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jesus christ i don't know the first thing about classical music

JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
edited January 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
what is an opus or an etude? how are these songs organized? why do i care which key this song is in? holy crap i am thoroughly overwhelmed

why is this album i have of vivaldi's 4 seasons break his tracks into 3 bits each? aren't they all part of one song? am i being willfully ignorant here or what

DENIZENS OF D&D

I CHARGE YOU TO TEACH ME THE FIRST THING ABOUT CLASSICAL MUSIC

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  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    The first thing you need to know about classical music:

    Elendil likes it.

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
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  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    An opus is a composition. The opus number indicates when a composition was made. Opus No. 1 would be a composer's first (published) composition, for instance. There are no such things as "songs" - that's a specific style of work. There are compositions, which may be referred to by their specific form - symphony, sonata, suite, etc. - or by more generic terms such as "work," "piece," or the common slang-term used by musicians, "chart."

    The key of a piece will determine a lot of things about it, having mostly to do with harmony. The emotional or artistic merit or mood may be greatly influenced by key choice, however, the most common distinction being between major keys, which are treated as "happy" or "light" and minor keys, which are considered more "sad" or "dark" than major keys.

    The traditional division in most works is not by album, album track, or anything like that. If a work is large or long, it will most likely have movements - the Four Seasons, for instance, is broken into four musically distinct movements, each representing one of the four seasons. Movements are usually distinct stopping points, and a new theme or direction will be taken; that is not always the case, however, as there are lots of cases where movements are notated in the score but there is no stop between them (segue), and there can be lots of development and exploration even within movements.

    You may indeed be willfully ignorant. I'm not sure - all I know is that I'm in a bad mood right now, and I'm willing to say that if you have heard of it, it's probably overrated. Like the Four Seasons. And Beethoven's Fifth.

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  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Jinnigan wrote: »
    what is an opus or an etude? how are these songs organized? why do i care which key this song is in? holy crap i am thoroughly overwhelmed
    Opus numbers are basically numbers assigned to a piece when it's published. They're generally useful for identification, as a lot (most, even) of classical is given generic titles. Key probably doesn't matter, except for giving an idea of the piece's general tone and again for identification.
    why is this album i have of vivaldi's 4 seasons break his tracks into 3 bits each? aren't they all part of one song? am i being willfully ignorant here or what
    One piece, composed of three parts (movements).

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  • JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Tell me more about the different forms of compositions, please.

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  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Some of the more common ones:

    symphony - generally a large-scale, multi-movement orchestral work (though the definition is somewhat nebulous)
    concerto - work for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra
    sonata - usually a multi-movement work for a solo instrument
    etude - work for a solo instrument, generally meant at least partly as a skill exercise
    prelude - an introduction to a work, or a short stand alone piece

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  • JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    haha i always associated sonatas with sonnets whooooooooops

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  • s7apsters7apster Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Elendil wrote: »
    Some of the more common ones:

    symphony - generally a large-scale, multi-movement orchestral work (though the definition is somewhat nebulous)
    concerto - work for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra
    sonata - usually a multi-movement work for a solo instrument
    etude - work for a solo instrument, generally meant at least partly as a skill exercise
    prelude - an introduction to a work, or a short stand alone piece

    Concertos usually have three movements too. Fast, slow, fast. (allegro, andante, allegro) That actually holds true for a lot of pieces with three movements, maybe thats true of four seasons.

  • Lord Of The PantsLord Of The Pants Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    s7apster wrote: »
    Elendil wrote: »
    Some of the more common ones:

    symphony - generally a large-scale, multi-movement orchestral work (though the definition is somewhat nebulous)
    concerto - work for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra
    sonata - usually a multi-movement work for a solo instrument
    etude - work for a solo instrument, generally meant at least partly as a skill exercise
    prelude - an introduction to a work, or a short stand alone piece

    Concertos usually have three movements too. Fast, slow, fast. lol

    Nothing usually has anything these days, remember.

