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Old 11-12-2007, 10:30 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem

One of my professors was a composer himself, and he was really one of those "absent-minded professors." Really intelligent, but just a little "off," you know? I made him a mix tape of some current popular music, and he really enjoyed that, even though he didn't care for all of it. I remember it had a Pearl Jam track, a Pet Shop Boys (because the lyrics referenced "The Rite of Spring"), Talking Heads ... I don't remember what else. Probably REM and U2 - it was the early 90s.

I did write a paper on Franz Liszt because I dug that I'd heard him described as "the first rock star" somewhere - the long hair, women fainting at his performances ...

It'd be cool to hear what your professor thought of that, if he ever let you know..

Liszt, that's hilarious, I remember my textbook had a painting of girls swooning while he played piano. That's always the first thing I think of when it comes to him. Just another reason for me to think Elvis was nothing new under the sun (i have a small issue with Elvis being severely overrated)
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:39 AM   #47
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Originally posted by corianderstem


I have to admit, I'm not a jazz fan. Vocal jazz (Ella Fitzgerald and that ilk), yes. Instrumental jazz where there's 20 minutes of rambling solos, no. I can take it in small doses, and I was really interested by the jazz history mini-course I had at some workshop in high school, but I have to admit that I just don't "get it."
I was reading the liner notes to my '97 edition Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" disc and Robert Palmer goes on about Duane Allman and his improvisational style of guitar solo, comparing it to Jazz in that he can go on for 30 minutes without boring the audience. For some reason the intersection of Jazz and Rock has always left me a little unenthusiatic. Maybe because too much of it ends up being the "easy listening" variety.

With good jazz improvisation, there are a variety of instruments trading solos and playing off one another. With the limited instrumentation of most rock bands, this is usually much less interesting.

Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem

But while I label both styles "jazz," I think I'd agree with you about the instrumental stuff being more "classical" while the vocal stuff leans more toward "pop" = maybe because so many of those songs were so well known (think Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers/Hart and those guys - those songs are called "standards" for a reason!).
Yeah, I stumbled across an explanation of the "Great American Songbook" recently- will have to look more into that and see what I think...
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:51 AM   #48
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Originally posted by onebloodonelife


Yes, Porter wrote a lot of the so-called "standards" that everyone seems to have covered. Carole King wrote a lot of the '60s girl group hits with her then husband Gerry Goffin. Examples would be: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles, "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva (who happened to be the couple's babysitter and was pulled into the studio to sing the demo, which ended up being released as the final version), "One Fine Day" by the Chiffons, and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin.
Those are some good ones as well. In searching online the other day I came across the wikipedia description of the "Great American Songbook" - has he ever talked about that?

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

I meant that he likes each song that he's picked out for us to listen to, he actually calls most of them "masterpieces" ,

of course they are


Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

but thinking about it now, he also likes the personal tastes of the class, for the most part.
i wonder if you have any examples? sounds like a discussion-oriented class- those are always the best (!) ..does he change the flow of instruction to accommodate music you guys mention?

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

I agree on both points. Pop music, and really music in general, is so subjective, and a lot of our feelings about certain songs and artists come from the personal connection we feel towards them. We actually just read an article, about rock and sexuality, but it brought up that point as well. The author was talking about a radio program where listeners would send in stories that they attach to specific songs. The examples given were mainly love/sex related, but included: when we first met, when we broke up, etc. The article notes, "Records are used as aural flashbacks."

You mention that he can't dismiss all pop music, and the funny thing is that when I was talking to him one day, he mentioned that when he was in college, he ended up falling in love with the European classical traditions, but now, he's ended up loving pop music and keeps coming back to it for material to write about in his articles, even though those classical traditions are supposed to be his "bread and butter." So, I definitely get your point, luckily, since he genuinely does enjoy pop music, we're in no danger of having it dismissed completely.
It seems any well-balanced music lover will bring that balanced perspective to music as well. (loving both "pop" and "classical")

Maybe part of the issue is that in some ways pop music crowds out classical in so many instances in everyday life these days. If we didn't have to take a class on it in college, we might not ever gain an appreciation of classical music, or even pause long enough to give it a second thought..


Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

Oh, definitely, there's so much material out there, it is hard to sort through it and choose the best of the lot. That Joni Mitchell interview you mention is interesting, and it's actually quite depressing to me. It's unfortunate that the music industry can't accept that she's moved on from the folk era and wants to do something different, but it seems to be a common trend in the industry, holding on to the past.
It's one of the reasons the Radiohead self-release is so interesting... it heralds a future of opportunities for artists to break free of these constraints
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:36 AM   #49
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Originally posted by yolland

The actual forms themselves, no--I'd be inclined to put U2's chances at still being a Known Quantity in 200 years at lower than those of, say, The Beatles or Elvis Presley, but I'm also inclined to think all three have a better shot at it than any contemporary classical composer.
I agree partially, however, I think any future historian looking to find a "pop" group that encapsulates the 80s-00s the way the Beatles do for the 60s and early 70s, and Elvis for early rock, is going to be hard-pressed to do better than U2.

