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

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  • Garth Wallace
    ... When it stops being a punchline. ;) (I like a lot of prog rock, but it s had image problems for decades) ... I like some of that unlistenable stuff... :P
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 22, 2013
      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.
    • Jörg Rhiemeier
      Hallo conlangers! ... Indeed it has had image problems, and perhaps the progressive rock aficionados (of whom I am one) just take their thing too seriously ;)
      Message 2 of 3 , 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
      • Garth Wallace
        ... Richard D. James is an interesting case, because his work has actually been popular. Under all the skittering beats, he has some good melodies, and the
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 23, 2013
          On Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 7:05 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:
          > 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:
          >> >
          >> > [...]
          >> > 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".

          Richard D. James is an interesting case, because his work has actually
          been popular. Under all the skittering beats, he has some good
          melodies, and the results can be surprisingly pleasant, like "Girl/Boy
          Song".

          >> 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.

          The San Francisco bay area. Michael Tilson Thomas with the San
          Francisco Symphony has championed music from the 20th century and
          beyond, and the Berkeley Symphony (formerly under Kent Nagano) has
          been even more dedicated to new works. Also, the Kronos Quartet is
          from SF (though originally from Seattle).
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