Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Re: [mythsoc] Rautavaara's Sampo

Expand Messages
  • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
    Probably too complicated to get into in an e-mail on this list,... Ow, ow, yes it was. Let s overgeneralize a bit here. Can it be taken to mean music you
    Message 1 of 10 , Dec 4, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Probably too complicated to get into in an e-mail on this list,...>>

      Ow, ow, yes it was. Let's overgeneralize a bit here. Can it be taken to
      mean music you can consider singing along to? Versus the kind with no
      melody that requires a deep understanding of the mathematical side of
      music? If anyone else is considering listening to these pieces I can hope
      this thread is of interest at least a little bit.

      I did like the music to LOTR. I want the soundtrack. But it's just
      big-movie-sound music, right?

      Lizzie Apgar Triano
      lizziewriter@...
      amor vincit omnia
    • juliet@firinn.org
      ... I ll try as more of a lay student of music theory. Atonal music refers to music that avoids having a tonal center, commonly known as a key. With tonal
      Message 2 of 10 , Dec 4, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        On Thu, Dec 04, 2003 at 02:36:39PM -0500, Elizabeth Apgar Triano wrote:
        > Probably too complicated to get into in an e-mail on this list,...>>
        >
        > Ow, ow, yes it was. Let's overgeneralize a bit here. Can it be taken to
        > mean music you can consider singing along to? Versus the kind with no
        > melody that requires a deep understanding of the mathematical side of
        > music? If anyone else is considering listening to these pieces I can hope
        > this thread is of interest at least a little bit.
        >
        I'll try as more of a lay student of music theory. Atonal music refers
        to music that avoids having a tonal center, commonly known as a key. With
        tonal music, you can generally say whether a given note is Do, Re, or Mi.
        When you come back to Do, you can feel a resolution. Atonal music doesn't
        give you any of that kind of resolution. The notes don't give you any hint
        of what's coming next or when the piece has come to an end. It's the musical
        equivalent of art that's not a picture of anything, except I think the average
        person tolerates looking at randomness better than listening to it. It's the
        music they would have played in the Objectivity Room if they'd played music
        there.

        Julie
      • alexeik@aol.com
        In a message dated 12/4/3 11:11:16 PM, Julie wrote:
        Message 3 of 10 , Dec 6, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          In a message dated 12/4/3 11:11:16 PM, Julie wrote:

          <<I'll try as more of a lay student of music theory. Atonal music refers
          to music that avoids having a tonal center, commonly known as a key. With
          tonal music, you can generally say whether a given note is Do, Re, or Mi.
          When you come back to Do, you can feel a resolution. Atonal music doesn't
          give you any of that kind of resolution. The notes don't give you any hint
          of what's coming next or when the piece has come to an end. It's the musical
          equivalent of art that's not a picture of anything, except I think the average
          person tolerates looking at randomness better than listening to it.>>

          As a composer, I don't entirely agree. While some "atonal" music is indeed
          based on randomness (eg, some of John Cage and Xenakis), the vast majority of it
          isn't. In fact, the main technique that has been used in so-called "atonal"
          music in the past century -- serialism [using the twelve notes of the chromatic
          scale in a preordained sequence] -- could justly be criticised as
          *overdetermined* rather than random. And any music with a preordained pattern of tones is
          going to have a tonal centre -- it's just not necessarily as obvious as in
          music with a diatonic structure.
          Much "atonal" music can actually be very beautiful and expressive, but it
          requires focused attention on the part of the listener (the music won't just
          "carry" you), and the problem, of course, is that most people can't focus their
          attention in that way for very long. The composers who first used these
          techniques understood this: Webern's pieces, for example, are never more than a few
          minutes long. But later generations of composers adopted serial techniques as
          a kind of easy "gimmick" and created large-scale pieces in that style that
          are impossible to listen to: they're more interesting as scores than in
          performance.
          It's funny that you mentioned the Objective Room. In the operatic setting
          of _That Hideous Strength_ I was doing some time ago I assigned two of these
          more "sterile" styles of 20th-century music to Wither and Frost: Wither was
          represented by "stochastic" randomness, and Frost by "post-Webern" pointillism.
          Alexei
        • David S. Bratman
          I don t think Julie was saying that atonal music is constructed randomly, merely that it (or much of it) sounds random to the lay listener. Julie was writing
          Message 4 of 10 , Dec 6, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            I don't think Julie was saying that atonal music is constructed randomly,
            merely that it (or much of it) sounds random to the lay listener. Julie
            was writing of the harmonic structure of atonal music sounding random to
            the tonally-trained ear, the way any pattern one doesn't understand can
            seem random, no matter how overdetermined it actually is.

