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This 29 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] > >  
  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  keith burstein at 21:41 on 11 September 2008

Scott, I have already covered the issue of there being distinct eras of music and why I think the atonal perspective wishes to deny that fact.Simply because it would be to concede that the world has moved on.

The atonal position as I said is defined by a set of simple dogmas which operate unconsciously.One of them is a kind of year zero dogma - that the past has all been destroyed.Now the terms are changed for ever , it says.I know you say you're not of this ilke , but you come across as being so anyway.

The stratagy by those who feel challenged by me ,of saying in response to my analysis, that in fact they are open to everything , but that my music just isnt good is the standard posture of those who are still within the atonal mentality.

But here is the truth.Setting aside the fuility of composers just telling each other their music is rubbish- and I have had enough consistently positive reactions from 'public' - and critics- over many years to be undisturbed by it- here is the irony of the "your tonal music is rubbish" response.

Nicolas listed the really great tonal composers Mozart Beethoven Mahler etc and then advised me how totally Im not one of them.But without reference to me and my music, which it is predictable you wont "like", this is what would happen if a Mozart ,Beethoven or Mahler presented their work now as composers today.
They would be told by the reactionary atonal rear guard that they had gone hopefully to their web sites but were very disappointed by what they heard and their music was just bad-or at least not good.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  scott_good at 21:47 on 11 September 2008

sorry stro, but i think you should re-read what i wrote. i just don't think you understand what i have said.

and if you wish to indulge further, you can check out the stuff about me so you will know where i am coming from. i to have been involved in many different kinds of music - many...including techno! i recently put together a show for a party (5000 people) - about 60 minutes of straight techno music (boom boom boom never stops) re-composed for live jazz band (16 players). and i added in some "atonal" parts too just to give it some more sizzle.

absolutely brought the house down. i wish i had a recording to share. can't wait to do it again.

"And as for other 'tonal' composers, where are they and who are they? Arvo Part, and some Church composers...?"

oh man...pull your head out of the sand. i like what you wrote earlier...this is a non-sense statement.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  stro at 22:38 on 11 September 2008

sorry if my poor knowledge of the concert scene makes you think my head's in the sand, but i really don't follow it much at all. I really can't think of any more people than A. Part and church music! sorry but its true, i stopped following the concert world a long time ago and don't really care. My connection to keith's music is through other avenues than small London newspapers and internet invective. I've no interest at all, really, in this small side of music. i was attracted to this forum because of the issues around keith's music, not to prove myself as an academic, and my head's not really in any sand! strange that internet forum discussions always turn to invective. i think that's it for me! cheers scott, i wish you all the best.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  Nicolas Tzortzis at 23:26 on 11 September 2008

Tonal composers:Gorecki,Kancheli,Daugherty,Gerald Barry,most film composers...

Question:if someone decides to built a giant pyramid,like the ancient ones in Egypt,will it be considered as a "wonder"?

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  scott_good at 01:04 on 12 September 2008


thanks for the comment! much appreciated as i did spend some time putting it together.


  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  scott_good at 02:18 on 12 September 2008

stro, you are right, it does get nasty. all alone by the warm glow of the computer screen our minds turn to both bitterness and bliss.

but...i guess i'm a bit put off by what you have said. i know you want out, but that's too easy - and boring ;-) it just doesn't seem fair to jump into a conversation, contribute opinions, and then leave by saying you don't care - i don't believe you (again, said with a fun tone).

also i'm not so sure that the "classical music" world is all that small - perhaps, when set against the machine of popular music, and it's youthful exuberance, well, i can see a bit of a point. but this great artistic tradition continues to and will for many years to come touch the minds and hearts of those who open themselves up to it's great treasures.

listen, i just adore music of all kinds, but i have some criterion (see previous long message). i am however quite concerned about the present state of societies musical conscious (read: state of society). i believe there is a lack of respect for the roots of where music has come from (read: respect for all of our modern conveniences) - a lack of care about it's sophistication (read: - and a general malaise towrds complex issues - too hard, and takes away from tv time) The "easy way" approach to music as something that is just liked or disliked is to me, irresponsible.

sometimes, great things, including love, take tremendous effort. but the payoff is beyond present imagination.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  pete meechan at 02:37 on 12 September 2008

The Daily Mail et al are basically a bunch of facists. It is sad, but true, of the world and country that we live in, but the fact is that if anyone expects any better of these iggnorant people, then I am afriad you have raised your expectations too high.

They are utter garbage, who write words to sell papers and to make money - not for credable reasons such as jounalistic intent, desire to share thoughtful opinion, deliver news (!), etc.

