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  NeoClassicism  MartinY at 08:36 on 07 August 2009
 

Just in case anyone thought I was confusing fabricating a baroque work with neoclassicism I will say a little more about what I feel is interesting. I have never really found Stravinsky's neoclassicism satisfactory. Pulcinella is entertaining but really what is the point of taking a baroque piece and orchestrating it in a silly way and putting wrong notes in it? I suppose it does give another view of how you might think about baroque material and is a useful model for film music.

Now Respighi is different but also problematical. A brilliant surface sound but what does it mean? Many modern works have had a comment made about them which amounts to brilliant orchestration but I do not know if the notes mean anything. If this were enought Respighi would be the greatest composer ever..... but........

Now recently I have been looking at Reger. At first I thought this is ridiculously too much like Sebastian Bach but quirky. After a while you get used to it and he is rather good at writing happy melodies. The articulation on the music clearly shows there was little understanding of baroque performance and if you played JSB with Reger like articulation it would sound terrible, a bit like the solo violin partitas used to until violinists spent decades working out how to play them. (Interestingly the 'cello suites can stand an over-romantic interpretation better than the violin partitas.)

The most successful use of neoclassical music is I think Bartok. He uses baroque practices but the result is so unique, modern and Hungarian with a whiff of Transylvania and Arabia. There is no hint of a suggestion that he has taken a Bach invention and replaced all the notes with wrong ones and the music has an organic life of its own.

Do not know what to think about Hindemith, but I thought the opera Mathis der Maler was tremendous, but then I even liked some of Pfitzner's Palestrina. I suppose I ought to get Ludis Tonalis and the Shostakovich Fugues out of the library for a bit. (My car is out of action so I am stuck with looking at public domain scores from the web for a few days.)


  Re: NeoClassicism  scott_good at 04:06 on 08 August 2009
 

humm..well, what does any note of any music mean? Really. They only function in relation to each other, so, if the composer can weave them together effectively, they have meaning.

I can't really accept your analysis of Pulcinella. Ok, you are being cheeky, sure, but still for me, the original music is utterly transformed into something new. And this, of course, is old school. It's what composers have been doing since the beginning. Taking pre-existing material and making it their own. Perhaps it is simply that you aren't attracted to the derivations that Stravinsky took - and well, that's ok!

I quite like Respighi. In particular, the Pines of Rome is a spectacular work - what does it mean...gosh, I guess it means what he sets out to mean - it is tone poetry. I think it works well, but, no, I don't think of it in the same way I would Bach. But, I'm very glad he wrote his music!

I agree that Mathis de Mahler is extraordinary - what a monumental work. Ludus Tonalis is secondary in my opinion - it's fine but not overly inspiring to me. But, I really do like the Shostakovitch Preludes and Fugues. I know not all do, but some of them are just great (e min, and G# min fugues in particular).

My overall feeling is whatever...whatever drives the composer to do what they do is ok. If it is revisiting the past, by all means. Just do the absolute best job you can. Try to become very involved with the process, and cherish each note put to paper in the way that YOU cherish each note, not someone else. Be picky. Push off the older material to discover something new in your self. I have loved composing pieces in an "older style" when I have taken it on.



  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 07:32 on 08 August 2009
 

Yes Scott I am being a little extreme because I do enjoy Stravinsky's neo-classical pieces. I have mentioned elsewhere that it is good to have views which allow you to make decisions. It is a bit like the donkey with two piles of hay which starves to death between them because he can't decide which one to go for. (Which philospher started that one? I forget.) If you have irrational and continually changing opinions you can make quick decisions and go forward even though you might not be doing something which is right. At the moment I favour Bartok over Stravinsky.

(I heard a tremendous piece by the young Ligeti, the Romanian Concerto, last year, which is in the folk influenced Bartok style. It is worth a listen and must be a nightmare for the leader to play (very high solo).)

The Pines of Rome was on the proms a couple of days ago... Most of them are on TV now in the UK. There have been some new compositions broadcast also, including Oliver Knussen's new Horn Concerto.

As an aside Bartok was notoriously humourless and difficult to deal with, almost certainly because he had Asperger's Syndrome. He would not have appreciated what one American schoolchild is reputed to have written: General Lee won every battle he fought until he invaded Transylvania.

