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This 22 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] 
  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  MartinY at 10:07 on 19 June 2009
 

I do not really like any minimalist music at all. I can cope with John Adams if the piece has something about it but the endless repetition of some of the other music just makes me go and do something else. This is another argument against formal concerts where you get trapped in a row of people having to listen politely to the end of some load of rubbish when you could be doing something useful (define useful?).

I wondered about the complexity integer of a piece. If you calculated the complexity per minute of a good collection of successful, (how do you define that?), pieces of music do you get a Gaussian distruibution, (symmetrical about the maximum), or do you get a whaleback with a tail going to either simplicity or greater complexity. I imagine somebody must have done this, but maybe not?

One of the problems which you get writing new music, and also editing old music is that players do not want to play it, and this is another aspect of competition for time. Time and time again I have had string players saying we do not want to play this, (say Reger or Delius let alone something written last year), because we could be playing Haydn. Viol players say we won't do this music, (in one case Abraham van der Kerckhoven, a really fine 17thC Flemish organist), because we could be playing Jenkins.

Of course professionals have to play what they are paid to play, but then you get back to formal concerts where the players are paid to play and the audience can't escape once they have made the serious mistake of buying a ticket.

In a way composing is like arriving at a party where all the most famous writers in history are still alive and there talking so nobody else can get any attention. However when I have been to some tedious concert I also think lets go home and play 4-part Jenkins instead.

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  MartinY at 16:55 on 19 June 2009
 

I will push the P-word off the top of the stack. I had never come across it until I was travelling, staying in a hotel, a few days ago and could not get the TV station I wanted so I had to watch that rubbish. It left me unable to say anything sensible, just as you subsequently said it would........

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  scott_good at 05:15 on 20 June 2009
 

"This is another argument against formal concerts where you get trapped in a row of people having to listen politely to the end of some load of rubbish when you could be doing something useful (define useful?)."

Sure, but this has happened with me and Schubert. Buyer beware!

But, nothing wrong with informal concerts as well! Mix it up. Have some fun with it.

"I wondered about the complexity integer of a piece. If you calculated the complexity per minute of a good collection of successful, (how do you define that?), pieces of music do you get a Gaussian distruibution, (symmetrical about the maximum), or do you get a whaleback with a tail going to either simplicity or greater complexity. I imagine somebody must have done this, but maybe not?"

I would imagine that it would be Gaussian. A balanced approach seems most likely to produce the best results - that's what gives the work depth. Like cooking. A great sauce blends the flavors together as one - perhaps a dominant flavor (tomato or say basil), but the rest compliment and sooth the experience. It could have some spice, but too much, and not blended, it becomes overpowering, and has no depth.

This is also like wine...and archetechture...and...

There will be exceptions, but as the expression goes, will not not make the rule.

"One of the problems which you get writing new music, and also editing old music is that players do not want to play it, and this is another aspect of competition for time. Time and time again I have had string players saying we do not want to play this, (say Reger or Delius let alone something written last year), because we could be playing Haydn. Viol players say we won't do this music, (in one case Abraham van der Kerckhoven, a really fine 17thC Flemish organist), because we could be playing Jenkins."

Humm...well, as a programmer, one has to look at a balance. Nothing wrong with playing Haydn, but it must be balanced with other music (of course!).

It is also the composers duty to compose something the players want to play! Something that loves them, and treats them like a human being, not a sound maker. This is one of the biggest issues I see in modern composition.

"Of course professionals have to play what they are paid to play, but then you get back to formal concerts where the players are paid to play and the audience can't escape once they have made the serious mistake of buying a ticket."

That is why programming/concert curating is such a serious issue - or at least should be. Sometimes, it is about appropriateness or timing, but not the actual work that creates unease.

"In a way composing is like arriving at a party where all the most famous writers in history are still alive and there talking so nobody else can get any attention."

Sorry, but that is too pessimistic for my temperament. Rise up, work obsessively, and show them you are just as worthy to sit at the table. There will always be more chairs.

