This is an extension of the thread located here: http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...4&page=1&pp=10
I’ve moved this onto a new thread so that we are not cluttering up Nicole’s thread with our lively discourse. Hang on, here we go:
“Some of the Beatle's music was based on the detested three chord trick too! However, they are more famous, more popular, more wealthy, and have given more pleasure to millions of folk than any of the Atonal Archies.”
(TH) Ah yes, the greater the number of people who like something, the better it is. Quality and worth determined by consensus, by fame, by bank account size. You know, I think you’re onto something here – this may be the ultimate formula for Great Art. Perhaps composers should use Harris Polls to see if ideas for their latest compositions meet with the approval of the maximum number of people in the general public. You know, this could be a Democratic Revolution in Composition while, at the same time, ensuring that the music is optimized for producing maximum fame and financial gain. This could guarantee the virtually perfect, “Lowest Common Denominator” music. My hat’s off to you, you brilliant, sneaky guy! The future of Art is assured.
“Maybe they'll find that appreciating this marginal sort of music is a condition like, say, colour blindness. (ie it's the way they're wired up....something went wrong!)”
(TH) You got me again. I freely admit I didn’t even know there was a right or wrong here. Silly me. On the other hand, we haven’t really determined just who exactly is color blind here, have we? Oh that’s right, this is another of those consensus things isn’t it?
“Some, not all, 20th century composers have been trying to be 'clever or different' for a long time....in fact for ALL of the twentieth century. They've had a fair crack of the whip, and you know what?..... the vast majority of people haven't heard them, don't like them or don't know them. Even after a hundred years the vast (and I mean vast) majority of folk haven't seen the light! Perhaps, yes just perhaps....this sort of music really is Sihite (the first 'i' is soft like in shiite! ). “
(TH) I’m beginning to get the hang of this consensus thing. But now there is a new element added: Being clever or different is a BAD thing. Boy, did I have that one wrong. Since “clever” means “being mentally quick and original” I can see now that this is clearly not an asset for someone involved in an intellectual pursuit like composition and “different” might lead to the inadvertent occurrence of “creativity.” Sends a shudder up my spine just to contemplate the possibilities.
“Prove me wrong!”
(TH) Now, now, Frank . . . you know this statement violates at least two firm rules of logic: The Fallacy of Negative Proof which simply states that it is not possible to prove a negative assertion and “Argumentum ad ignorantiam,” the fallacy of arguing that the burden of proof lies on the opposition. You tried to lay a little trap for my pseudo-intellectual pretensions, you clever logician you. Oops, I didn’t mean to offend you by using the word “clever” - I know how you feel about that word. My apologies.
“I say again that this is the 'unmade bed' or the 'cow in formaldehyde' of music. Yes there are a few who like it.........but most of us see it for what it is. Pretentious rubbish. I'm afraid I'm no admirer of the Emporer's new clothes!”
(TH) Wow, - “unmade bed,” “pretentious rubbish,” and that old favorite “Emperor’s new clothes.” So that’s what all of that music by so many different composers actually IS. We’re not just talking opinion here anymore, we’ve moved onto something absolute, something tangible. These aren’t just insults by someone unappreciative, these are FACTS. Ah, now I understand. See, you just had to clearly explain it to me. I’m not intractable, after all.
“This isn't to say that there are a few who genuinely like it, but that doesn't mean to say that the vast majority are too stupid or uneducated to understand or appreciate it; which is often the implication.”
(TH) Naw, I won’t do it - too big a straight line . . .
“I can assure people that it certainly doesn't go over my head; it is more likely to go under my feet for I see it for what it is with the veils of pseudo intellect and snobbery removed.”
