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Help me be a pretentious douche - [Classical Music]

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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    If you'd like to prepare yourself, the main points I will be questioning are as follows:

    He wasn't a composer
    His music is outdated by any modern standard.
    His stuff is an interesting historical study on improvisation in the 18th century.
    Thinking that his stuff is still relevant is like riding a horse to work.
    I will discuss that what mozart did is not, in fact, what jazz musicians do during a solo

    And my big question to you right now is: Why does the fact that Mozart was so gifted as to be able to write what he heard in complete forms sans erreur take away from his accomplishments? Why isn't it composing just because he could do it without limitations of technique or theoretical knowledge?

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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Khavall wrote: »
    I've got rehearsal that I have to leave for in like 5 minutes but once I get back sure.

    Though really, if you'll accept that there's a difference between just playing something and transcribing it and actually composing it then I don't see what the argument is. I've never heard anyone argue that pre-Beethoven musicians did what could be described today as composing. Like I'm pretty sure that's just historical fact.

    What's your source?

    Edit: You're arguing that because Beethoven started at one place with an idea and ended up at another, he's more a composer than Mozart, who heard the idea he wanted to work with, and discarded alternatives. This doesn't make sense, they're simply two different methods of composing.

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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    If you'd like to prepare yourself, the main points I will be questioning are as follows:

    He wasn't a composer
    His music is outdated by any modern standard.
    His stuff is an interesting historical study on improvisation in the 18th century.
    Thinking that his stuff is still relevant is like riding a horse to work.
    I will discuss that what mozart did is not, in fact, what jazz musicians do during a solo

    And my big question to you right now is: Why does the fact that Mozart was so gifted as to be able to write what he heard in complete forms sans erreur take away from his accomplishments? Why isn't it composing just because he could do it without limitations of technique or theoretical knowledge?

    I never said it takes away from his accomplishments
    I never said it was a bad thing that he didn't truly compose his works
    I said that he didn't truly compose his works.
    You're the one who's assuming that "Not a composer" is a bad thing. It's fine, and great that he and no one pre-Beethoven really composed by the modern definition. But they didn't. And it's important to know that. I didn't say "He's not a real composer and that's a bad thing", I said "He's not a real composer"

    As to his music not being relevant, that's my personal opinion as a musician, not me stating fact. And the reason is that we still know everything he knew. We still have that theory, we still study that theory, but we have something important too. Which is that we have knowledge that he didn't. Music has a large toolset today. Composers can do more today than they could in the 18th century, and that's great. Audiences also can accept more than they could in Mozart's time, which is also great. So yeah, his stuff is fine if you want to listen to classical. And his stuff is fine if you want to study classical, and his stuff is great for what it is. But on the grand scheme, we've progressed to the point where his music isn't current, it's historical. Thinking of it as current is backwards thinking.

    Edit: You're arguing that because Beethoven started at one place with an idea and ended up at another, he's more a composer than Mozart, who heard the idea he wanted to work with, and discarded alternatives. This doesn't make sense, they're simply two different methods of composing.
    No, I'm saying that what Beethoven did is what composing is, and what Mozart did is what improvising is. I'm not assigning any value judgment to any of this, and I'm aware they're simply two different methods of creating music. But composition is a process by which music is planned and worked over, and improvisation is a method of creating music where you simply play it and go with the flow. Beethoven composed, Mozart improvised. It's a historical reality, not me being judgmental of everything before the romantic era.

    Khavall on
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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    As to his music not being relevant, that's my personal opinion as a musician, not me stating fact. And the reason is that we still know everything he knew.

    We know everything that Beethoven knew. We know everything that Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Cage knew. These men are unquestionably composers. But by your definition, since we now know things that they DIDN'T know, that means they weren't real composers.

    What exactly is your definition of a real composer?
    But on the grand scheme, we've progressed to the point where his music isn't current, it's historical. Thinking of it as current is backwards thinking.

    Of course his music isn't current. Relevant is different. Relevant to what? Maybe no one is trying to compose or orchestrate like Mozart, but we are able to do what we do today because of a long line of artists that broke new ground and pushed boundaries, and I think that makes all of these men - AND their music - relevant. Mozart's music can't possibly have the same effect on my ears as it did when it was current, but that doesn't take away from the beauty and power of his compositions. I'm not really sure what you're arguing.

    Mozart still wrote in modern forms, and perfected many of them. It was still a process, and a work of effort to produce what he heard. Just because it was complete already in his head before putting pen on paper doesn't mean he wasn't composing. Hell, most composers would give their left nut to hear complete ideas with orchestration complete, instead of having to sit at a piano for hours, or however you prefer to compose, with or without an instrument.