    But while we are here. Here is some of my Favorite Opera, Favorite Ballet

    And favorite Classical related Parody part 1 part 2

    Anyone dropped a tab and listened to Glass?


    Oh and somone send out the Poldy Bat Signal...

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  • IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Yeah, the Four Seasons is a suite of 4 violin concerti (solo violin with orchestral accompaniment).

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  • IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    s7apster wrote: »
    Concertos usually have three movements too. Fast, slow, fast. lol

    Nothing usually has anything these days, remember.

    While it's certainly true that modern classical music commonly departs from the typical structure, it does not change the fact that the form still accurately describes the vast majority of concerti written before the 20th century. And there is no need to be a dick to people who know less about classical music than you.

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  • DragDrag Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Are we allowed to make music recommendations in here too?

    Listen to Jupiter, part of The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Preferably with a sound system with good bass. It is absolutely superb.

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  • thanimationsthanimations Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    If you have a local classical station, tune in every once and awhile. Most stations will have the DJ's talk about the composer and work, and it's a good way to familiarize yourself with the vastness of classical music. To learn the basics, I'd check out a wikipedia article, or go here:

    http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Honestly, wikipedia is a great source for musical theory. Their articles on sonata form should be very elucidating.

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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Might I recommend Avner Dorman, particularly his Concerto for Violin and a Rock Band. I also suggest Mahler (Gustavo Dudamel has released a CD of his conducting of Mahler) and Mendelssohn.

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  • Lord Of The PantsLord Of The Pants Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    s7apster wrote: »
    Concertos usually have three movements too. Fast, slow, fast. lol

    Nothing usually has anything these days, remember.

    While it's certainly true that modern classical music commonly departs from the typical structure, it does not change the fact that the form still accurately describes the vast majority of concerti written before the 20th century. And there is no need to be a dick to people who know less about classical music than you.

    My bad, I wasn't trying to be a dick.

    You'd be suprised how little I know about anything. :)

    I Second Mahler, his orchestral works....wow...

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  • IllyriaIllyria __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2008
    Watch the movie Amadeus. It's awesome and it'll teach you everything that actually matters when it comes to classical music. Also, Salieri is probably one of my favorite movie characters ever. He's hilariously cynical and so awesome.

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  • JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    The first thing about classical music is that it isn't called classical music. Classical refers to a period in Europe post-renaissance from the mid-1500's to mid-1700's.

    A fugue is a polyphonic (several lines of music occuring simultaniously) structure where one line starts with a theme, then the theme is copied as later lines enter. Usually there are counter-themes which do the same, and on.

    It's a little like a round (frere jacques, row row row the boat), except longer, more complex, and less exact. The difficulty of anything in that form is making the theme as long, complex as possible while remaining precise, as obviously the more lines are playing at once and copying the previous line, the more likely they are to become dissonant.

    ...dissonant = bad sound.

  • SamiSami Registered User
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Honestly, wikipedia is a great source for musical theory. Their articles on sonata form should be very elucidating.

    Did you just use 'elucidating' without any irony?

    You have truly out-Podly'd yourself.

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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    The first thing about classical music is that it isn't called classical music. Classical refers to a period in Europe post-renaissance from the mid-1500's to mid-1700's.

    A fugue is a polyphonic (several lines of music occuring simultaniously) structure where one line starts with a theme, then the theme is copied as later lines enter. Usually there are counter-themes which do the same, and on.

    It's a little like a round (frere jacques, row row row the boat), except longer, more complex, and less exact. The difficulty of anything in that form is making the theme as long, complex as possible while remaining precise, as obviously the more lines are playing at once and copying the previous line, the more likely they are to become dissonant.

    ...dissonant = bad sound.

    Copland would disagree.

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  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Copeland didn't write fugues.

  • thanimationsthanimations Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Copland didn't write fugues.

    No, he didn't, though it would probably be better to define dissonance as chords that need to be resolved or are transitional. Though I understand what I mean, someone who doesn't know anything about it would then equate all dissonance to be bad.

