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 Post subject: Distinction between Classical and Non-Classical Piano Music
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:56 pm 
To the admins of PS, I am sorry I did not introduce myself on the prior post where I posted my video.

My name is Jack. I am Big fan of PS! There, I have introduced myself. What I would like to know, and this post is related in some way to the post "what do pianists want?" but what I would like to know is what makes a piano piece classical. What I am first going to do is write what I think makes a piano piece classical, and please feel free to argue and interpose your comments of what you think, or why what I say is wrong. Speaking of which, please read my brief notice :)

Brief Notice:
I understand that progress is made this way in academics--one man or woman makes a claim, and another rejects it altogether, modifies it and agrees, or rarely you have the case where a person will agree with you without further ado.

Ok. What I think makes a piano piece classical:

General criteria:

-The piece can be played over and over again and sound beautiful every time!

-This piece does not have music motifs that are overly repetitious!! (as it would not sound good if you played it over and over again)

-There is some sort of narrative conveying in this piece. Narrative in its most basic form--hasten i mention its most generic form: There is a goal of some sort. The goal can not be reached because there is an obstacle standing in the way. This obstacle is heard musically. Some part of the piece contains the struggle of overcoming the "so called" obstacle. Maybe it happens once, likely it will happen more than once. Eventually we will hear a climax. What follows is the conclusion of the piece. In a large way music composition should be like composing a well rounded narrative.

-Repetition is used correctly. This is to say that we hear a chord progression introduced in the beginning of the piece, and it is used to correct effect later on in the piece. It is not played again and again and again without being spliced after a new chord progression.

There you have it, some general guidelines of what I believe makes a classical piano piece. It is not made to read like an instruction book for how to make a classical piece, but only how to evaluate such a piece. I listen to just about any piece by bach, and it hits all of the criteria.

What do you think?


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 Post subject: Re: Distinction between Classical and Non-Classical Piano Mu
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:23 pm 
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Jackpringle123 wrote:
Ok. What I think makes a piano piece classical:

General criteria:

-The piece can be played over and over again and sound beautiful every time!


This is highly subjective. Take something dodecaphonic and most classical listeners wouldn't find it beautiful even the first time.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
-This piece does not have music motifs that are overly repetitious!! (as it would not sound good if you played it over and over again)


Minimalism? Aren't Reich, Glass & Co classical composers?

Jackpringle123 wrote:
-There is some sort of narrative conveying in this piece.


Not at all. There's plenty of "abstract" classical music, without any narrative contents or the such.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
-Repetition is used correctly. This is to say that we hear a chord progression introduced in the beginning of the piece, and it is used to correct effect later on in the piece. It is not played again and again and again without being spliced after a new chord progression.


This is too narrow a criterion to be useful. By the way, what does it make the use of a repetition correct?


Jackpringle123 wrote:
What do you think?


Don't reinvent the wheel, a pretty good and generally agreeable definition of classical (music) is given on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

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 Post subject: Re: Distinction between Classical and Non-Classical Piano Mu
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:39 pm 
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alf wrote:
Don't reinvent the wheel, a pretty good and generally agreeable definition of classical (music) is given on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

That definition is vague and also falls short of defining what is considered to be 'legitimate' music in academia.

Wiki wrote:
European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century

We studied a number of composers who use pictorial and other kinds of notation. There was one that was just a random drawing, and the performers are supposed to play whatever the picture inspires them to play (please forgive me for not remembering the name of the 'composer'). On the final exam, we were asked to describe what this 'notation' meant. I said, 'It means to just play whatever.' How sad is that? It was the correct answer, of course...you might as well just record the orchestra warming up and sell it.

If a composer of popular music write out everything he sings/plays in Finale™, does that make it classical music?

There is something else going on here: it's not about reinventing the wheel, but about defining it properly, which I don't believe has been done.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on what makes piano music classical
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:36 pm 
Hi Alf,

First of all, thanks for your response, and I will try to address you and then Terez.
Quote:
-The piece can be played over and over again and sound beautiful every time!


This is highly subjective. Take something dodecaphonic and most classical listeners wouldn't find it beautiful even the first time.


When you said it is high subjective I agree, I was not being specific enough. However when you talk about dodecaphonic or twelve tone music, this makes me think of Phillip Glass. He will input a bar chord into a synthesizer, then we will hear the three notes play over and over :roll: . To some people this is not a pleasurable musical experience. I confess I am one of them. I am thinking of Theile's Chromatic Fantasy in Fugue, writing this question, and if you know a piano piece in the classical repetoire that you enjoy listening to over and over again then it is interesting to pick apart what makes it so ... easy to listen to over and over again. and I encourage you to tell me what the result is.

Quote:
Minimalism? Aren't Reich, Glass & Co classical composers?


Interesting. I have yet to hear Reich, but in my mind Phillip Glass is not composer that deserves a space in the classical music canon. I will say his music has elements of classical music, but let me qoute him in his own words: he claims he is "a composer of repetitive structures." So if he does not claim to be a classical composer, why should we arrive at that conclusion? of course one my argue that what a composers says in words is as important compared to what a composer writes in music, no doubt some of his newer music is beginning to step into the classical realm.

Quote:
-There is some sort of narrative conveying in this piece.


Not at all. There's plenty of "abstract" classical music, without any narrative contents or the such.


Are you referring to a specific composer in general? I guess i was not being specific with saying a narrative makes a classical piano piece. Fritz Froschhammer may be a good example, specifically his work "nacht". It is structured, though very atonal, in some ways without a narrative, but I think it is an excellent contribution to the world of classical piano music. Again, what one agrees on as "narrative" is malleable and non-permanent. Someone could say a piece is a narrative, and the next could think it is a farcry from a narrative. Depends on your perspective.
Quote:
This is to say that we hear a chord progression introduced in the beginning of the piece, and it is used to correct effect later on in the piece. This is too narrow a criterion to be useful. By the way, what does it make the use of a repetition correct?


