Music Conversation

02008-04-23 | Music | 0 comments

Snippets from a three-way conversation about classical music:

X:

Classical orchestras became public extensions of the large ensemble, having outgrown the drawing room and court, an institution that grew in size as well as loudness by the time of Wagner and triumphed in the early 20th with works by Stravinsky and Debussy. It was meant to render refined music landscapes using a multiplicity of instrumental colours for depth and layering. Not NOISE which seems to be the only thing the bad boys of art, rock and now classical aspire to or can think of. I say: take it off the programmes. The orchestra will die, sure enough, but it doesn’t have to demean itself anymore by playing this harsh crap, not even the good and real shit, the cacophony constructed as politically and historically meaningful, like the post-WWII European composers projected in works that sounded like bombs exploding and populations annihilated.

Y:

I have always felt that the latin composers are offering the best path forward in classical music, not being ashamed of a pretty melody or a nice rhythm, and willing to mix it with the atonality the european composers are getting lost in.
Atonality without occassional melody is just noise and dulls the mind… if, on the other hand, you confront that atonality with the above-mentioned sweet melody and bouncy rhtyhm you can have an impact, a serious impact. Piazzola, Leo Brower, Golijov and others are tilling that field and it is yielding wonderful fruit.

Z:

I would have to agree with you. But you know so much of art in any period is reactionary, thus a lot of it is for political effect. Today of course it’s difficult to see where one can find a new approach, either artistically or politically. From the temple to the gutter, it’s all been explored by someone somewhere already.

The issue of “loud” — which many call noise — is one of sensation(alism). Technology has made it easy to be loud as an individual (making a statement) whereas in earlier times he needed to be in a group. There’s a megalomania behind such expression which comes naturally to youth, which is so wired sexually it needs to feel everything to the max, like a capsule burning up on re-entry. For older types (ahem) who need this, if not deaf, it’s a sign of madness.

Aristotle addressed the problem of size (magnitude) in Art in his “Poetics” wherein he dismisses insects (& women) as unworthy and of no possible artistic interest. But of course why wouldn’t composers want to explore volume? No only because of cataclysmic events — and we do live with the hydrogen bomb — but because we want to imitate the event. It’s like writing the book that kills the reader (the ambition of any serious author ha ha). I like atonal but like you I feel it’s too severe to be a narrative onto itself. I also like random noise but likewise, it has to be used subtley. Etc etc.

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