As another aside, what is the offical top note of the violin beyond which union officials say you not obliged to play? I suppose you are not limited by the end of the fingerboard because several folk instruments have no fingerboard and stop against a finger nail????

  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 08:27 on 08 August 2009
 

To come back to Scott's final paragraph, I also think he is right that we should have passion and belief in our music. One of the problems is that many of us no longer care. I was once at a music society concert where there was a fight but this was due to one of the performers being mentally ill and a member of the audience having a personality defect rather than any passion about the music, (the music was a Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth, a rather good set of songs).

The offendedness of audiences in the early 20th century has gone away, it is difficult to think of the audience rioting because a Berg song had been programmed or an eminent professor having to shout at people to shut up so the piece could go on.

However I understand there is a criminal offence in the US called depraved indifference but this does not cover deciding to switch channels from the new piece on TV to CSI and pouring yourself a drink which is what I often do in the prom season.

I gather there was nearly a punch-up at a lute concert in Glasgow and rude exchanges between the performer and a member of the audience who was told to stop disrupting the concert or he himself would be attacked by the soloist and appreciative members of the audience, (written up in one of the lute newsletters). He apparantly sat down and listened to the rest of the concert peacefully. The dispute was generated by the politics of the family of a composer who had been dead for nearly three hundred years!

  Re: NeoClassicism  Misuc at 18:33 on 08 August 2009
 

Martin, how could you?

Pulcinella is more Pergolesi than Pergolesi himself. {We know that to be literally true, now we know that his originals were not mostly actually the work of Pergolesi)

I have the 'original' trio sonatas. Once removed from Stravinsky's piquant setting, they are totally bland and colourless. Stravinsky lends them a sparkling artifice, burns their skin with a Neapolitan sun, brings out their carnavalesque gestures and turns of phrase. It is like a mildly Cubist portrait 'Pergolesi' from all sides - like Picasso's Variations on Velasquez and others.

Preclassical music can never be the same again.

I can't help thinking about what someone said about a much more profoundly neoclassical composer, who spoke about Schoenberg's influence on Bach'!

Stravinsky himself was very impressionable and not very politically literate. His inner circle referred to his 'neoclassical' period as his Mussolini period' motivated perhaps by the archetypically surly Northerner's longing for the supposed sensuality and carefree extrovert passionate expression of the South.

--which brings us back to that 'Italisn' prom concert with the Respighi. I've got to say I turned it off for that piece, but I listened carefully to Maxwell Davies' Roma Amorwhich for me was almost as turgid, constipated, vulgar, pompous and pretentious as the Respighi I had been avoiding and not nearly as effective, well-constructed or consistent.

There were signs of a new trend in some interesting Prom commissions this year. I'm going to open a new thread on that.



  Re: NeoClassicism  scott_good at 01:43 on 09 August 2009
 

"I can't help thinking about what someone said about a much more profoundly neoclassical composer, who spoke about Schoenberg's influence on Bach'!"

That's great!

"turgid, constipated, vulgar, pompous and pretentious"

Ah, but that's why I like it so.

  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 08:34 on 09 August 2009
 

I think I have got it in for the Stravinsky piece because it is too civilised, modern, and culturally referential, wheras Bartok is elemental. I imagine that the snails in the garden would understand and appreciate the Bartok but they would need human culture to appreciate the Stravinsky, but this is sheer fantasy because all they appreciate is the succulent bits of plants and other snails.

I keep thinking what my ideal music would be, and it is more like Bartok than Stravinsky. But of course if I achieved my ideal music it would probably immediately become priggish and boring because it is always a bad thing to get exactly what you wish for.

  Re: NeoClassicism  ruska02 at 15:39 on 09 August 2009
 

"I listened carefully to Maxwell Davies' Roma Amorwhich for me was almost as turgid, constipated, vulgar, pompous and pretentious as the Respighi I had been avoiding and not nearly as effective, well-constructed or consistent.