  • s7apsters7apster Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Copland didn't write fugues.

    No, he didn't, though it would probably be better to define dissonance as chords that need to be resolved or are transitional. Though I understand what I mean, someone who doesn't know anything about it would then equate all dissonance to be bad.

    Copland has a book talking about interpreting/listening to music. Dissonance is a way of building tension (along with many other techniques). The buildup and then dissipation of tension is integral to good music.

  • ErlkingErlking Registered User regular
    edited January 2008

    Fuck yes, Nixon in China. NEWS NEWS NEWS

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    No, he didn't, though it would probably be better to define dissonance as chords that need to be resolved or are transitional. Though I understand what I mean, someone who doesn't know anything about it would then equate all dissonance to be bad.

    Sure, but I'm doing the layman's version.
    s7apster wrote:
    Copland has a book talking about interpreting/listening to music. Dissonance is a way of building tension (along with many other techniques). The buildup and then dissipation of tension is integral to good music.

    Well, yes. But your bracketed bit is the kicker. Much music of absolute genius has been written which 100% avoids dissonance. One of the most popular 'buildup & dissipation' techniques (counterpoint) came from periods of music which considered avoiding dissonance to be an absolute.

    So dissonance isn't even remotely necessary to that idea.

  • Lord Of The PantsLord Of The Pants Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I disagree.

    I would maintain in even baroque music, that you'll be finding dominant seventh chords being resolved, or even (If you expand your concept of dissonance) suspended fourth chords. Infact, that is the whole point of a cadence, the musical "full stop" if you will.

    In my opinion, there is still dissonance in every music, but comparitive to it's era. I'm pretty sure we're not going to find some Rite Of Spring esque harmonies in The Marrige Of Figaro...but you know what I mean.

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  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Dissonance is a necessary part of music, always has been. Every era has had different rules for dealing with dissonance - obviously, Bach and Telemann deal with dissonance differently than Copeland and Stravinsky. You won't get very far if you try to apply one measure to a composer and era that is entirely unsuited for it.

    Anyway, it's fairly meaningless to talk about traditional rules of harmony in anything but the common practice period. You guys should know - atonality changed everything.

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  • setrajonassetrajonas Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I've been getting my Marriage of Figaro on lately. Still one of the finest operas in the repertoire, I highly recommend it as a starting point for getting into opera.
    Jinnigan wrote: »
    haha i always associated sonatas with sonnets whooooooooops

    If it makes you feel any better, I think they're both derived from the same word, sonare (to sound).

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    your concept of dissonance

    Well there you go. We're probably talking semantics here, a lot of English musical terminology is very different to US terminology while using many of the same terms, it's annoying. By the definition I'm talking, a note/s which merely requires resolution (ie sevenths etc) isn't dissonant. But even with your meaning, baroque & classical composition is very much centered around avoiding dissonance except in a very few set of circumstances, and I disagree that the difference between composers of those periods (on this one issue) was particularly great. Nobody in Europe wrote atonally in the 1600s.

    Apart from that, serial method, Indian octotones, Japanese percussive harmonics...yes, there are no global rules.

  • s7apsters7apster Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    your concept of dissonance

    Well there you go. We're probably talking semantics here, a lot of English musical terminology is very different to US terminology while using many of the same terms, it's annoying. By the definition I'm talking, a note/s which merely requires resolution (ie sevenths etc) isn't dissonant. But even with your meaning, baroque & classical composition is very much centered around avoiding dissonance except in a very few set of circumstances, and I disagree that the difference between composers of those periods (on this one issue) was particularly great. Nobody in Europe wrote atonally in the 1600s.

    Apart from that, serial method, Indian octotones, Japanese percussive harmonics...yes, there are no global rules.

    Would you consider a minor key to be dissonant? Because music of that time is often written in minor modes, and therefore dissonant. Music doesn't have to be atonal to be dissonant.