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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'll wait for you to respond, this is fun. I haven't gotten to talk about anything this ridiculous or pretentious in a while!

    Hey Ashtray on
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    SilvertreeSilvertree Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I think you are getting pretty good advice. I don't feel like enough of an expert to offer an opinion directly, but I do have a suggestion for you. Email the people at http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/main.jsp. Ask them your question and see what they have to say.

    I didn't have any idea where to start when I wanted to start listening to symphonies. I sent them an email and I was amazed at how helpful they were. They even pointed me to less expensive recordings than I was originally looking at.

    Note: I don't work for Arkiv nor am I connected to them in any way. I was just surprised at what kind of service I got from a web based company.

    Silvertree on
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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    As to his music not being relevant, that's my personal opinion as a musician, not me stating fact. And the reason is that we still know everything he knew.

    We know everything that Beethoven knew. We know everything that Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Cage knew. These men are unquestionably composers. But by your definition, since we now know things that they DIDN'T know, that means they weren't real composers.

    What exactly is your definition of a real composer?


    You are combining my points when they aren't combined. Mozart should be relegated to a historical artifact because his musical knowledge is outdated and we gain nothing from looking at it in any other way.

    Unrelated, he was not what we would today call composing.
    But on the grand scheme, we've progressed to the point where his music isn't current, it's historical. Thinking of it as current is backwards thinking.

    Of course his music isn't current. Relevant is different. Relevant to what? Maybe no one is trying to compose or orchestrate like Mozart, but we are able to do what we do today because of a long line of artists that broke new ground and pushed boundaries, and I think that makes all of these men - AND their music - relevant. Mozart's music can't possibly have the same effect on my ears as it did when it was current, but that doesn't take away from the beauty and power of his compositions. I'm not really sure what you're arguing.

    Mozart still wrote in modern forms, and perfected many of them. It was still a process, and a work of effort to produce what he heard. Just because it was complete already in his head before putting pen on paper doesn't mean he wasn't composing. Hell, most composers would give their left nut to hear complete ideas with orchestration complete, instead of having to sit at a piano for hours, or however you prefer to compose, with or without an instrument.

    Relevant as history. Yes, we can learn from it, then move on.

    but it's not relevant to contemporary study of music. It's like...

    Ok I have to go back to my riding a horse to work thing. Sure, a horse was once an awesome form of transportation. Yes, it's good to know that. Yes, it's ok to know how to ride a horse. But if you're getting into work it's normally a better idea to take a car.

    Yeah, learn who Mozart was, look at his stuff historically, but recognize that he's outdated.

    Oh, and no. Most composers wouldn't give their left nut to hear complete ideas with orchestration complete. We can do that easily. But we write better music when we use modern composition techniques. That's why we do it this way, and not the same way they did it in the 18th century. And that's why obsessing too much about Mozart, or thinking he is anything other than a historic improviser, is flawed. Because we have better ways of going about things now. And it's really, really important to recognize that if we're going to continue to move forwards with music.

    Anyways now that I'm done with rehearsal and dinner I have to get changed and head to a gig, so I'll be back in a few hours again.

    Khavall on
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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm sorry, I can't respect the idea that the only point in checking out Mozart is for the historical value. Have you even LISTENED to his requiem? Admittedly, he didn't finish it, but MAN. If that's what outdated sounds like, then hell, sign me up! I don't think that respecting and enjoying a composers music for what it is prevents us from moving forwards with music, as you put it.

    And a horse doesn't teach us anything about driving a car. So that's a stupid analogy, because studying Mozart or just LISTENING to him, to make it less academic, can teach you plenty about writing. It can inspire! It can get the creative juices flowing, just like anything else. I think what I'm frustrated with isn't even that you cling to this idea that he didn't compose music, it's that you so readily claim that Mozart's music is as dead as he is.

    And you do not 'easily' hear a complete structure the way that (if legend is true) Mozart did. I don't mean hearing an idea and working it out, I mean hearing the whole picture at once, the form, the development. That's all I meant by that.

    Edit:
    You are combining my points when they aren't combined. Mozart should be relegated to a historical artifact because his musical knowledge is outdated and we gain nothing from looking at it in any other way.

    Aaaargh. Sure, we know the theory, the cadences, the forms, the variations on a theme, the orchestration, the harmonic progressions. Yeah, we know and have exhausted pretty much all of these traditional tools. But tell me you can capture the subtlety found in even Mozart's most comical acts? Even when for all intents and purposes he's acting as an entertainer, there is always something subtle happening within the music, something developing. That's not something you can learn in a text book, neither is his dramatic awareness. And sure, Stravinsky moving little tiny rhythmic cells around, and Schoenberg and his 12 tones is cool as shit to both analyze and listen to. And Cage and his conceptual compositions blew the doors off what we thought music had to be, and that's amazing, but it didn't kill what came before. Just because we have 'new' ways of doing things doesn't make the old ways cheap or laughable. If anything the contrast in methods adds value to Mozart's work and gives me an appreciation for it that otherwise I wouldn't have.