Also, I think contemporary composers like John Williams will be known for as long as the movies he composed for are, and it's hard to imagine Star Wars ever being completely forgotten, for the place it occupies in film and pop culture history, not necessarily for the enduring quality of the film(s).


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

What probably matters more overall are factors like how, where, and to/by whom the music in question gets distributed and preserved. And it's difficult to hypothesize based on precedent in those terms, largely because recording technology, which is really still very young, has radically and permanently changed how those factors operate, for all music genres. Ironically, you could probably argue that part of the reason why classical looms as large in our historical imagination as it does (to the extent that we often unthinkingly equate "Western music" prior to the 20th century with it) is because one of its signature features--the development of and, ultimately, near-total reliance on standardized musical notation--enabled it to become a truly international genre, just as recording technology offers any genre that potential today: given a manuscript to work from, musicians could reproduce the piece *almost* exactly as an unfamiliar composer living hundreds of miles away had intended it to sound.
That's a great point. It is very difficult to see what sort of impact the explosion of technology will have on the historical views of future centuries. In fact I sometimes wonder if historical views in the future will cease to be so monolithic, and be more viral, in ways that advertising and communications are rapidly becoming today.



Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

It's just all very hard to predict, not least because 'rock' and 'pop' as we know them are still very young genres, and while it's likely that future 'folk' genres will preserve some aspects of them even if they effectively cease to exist, we don't know which aspects those will be.

The artists that appear from our vantage point to be 'the ones who really matter(ed)' may not seem that way 200 years from now at all, and in all likelihood many more reasons than innate aesthetic quality will factor into that.
I agree to a point. Maybe this is naive on my part, but I don't think history ever completely neglects to consider "what was known and popular at the time" as a good representative of what an era should be remembered by. And with the expansion of documentation afforded by new technologies, the issue of remembering or determining what was popular in this era of history should not be much of a guessing game, (barring some cataclysmic destruction of these records, I suppose)



Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Almost anything could be arranged for orchestra, from a bluegrass tune to a U2 song. That's different from composing an entire symphony 'from scratch' though, and it's also different from basing an orchestral piece on 'folk' tunes (e.g. Copland's Appalachian Spring, Dvořák's Slavonic Dances) by weaving motifs drawn from them into a work which conveys an elaborate musical narrative in its own right.
Agreed. Maybe what I need to determine is whether my impression that "classical" music used to occupy a greater percentage of what was listened to on a regular basis is accurate. It could be completely inaccurate, actually. Your point about musical notation is important- the fact that it's most of what has survived doesn't mean it's most of what was listened to and enjoyed. The majority of people may have been listening to folk music like "greensleeves" the vast majority of which has been completely lost.


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

It's not just a question of instrumentation; it's the articulation of a complex musical idea through modulation, polyphony, phrase length variation, counterpoint etc. (just as examples--obviously not all classical pieces use those specific techniques, nor do all pop/rock pieces lack them).
I agree with this, however, it starts to erode my understanding of the distinguishing characteristics between classical and folk/pop/rock.

ie: what's an example of classical music that lacks a complex musical idea?

what's an example of folk/pop/rock that carries most or all of these complex ideas?

in these cases, what makes the simplistic classical piece "classical" and the complex folk piece "folk"?



Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

The notion that certain forms of music might offer more "inherent benefit" mentally than others is interesting, but from what I can tell, effectively completely unsubstantiated. All those 'Mozart Effect' experiments show--at best, since many of the results are contradictory and the 'alternatives' to Mozart offered vary wildly from one study to the next--is a tendency for certain "spatio-temporal reasoning" skills to be temporarily heightened after listening to Mozart. Big whoop. Is there any evidence that countries whose children perform the best on spatio-temporal reasoning skills tests are countries where the average kid listens to lots of Mozart?
Would be a good thing to look into.


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Is there any evidence that temporary increases in spatio-temporal reasoning are directly correlated with longterm economic success, psychological health, academic achievement etc.? Does the role music--all kinds, all cultures--has played in human history (as opposed to, say, the role of language) support the assumption that this kind of nitpicking over its potential/hypothetical impact on intellectual development is even warranted?
You're making a good point, definitely. However, on a common sense experiential level, I can say I do better studying for a test to Mozart than I do listening to Nine Inch Nails. That's not to say that Nine Inch Nails actually makes me less intelligent *BUT* in an extreme case where one child is exposed to 90% frantic, percussion-heavy music and another child is exposed to 90% soothing, classical music, is it completely off-base to consider this may impact their ability to focus and concentrate on tasks given them, and over time impact their perceived and//or applied level of "intelligence" as reflected in various academic pursuits?

