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contemporary music

Discussion in 'Repertoire' started by pianolady, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Call me old fashioned or maybe even foolish, but I just can't get into some of this contemporary music. I just listened to the file submited by Avguste Antonov, titled "Handgelobnis" and I don't get it. What is so great about this kind of music? Mr. Antonov, I mean no disrespect to you at all, as you are a fine player, but I never understood how people can like this music. You can't hum along to it, or tap your foot, let alone remember it. And nobody would know if you make a mistake. It seems like cheating to me.
    I know, art is in the eye of the beholder, but I'm wondering how everybody else feels about this 'modern' music.
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I used to feel like that too. Few people can just jump into contemporary and like it. It has to grow on you by gradually pushing the limits of what you listen to. I actually quite enjoyed that piece but would not have done so 10 years ago. Mind you this is pretty mild stuff, not really avant-garde or being modern for the sake of it. It's not such a far cry from, say, Messiaen. Glad to see that many of today's contemporary composers write tuneful music again instead of screeching scrunching noises (as was the vogue some decennia ago, and which estranged many people from the classical music scene).
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I don't know much of contemporary music, but I am someone who very much enjoys atonal music such as that of Schoenberg, Bartok, Berg, Webern, and others. Even pieces that seem extremely short and undeveloped, like many of Schoenberg's pieces, are actually extremely complex and very well organized. Anyone who thinks that these composers just struck random notes and wrote them down is being a philistine.

    Music need not always be melodic. In fact, some may not realize it at first but there is much tonal music that is technically amelodic. Many of Beethoven's works seem less concerned with created a tune that you'd be able to hum than they are with just creating a sound, or an effect, or a texture. A great deal of music in the 19th century is like this as well. So just because it lacks a tune we should dislike it? I hardly think so. Atonal music is almost exclusively concerned with these characteristics of colour, texture, and quality. Melodies are not required to arouse feelings in people; pure sound can do that just as easily. Most people seem to dislike it only because the sounds are so foreign to them. Its like listening to the traditional music of another culture. Some people just don't get it. That's why we should strive to educate ourselves. Once you actually study atonal music and appreciate just how well structured it is you begin to see where the beauty lies.

    As for contemporary music though, again I really am completely oblivious as to what most modern composers are doing. Its something I really should strive to educate myself about. In any case, I think its important that we not limit ourselves to music written in a very limited 400 year time span, and especially that we strive to discover and support contemporary composers and that we support innovation and new ideas. Close-mindedness never does anyone any good.
     
  4. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Contemporary music does not necessary need to be atonal, have a complex structure or invent something new in style. I remember a discussion I had with a successful swedish composer (http://www.wiklander.se) several years ago and he believed that what happened in the classical area between about 1950-1970 was probably not good for classical music. Everyone tried to find different paths and invent new styles, to the extent that composers tended to forget the music itself and to whom we write music for. As he felt it, that did gradually changed until today and you are now "allowed" (to be professionally published) to compose in whatever style one feel necessary to realize your compositional idea.

    Though, most contemporary music is complex to understand and is definitely NOT composed for the avarage listener. I thinks this is a pity and also one of the major reasons why classical music is not very popular today (thinking of the thread in the general forum).

    But anyway, one should not avoid contemporary music when it is atonal or musically complex. But it takes a brave mind to really try to understand it. The human mind seeks for what it is most used to. In music, that is a clear melody or an obvious harmonic pattern. If we cannot find any of these ingredients, we feel that we do not understand it. But do one really have to understand it? Why not just listen to the sound and see how (and if) it moves you in different motional directions? But do not force it to your kids. That will for sure make them even more resistant.
     