Good question. I think this is a study of musical form. we have this format, AAAB, or AABB or AABA or ABBA and all of the different variations. It makes the audience pick up certain themes and hold them, remember them. So to answer your question, what makes it ok to use repetition later in a piece is that it is introduced earlier, either once or more than once. If you hear it that first time, the second time you hear it, the melody is stronger and the piece is not a scatterbrain of elements whose form is ACDBECBA, in other words not well defined.
Quote:
Don't reinvent the wheel, a pretty good and generally agreeable definition of classical (music) is given on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music


Interesting. Though you seem to be making the assumption that wikipedia is the resource that is worth its salt on what what makes a piano piece classical--a fair question by itself. Is classification what makes a piece classical (ie."European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. yada yada", or is it purely a type of experience that one feels when listening to a piano piece performed by the composer perfectly, that which is hard to define in so many words.

Ok. Alf, thanks for your comments. I turn now to answer Terez.

Quote:
agreeable definition of classical (music) is given on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

That definition is vague and also falls short of defining what is considered to be 'legitimate' music in academia.


I must say that I agree with you Terez. While I do like the structure of classical music, that the periods started and ended at a certain time, for example, that the baroque period of classical music started in 1600 and ended in 1760, it does little to answer what is on the table, if a unknown piano piece, then is it a piece that is classical music? Another way to look at wikipedia is with skepticism: that with anyone able to edit entries, how can quality come from that process? The counterarg being that with so many people editing the right answer is forced to the front, but I digress. 8)

Quote:
There was one that was just a random drawing, and the performers are supposed to play whatever the picture inspires them to play


I am little confused. So I could ask my brother, who is five, to write on a piece of paper. I could then ask him to play on the piano, asking him to play what the picture inspires him to play, and he will make classical piano music? I am not sure what I would hear would be nice to my ears... :?
Are you saying that this is what you are learning, and it is sad? Or that this is sad that there should be a better method?

Quote:
you might as well just record the orchestra warming up and sell it.


If somebody recorded the orchestra warming up, nobody would buy it! So are you saying that classical music must have a price tag to be classical music? Is something only valuable if it has a price tag?? I hope not--one of the reasons I am not an item listed on ebay :lol:
all kidding aside, I hope that classical music is something special and not something that you can throw together on finale. I do not think that anything wonderfully classical can come from something that is through together without some thought, without some serious thinking. some risks, well, you get the picture.

Quote:
There is something else going on here: it's not about reinventing the wheel, but about defining it properly, which I don't believe has been done.


I confess it has not been done to justice. I wonder what Franz Liszt would say to this question or Frederique Chopin, or Enrique Granados, or Bach.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on what makes piano music classical
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Jackpringle123 wrote:
However when you talk about dodecaphonic or twelve tone music, this makes me think of Phillip Glass. He will input a bar chord into a synthesizer, then we will hear the three notes play over and over :roll: .

Dodecaphonic music is twelve-tone music, or music that employs tone rows. Wikipedia gives a decent summary of it. :wink:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecaphonic_music

Jack wrote:
I am little confused. So I could ask my brother, who is five, to write on a piece of paper. I could then ask him to play on the piano, asking him to play what the picture inspires him to play, and he will make classical piano music? I am not sure what I would hear would be nice to my ears... :?
Are you saying that this is what you are learning, and it is sad? Or that this is sad that there should be a better method?

It is sad to me that this sort of thing is considered to be art music. I think it's crap. But that's just my opinion.

Jack wrote:
I wonder what Franz Liszt would say to this question or Frederique Chopin, or Enrique Granados, or Bach.

Well, the question wasn't really as relevant in their eras. It was somewhat relevant, and Wiki's definition would probably apply best here, where legitimate music was written down, and other music, popular music, was the sort of thing you would hear in the inn common room on evenings, music that was learned by rote. Tunes that were well-known across national boundaries sometimes, with different words. Some of these tunes were used in classical music. But now we have 'classical' music that isn't really possible to write down properly, and uses recorded tracks, and conversely, we have popular music songbooks.

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 Post subject: Re: Distinction between Classical and Non-Classical Piano Mu
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:24 pm 
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Terez wrote:
alf wrote:
Don't reinvent the wheel, a pretty good and generally agreeable definition of classical (music) is given on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

That definition is vague and also falls short of defining what is considered to be 'legitimate' music in academia.


Yes, Wikipedia is not the Grove (but if you look better, it quotes the Grove and other reliable sources), that's why I added "pretty" and "generally". ;) It still gives the layman a working definition of (Western) CM. I think that a better Wikipedia article about this topic is under "Art music" ("Art" and "Classical" are of course interchangeable here, even though "classical" may sound misleading and "art" discriminatory against other kind of valuable music not considered "classical").

Terez wrote:
Wiki wrote:
European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century

We studied a number of composers who use pictorial and other kinds of notation. There was one that was just a random drawing, and the performers are supposed to play whatever the picture inspires them to play (please forgive me for not remembering the name of the 'composer').


Hermann Rorschach? :P

Seriously, the notation thing of course cannot be a good criterion, both ways.


Terez wrote:
There is something else going on here: it's not about reinventing the wheel, but about defining it properly, which I don't believe has been done.


Then I'll do it now for the original poster: a piano piece can be labeled as "classical" if liked by less than five per cent of a random sample of listeners. Beautifully simple, except that you have to run a poll every time.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:32 am 
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I remember when I was a kid there was an insult that went like this: If you look up ugly in the dictionary, you will see your picture.


