
      for it, because those whose tastes are not too conservative
      anyway, seek their pleasure in modern jazz, progressive rock or
      other sophisticated forms of popular music.

      --
      ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
      http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
      "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
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