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Can you write in two keys simultaneously, such as B-Flat major for wind and B-Flat Major for strings?

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  • s7apsters7apster Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Can you write in two keys simultaneously, such as B-Flat major for wind and B-Flat Major for strings?

    Huh? I don't understand your question. There are many different instrument keys in the 'wind' category, and all string instruments are in C. You definitely can, the music just has to be transposed so that instruments in different keys can read it the same.

    EDIT: I'm sorry, I was just confused because you said two keys, and then said the same key twice.

  • YosemiteSamYosemiteSam Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Can you write in two keys simultaneously, such as B-Flat major for wind and B-Flat Major for strings?
    You can do whatever you want. Nobody did that kind of thing until the 20th century, though, if that's what your asking.

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

    We are all very lucky to live in a world where there is this much music.
  • yakulyakul Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    When checking out performances is it worth considering which symphony etc. performed the piece? Or rather are there any performers to absolutely avoid?

  • setrajonassetrajonas Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Read the reviews when you buy classical music. Different performers will take different liberties with the music (tempo being the most obvious one). If you find a particular performer you like, you can stick with them. I can't think of any performers off-hand to always avoid; classical music is a pretty contentious category, so if an artist is recording they probably got something right :P

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    yakul wrote: »
    When checking out performances is it worth considering which symphony etc. performed the piece? Or rather are there any performers to absolutely avoid?

    Usually, especially when you become more and more versed. For instance, I think Bernstein's prelude to Tristan is the best I've ever heard, but I like Carlos Kleibers better on the whole.

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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Dudamel did the bast Mahler at a competition.

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  • Lord Of The PantsLord Of The Pants Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    yakul wrote: »
    When checking out performances is it worth considering which symphony etc. performed the piece? Or rather are there any performers to absolutely avoid?

    Usually, especially when you become more and more versed. For instance, I think Bernstein's prelude to Tristan is the best I've ever heard, but I like Carlos Kleibers better on the whole.

    If it's piano works, I have been told that there are some people that you don't and some people you do listen too. And don't start an argument about Yo-Yo Ma's sense of "feel". Everybody looses. <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

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  • ScikarScikar Registered User
    edited January 2008
    yakul wrote: »
    When checking out performances is it worth considering which symphony etc. performed the piece? Or rather are there any performers to absolutely avoid?

    Part of my music course last year included comparing different recordings of classic pieces. There are obviously two important points: how the piece is performed, and how it is recorded. I have never, ever heard a bad recording by Deutsche Grammophon. However, there are different schools of thought on how pieces should be performed. Some believe that an ideal recording is one featuring musicians playing instruments built as they would have been during that particular period, in that particular style, while others prefer to put more modern twists in, where appropriate. Vivaldi's Four Seasons, for instance, were written to showcase the talent of the musicians he was teaching, so you can see the argument for the soloist in the recording to add their own personal touch to the performance.

    The way I've gone about it is to listen to big collections (those 5 CD type things) and pick out particular pieces I like. Then I'll get hold of a collection by that particular composer, and from there I'll buy the best recording I can find of the complete works from which I've heard and enjoy particular pieces. It's slow going since I'm a student, but libraries tend to have plenty of classical CDs which will save you time and money.

    If there's a particular piece or work that you already know you want, it's probably best just to ask here. I asked in the last thread for a good recording of Elgar's Enigma Variations, and someone recommended one by Sir Adrian Boult which has both Enigma Variations and Holst's Planets Suite. It is absolutely fantastic.

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  • CyvrosCyvros Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Drag wrote: »
    Are we allowed to make music recommendations in here too?

    Listen to Jupiter, part of The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Preferably with a sound system with good bass. It is absolutely superb.

    You, sir, have brilliant taste.

    (Beside that, I'd personally recommend Mahler's Symphony No. 5, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches (the first one is like the Queen's Theme these days) and most of Bach's keyboard work, really. Plus Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor (Lacrimosa).)

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