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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:30 pm 
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Wiser_guy, I don't necessarily agree on your point that rhythm was a secondary component. Many classical forms are partly defined by their rhythm like nowadays dance music - the simple waltz for instance ; the fact that rhythm on the contrary had such an importance, as it defined what kind of music you were writing, might have limited innovation. Piano already had many trouble with fixed forms, for instance with the ever hard to define Sonata or the not-so-freeform Fantasie, so rhythm and meter was something of a stable point. Also, though I'm not too sure, "salon music" and "orchestral music" might have been predominant, limiting the arrival of more "solo" rhythms. For instance, composers that wrote mostly for the piano solo later on, like Chopin or Scriabin, used newer and stranger rhythms.

To get back to Pianolady's initial point, I'd say they didn't use jazz harmonies and melodic lines (unless you'd call some seventh jazzy) because it sounded foreign and plain bad to them. I mean, you can ask the same of Chopin, why didn't he wrote some atonal music ? To people who haven't experienced it, atonal music sounds bad, jazz sounds bad, even Scriabin sounds horrible to some, like Mozart or Bach sounds boring to other. Music is essentially a cultural event, anchored in its time.

To me, a more pertinent question would be : how did XXth century composers like say Rachmaninov or Gerschwin used Jazz in their music, since they knew and heart it ? Invention in music or litterature, or any art form for that matter, works differently than in science ; there isn't some definite truth, some definite beauty to find. It sometimes take several artists to rise an idea to the rank of beauty, and contrary to what Keats might have said, very few beauties remain, to us humans, a joy forever.
In the same vein, we could think on how modern music, like pop music or electronic music, uses all that has come before. On that topic, I can't help but be disappointed ; it seems most of those modern musicians are a little too fond of copying and quoting, rather than expanding what they've heard.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:14 pm 
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Sorry for the late response, Pantelis. I was away from home the past few days. And maybe you have left on your vacation already. Oh well....I'll write something anyway.

wiser_guy wrote:

pianolady wrote:
He would just say something like, “Oh wow – that’s a pretty neat-sounding rhythm I just made up. Think I’ll make it into a piece of music.” Same could apply to harmonies, as well.

No, I don't think this could happen with rhythm. Rhythm is cultivated, not invented. Besides, rhythm was a closed subject for classical composers, they were not looking for innovation there. Rhythm was a secondary component in their music. Any deviation from a straight, standard beat would seem vulgar or rude to them (ragtime was called as such because it messed up and destroyed the straight rhythm feel that everyone was comfortable with at the time).


Yeah – but so what? I know that we associate certain people with creating new kinds of music, i.e. whoever invented Ragtime – was it Joplin? Or even Elvis Presley (ok, maybe he didn't invent the music he sung, but he sure invented those moves - his gyrating hips and all that) (btw - love that!). They were not afraid to ‘go for it’. Someone has to take the first step. Just wondering why it took about 150 years from Beethoven's time.

wiser_guy wrote:
Today we have dance music heard all over. We have music styles which rely solely on rhythm and put harmony and musical ideas in the background. We feel familiar with pieces starting with drums only, we 'get the beat' easily. This was unearthly, alien for people of the past century.


Ok – you’ve got me there. I think I am running out of steam. For some reason I cannot think of anything more to say.




Teddy wrote:
To me, a more pertinent question would be : how did XXth century composers like say Rachmaninov or Gerschwin used Jazz in their music, since they knew and heart it ?


I think Gershwin used jazz elements in practically everything. Just think of all that ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ he wrote! :wink:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:24 pm 
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When I started reading this thread, that spot in the 2nd mvt of op. 111 came to mind immediately, and then somebody else brought it up quite quickly :P

I'd say that one of the first people who used harmonies _and_ rhythms that were REALLY new, different, "ugly", whatever you want to call them, was Stravinsky in his "Rite of Spring", and at the first performance of it a riot broke out. Similarly, when Brahms premiered his 1st piano concerto, after he finished playing the crowd didn't applaud. After a little while of silence, a couple people started clapping, the rest of the audience hissed at them and walked out. They didn't like the "rumbling, grumbling mass of notes" in the beginning of the 1st movement, or how the piece as a whole was "unbalanced" with the mammoth 1st movement and the rest of the piece being comparatively light.

Another example, Liszt's piano sonata (now recognized as one of his best works) was called in a review right after Liszt wrote it "Liszt's new composition, or rather DEcomposition". People weren't always as open to new ideas of harmony and rhythm and form as they are now... So when a composer was truly "innovative", they were hated in their time and then later people rediscovered them. I guess what you have to realize is that a step from the "simple" harmonies and harmonic progressions of Scarlatti or early Mozart to newer "jazz" chords, the stuff Scriabin or Schoenburg or Prokofiev or Bartok or Stravinsky or.............. wrote, doesn't just all of a sudden happen over night... there have to be steps towards it. Every now and then a bigger step is taken (like with Brahms or Stravinsky), but it has to happen in steps nonetheless.

On a side note, somebody said something about cool harmonies being lost to the audience because they go by so fast. I think this is the great thing about being the musician. It's like... music is beautiful in itself when it's performed already, but we as the musician, while we're working on the piece, get to know all the secrets and extra special moments. At least that's what makes it so great to me. Then every now and then, there's a "secret" that you get to share with your audience... THEN there are the people who find something special to share with the audience in almost every piece, and I think that's when you get a really great artist. Horowitz comes to mind :P But yeah... there's a certain chord in the Prokofiev sonata movement that I play (the 4th movement of the 6th sonata) that's like that though. I LOVE it when I'm practicing slow, and then when I play it up to tempo it doesn't even sound like the same chord :P

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:22 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
And maybe you have left on your vacation already.