But what that news paper doesn't see, in all it's glorious irony, is that the same laws that allow them to print their abortion of a paper, are the very same laws that mean people can boo after an opera. That allows us to protest against the war, that allows us to say openly and freely that the government is bad, that allows us to support our troops, but question their commanders.

It works both ways - and so it should. The Daily Mail is the acceptable price we pay for freedom of speech.

Personally Keith, I hope you absolutely shaft them! Very best of luck.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  keith burstein at 10:20 on 12 September 2008

Pete , Thanks for your thoughts on the Daily Mail-like the Standard - owned by Associated Newspapers ltd.My libel case against the Standard revolves around freedom of expession and I brought it to protect all of our freedom to express ourselves without becoming the target of lies.Free society does require vigilance.It doesnt just mean anythging goes.Freedom of the press cant mean they can say anything.
If a profile of you appeared in the Standard tomorrow with false photos and false witnesses showing you were a criminal , you wouldnt be able to ignore that.Nor could I ignore an allegation that I glorify terrorism, - a very serious criminal offence-which is a lie and a reversal of the message of Manifest Destiny, my and Dic Edwards opera about would-be suicide bombers who renounce violence,

The freedoms of our civilization hang in the balance under the present neo con governments.Im prepared to take the risk to fight fascism.I really appreciate your support.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  scott_good at 23:33 on 13 September 2008


i'm sorry for insulting your music. it's just my opinion. obviously you have a few supporters out there, and i'm happy for you that you are getting to have your music performed. and congrats on working with ben okri, a fabulous author. and i wish you luck in your case. i would much rather listen to your music than read that awful paper.

but your counters to my points are lame. i never, ever said tonal music is rubish and you had the respectful decency to check out my works, as i did yours, spending time out of my busy schedule to go to your website and utube and get a sense of your overall compositional output, you would quickly learn that i also compose "tonal" music. just because somebody doesn't like your music, doesn't mean you can just put them into a box of your choosing - we are all individuals, and these subjects are very intricate.

and yes, i know you described your opinion of the new era - i just don't think you are fully correct, and, as this is a forum, decided to put down some of my own ideas on the subject you brought up - that is what a good forum is for.

about the boo-ing: i like the punk-ness of this. although, far more intellectually driven than real punk, which is both good and bad. now, if you just spontaneously had to boo at the end because you felt so insulted by what you had heard, well, that would be very admiral and honest. but planning a boo, well, that's just a bit weird. but, i'll give you an A for originality.

so you know, i did hear about this when i was in school - certainly caused a ripple even here across the pond. after, i went right to the library to listen to birtwistle. well, i didn't like the "sound" which you might wish to label as "atonal" but i think it is more complex - it was the kind of atonal that put me off (for instance, i generally prefer the sound of webern and zimmerman to schoenberg and boulez). but, he certainly has skill and tallent and creativity - at times, his orchestration is brilliant.

not worth booing. but i guess your motivations had nothing to do with the music, really. just the politics.

but seriously, why don't you go to an andrew lloyd webber show and boo? i mean, talk about composers who deserve it - one's who really kill our social conscious, and take massive cultural resources away from other artists.

oh, i forgot...he's tonal, so, must be great.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  Jesse Hopkins at 05:58 on 16 February 2009

I completely agree with you about atonal music becoming the new "establishment" for far too long. I didn't formally study music in Boston, but I did run into a great deal of prejudice toward new tonal music whenever I rubbed elbows with Conservatory people or showed my music to them. Met other composers who felt this way too. That was as recent as 1999, so I imagine it is similar now.

Let's face it, though. Tonal composition continued its refinement and expansion in film. As much crap as there is written in film, it also contains some of the best new music of the 20th century. And yes, I am talking about Bernard Herrmann (blasphemy!) Jerry Goldsmith (more blasphemous!) John Williams (faints and vomits!) and Danny Elfman (fills briches while convulsing!)

Film composers couldn't afford to let their audiences miss the point of their work. Less risks? Yes, but the progress is clear. A great deal of today's film music could never have been written in the 19th century, yet it still communicates clearly because it has to. And if it could have been written in the 19th century, so what? Music should function first and foremost.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  keith burstein at 10:00 on 16 February 2009

Hi Jesse

Thanks for your experience re response to tonal new music.Two decades have left me in no doubt that the prejudice within the new classical or new concert music culture against new tonality is real.

It is of course right though that a new tonal music has to compel emotionally and ,if you like,intellectually.Merely to use again an alphabet that can be understood does not guarantee that something great will said in it.But it does, crucially, mean that the possibility of new creative thought which can speak to and with the world is there.

Your point about this creativity flowing into film music is well made.However, I for one, retain a love for music which is free standing and autonomous.Great film music is great film music- its great because it works so wonderfully with its film.It may have many virtues in its own right,but there is no reason why it should work in the concert hall and in my experience usually does not, except as a nostalgic reminder of its power in the film.