Meaning: If you look up classical music in the dictionary, you will find the portrait of Mozart!


But of course that is subjective too :wink: :twisted:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:09 am 
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THANK THE BIWIDNB.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:11 pm 
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alf wrote:
Then I'll do it now for the original poster: a piano piece can be labeled as "classical" if liked by less than five per cent of a random sample of listeners. Beautifully simple, except that you have to run a poll every time.

I suppose it's okay for the original poster, but I don't like that one either! I know it was just one of those 95% of all statistics that were made up on the spot, but lots of people like older music; it's the crazy contemporary stuff they tend to not get. Well, most people can handle this sort of music better when it's incidental music in a film or some other kind of drama, because it isn't trying to be music for the sake of music; that goes for all 'classical' music, but more so for the wildly dissonant music. But if you take a random poll, I'd guess at least 20-30% of people would like a broad range of classical music, and even more would like a smaller range of it.

I took an instrumentation course this past semester with the resident composer at my school, who retired after the semester after about 30 years of holding his post (this guy). He had composed music for films once, but he hated writing incidental music, and whatever class he taught got a lecture from him at some point about the horrible injustice of it. (You might find it amusing that he liked to pretend that he was from Italy...I'm sure he had immigrant parents, so he spoke the language more or less fluently, but he was decidedly second-generation, despite having spent some time in Italy over the years. He liked to speak Italian to our resident Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking students for some reason that I can't determine. Does that even make sense?)

He also had a huge attitude about functional harmony, thinking it was a dead horse and that any composer worth his salt would stay away from it (after learning it completely, of course...I would like to see the fugue(s) this guy wrote for his counterpoint classes). He tended to use what I felt were some traditional early-to-mid 20th century techniques in composition, being the 'white jazz' of the 30s-40s and wind composers like Persichetti. If you pointed out functional tendencies in his music, he'd say that you were reading something into the music that he didn't intend, because you were indoctrinated in function and inclined to hear it where it didn't exist.

Also, he had a hatred of contemporary popular music. He saw it as rising from a culture that was anti-European, and cultivated by masses of people who were too stupid to know what 'art' music was, and all the while he would tell us that it was wrong to make value judgments on music, as if he actually believed that. It was clear that he wanted the freedom to have his own prejudices, but he didn't feel they were right when directed at his own music.

He would usually (not always) have some way of talking his way around the contradiction, a way of reducing his prejudices to causal moral rights, if it was brought up in class. Incidentally, at the beginning of the semester I was reluctant to take part in the discussion because he made me mad and I didn't trust myself to not be compelled to show him up on something in class. And it wasn't that I thought I knew more about the world than he does - he's 78 years old so he's bound to have forgotten more than I have yet learned - but these were the tactics that he used on us, so I wanted to use them on him. But I kept my mouth shut, and he eventually called me on it in front of the class as a way to humiliate me. He couldn't shut me up for the rest of the semester. :lol:

His defense tactics still amaze me. He liked to question students about things that they 'liked', asking this and that about the piece or the composer or whatever, and always coming to the conclusion that we didn't know the piece well enough to like it. In some cases, the questions he asked showed that he knew something about the piece, but in most cases, he did not give any such indication and probably didn't know the first thing about the piece either. And of course, if you called him on it, he'd tell you that it didn't matter, because he wasn't the one claiming to like the piece. If you called him on anything, he would use the same 'you have no idea what you're talking about' tactic to try to turn it around to where he 'won' the argument. It was pretty clear that he was using his old-age arsenal of random tidbits to BS his way into controlling the ideology of the class conversations, but I had gathered from my studies in other areas that he was not alone in his ideology. His ideas weren't anything close to original....they represented something that was close to a doctrine for academic musicians, especially composers-in-residence.

When I first came to this school in '96, I wanted to study composition, but one class with this guy (20th century harmony, which I dropped in my last semester, in '98 ) was enough to convince me that it wasn't going to happen so long as he was resident composer. I came back to school this time, in '07, with different intentions, wanting to do music history as my bachelor's degree and theory for grad school. Ended up going for piano performance instead, not because it's what I'm good at, but because it's the only place where I got any real encouragement from the faculty.

But this is what 'classical' music has come to: a hierarchy of resident composers at universities who earn a salary plus commissions to write music that no one has to like (not even the person/group who commissioned the music). Phillip Glass was one such resident composer, though he managed to gain a following. My resident composer claimed to have known Glass personally, and that Glass had told him that he didn't consider his own music to be very good at all, and didn't consider himself to be an important composer. Perhaps that was true.

Why has 'classical' music come to that?

During the Industrial Revolution, patronage of the arts shifted from the nobility to the middle class. In the late 19th century, economic power had shifted notably to the US. Out of the Emancipation Proclamation came jazz, and for the first time since the onset of the ticketed venue, the academia disapproved of where the public chose to put its money, by alarming consensus (interest in academic music was declining). Perhaps there was good reason beyond simple racial prejudice at first, as untrained musicians rarely produce anything of interest, but by the 30s and 40s at the latest, jazz harmony, more inspired by Debussy et al. than anything the schools were producing, had seeped into white popular music as well, including the new stage music, which replaced operettas as a result of the anti-European prejudice in the US at the time, and black jazz musicians were emerging with improvisational talents not seen in living memory, and new ideas about music that were interestingly connected to old, proven ideas about music, and even connected to 'modern' academic music in interesting ways. By the time jazz was accepted as academic music in the late 20th century (not until the year 2000 at Juilliard), it was too late; popular music had become something far removed from the academic notion of music, and academia had developed its own notion of modern art music that was far removed from jazz. And though all forms of popular music are arguably far more influenced by jazz than modern art music, jazz music is already old-fashioned in the eyes of the general public.