  5. lol_nl

    lol_nl New Member

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    I used to and still dislike most contemporary music, although there are many good works too. If you count Bartok as a contemporary composer (I'd rather classify him as 20th century), then that's my favorite contemporary composer. The pieces I really can't get into are the atonal dodecocacolaphonical stuff or whatever it's called; Schönberg, (maybe Berg, but I haven't heard any pieces by him) and Webern. Schönberg's Pieces for piano I find rather annoying and detestable, but my list with worst piano compositions ever tops with Webern's Varations op. 27. Even Richter played them, but they are so awful to listen to!
    Neither do I really like Barber, Cage, Copland and those American composers. Barber's Sonata is not very bad, but I still don't enjoy it as much as less abstract music.
    I probably dislike Xenakis (and probably Stockhausen) even more. I find Xenakis' Eonta so annoying to listen to. The trumpet makes that annoying "noise" :? .
    I prefer orchestral or chamber music in the contemporary repetoire. A piano concerto sounds much better than the pieces for piano solo written today. My favorite piano piece (solo) is probably "Shadows of Silence", by a Danish composer called Sorensen (o with / in it). I heard it played by Leif Ove Andsnes. Unlike Schönberg, who wrote either too "silent" pieces or too loud pieces, I think Sorensen did a great job here. Boulez' Second sonata is not bad too, but I prefer Sorensen.
    For piano and orchestra the only piece I've ever heard is Dreams by Ian Munro, played as an obligated piece during the Queen Elizabeth Competition for piano 2003 (I was 10 by then :D). Sometimes an orchestra can be so important to the piece, especially in contemporary music.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    dodecocacolaphonical :lol: Must remember that one.
    Can I suggest dodecacophonical as an alternative ?

    Yes I agree, that system, as a means in itself, has proven to be sort of a dead-end. However its influence on other composers has been lasting, and it was perhaps a necessary step in the evolution of music.

    That's a bit of a sweeping statement. Many 'modern' American composers actually write very accessible and tuneful music. Barber can be a bit acidic, even atonal, but also gorgeously romantic (listen to his violin concerto, the symphonies, and the School for Scandal overture - not to mention that Adagio for Strings which is all but played into the ground). His piano concerto I find hard going though. The Sonata is a masterpiece of contemporary piano literature.
    Copland can be really abstract and even atonal at times. But he has lots of immensely appealing works - Rodeo, El Salon Mexico, Danzon Cubano, the Third Symphony, Appalachian Spring - in short, his "Americana" works that everybody likes. Notsure about Cage - I think he's more of a prankster than a serious and lasting composer.

    And among "those American composers" you find many similar names, composers who write gorgeous music in traditional mould, like Creston, Hanson, Diamond, Piston, and many more.

    Not sure where you get that idea from. You could check Stephen Hough's album "New York Composes" with works by Copland, Ben Weber, Corigliano, and Tsontakis. Especially the latter two are very accessible and great to listen two. But the other two are worth the effort too.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I haven't listened to much of Barber but I do like his Nocturne op. 33 - homage to John Fields.
     
  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Barber's Sonata is awesome. The last movement is an atonal fugue!
     
  9. Syntaxerror

    Syntaxerror New Member

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    Anyone who knows the Ligeti etudes ? I think they're quite accessible even for the listener who is unfamiliar with contemporary music. In their case categories like tonal or atonal don't really fit. Of course they're atonal (in the sense of being NOT tonal), but they're definitely not atonal in the Schönbergian sense.
     
  10. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    "Modern" music

    I was brought up in the old school: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, etc... My piano teachers never even mentioned anything more modern than Debussy or Ravel. In spite of that, I enjoy a lot of twentieth century music by composers like Bartok, Piston, Copland, Barber, Prokofiev, some Shostakovich, some Villa-Lobos, and a few others. Unfortunately, I haven't played much musice by those composers. However, I haven't even heard of many of the composers mentioned above. I'll have to look into them. I don't like Cage, most Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. My favorite twentieth century composition is Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: "Modern" music

    Nobody does :p
    Well no, not true. Early works by by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern are gorgeous - but also not really representative of 'modern' music.

    Yeah I'd go along with that. An absolute masterpiece.
     