Would you agree it must still be possible for composers to create great new music for the concert hall-or opera house- which is challenging, radical,intense, powerful and has a new and rich relation with the universal field of all music - tonality?

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  Jesse Hopkins at 11:32 on 16 February 2009

Absolutely it is possible to write such works as you describe divorced from film, and it has been done in modern history. I'm not placing film music above concert music or Opera, of course. Just saying it is a more fertile environment if you are a dramatic, tonal composer. If you have hours of romantic music in you, you'll actually find the most commissions in video games.

One can achieve their artistic goals in commercial settings. I've made secret political statements in game music. Only I know, for what the client does not know will not hurt them Of course you don't get the attention from music critics working commercially (would anyone really want to unless they had to?), but you get the self satisfaction of writing a lot of music in your style and sometimes having it recorded by great musicians. Think of it as a sanctuary from the harsh world you're fighting against. I see this approach would be in contrast with your goals to challenge the "serious" music establishment, and I encourage you to keep fighting. Hell I'll even help you (your goals are inspiring). But I generally prefer to yield and make change slowly while I satisfy my personal artistic goals in the commercial world.

To say that one thing stands up in a concert hall and the other does not requires some sort of measurement tool, which we really don't have other than our ears and minds. And if our ears and minds are the tools, it is clear that there is much film music that is very interesting to listen to on its own or live. In fact, in some cases, film music stands up more than some accepted concert music has. I would rather see a concert of the full chronological score to my favorite film score than any Sibelius symphony for instance, and I'll bet many people would feel the same.

Although film music's first function is to communicate to the audience of the film, many composers take their work as seriously as they would concert music. Many commercial composers write to achieve their goals as artists while still serving commerce. Many comment on the narrative in a very personal way, and with very personal thoughts and goals. Whatever the intention of the composer, the result of a century of film music is that some great music has been written.

Of course, when something has been composed for a popular film, part of the music's success is based on the general public's familiarity with the film. Admittedly, the public prefers the most memorable tunes from the most memorable films. There is a strong element of nostalgia for many people who attend film music concerts (which in general do little justice to the depth of great film scores - mainly "greatest hits tunes"). So, just because we can establish that the nostalgia factor is an element in the popularity of certain film music, it does not logically follow that music composed for film lacks the qualities required to stand on its own.

Great film music (or any music) is not necessarily the most well known, but it sometimes works out that way. When great music and great film collide, that's when we have indelible works come out of film, but it does not mean the music itself is any better than music for a forgotten film.

Consider that there is no nostalgia factor when one has never seen the film for which the music was written, and a great many film music collectors recount that they have never seen the films of their favorite scores, or didn't until long after they loved the music.

Although I realize the sensitivity of having commercially commissioned music encroach on the privately commissioned performance scene, the only solid differentiation is one of funding sources. There have been shallow works for concert stage as well as film, and profound works for both as well. Although stylistic and intentional divides exist between film music and concert music, that line has been blurred.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  keith burstein at 13:32 on 16 February 2009

I couldnt disagree with any of that(except your comment on Sibelius, whose work I do admire, especially the 7th Symphony) and thanks for putting your case in such detail.Apologies that pressures today lead to me being more brief than I would like , but want to respond while we are thinking.

Its because of artists like you, who are writing with integrity and expressive purpose, from what you say, that I have taken heart from my point of view in relation to the concert hall.

Its partly by hearing that there is great new tonal music being written in the commercial sphere that I understood the concert music can again be tonal.

Now it may be that the concert hall is doomed to die culturally- at least as a place of the radically new.But I hope not because it has been the vessel of wonderful music in the past and I see no limit on that.

So maybe we can form two prongs of an on going process, you covertly- and me overtly.

  Re: Chief Heckler Made Bankrupt-a response  Jesse Hopkins at 00:21 on 17 February 2009

I am glad you basically agree, though I should clarify, that by saying I would rather attend a concert of the best film score (whatever that may be for the reader) performed than a Sibelius symphony, that doesn't detract from the brilliance of those symphonies. It only says that I personally don't find Sibelius to be quite as engaging. You could insert any number of composers that you feel the same way about.

A better analogy would be, take what you think would be the best film score and take what you would think to be the worst accepted concert repertoire, and think about which concert would be better.

One interesting thing you said was "autonomous". It is true that film composers must often defer to directors and producers. Likewise, "serious" composers often defer to the prejudices you challenged with your heckling. So I do find it frustrating that there seems to be very little totally autonomous tonal orchestral music composed these days. It would be nice to see more of that performed. I am sure there is a lot that has been ignored or never given a chance.

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