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This 22 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] 
  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  scott_good at 04:57 on 05 January 2008


thank you for this post - very intersting.

i have not listened to ades music in many years - since asyla (i think that's what it is called). i thought he had some interesting music, such as a work for boys and mens choir utilizing quarter tones in one of the most provocative ways i have ever heard outside of arabic music - a stretched out V-I progression.

perhaps he has gone down the toilet. whatever.

I am very interested in patterns in music as a composer - especially the subconscious. it seems clear that our brains work and perceive in ways which our conscious mind cannot grasp.

But then, ligeti wears his music on his sleeve - i love that about his music - so does messien, guibuidalina, xenakis. for my taste, i often find stockhausen to be confusing - not always though - the klavierstucke X is remarkable in this regard. there is also a structure underlying hymnen that is incredibly evocative, although i have never spent the time trying to figure it out.

But under the light of "beauty is the pattern that connects", why is it so easy to dismiss the idea of cross pollination between various genres of music? for me, along with the beauty of structure, is the issue of primary artistic purpose (not to the exclusion of other directions mind you, just what stimulates my creative mind). I don't care about pastiche (that only means of lesser quality in my books), but certainly care about craft.

During my graduate studies, i undertook the research project of studying the WTC books 1 and 2. the primary focus was to observe, study and compare the fugue subjects - to find a pattern(s), to search for bach's voice.

Well, 2 years later, and after extensive research, what i found completely astonished me. there seemed to be a duality of artistic intention - on one hand, there was certainly a constant structure, or to be more fair, a handful of techniques in which bach utilized in order to create a subject which would be both satisfying in fugal treatment, but also an exciting, energetic theme. on the other hand, he seemed to be keenly intersted to pull from a vast variety of musical styles and genres, in particular with regards to the rhythmic structures, which find roots in italian renaisence, as well as modern dance folk musics, or borrowed ideas from other composers such as vivaldi or buxtehude.

So, (assuming that you and others agree that bach was a magnificent, and important composer) why can one today not draw influence from this, and explore relationships with both modern musical popular movements, as well as music that is hundreds of years old?

Why, as roberto suggests, must the composer limit themselves from trying to ingest the whole picture? frankly, i think it is the greater chore to undertake as much as possible. yes, much work, and very difficult, but the reward has the potential to be wonderful.

It has been suggested by some scientists, such as james lovelock or noam chomsky, that it is indeed the narrowing of the scope, the specialist, which is the more dangerous model. by limmitting vision, we do not see the great picture.

"5) anyway who taught you to play in this way Bartok and Bruchner?
poor Solti, Abbado and Karaian...!!!"

please spare me the dramatics.

reference bartok concerto for orchestra mm514 - and tell me if my interpretation of the ^ is incorrect.

my primary trombone teacher for orchestral music was John Marcellus, who was the principal trombone of the national symphony.

the ^ has several meanings whether you agree or not, so, it is wise to be clear - this is good advice.

it's a mess...when you do everything you excell in nothing"

i disagree - see above points.

but, to be clear, the main focus for me is composition. trombone is my physical outlet, my research tool, my muse, my toy, and my source of discipline. playing rock and jazz and classical is not hard to do if you have an open mind, technique, and aural skill. I think i play well, especialy certin kinds of music, but it is composition in which i plan to as you put it, excell.

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  lawes at 05:31 on 05 January 2008

Sorry Scott I didnt see your reply to my post till just now.

I was editing mine, improving it. When writing a polemic, especially tackling such a large subject one has a responsibility to try and get it right (I tried, I`ll see how I feel about it tomorrow)

I`ll reply to your points soon :-)

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  Christopher Tin at 07:04 on 05 January 2008

Does every thread on this forum go so far off track?

PS: Lawes, you know full well that I meant 'American' as in the cultural-American usage of the >; obviously when I want to refer the the language that I'm typing in I specify 'English,' as I had done two posts previously. Since this thread is about regional differences in education as to the name and usage of the >, I was making a point that the American education system might very well teach us a completely different set of terms and usages for common musical symbols, DESPITE the fact that we may share the same language (look no further than 'quavers' vs. our 'eighth-notes'. Let's not split semantic hairs here.

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  lawes at 19:00 on 06 January 2008

Sorry Christopher, re my comment about you not understanding the differences between English and "American" I was wrong, you were right.

I dont agree about the thread going off track, I think it needed/wanted to.

Will reply to Scott`s arguments soon (been busy, just got Xenakis` book Formalised Music, I recommend it)

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  lawes at 17:40 on 09 January 2008

Answer to Scott/Clarifiction/Etc........

First of all let me attend to the point about Ades as it seems ripe for misintepretation (my fault). I was not making a point about the quality of his music or his right to make it. I was saying that in British commerical/commodity culture someone like him will rise to the top, not because he is the most respected by those "in the know" and not because of his music primarily, but because he is good/safe copy (he does not challenge the established order, and he chats about his music like a "normal" person the "punters" can understand).

This is not his fault in many respects, he has the right to make the music he does and to be the way he is, my point and perhaps Roberto`s is.......Ades et al...fine...but where are the rest? (diversity, where is the continental music? where are the ideas?)