Grrr, I still have some days left behind the city walls.

pianolady wrote:
whoever invented Ragtime – was it Joplin?

No, I don't think that ragitme was invented by anyone in particular. It evolved naturally from cakewalks. Stride from ragtime, swing from New Orleans street bands etc. The fact that certain composers are closely linked to a certain style, doesn't mean that they invented it. They might have played a significant role in its shaping and establishing a solid commercial form but invented it? No.

diminished2nd wrote:
Then every now and then, there's a "secret" that you get to share with your audience... THEN there are the people who find something special to share with the audience in almost every piece, and I think that's when you get a really great artist.

So true, you're so right about that.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:33 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
... The music in that video is rubbish! I hate it. ...

Here's the answer: If Beethoven had "foreseen" and actually composed jazz music or twelve-tone music or minimal music or whatsoever music that has been composed a hundred years later, his contemporaries would have reacted exactly like you did in response to this video. And, I think many of us would also have commented like that, if we had lived at that time.

Born in the 20th century we are used to all sorts of "strange" music (and god forbid! -- some people even like music like that heard in the video -- how disgusting! ;-) ) , but back then to Beethoven's times (leaving away the fact that the majority of us would have never heard his music, because at that time only very very privileged people had the possibility to listen to Beethoven's, Mozart's etc. music) most of us would not have considered jazz music as music, but just as dirt (I suppose there were many who considered the music he actually wrote as rubbish).

So, why did Beethoven not compose like Boulez? Did Beethoven care for an audience? If so, why did the composer of the music from the video (obviously) not care for an audience?

To sum up my thoughts: What you consider as rubbish is always relative and dependent upon the context you're liviing in.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:33 pm 
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Hi Thorsten, I'm glad you have stopped in for a visit.

I totally get what you are saying. But I think it is funny that you mentioned Boulez. He is not one of my favorite composers. I once sat through Pollini playing a Boulez piano sonata (or something like that) and felt like leaving the concert hall right afterwards. Felt like I had not gotten my money's worth for the ticket price! Good thing I didn't leave, though, because next came some Chopin. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:10 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
... Boulez. He is not one of my favorite composers.

Hi Monica!
He's not among my favorites too :-). I have my problems with a lot of the "modern" stuff too (among them serial compositions like the one from the video mentioned above), but then I ask myself: "So why do you think Beethoven is a great composer, how can you say Boulez isn't?"

I once read an interview with composer Wolgang Rihm, in which he said (I don't remember in which context) that if you listen to Beethoven and his contemporary Ferdinand Ries, you would definitely be able to tell the difference. So I just bought a CD with Ries piano sonatas. So I sat down listening, and it was an interesting listening experience. I think if someone who knows almost no classical piano music was given a recording of one or two Beethoven sonatas and subsequently had to listen to a Ries sonata would guess that the last one was just another Beethoven sonata. This was also my first impression: Someone tries to copy Beethoven, on the surface it sounds like Beethoven. But listening again, it becomes clear that the "core" is missing: this certain impact, strength of Beethoven; certain passanges seem a bit clumsy.

To make things short: I'm somewhat lost in the discussion about "great" composers and "masterpieces" and "rubbish" (;-)), although I definitely consider some works masterpieces. Hmm, does this sound confusing...? I realize this is all off-topic ..... D'oh!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:57 am 
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Don't worry - I've gone off topic once or twice myself. :wink: I'm glad when people share their thoughts here on Piano Society. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:07 pm 
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I've been fascinated by this discussion and decided to put my two cents in. Hope I'm not resurrecting a dead dog.

One thing to consider is that particular types of chords are not necessarily "jazzy" in and of themselves. Actually, a quick perusal of the thorough-bass section of C.P.E Bach's "True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments" shows most of the types of chords used in jazz -- Maj 7, Maj 9, #11, b9, et. al. Beethoven was known to have studied this so he would not have needed to find them through the "hunt and peck" method.

The main difference is how they are used. In the Baroque, Classical, and even most of the Romantic mind-sets, these dissonances were melodic functions (non-harmonic tones) that required resolution. In the jazz mind-set, these notes are non-functional color tones (called "tensions" in jazz parlance). For this to happen, Beethoven would have had to free the dissonances from their melodic function.

Another thing that occurs frequently in jazz type harmonies is the use of parallelism -- particularly parallel dissonances. This took such people as Debussy and Ravel to really develop.

One more thought is that what we consider as "jazz" harmony actually developed over a century and was borrowed from many sources. The first three measures of Berg's piano sonata (1907?) is pure jazz but that type of harmony wasn't incorporated into jazz until around the 1950's in Be-Bop. Gershwin's improvisations from 1926 and 1928 (I have transcriptions of them) vary rarely use any chords that is beyond the harmonic pallet of Beethoven. His melodic uses of the blue notes (b3 and b7) are very often harmonized with simple triads in a very "Beethoven" Manner (Major followed by minor).

The influence of the impressionists didn't occur until the 1930's with such jazz pianists as Art Tatum. Not until the 1950's do we get a reliance on chords with all of the 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths -- natural and altered. These harmonies, though the chord symbols indicate them in tertian terms, often owe more to quartal concepts (chords built on 4ths) in actual practice.

So, for Beethoven to have come up with any kind of "jazz" would have required that he develop nearly two centuries of musical concepts -- in otherwords, to create a whole new musical language, not just create a new "hip" pharse or two. It would be akin to Shakespere having gone directly to writing "West Side Story" instead of "Romeo and Juliette" (Mambo anyone?)

Anyway, just some thoughts on the issue.

Scott


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:13 pm 
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Nobody minds if someone resurrects a dead dog unless it involves me having to do some work. :lol: But seriously, you are very knowledgeable and it is great to have people come onto the forum with different things to say.

go Jets... :wink:

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