    I guess it's a lot like how I feel about Charlie Parker. When I was in High School, I didn't really love it, the quality of recordings was old, the drummers played 4 on the floor swing, until Max, and all in all I didn't understand the fuss about this alto player. Then after my undergrad, I started listening to Parker again after checking out all the modern stuff, the best guys, Potter, Leibman, Binney, you name it. These guys have taken everything that parker could do and blew it up, inside out, and upside down. Parker would pack up his horn and leave if he could hear these guys play, but when you listen to those old recordings and realize he came up with his vocabulary out of nowhere, and that it inspired pretty much everything in some way or another that came after it, you LISTEN to it. Your ears just open up, and you take it in. I think Mozart's appeal is much the same. Maybe at first listening it's trivial and too perfect. But maybe coming back to it when you're over the excitement of Symphonie Fantastique or what have you, you'll find a deeper appreciation for both the music and the composer.

    That was a rant, wow.

    Hey Ashtray on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    As an improviser, I would be quite a bit offended if, after improvising a play, somebody told me that I did not write that play.
    Excuse me, but I wrote it in real time. I just didn't transcribe it.
    (arguably this is only in solo work, where as an group improvised piece is done by the group and would have been impossible as an individual, but the point I believe stands)

    Improvolone on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    So what exactly is a musical work? Is it a perfect, complete performance of a piece of music? Is it a transcription of that piece of music? Is there a difference (ontologically speaking) between Beethoven's Fifth performed by the Berlin Philharmoniker and the New York Philharmonic?

    Is a work any less a work if it only exists in an oral tradition, such as classical Indian music or jazz?

    I don't think it's tenable to hold that composition of music is only the transcribing of music into western notation, and that the act of writing out the notes you want to be played in advance of a full, complete performance of the work is the only way one could "compose." It seems to me that composition as we generally understand is simply an act of codification, or creating musical sequences and then providing instructions for recreating those musical sequences.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    As an improviser, I would be quite a bit offended if, after improvising a play, somebody told me that I did not write that play.
    Excuse me, but I wrote it in real time. I just didn't transcribe it.
    (arguably this is only in solo work, where as an group improvised piece is done by the group and would have been impossible as an individual, but the point I believe stands)

    But you didn't write it.

    You created it and performed it. You've still created a work of art, but in this it is even easier to see the divide, you very literally didn't write it.

    The problem here is that when I say that mozart or anyone pre-beethoven wasn't a composer, first of all people are seeing that I'm saying that as a negative thing. Secondly, people are confusing creation of art with composition. They are not the same. Composition is, in todays world, a thought out process by which a piece is created. It is also the way that almost all contemporary art music is created. It is also the best way to do so. There are a myriad of reasons that it is, not the least of which is that it allows the composer to have control over time. Many people create music. They are not necessarily composing though. There is no way to argue that what classical era musicians did is closer to composition than improvisation. It is simply not true. This is not an opinion, this is solid, historical fact. It is simply what is true. What they did is what we today call improvisation. That is what the word is, that is what they did.
    saggio wrote: »
    So what exactly is a musical work? Is it a perfect, complete performance of a piece of music? Is it a transcription of that piece of music? Is there a difference (ontologically speaking) between Beethoven's Fifth performed by the Berlin Philharmoniker and the New York Philharmonic?

    Is a work any less a work if it only exists in an oral tradition, such as classical Indian music or jazz?

    I don't think it's tenable to hold that composition of music is only the transcribing of music into western notation, and that the act of writing out the notes you want to be played in advance of a full, complete performance of the work is the only way one could "compose." It seems to me that composition as we generally understand is simply an act of codification, or creating musical sequences and then providing instructions for recreating those musical sequences.

    The problem here is that you think this is an argument against what I have been saying. Because you have not read or understood what I have been saying. The definition of a musical work? When have I said anything about anything not being a musical work? Show me. Quote where I say something isn't a musical work. I'll wait.

    Yeah, I didn't. Is it less a work if blah blah whatever? No. I never said that.