(TH) Here’s my problem: I’m having a little difficulty keeping track of just who’s using the “veils of pseudo intellect” here. I’m almost certain that I’m supposed to be the “snob” (I would suggest “elitist” is more accurate) but, reviewing this exchange, I’m not so certain about the proper mantle for “pseudo-intellect.” I must admit that I have played in the horn sections of many Rhythm & Blues bands for the last few decades and they are notorious as hotbeds of pseudo-intellectual activity – especially toward the end of the night, but should I always be tarnished by association? I think not.
On the subject of “does it go over your head,” that’s difficult for me to determine since, by your own admission, you haven’t heard all of the music you so inclusively condemn. At least I played thousands of 3 chord rock tunes over 40 years time before I stated that I thoroughly disliked every single one of them – what can I say, I’m a whore, I got paid at the end of the night. I understand them – Oh, do I understand them! You also make it difficult for me to judge your comprehension because you keep making such silly statements as: 9th and 13th chords are too “outside” or pointing out Ravel’s “obvious mistake(?)” in the Piano Concerto in G (that misguided one had me rolling on the floor with laughter). My dilemma is that you don’t SEEM to understand the music you’re commenting on. Perhaps that is a mistaken impression, perhaps not. I can’t tell.
“It's certainly a damned sight easier to write compared with one of the structured pieces by the masters.”
(TH) Exactly which Masters do you have in mind? Are you excluding Debussy, Bartok, Berg, Ives, Takemitsu, Varese, Wuorinen, Carter. Couldn’t be Carter. Elliot has written some of the most structured music in history. Debussy, for the most part, rejected traditional structure. Does that eliminate him as a “Master?” Berg’s Violin Concerto is one of the most profoundly beautiful pieces I’ve ever heard, yet it is, strictly speaking, atonal. Is it not a Masterwork just because he chose to combine pitches in a non-traditional way? Does that make it a sham? I’m just trying to determine where the line is drawn. It will help me to understand why these musicians produced music that was so “easy to write,” while conveniently establishing a list of just who qualifies as a “Master” and who doesn’t.
“I'm sure I could write something pretty decent in this genre myself which might have a few folk ooohing and aaahing...... as long as I accompanied the piece with a few choice arty farty cliches, explanations, and pseudo-intellectual justifications.”
(TH) Oh PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE, indulge me here. If you never do anything else for me I’m on my knees begging you to write something worthy of my oohs and aahs. Don’t hold back - I want all the cliches, explanations, and pseudo-intellectual justifications to go with it. I NEED this piece of music!
“If these people want to be in a little stream, which feeds a tributary which in turn, feeds the main stream of music; fair enough. Just don't expect the riverboat (showboat?) to turn up there any time soon!”
(TH) I didn’t realize that one of my primary goals as a composer should be to get on that glittery old showboat. I’m going to need to re-arrange my priorities. Up ‘til now I was perfectly content to remain in my tiny little rowboat writing music I like rather than climb on the showboat and write music I loathe. Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways.
“I'm reminded of an experiment (which caused an outrage at the time..1930's?) when the classical music station of the BBC put out a broadcast where the London Phil(un)harmonic Orchestra were instructed to play "at will" anything they wanted. The listeners weren't warned as it was attributed to some fictitious 'new' composer of the day.”
(TH) I’d have to hear it. You never know, I might like it. I think it would depend on the performance
“This is really for Tom, Gary .....sorry to get into it here... I shall get around to finishing him off back in the general discussion forum......Watch that space!!”
(TH) I’ll be watching (I took a quick look and didn’t see it yet – point me in the right direction if I missed it)! I haven’t been “finished off” in weeks and, frankly, it’s getting on my nerves. Do you want me to wear anything in particular for the occasion? Spandex perhaps?
“PS Predictably, a lot of these atonal enthusiasts make great programmers!”
(TH) Not me. I’m just a run-of-the-mill hack.
P.S. It’s been fun (really) but I’m ending it here. There are more important things to do (like getting out those updates!). In my genuinely nice guy fashion I’m going to let Frank have the last word. Chew me up and spit me out old boy – I deserve it!