            I'll go even further and note the curious fact that the most overdetermined
            music and the most underdetermined music can come to sound the same, in
            much the same way that life was pretty much the same for prisoners in Nazi
            concentration camps and in Soviet gulags, despite the utter disparity of
            the political philosophies that sent them there.

            The two musics look entirely different on the page, though. There's even a
            common term, "Augenmusik" (German for "Eye-music") for music that looks
            really interesting in score, but which just comes out as another identikit
            blur in performance.

            It is true, as Alexei says, that beautiful and expressive serial music has
            been written. Just not very much of it, and even less of other types of
            atonality. I've heard fine serial music by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg,
            and George Rochberg, but by hardly anybody else (certainly not Webern), and
            I've been diligently listening to modern classical music for 35 years,
            hunting for the good stuff. I've found plenty of good stuff, but to say
            that "serial, atonal, chance and random musics ain't it" is a _very_ strong
            working generalization with sadly few exceptions. Possibly the composer's
            name has to end in -berg.

            - David Bratman
          • juliet@firinn.org
            ... Thank you, yes, randomness was not precisely what I meant. As you said, any pattern one can t see seems as random as no pattern at all. Is that a
            Message 5 of 10 , Dec 6, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              On Sat, Dec 06, 2003 at 11:21:49AM -0800, David S. Bratman wrote:
              > I don't think Julie was saying that atonal music is constructed randomly,
              > merely that it (or much of it) sounds random to the lay listener. Julie
              > was writing of the harmonic structure of atonal music sounding random to
              > the tonally-trained ear, the way any pattern one doesn't understand can
              > seem random, no matter how overdetermined it actually is.
              >
              Thank you, yes, "randomness" was not precisely what I meant. As you said,
              any pattern one can't see seems as random as no pattern at all. Is that a
              corollary to the idea that any technology sufficiently advanced is
              indistinguishable from magic?

              Julie
            • alexeik@aol.com
              In a message dated 12/6/3 10:32:25 PM, Julie wrote:
              Message 6 of 10 , Dec 6, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                In a message dated 12/6/3 10:32:25 PM, Julie wrote:

                <<Thank you, yes, "randomness" was not precisely what I meant. As you said,
                any pattern one can't see seems as random as no pattern at all. >>

                Though if a pattern is actually there, one can learn to see (or hear) it,
                even if it isn't obvious at first glance. In the case of 20th-century classical
                music, this kind of familiarisation through exposure has in fact been
                happening. If you read music criticism from a hundred years ago, you'll see that many
                people originally reacted to the work of Debussy and other harmonically
                innovative works as though they were random sounds without any perceptible pattern.
                Few people, I think, would have the same reaction today. Similarly, if you
                listen to a lot of serial or quasi-serial music, your ear gradually adjusts to
                hearing the harmonic patterns it's based on. Of course, a great deal of such
                music is simply bad and not worth listening to; but this is more a matter of
                individual composers not having the skill and imagination to do the technique
                justice, rather than something globally wrong with the technique itself (although,
                because of the demands it places on the listener, the technique does carry
                with it a high risk of failure).
                Alexei
              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.