What do to? :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:23 am 
I am just going to address stuff on here helter skelter style:

Quote:
Then I'll do it now for the original poster: a piano piece can be labeled as "classical" if liked by less than five per cent of a random sample of listeners. Beautifully simple, except that you have to run a poll every time.


I am not totally sure about this answer. Consider a sold out concert featuring Freddy Kempf. If people are paying money to see him perform Beethoven's Pathetique, then how could it be that 5 out of 100 people are the only ones who like it? (why would the other 95 waste their money on something they value at zero) Or are you saying that each member of the audience is going to be 1 of 5 from a random sample of 100? I am not so sure I understand how this statistic can truly represent populations of the present-day. It is still an interesting question which I give you credit for asking.

Quote:
Meaning: If you look up classical music in the dictionary, you will find the portrait of Mozart!
But of course that is subjective too


Yes, very subjective. The line of logic then points to the authors of the dictionary. What is required for one musician to be featured in the dictionary? Is it a certain amount of works? universal acclaim? What is required for one person to be featured in the dictionary for that matter? It is a question worth some serious study.

Quote:
I know it was just one of those 95% of all statistics that were made up on the spot, but lots of people like older music; it's the crazy contemporary stuff they tend to not get.


Yes, consider also the idea that statistics are only used to support whatever argument the user is attempting to win. The contemporary music just doesn't carry the same weight as old music. Perhaps you have heard it before: that artwork, (music or other) only gets appreciated after the artist is dead. That reminds me of a quote who I can't remember who said it that claims art is either ahead of its time or behind its time.

Its a shame you had that experience with that teacher. I feel a similar sentiment with some of my college professors. They address you in a way that is always in their best interest. If they are confronted with a topic that they do not totally understand, they say "it is not important," or "you will not be quizzed on this" and move on. I must admit if I was and ever become a Graduate student I will probably use the same or similar tactics. It is part of the job methinks.

But anyways, I guess it is agreed that there is no definitive answer to what makes a piano piece classical vs. not classical. So be it. Or as you say,

What to do? :?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:11 am 
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Jackpringle123 wrote:
But anyways, I guess it is agreed that there is no definitive answer to what makes a piano piece classical vs. not classical.

I could have told you that upfront :D
Besides, why is the question even relevant ? Are things either black or white, good or bad, etc ? I find such choices rather outdated.
Having said that, we have to make this choice here on PS regularly as we claim to be a classical music site. But there is no criterium for this, the deciding factor is whether we like something or not.

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 Post subject: Subjective criteria
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:50 pm 
Quote:
Besides, why is the question even relevant ? Are things either black or white, good or bad, etc ? I find such choices rather outdated.

The idea of what one can judge as a classical piano piece by methods of subjective deduction raises a lot of questions.

One of the questions is if what the process comes down to is purely a matter of personal taste, how can what a professional critic firm, like Naxos or Allmusic.com, say about a piece in question be fair?

In laments terms, if Johnny submits a piece for $20 and it sounds like classical music, and Tracy submits another piece that sounds also like classical music also, but instead for $25, how can it be fair that a reviewer would call Tracy’s music classical and Johnny’s non-classical or experimental if both pieces an average listener would deem classical?

In this type of arena—and I hope this isn’t the future of classical music—the composer who pays the most money to the reviewer to make the media sync their image with the classical composer card the faux classical composer gets his wishes upon the completion of the monetary transaction. Johnny walks away with his piece, perhaps because it was not sophisticated--likely because of his image or lack of dough. It is a sham that has no doubt occured from time to time.

Quote:
the deciding factor is whether we like something or not.


I guess after enough money is offered, if your piece stinks like doggy breath, no one will accept it. Especially when the public realize what an arrhythmic and melodically unsophisticated piece is on the table. True, a sucker is born every minute, but when the sucker tells his friends about it-- the jigs up! :)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:59 pm 
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I don't think that anyone has ever been under the impression that music reviews, or book reviews or movie reviews or any other kind or reviews, are completely objective. Such an assumption would be naïve at best.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:52 pm 
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This is largely an academic question that began to occur over the last 50 to 100 years. Its main purpose is to categorize music in was that were not needed in past centuries. The answer will ultimately be left to future music historians.

In previous centuries, as musical ideas developed and changed, earlier ideas were forgotten for a time or at least put on the back burner for later rediscovery. Remember, all of the composers of the past wrote "contemporary" music and most would on some level hope that it would be "popular" at least with their primary markets, which was the church, the court, and over time the wealthier middle class.

The 20th century became unique in that music performances could be transmitted even to areas without concert venues. Further these performances could be stored. One could hear the New York Philharmonic or the Berlin, London, Vienna, Moscow et. al. for the cost of a piece of vinyl as opposed to the cost of transportation, tickets, meals, and lodging in these locations.

Unlike previous centuries, the performance of many pieces by 20th century composers were not only stored in music notation but also on recordings that were performed by the composer or by someone in consultation with the composer and thus for the first time we have had potentially definitive renditions of a composer's intentions.

At the same time, particularly in America, music for everyday consumption came into its own. Jazz and blues and the myriad of styles that came out of them caught on with the masses. People would attend these "concerts" (which usually involved dance) in much the same way that earlier generations attended the symphony, opera, salon recitals. An advantage that these "popular" works had over the "Art music" of the time was that they could be so arranged to fit in the time restrictions of the early recording medium -- "classical" music would have to be sliced and diced so that it could be extended over several sides of vinyl.