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  Misuc at 16:46 on 20 June 2009
 

We've gone a long way in this discussion. I'm afraid I've got too much to say about all of it to be able to say it.

Let's take this issue of complexity. There's a difference between being complex and being complicated. Haydn's thinking is complex. The music of the 'new complexity' composers is, in itself, merely complicated. They write about all the elements that make up music in a loathsome self-important pseudo-scientific style as dense and deliberately unintelligible as their notes. They make a fetish of the written note. The notes go far, far beyond what they are capable of imagining. I wrote of one of them that he was like a spoilt schoolboy picking the wings off an ant or smashing a watch to see how time works. Actually just today, by coincidence, I found a quote by Jenkins' friend, Matthew Locke (note how their words are as pungent as their notes!). Each of them wrote a letter praising a little book about composition by Christopher Simpson. Locke wrote, in part:

"....And though perchance our new lights (of which this age has been monstrous fruitful) who can speculate how many hairs' breadths will reach from the top of Paul's steeple to the centre of a full moon and demonstrate that the thousandth part of a minute after, there will be so many more hairs necessary by means of the earth's or moon's motion; yet we poor practical men, who do because we do (as they are pleased to censure us)are content with such rules and predicaments only as are or may be useful to us, or such whose genius incline that way, leaving the rest to those who love to busy themselves about nothing......"


That is being complicated. Locke's music, like Simpson's, like Haydn's is complex in a way which transcends Gaussian stuff (I think). This is because each note is the outcome of a complex interplay of 'out-of-time' and 'in-time' (to use Xenakis' terms) mechanisms- the pull of line vs the implied harmonic direction, the individual motif vs the tonal/modal pallette, the place(multiple simultaneous roles as beginning, continuation, summing up etc.) in the structure or sub-structure (phrase, section, movement...). Or, to put it more simply, the power of each note to influence the whole is so much greater in a Haydn Sonata movement, where the sharpening of one note can treble the length of a movement than 1000 notes in a 'new complexity' piece: this means that there levels of complexity even in the simplest Haydn Menuet that are unknown to the brainiest complexists (and don't even mention the minimalists here)

[By the way, even though I hate their words, I find myself strangely stirred by the noises of random excitement in a lot of 'complex' music]

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  MartinY at 20:28 on 20 June 2009
 

Yes Misuc, the Gaussian stuff is inadequate, though formally correct in a limited situation. The credit crunch partially happened because numerate rocket scientists used statistics to get a set of continuous variables which they could apply calculus to. However the reality was like that some of the time but subject to non-linear effects and phase changes which were outside their models. I think this is something like Locke was saying was inadequate about restoration science though he described it in a pre-calculus language.........

I am pleased so many people like Haydn. Try the game of predict the next two bars when listening to derivative music. Usually you can do it, what comes is what you expect. Try that with Haydn. Even though the music is totally convincing you can't predict it......

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  Misuc at 01:38 on 21 June 2009
 

I think the point (e.g. about Haydn's unpredictable inevitability) is all to do with fractals, chaos theory and so on. I have a great many thoughts on this, but I need help in sorting the idea out more exactly. Does any of you know the maths?

  Re: Philip Glass discusses modern music with Nico Muhly  scott_good at 04:51 on 21 June 2009
 

I don't know the specific math (yet), but I think this is a very wise assertion (and was what I meant but didn't say it - that the context effects the complexity curve - I think that just has to be). But, if the context is a constant, and subsequent complexities are tempered towards the constant, quality will appear in a bell curve in relation to comparitive complexity.

That is just ugly...numbers and x,y,z would do us much better...

Something like:

x = weight of complexity
y = complexity algorithm relating to context (so y is a formula with it's own variables relating to culture (a) and specific aims of individual works (b))
z = quality of work

Anyone? I'm curious to give it a try, but I'm not sure if I have both chops and time.

Scott

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