There were signs of a new trend in some interesting Prom commissions this year. I'm going to open a new thread on that. "

I subscribe this opinion on Maxwell Davis Work and I am looking forward your light on this Prof Silverman. I checked carefully all the Proms, nothing was really shining out beside Michel J. may be you liked Goldie :-)

Roberto David Composer
www.intrasonus.eu


  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 14:07 on 27 September 2010
 

I have been looking at a thread on another site where their take on neoclassicism seemed to be to try and reproduce a fugue not by Bach but which could have been written by Bach. I do not really know what the point of this is though to write a computer program to do that would seem like a sensible piece of research, (it is already being done with some limited success though of course nothing aesthetically valuable has come out).

Neoclassicism for most of us is Stravinsky. I was going to advise them to look at other exponents of neoclassicism, Peter Warlock, Respighi, Max Reger, Alfredo Casella etc. which might be more useful than trying to reproduce Bach but I do not think I will bother. I have my own current take on neoclassicism which is nothing like those composers, (I may explain it later), but I was looking at Max Reger's take on unaccompanied Bach last month. Someone I showed a Reger piece to said, that is a pretty good piece for such a rotten fugue subject.

But back to Respighi:

"turgid, constipated, vulgar, pompous and pretentious"

Ah, but that's why I like it so."

I have spotted a piece by one of Max Reger's pupils which surpasses the Pines of Rome to be:
"turgid, constipated, vulgar, flatulent, pretentious and quite wonderful"

The fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper, as recorded by Reiner and the CSO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDhdEXK1M3A&feature=fvw

  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 15:38 on 27 September 2010
 

My current idea about neoclassicism, I was reminded of this by the Reiner recording and Fritz Reiner's interesting take on micro-intonation. Because the oboe A was 4 cents sharp the organ appeared to be 4 cents flat so Reiner told the brass to play so loudly that the organ was inaudible.

I have been abstracting baroque procedures into mechanical processes and applying them assuming that pitch, time and instrumental colour are continuous. I then quantize back into equal temperament and a sensible time signature so that it can be converted into normal notation. After then rewriting the result to make it musical you get something not a million miles away from what you could have composed directly. Of course depending on the complexity of your operators and the way you quantise out of the continua you could get very irregular rythms or quarter tones or third tones etc. You could have rules for quantising onto special superiour tones etc. I have not produced anything good yet but I am finding out interesting things.

I will ask the forum about the order of instrumental colour which would form a continuum when I have thought more about it. It is very subjective and may not be the same for different people. Do spectralist composers have a view on this?


  Re: NeoClassicism  MartinY at 14:36 on 29 September 2010
 

Classification of instrumental colour......

I am thinking about it entirely within the string quartet. There are 12 different strings which can be played in many ways (dolce pp, pesante, spicato etc.) so there is a huge gradation of possible colour from a small ensemble. I was also thinking about the Villa Lobos guitar piece where the open top E pitch is repeatedly played on 3 different strings. What quite is going on when you hear this..... I know lots of composers have been here before, so maybe there is little new to get out of it.

  Re: NeoClassicism  scott_good at 15:13 on 29 September 2010
 

"My current idea about neoclassicism, I was reminded of this by the Reiner recording and Fritz Reiner's interesting take on micro-intonation. Because the oboe A was 4 cents sharp the organ appeared to be 4 cents flat so Reiner told the brass to play so loudly that the organ was inaudible. "

Oh Martin....that music is too much!

Intonation by annihilation!!!!!

----------------

You have approaches to music making that are unique - more like a scientist in a way - vague hypothesis, experimentation, tabling results...and then fudging the data!!

It's all good, but something to consider -

is it technique, then music...or music, then technique?

what i mean is what is driving the exploration - curiosity? ok, cool. but what about other motivations, such as drama, or emotion. so, rather than worrying about baroque procedures as a starting point, simply think about a non-musical concept that you wish to explore, and then the technique needed to realize that concept.

once you start thinking this way, terms like "neo-classical" go out the window - nothing matters but finding the right aesthetic to match the subject, and realizing to the best of your ability/time restraint. i think this, more than math and that, is where musical creativity comes from. and those "baroque procedures" transform from static (computer bits and bytes - facts), to dynamic (creative engines - possibilities) in the imagination.