Also, after WWI, composition of "Art" music went off in so many directions -- Atonality, Twelve-tone composition, serialism, neo-classicism. Then, for several composers, composition and the recording process became united. Early electronic music required huge computers that were not easily transported from one performance venue to another, therefore they were created and performed once. This also occured in "popular" music. By the 60s and 70s, several groups that had begun as touring groups became studio musicians -- The Beatles, Beach Boys, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Moody Blues -- others started as studio musicians. At this point, things could be done electronically that could not be done live making it nearly impossible for this music to be performed live by any group -- at least without substantial re-arrangement.

Anyway, after that meander, as I said above, how to sort out the various streams of 20th century music will ultimately rest on future music historians. Who is to say that the music of the Beatles, ABBA, New Kids on the Block, etc. will not be considered "classical"? Maybe in some future time there will be "Neo-Acid Rock" or "Neo-Rap".

As far as today, the classification has more to do with deciding what one can program together in certain venues. And that is up to the music directors of each organisation. There are those who have programmed the music of Lead Zeplin with the works of Berlioz, or Beethoven. If the director is successful then fine, if not, he may be looking for another job. And reviewers will do their thing, some more interested in using a catchy phrase than in actually critiquing the merits and short comings of a given performance.

Oh, well, I've rambled on enough for now.

Scott


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 Post subject: Classical piano music
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:03 am 
O.k. Great questions, I will address Terez then Scott:

Quote:
I don't think that anyone has ever been under the impression that music reviews, or book reviews or movie reviews or any other kind or reviews, are completely objective. Such an assumption would be naïve at best.


Never completely objective, I agree that such an assumption is naïve at best, but how can one be 100% objective? In practice it is impossible, in theory it is a possibility. In the words of Liszt: “The Truth is a great flirt” It is like saying is it possible for one to perform the Moonlight Sonata perfect? Without flaws? The answer is aptly no, as even if one could, he or she does not have the resource of asking Beethoven for his approval of such a spotless interpretation.

Critics would like to think it was close to the interpretation because the notes are all correct, but I doubt Beethoven would approve of the lackluster midi renditions of his pieces available on classicalarchives.com. Basically all the notes are correct, but still, the variables in sonic texture that are produced from a hammer hitting a string on an acoustic piano are yet unmatched by most advanced of todays sampling technology. Pianoteq and reason piano samplers are probably the best from the spread of what is available on the market today that imitate the acoustic piano. Sorry-- little off topic. :)

Quote:
This is largely an academic question that began to occur over the last 50 to 100 years.


Largely an academic question but I would like to argue that while what abstract studies musical critics produce at Julliard are important, what is on the market is also important. If one can study Mozart and realize his work was underappreciated at the time, then it is likely his work will be historically important, despite being poor and an achoholic.
Quote:
20th century music will ultimately rest on future music historians.


This seems to support the idea that classical music is underappreciated, but I think it is necessary to point out that current music historians can make some poignant judgments about an artist. If you look at the review for Jon Schmidt, a classical piano composer on allmusic, it is interesting the way they describe him,
Quote:
Born into a family of outstanding musicians, Jon studied with his older sister, a classical pianist, when he was young. By age eleven, he was accompanying his father's operatic tenor performances and composing music far in advance of his years. Some of his early music is featured on the present title. The solid underpinnings of his classical training shine through in these melodious, heartfelt selections.


To think that Beethoven as a composer who was the apprentice of Mozart, as a music artisan, may have been described in a similar way is interesting. Speaking of greats like Mozart, look at Debussy. He played Beethoven, Schumann and Weber, so it is likely he is influenced by piano music.

My questions seems to raise more and more questions, and some lead to more theoretical type arguments, while there is a mixture of concrete type argument. Some leading to simple answers that satisfy, while others leading to blank confusion. Like if a man claimed his freshly composed piano piece was classical, should we decide it is classical, unless it has characteristics of jazz or improvisation? Once again I am hit with a roadblock and a circular argument, but I really do enjoy hearing what has been said here


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:35 am 
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1. Mozart was probably the least under-appreciated of all the 'great' composers during their respective lifetimes. If anything, he was over-hyped, having made a fairly huge name for himself as a child prodigy. He performed in Schönbrunn for the Hapsburgs at age five. If you were talking about in the 20th century....again, bad example. Even today, that child prodigy reputation remains, and most laymen, if asked, would tell you that Mozart is the greatest of the classical composers, or perhaps Beethoven. All the world seems unaware of the reverence that both of them had for J.S. Bach....

2. Beethoven was only an 'apprentice' of Mozart through indirect means (he was a fan of Mozart, and he studied with Haydn, Mozart's friend and admirer). He never studied with Mozart, and the tales of their meeting when Beethoven was a child have the earmarks of urban legend. No one has ever come up with convincing evidence that they actually met.

3. Debussy was very anti-German when it came to composition, and the German influences he would admit to were few, Wagner being a notable exception. In piano music, he was most influenced by Chopin, by a fair margin.

I am starting to get the idea that you have no idea what you are talking about, and that you're just bouncing around Wikipedia pages and pretending to have a clue. Really, I had that impression earlier, but decided to hold out for further evidence. Now, there's no shame if you're not classically trained. But it would be nice if you would admit it, rather than pretending to know what you are talking about.

No offense intended, but all of these misinformed details are distracting from the conversation.

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Last edited by Terez on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Terez - 3
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Terez wrote:
I am starting to get the idea that you have no idea what you are talking about, and that you're just bouncing around Wikipedia pages and pretending to have a clue.

I hadn't really followed this discussion, as I quickly get bored with long and winded, er, winding, arguments, but upon reading the latest illuminating post, I tend to agree with the above.

Mozart was an alcoholic... :lol: Where did you Google that up ? I think he was as sharp as a razor, and then some, right to the end.
Or no, wait... achoholic it says. What's that, addicted to having pains ?