As I said in my first post I spent some time a few years ago listening to work from all the British composers I could find and was not interested in it, I thought it was wishy-washy music about music (Ferneyhough is the only one who has remained relevant to me). If anyone wants to disagree or suggest some pieces to me please do (Johnathon Harvey and James Dillon are two I need to check out again based on recommendations from people I have some faith in, maybe Richard Barrett too, the rest don`t intrigue me based on what I have heard, I may change my mind)

All of those I listed as being dull in my opinion are obviously "real" or "talented" composers, just not to my taste, and not in keeping with my ideas about where we are in our era/culture (I require something more challenging, more inspiring, not just entertaining)

Now onto Scott`s arguments...

First, "cross pollination"....

Fine, do what you want, I was not arguing against it, whatever gets the results as per your personal philosophy. The thrust of my polemic (one sided provocation) was that we in Britain and arguably the English speaking world are turning our noses up at something we don`t understand and cannot be bothered to tackle. I emphasised the more or less classical notion of the "source" and musical unity from clear principles because it needs mentioning, in a culture which calls all music "entertainment" (which means anything goes, as long as it is profitable and politically inert)

I like most sorts of music, however I don`t include it all or play it all, trying to find a pure language of my own, studying Xenakis` ideas at the moment as he is not traditional and has a valuable approach, just need to improve my maths!.(studying that now)

For the media there is no money in it and the politics are dangerous (the media are political in essence, they and the advertisers who pay for it all, or in the BBC`s case the government, don`t want to be challenged and criticised).

For ensembles and funding bodies the problems are related, they know it wll be difficult to promote new and interesting works because the media and government are not interested, which means for them also there is no money in it, and they need to survive somehow, so I suppose the best ones do what they can to cover more challenging and truly contemporary work (not just po-mo junk, which is post-modern in the infrastructural sense not the superstructural to use a "toxic" and unfashionable marxist dichotomy, and no, I am not a "marxist", or a "marxian", or a "communist", I am a democrat)

Add to that the absurdly overheated property market, astonishing levels of taxation for the poor and "artistic" (via a totally unethical disaggregated tax structure, "stealth taxes") and you have a backwards and fatuous culture which has to sell to survive, and what sells today is what sold last week (risks are only taken in hyper-capiltalist culture when the potential returns are significant, oil prospecting and dubious investment in warzones for instance, Disaster Capitalism as described by Naomi Klein).

Look at Berlin by comparison, Im sure it has it`s problems but from what I hear the rents are so cheap it`s attracting artists from all over the world, meaning its much easier to put on new music and attract an audience without it costing the earth (literally it could be said).

It has the high and low so to speak, diversity, the "big" orchestras with all the pros and cons that level of infrastructure brings with it right down to all manner of small ensembles putting on their own performances (I was told by a friend who was there a couple of years ago that a new string quartet by a Spanish "avant garde" composer he had never heard of and could`nt remember the name of unfortunately was totally sold out, standing room only In what was more or less a big living room in a house in the east of the city)

So yes, look to Bach, look to jazz, look to anything, but recognise the culture in my country, and perhaps the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world, needs to change, it is not healthy or "vibrant", that is propaganda designed to sell newspapers and to pay media careerist`s mortgages (keep people watching the idiot box/tv, keep them disatisfied, keep them buying that which never remedies their problems, keep the sources of political capital protected)


A composer is both a specialist and a generalist, and should in my opinion attend to both. To master the technique required to express his/her ideas and to inform those ideas by living in the world, having one`s eyes open and being honest about what one sees, not being lazy and believing the hype (about others work or your own). Read up on philosophy, politics, economics, history, science and so on, see the music in it. This is not easy, but then who said it would be?

I think Roberto`s point about playing everything is not the same as mine above, he is suggesting that you cannot master anything if you do too many things, my point which agrees with his more or less is that all these ideas and experiences have to be focused into a single aesthetic, not dividing ones energies into many areas by trying to be a Jazz musician and a Rock musician and Gagaku musician and so on, just be a musician, the best you can be. Try all these things and learn from them but when you are ready to make a mature statement, focus, focus, focus :-)

To resort to autobiography to make my point.....I have not finished a piece or released anything for four years nearly, I don`t want to cover old ground, I want to know where I/we are today, to make a worthwhile contribution and to make sense of all these threads. It will take more years yet (and I am 30 next month). To quote Paul Dukas....."Do not be in a rush to publish".....that`s how I remember the quote anyway, it means in my opinion, don`t throw the baby out with the bathwater, the quality of the statement is what counts, not whether you publish it next week or in ten years, to rush into things is more a product of a need for social status and approval than anything musical, not something an artist should concern him/herself with in my opinion, feel free to disagree as always.

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  lawes at 05:55 on 10 January 2008

Some interesting discussion on a similar theme in the two Guardian articles/blogs linked to in the news section on this site...

  Re: A survey: what does the ^ accent mean to you?  lawes at 17:54 on 10 January 2008

Quote from a Judith Weir interview in the Telegraph (No I don`t favour that paper etc, they are all rubbish in one way or another as I have argued in this thread, I check most major news sites each day, just happens the Telegraph had an interesting article, albeit rather short and biographical, of course)


"A lot of young composers these days have become very expert at a kind of safe modernism, like Birtwistle mixed with a bit of George Benjamin," she says with some heat, "but you wonder what the point of it is. What do they actually want to say?"


Right on, music about music, safe, what is being said exactly?. (don`t know her music at all so I won`t pass comment on it, wouldnt change my opinion of her comments anyway, I agree with her)

This 22 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2]