  12. Syntaxerror

    Syntaxerror New Member

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    Re: "Modern" music

    There is actually no contemporary composer who is "representative" for the music of our time. It is a matter of fact that the means of contemporary music enable one to express musical thoughts that could not have been "thought" in the world of "classical" music. In German there is the term "Neue Musik" (=new music, I'm not sure whether this is a prevalent term in English), which indicates something specifically new -- and that is a problem for most people. And then people start saying "I don't understand this kind of music, I don't get it" , but what do they mean ? "Getting it" for many people only means that the piece is easy enough to listen to and sounds somewhat nice. Well, in that case they can listen dozens of time to a Schönberg piece -- they'll never get anything.
    But to say something positive, I would give the following advice to someone interested in cont. music: Don't expect anything. Most people have some underlying expectations connected to the term "music" -- I'd advise you to let go of them. Later on, you might still say "I don't like it" (I also do that quite often), but then you know at least what you're talking about, instead of thinking "this is crap" the whole time listening to a piece.
     
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    If music doesn't "move" you then don't play it. I was forced to do this in college. When you sit down to play Schoenburg and your dog leaves the room that should tell you something.
    My advice would be to stick with what you like. I am a contemporary composer but write mostly in a romantic classical and to an extent somewhat modern style. You would probably find it much more accesible.
    mattgreenecomposer.com
     
  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Matt, as a composer you wouldn't be happy if the audience judged your work by their dogs' response. :wink:
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    My way to modern music started with Dvorak and Smetana, the composers i heard in my youth. I couldn´t find the music of Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert or the old ones like Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Gesualdo, Schütz and others interesting enough for my ear. So after all the Dvorak Symphonies and the Cello Concerto i searched for another composers like them and found some who make similar but also different music as Dvorak, a bit more modern and dissonant but after a while i liked them.

    When first i heard music of prokoviev i hated it, it was so atonal and not romantic. But after a while i loved it and so it was every time i found a new composer. My favorites now in music are: Bruckner, Mahler,Varese, Messiaen, Ives, Vaughan Williams, Schostakowitsch, Prokofieff, Allan Pettersson, Lutoslawski, Ligeti, Penderecki, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Rachmaninoff, Janacek and much more of these composers with big orchestral symphonies. I don´t like Mozart or Haydn very much, this music (sorry for that but that are my feelings) is boring to me. Bach is one of the greatest composers i know and the late pieces of Gesualdo or many sonatas of Scarlatti are beautiful and deep (Gesualdo)

    I like all the music of Anton Webern and Alban Berg but no music of Schönberg except some more tonal pieces. The opera "Moses and Aaron" by Schönberg i could never follow and had to stop it each time i looked at it.
    Other favorites are John Adams, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Aaron Copland, Bernstein, Arvo Pärt, Villa Lobos, some Xenakis pieces and many other composers of the 20th century.

    For me music must tell a story to the feelings, i need no tapping or dancing to the music, i like the big and dramatic collisions. But this grew up in the last 30 years step by step. Mozart makes me aggressive, Pettersson calms me down for example.

    Markus Brylka
     
  16. Syntaxerror

    Syntaxerror New Member

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    Hm, if you're really into contemporary music, you will agree with me that Prokoviev was VERY much more a tonal than an atonal composer, in comparison with his contemporaries at least.
     
  17. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    dog

    My dog, Paco, runs to the bedroom and under the bed whenever I sit down at the piano.
     
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: dog

    My bunnies love Beethoven.

    They don't respond at all to anything else. I don't know what this means.
     
  19. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: dog

    It means they're choosy little bubbybobs. You should expose them to Bach and Brahms to expand their horizons :)
     
  20. Jennifer

    Jennifer New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. I am a composer and study at a conservatory and musch of the music created by my peers and professor are extremely avant garde. I am not totally conservative in my writing but I do think there has to be something memorable to a piece, something that holds it together.

    I'll be honest, I can't get into the music of the second vieneese school--Schoenber, Webern, Berg--but I can appreaciate their ideas.

    I have to agree with my friend, Claude Debussy, that music should be pleasurable, pleasing to the senses. Not all contemprorary music has to be avante guarde in my opinion. Yes, you should be different, but like I said, something has to hold it together.

    Writing a piece of music is like preparing a dinner: You want your guests to leave feeling a little bit hungry. The worst, is whem you are listening to a new work and you are thinking "Is it over yet?" If I really don't care for a piece of new music, I will literarally get sick with a bad headache.

    There are great conctempory pieces out there, you just have to keep your ears and eyes open.
     

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