Jack, what are you really doing here ? From your YouTube video, and the oblique PM's you sent us about it, I do not get the impression you are a fan of PS. It rather seems like you feel you have some bone to pick with us. I could be wrong of course, it's sometimes hard to gauge peoples' intentions. Maybe we should not even try... but we're such a nosy bunch here !

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Well, in the beginning, I thought perhaps we could have an interesting philosophical discussion despite the original poster, but then it started to get really difficult! :lol: I wonder if maybe it is the same guy that tried to submit his new-agey piano pieces here recently? That would explain the bone....

Looking back at that post, I see I missed several wrong bits, such as the 'Mozart was poor' myth, along with the alcoholic bit (he might have seen Amadeus). And indeed the Wiki page on Debussy says almost exactly what he says about Debussy. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:29 pm 
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Terez wrote:
And indeed the Wiki page on Debussy says almost exactly what he says about Debussy. :lol:

Though not that he was influenced by piano music. That must have been an original thought :lol:
Surely, one can learn a lot in a forum :wink:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:11 pm 
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Terez wrote:
BIWIDNB.



HAHA, if I get it right, that is finally something we can agree upon.


Terez wrote:
I suppose it's okay for the original poster, but I don't like that one either! I know it was just one of those 95% of all statistics that were made up on the spot, but lots of people like older music; it's the crazy contemporary stuff they tend to not get. Well, most people can handle this sort of music better when it's incidental music in a film or some other kind of drama, because it isn't trying to be music for the sake of music; that goes for all 'classical' music, but more so for the wildly dissonant music. But if you take a random poll, I'd guess at least 20-30% of people would like a broad range of classical music, and even more would like a smaller range of it.



My definition was tongue-in-cheek of course. How could you possibly run a survey on every supposedly classical piece of music? Aside from that, the five per cent boundary is more or less the proportion of classical on all music sales (again, they are rough figures, since they do vary with the different countries and, again, depend on which shelf you find Bocelli's crossover or Allevi's fashionable emptiness -but they're usually accounted as classical, this is what we have come to... :?) You could call that the Marketeer's criterion. 8) As good as another.

Seriously, as Scott has already pointed out, the definition of 'Classical' music can only be outlined by looking at the music landscape from a certain (temporal) distance (after all, being "classical", it cannot belong to the contemporary turmoil by definition), but it's quite sure that since the end of WWII, art music has radically changed in many aspects. Art in general has.


Terez wrote:
His defense tactics still amaze me. He liked to question students about things that they 'liked', asking this and that about the piece or the composer or whatever, and always coming to the conclusion that we didn't know the piece well enough to like it.



This is crap. One essential quality of art music is that offers multiple tiers of understanding and fruition -you don't need to reach one to have the 'right' to like a given piece. It's obvious to me that the more you understand about music (inner process, compositional devices, milieu and so on) the better, the goal being always to increase the awareness of what you hear as a listener or do as a pianist, but what we may experience through music goes well beyond that.


Jackpringle123 wrote:
I am not totally sure about this answer. Consider a sold out concert featuring Freddy Kempf. If people are paying money to see him perform Beethoven's Pathetique, then how could it be that 5 out of 100 people are the only ones who like it? (why would the other 95 waste their money on something they value at zero)


Nope, that would be a self selected sample, how could it work?

techneut wrote:
we have to make this choice here on PS regularly as we claim to be a classical music site. But there is no criterium for this,



There should be, how fun a bike race, much better than my poll!


Terez wrote:
2. Beethoven was only an 'apprentice' of Mozart through indirect means (he was a fan of Mozart, and he studied with Haydn, Mozart's teacher). He never studied with Mozart, and the tales of their meeting when Beethoven was a child have the earmarks of urban legend. No one has ever come up with convincing evidence that they actually met.



I didn't know that Haydn was Mozart's teacher. ;)


Terez wrote:
I am starting to get the idea that you have no idea what you are talking about, and that you're just bouncing around Wikipedia pages and pretending to have a clue.



I'm afraid that it was my fault. No more Wikipedia to anyone, I promise. :)

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 Post subject: replies
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:32 pm 
Quote:
No offense intended, but all of these misinformed details are distracting from the conversation.


None taken--I am simply asking questions relating to the question I originally posted, and based upon what others have written.

You may (or may not) delite in knowing I do not enjoy Wikipedia. I find it useful for constants (i.e. formulas, the height of the highest skyscraper). Biographies, measuring what one has accomplished is a harder task, and should imho not be reserved for any jack who thinks he’s up to the challenge.

I find it interesting the challenge of one proving that Classical Music can be determined today, not by future music historians at some indeterminate time in the future. If all pieces could be gauged off other pieces, one might say Debussy sounds like Chopin, only more baroque, like J.S. Bach. Tchaikovsky sounds like Wagner only more systematic…

Quote:
Now, there's no shame if you're not classically trained. But it would be nice if you would admit it, rather than pretending to know what you are talking about.


Terez, I admit I have not studied the background of the classical forefathers in fine detail, but that is not the central question is it? It is defining what is a classical piano piece and what is not. And though I already have answers, I enjoy continuing the conversation.

Quote:
Terez - 3
The Pringle – 0


So that's what this is then--a competition? With all due respect Techneut, I never signed up to compete, and I do not wish to. I only posted this first topic for a discussion, not to keep score.

Quote:
I wonder if maybe it is the same guy that tried to submit his new-agey piano pieces here recently?


I will dissapoint you, I don't think I am capable of "new agey piano pieces" :oops:

Quote:
Mozart was an alcoholic... Where did you Google that up ?


If you read The Mozart Myth’s A critical reassessment it talks about it. I recommend it.

Quote:
Jack, what are you really doing here ?


As I state above, I posted a topic that explores what is a classical piano piece and what is not.