    And you do not 'easily' hear a complete structure the way that (if legend is true) Mozart did. I don't mean hearing an idea and working it out, I mean hearing the whole picture at once, the form, the development. That's all I meant by that.
    I don't meant to appeal to authority, but yes. I can't speak for what was going on in Mozart's head, but it is not at all difficult to create a complete piece mentally, without going through the process. You will note that I have not said that Mozart is the only person who didn't really do composition when he wrote music, but instead pretty much everyone pre-Beethoven. People don't go through the process because we are unable to do what some 18th century drunkard did, but because it makes it better.
    Aaaargh. Sure, we know the theory, the cadences, the forms, the variations on a theme, the orchestration, the harmonic progressions. Yeah, we know and have exhausted pretty much all of these traditional tools. But tell me you can capture the subtlety found in even Mozart's most comical acts? Even when for all intents and purposes he's acting as an entertainer, there is always something subtle happening within the music, something developing. That's not something you can learn in a text book, neither is his dramatic awareness. And sure, Stravinsky moving little tiny rhythmic cells around, and Schoenberg and his 12 tones is cool as shit to both analyze and listen to. And Cage and his conceptual compositions blew the doors off what we thought music had to be, and that's amazing, but it didn't kill what came before. Just because we have 'new' ways of doing things doesn't make the old ways cheap or laughable. If anything the contrast in methods adds value to Mozart's work and gives me an appreciation for it that otherwise I wouldn't have.
    Which is why we look at Mozart historically. Nothing I have said has implied that we shouldn't be aware of and acknowledge Mozart. Just that we should also acknowledge that it's not what music is now.
    I guess it's a lot like how I feel about Charlie Parker. When I was in High School, I didn't really love it, the quality of recordings was old, the drummers played 4 on the floor swing, until Max, and all in all I didn't understand the fuss about this alto player. Then after my undergrad, I started listening to Parker again after checking out all the modern stuff, the best guys, Potter, Leibman, Binney, you name it. These guys have taken everything that parker could do and blew it up, inside out, and upside down. Parker would pack up his horn and leave if he could hear these guys play, but when you listen to those old recordings and realize he came up with his vocabulary out of nowhere, and that it inspired pretty much everything in some way or another that came after it, you LISTEN to it. Your ears just open up, and you take it in. I think Mozart's appeal is much the same. Maybe at first listening it's trivial and too perfect. But maybe coming back to it when you're over the excitement of Symphonie Fantastique or what have you, you'll find a deeper appreciation for both the music and the composer.

    That was a rant, wow.

    History is important and I never said otherwise. In fact, in my earlier posts in this thread I may have shown that I in fact am a pretty big fan of music history and have studied it quite a bit. It was pretty subtle though, you might not have picked up on it.

    But it's history. It's not today. It's not what's going on, and it has incredibly limited value to know what's going on now. It's what was going on then. It's really good what was going on then. But it's done. That time is done, we've moved on, and failure to recognize that is a crime against music. That time was important. That time was influential. That time is important to know about, but it's fucking over. It's done! It's not the 18th century anymore. Mozart isn't the new shit, and refusing to recognize that and move on from living in the past hurts music.


    I do like the condescending end though. Maybe you're right, once I'm over Berlioz, who is totally new and current right now, I'll go back to Mozart and like it. I just haven't lived or studied music enough.

    Khavall on
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    Hey AshtrayHey Ashtray Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I brought up Berlioz because the 5th movement IS exciting. And holy balls let's just agree to disagree. I don't even UNDERSTAND what is being argued anymore, haha.

    Hey Ashtray on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Khavall wrote:
    The problem here is that you think this is an argument against what I have been saying. Because you have not read or understood what I have been saying. The definition of a musical work? When have I said anything about anything not being a musical work? Show me. Quote where I say something isn't a musical work. I'll wait.

    Yeah, I didn't. Is it less a work if blah blah whatever? No. I never said that.

    Thank you for being overly hostile and jumping down my throat. I wasn't responding to you in particular, man. If you really feel the need to debate the matter, go and make a thread in D&D. I'll happily join and debate you properly.

    To the OP: Get yourself some Ralph Vaughn Williams. You've probably heard of Rhosymedre, you should listen to Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and then his Fifth Symphony. It's my favorite, because it's basically like an 8th Sibelius symphony. That's the other guy you should listen to.

    saggio on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Dvorak's Cello Concerto is amazing.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1703263158002976796#
    So is Romance in F Minor - gives me chills...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbvxUJLmNzE

    firewaterword on
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    OH GOD!

    I can't believe I forgot this!

    One incredibly awesome piece to listen to is my very favorite Opera of all times:

    I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky
    By John Adams.

    It is... incredible. It's basically John Adams using popular music forms combined with being fucking John Adams to make a point about inner-city race relations. Of course the important part is that is that it's John Adams being awesome.

    Here's the opening

    Khavall on
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