Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is missing from too much new music?

Lightness and irony (alone and in combination).



13 comments:

jodru said...

Amen to that. There is a mood in the blogosphere tonight:

http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2010/07/the_serious_1950s_string_quart.html

Steve Hicken said...

Too long; didn't read.

Steve Hicken said...

Seriously, though, I quite agree.

Samuel Vriezen said...

We have different experiences I think! In my school, irony was almost mandatory in music, a law that went by the name of Stravinsky.

However, of course, this mandatory irony of the Hague School was almost never light.

mafia said...

i like it , but.. but real fun is here.
music and masti www.musicandmasti.com

bgn said...

This lack of lightness and/or irony is going around all the arts, I think. It must be a post-9/11 thing.

Anonymous said...

So many new works are so thornily beyond the comprehension of the average listener that critics and educators feel compelled to defend them by bestowing such adjectives as "profound", "muscular", "terse", "questing", "restless", etc.--but definitely not "charming", "laugh out loud hilarious", "elfin", or "delicate". New music composers need to get out into the fresh air and sunshine, hang out with little kids, throw away their gloomy newspapers, and flee the ivory tower!

Petr Bakla said...

Dear stupid anonymous,

nice post. Was it Zhdanov or Joseph Goebbels? Or perhaps an authentic shit on your brain? Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Ease up, Petr! Maybe my late-night attempt at humor fell a bit short, but you do yourself a disservice by being crude and insulting.

Unlike Zhdanov and Goebbels, I'm not threatening modern composers with excommunication, exile, or death unless they write government-sanctioned pretty music "for the masses". I have no desire to see composers become sedate and saccharine clones, simply pandering to the popular taste of the moment (I'll be nice and overlook academic trendiness).

All that said, on the other side I can't miss seeing the ridiculous gap between Classical academia (which encompasses most well-known modern composers) and reality. I see far too many dreadfully serious and laughably impractical composers-of-note who don't realize their vocation largely buried itself a good 80-100 years ago with the intentional and snobby divorce of "serious" music from entertainment. I love music of all kinds, and make my living in it, but am the first to admit that formally-created music--whether on Broadway, in the Ivory Tower, by Joan Tower, or amidst the facile glitter of Hollywood--is simply a luxury commodity for people with plenty of spare time and money. From a secular standpoint, music is not necessary, it neither reveals nor conveys any truths, and can thus afford to occasionally be light-hearted!

Best wishes,
Kit, AKA "Stupid Anonymous"

P. S.: I really enjoy this blog, Mr. Wolf.

Samuel Vriezen said...

Kit: such divorce may have happened 80-100 years ago; I think there's a much wider history of that divorce. In fact, "serious" music and entertainment have never been quite the same thing, they are two very different social regimes; it's just that every now and then, these two fields come to overlap a bit more, temporarily. The 19th century was the high point for national and bourgeois culture; people needed their identity as citizens of a nation expressed in art. We've gone on to a post-national consumer culture, with which art has a very different kind of relationship.

Does music convey truths? Depends who you ask. Xenakis is on record as not going for anything less than "a total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciourness in a truth immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect." Truth was certainly a driving force for his work, and I'd say it got him places.

Paul Beaudoin said...

This is nearly exactly what John Cage said to me as an undergrad comp student in Miami, Fl some 30 years ago ...

Morpheus said...

Lightness and irony -- true, provided, however, that the relevant actor complies with all applicabe laws and regulations, governing the music construction process.

Lack of taste and/or technique cannot be overcome with humor. Here's a good example:

http://dr-morpheus.blogspot.com/2010/06/composition-of-day.html

Mozart Amadeus said...

Agreed Morpheus!

Humour and lightness is needed in music, but sometimes also is emotion. Emotion, creativity and talent are all pretty linked in many talented composositions and their composers.