Quote:
I do not get the impression you are a fan of PS


I don’t know what I can do to convince you? Give you money? I have tried by writing you and telling your that I was... :?

Quote:
It rather seems like you feel you have some bone to pick with us.


No bone to pick sir.

Quote:
Maybe we should not even try... but we're such a nosy bunch here !


Being nosy is a good thing,

Just ask all of the piano composers who have created beautiful works inspired by others! :)

Quote:
How could you possibly run a survey on every supposedly classical piece of music?


I don’t think you could. One thing is if you tried it would probably take a real long time.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:41 pm 
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Beethoven was never an apprentice of Mozart. Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792. Mozart died in 1791. It is said that he met Mozart when Beethoven was younger and that his intent was to study with Mozart, but obviously that could not have happened unless he was somehow able to channel Mozart's spirit.

Scott


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RSPIll wrote:
Beethoven was never an apprentice of Mozart. Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792. Mozart died in 1791. It is said that he met Mozart when Beethoven was younger and that his intent was to study with Mozart, but obviously that could not have happened unless he was somehow able to channel Mozart's spirit.


Count Waldstein was (through Haydn's hands). :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:54 pm 
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alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
BIWIDNB.

HAHA, if I get it right, that is finally something we can agree upon.

pssh, you say that every time we agree about something! And it should not be all that hard to figure out in the context. :lol:


Alfie wrote:
I didn't know that Haydn was Mozart's teacher. ;)

LOL, my apathy for the First Viennese School is bleeding through, isn't it? I suppose I had gotten that impression from the fact that Haydn knew Mozart when he was very young.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:01 pm 
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Jackpringle123 wrote:
[I don’t know what I can do to convince you? Give you money? I have tried by writing you and telling your that I was... :?

You have a thing about money, it seems. I was nonplussed earlier when money suddenly cropped up in your argument. Anyway, nope, I don't want your money. What a strange thing to say.

Now let me be honest with you. Your weird video, and the self-conscious way you presented it, has really put us on the wrong foot with you. It looks for all the world like you're trying to put us in a bad light - all three admins (including the site founder) thought so. Not that we worry about it in any way as it's not at all convincingly done, and we have many friends around the globe who will easily see through this. Still, I can't fathom why you did it and what you think to achieve, except for being eyed with suspicion in these quarters. Does that make sense at all ? Or have we got it all wrong ? If you did it with the idea of helping us, as I think you have suggested, then be aware that few things are more annoying than unsolicited help.

I have to side with Terez in that it looks like you are throwing all manner of irrelevant and sometimes dubious things in the pot. But of course anybody is free to do that, and I will not gripe about it. You'll have to allow me to take the p*ss every now and then though. Not being a scholar, that is all I can do :lol:

Well ok, spoke my mind here. If you have something to explain, then now would be a good time. But maybe you don't, and that is fine too (in that case, the suspicion will remain).

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:26 pm 
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Alfie wrote:
This is crap. One essential quality of art music is that offers multiple tiers of understanding and fruition -you don't need to reach one to have the 'right' to like a given piece. It's obvious to me that the more you understand about music (inner process, compositional devices, milieu and so on) the better, the goal being always to increase the awareness of what you hear as a listener or do as a pianist, but what we may experience through music goes well beyond that.

I know it's crap, and I also know why he spouted this crap. He has obviously had a good number of people over the years say that they don't like his music. He probably feels that they are ignorant and don't like his music because they don't understand it. So, if he wants to maintain this view, he has to also maintain the reverse, that you must know a piece of music very well to like it. He says that he also doesn't like it when people tell him that they like his music, mostly because he sees himself and a few others as the musical elite, and everyone else as the unwashed masses (and of course he doesn't say that). He doesn't care about your opinion unless you also toss out some detail that shows you are trained, such as a comment about the form or some such.

Which reminds me....Chopin did the same thing. In one of his letters, he tells his friend Tytus about a small private-ish performance, and how he got all sorts of compliments from various people, but one man said 'I have never heard anything written in that form before.' And Chopin tells Tytus, 'I think that man understood me better than anyone else.' :lol: I think Chopin was a little more entitled to be a snob....but he was definitely a snob.

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I'd like to repeat in public what I just replied to Jack's PM to me.

Quote:
So have you now helped would-be composers, by telling them they have to be as good as Buxtehude, or Bach, or Stahlbrand (*LOL*) ? And would-be pianists, by telling them they must be exceptional ? I still don't understand what you were thinking. That video was an immensely strange way to introduce yourself, followed by such a lofty and ponderous discussion on the core value of classical music. Can you understand why we frown at all this ? If not, it may be best to leave now. If yes, you are welcome to the forum and maybe later as a pianist (provided you can stand our criticisms).


Jack, please respond in public too. This forum is not just about the admins. One thing we value here is honesty and openness. You still have some explaining to do, if not outright apologizing.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:40 am 
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I don't suppose we could watch this video? It doesn't seem to be linked on his profile or in his sig.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:49 am 
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Terez wrote:
I don't suppose we could watch this video? It doesn't seem to be linked on his profile or in his sig.

Nope, it's been deleted from YouTube already, after a PM exchange between the film director and Monica. I believe some others here have seen it.

We took it as rather derogatory, and the use of photographs (of Monica, Robert, and me), literal quotes, as well as the dedication to John Robson, are quite out of order.

Thinking about it, I see no future for Jack Pringle on this site unless he explains, apologizes, and bends over backwards.

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That is indeed strange! There do seem to be a number of people who come around every once in a while with a bone to pick, and you have to wonder if some of them are the same people, especially in a case like this where the person's actions don't make sense otherwise.

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techneut wrote:
We took it as rather derogatory, and the use of photographs (of Monica, Robert, and me), literal quotes, as well as the dedication to John Robson, are quite out of order.


The dedication to John was really slimy, but to me too the entire video was clearly meant to discredit PS's admins, in spite of the ambivalent setting.

techneut wrote:
Thinking about it, I see no future for Jack Pringle on this site unless he explains, apologizes, and bends over backwards.


I suspect that Jack Pringle 123 couldn't care less about his/her future here, I mean, I can't see how you can prevent the very same guy (or whoever else) from coming to us under a different persona.

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alf wrote:
The dedication to John was really slimy, but to me too the entire video was clearly meant to discredit PS's admins, in spite of the ambivalent setting.

Well put. I locked that thread as I wanted to ignore the thing and prevent long discussions. I did not really expect him to be back.

alf wrote:
I suspect that Jack Pringle 123 couldn't care less about his/her future here, I mean, I can't see how you can prevent the very same guy (or whoever else) from coming to us under a different persona.

We can't. But we'd probably recognize him by his style...

Anyway I am still interested what he has to say, if anything.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:43 pm 
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Jack, please respond in public too. This forum is not just about the admins. One thing we value here is honesty and openness. You still have some explaining to do, if not outright apologizing.


This issue has been beaten like a dead horse! And I don't think it relates to this subject but I will say it anyways: I originally made the video to tell new, prospective members that the standards are high at pianosociety. I realize now that such a video was not wanted and I was very stupid not to ask before posting it. I apologize for not asking and if I ruined or partially tarnished the reputations of the admins or any other member I mentioned. I also apologize for the dedication to John Robson.

Quote:
We took it as rather derogatory, and the use of photographs (of Monica, Robert, and me), literal quotes, as well as the dedication to John Robson, are quite out of order.


I used all three of the admins pictures as a visual aid to give people an idea about which site it was. As for the dedication to John Robson, my only intention is to honor his memory.

Quote:
The dedication to John was really slimy


In which way alf? I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Robson, but I wish I did. I wish I could have asked for his approval to dedicate the video to him, but I would like to say when I die I would rather my name be remembered rather than forgotten, if such a statement can be forgiven for being very profound. I am insulted that you would call my dedication slimy, as it was made in the best of intentions.

Quote:
I don't suppose we could watch this video?


At this point, I don't want to talk about this video again, not to mention see it, or let others see it. If this issue could be forgotten.


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Jackpringle123 wrote:
This issue has been beaten like a dead horse!

It is indeed ! And so it had to be. A horse is not dead until we say it is.
You need to realize that you can't step on our toes like this without getting the full works.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
And I don't think it relates to this subject but I will say it anyways:

No it does not relate to the subject but we think nothing of going wildly OT when needed.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
I originally made the video to tell new, prospective members that the standards are high at pianosociety.

What makes you think that
a) such a thing is needed
b) people would watch your video
c) and if they did, would take it seriously ?

You're talking bollocks anyway. One doesn't have to be an exceptionally gifted pianist to be admitted here. What we expect is musicality, dedication, sufficient preparation, reasonable accuracy, and a pleasant sound. There are plenty of amateurs here who can achieve that without being world-class pianists. I don't think you have lurked around here long enough to see that.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
I realize now that such a video was not wanted and I was very stupid not to ask before posting it. I apologize for not asking and if I ruined or partially tarnished the reputations of the admins or any other member I mentioned. I also apologize for the dedication to John Robson.

Don't flatter youself ... it would take a bit more to ruin or tarnish our reputation.
But I appreciate your apologies.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
I used all three of the admins pictures as a visual aid to give people an idea about which site it was. As for the dedication to John Robson, my only intention is to honor his memory.

That may be so, but that was not the impression it made. I know of al least one other regular PS member here who was quite distressed by the way you went about it, to the point of wishing you gone as soon as possible.

Jackpringle123 wrote:
In which way alf? I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Robson, but I wish I did. I wish I could have asked for his approval to dedicate the video to him, but I would like to say when I die I would rather my name be remembered rather than forgotten, if such a statement can be forgiven for being very profound. I am insulted that you would call my dedication slimy, as it was made in the best of intentions.

Pardon me, but is not for you to feel insulted here. Actually, after the insinuating tone of your video, this dedication added insult to injury, making rather a mockery of John's memory. I accept you probably did not intend it this way, but again, that was the impression it made. For God's sake, will you think before you write something for all the world to see....

Jackpringle123 wrote:
At this point, I don't want to talk about this video again, not to mention see it, or let others see it. If this issue could be forgotten.

Fair enough. I think everything has been said by now. Go forth and sin no more.....

_________________
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
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 Post subject: Re: Distinction between Classical and Non-Classical Piano Music
PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:58 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 7:25 am
Posts: 15
I didn't really feel like reading through all the previous posts, but here's my opinion... "Classical" can't really be defined objectively because it's far too ambiguous and has obviously evolved through time. Now if we get more specific to say... Romanticism or Minimalism, we can say things like "the composition must contain a wide tonic range and explore unorthodox harmonic progressions" or "it must rely on repetitive and conservative structure."

I think the REAL reason the starter of this thread posted this topic was to compare modern "youtube composers" with the ones on this forum or even the legendary ones (I'm not talking skill-wise, but taste-wise). I think we can all point out the difference between the repetitive "1-4-5" type of music that novice composers tend to limit themselves to, compared to... say.. Bach's fugues. I know we've all seen the pianist/composer who just repeats arpeggios in one hand and and bangs out octaves in the other.

This isn't to say that classical music is limited to the elitists, but due to the popularity of predictable and overplayed harmonic progressions from the pop genre often dubbed as "classical," we must draw the line somewhere, else there'd be no reason to discriminate different forms of music under different names, we'd just call it "music."


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