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Closer to classical, I suppose--like classical it tends to have a more socially attenuated following, and isn't really 'vernacular' in nature; also for the most part (at least since the mid-20th century) it demands a level of technical proficiency on the musicians' part which tends to rule out, say, 'garage band'-style participation in the genre. Obviously it ultimately derives from 'folk' forms, but then so does classical; obviously it differs from classical in several significant ways, such as having much less reliance on notation and much more emphasis on improvisation (though there are other cultures, India's for instance, which have what's generally recognized as a 'classical' genre--as opposed to its folk/traditional and pop/Bollywood genres--in which improvisation is likewise central). Then there are all the subgenres (smooth jazz, nu jazz etc.) that really seem to straddle the line musically. But on the whole...more akin to classical, I'd say. I'd like to think that artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane will still be appreciated in 200 years--aesthetically speaking, many of their works are absolutely exquisite--but that's even harder to hazard a guess about.
Thanks, you make some good points.

Let me ask this then: to what extent would you agree that the presence of vocals and lyrics in music steer a piece toward the "folk/pop" end of the spectrum, while an instrumental piece more readily fits "classical" criteria?
I ask this specifically about Jazz, ie, say an Etta James tune in the first instance, and a Miles Davis piece in the second, but I think the implications could extend beyond Jazz as well.

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Agreed, this was a great discussion idea.
Cool, I'm realizing we're developing a pattern of just answering one another's questions... I'm glad to see some new people joining the thread, but wanted to suggest also- anyone who has other topical points or questions that aren't part of an ongoing discussion, feel free to throw them out there.

I think I have some, but for now the ongoing discussions are keeping me busy
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:00 PM   #50
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Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


Too true. After all, I've yet to hear stories of people moshing at classical concerts . Sure, people can use any genre for any activity they wish, but there's some music that just fits certain situations better than others.

It's not often I buy into the "either/or" line of thinking on a lot of issues-I'm very much like my zodiac sign (the scales) in that regard .
Moshing at a classical music concert, haha.

...I was once involved in a moshpit to a They Might Be Giants polka-type number at an outdoor festival...that was a bit weird and very dusty... definitely drew a comment from the singer... people still had it in their system from the preceding band (don't remember who that was now).

Ah, I'm terrible with Zodiac stuff, but point taken.

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Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


*Nods* Exactly (and thanks ). And a lot of the classical artists were living in times of social unrest as well, so their work reflected that. The same thing applies to any writers or painters that lived in times of major conflict. It seems the most attention-grabbing work comes from a time of major change, be it good or bad.
Examples? When I think of the most well-known classical composers I think Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, but I don't think of social unrest. Am I mistaken?

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel

If any artists from the more recent decades stick out, I'd say it be the ones who either symbolized or reviled the greed mentality of the '80s and the ones who were the "spokespersons" for that whole "disenfranchised youth" thing that everyone talks about from the '90s. But like you said, time factors in, too-the more we move away from those time periods, the easier it'll be to pinpoint the notable artists.
U2 U2 U2 U2 U2 U2

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


This is very true-yeah, considering how long it took simple things like letters or newspapers to be spread around at one point, I can only imagine how hard it would've been for anyone else to get widespread attention for something. It is a shame, though, that there have been artists who have been unable to live to see the results of their hard work. Would be quite interesting to see what they would've thought of the reactions to it.
Are you thinking of any artists in particular when you say that?

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


I fully agree with all of this-I'm certainly willing to believe that will be the case. Not a bad legacy to leave behind (as for the non-U2 related issues, like the AIDS crisis and the internet and terrorism...hopefully we'll be looking back on those and talking about having made great strides in all of them).
I honestly think that we will. I'm as wary of idol-worship as the next person, but Bono really has become a lightning-rod on these issues. I don't think anyone in history has succeeded in rallying as much support from such vastly different groups of people over a related group of issues. It's the epitome of inspiring.

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


I agree, that's a very fair comparison to make, especially since all the stuff you mentioned is already happening, I'm seeing people talk about all those moments/songs/issues. I'm seeing U2's influence in so many newer bands (and from all over the musical spectrum, no less). It's pretty neat to already be witnessing examples of their legacy-they should be proud. Here's hoping that continues.
What's unique about it is that U2 are still going strong! I honestly think we'd see more people covering their work by now if they'd done the usual thing and faded away by now. I think other artists are starting to realize they may not be fading from the top anytime soon, so Saul Williams will go ahead and cover Sunday Bloody Sunday, the Chili Peppers and Radiohead and Coldplay and Pearl Jam and everyone else will go ahead and cover them live at a show...

the music industry will go ahead and release U2 tribute CDs in classical, bluegrass, reggae, lullaby form... pretty amazing.

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


Indeed (and I fully agree, I think improvisation is appreciated better when a person's able to witness it right before their eyes. The interaction between everybody, being able to observe them playing off each other...it's quite impressive sometimes). I'm totally fine with improvisation in and of itself in music, if you have some spontaneous idea, go for it. The difficulty comes in being able to keep a listener's interest for that entire time.
Yeah, I'm still trying to figure that one out. My have to bring it up again later

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


Very true. It's funny, I've heard some people hear live versions of songs (or covers of songs) and get confused 'cause they didn't sound exactly like the studio version. I'm thinking, "Why would you want it to?" If I wanted to hear the studio version of a song I'd just go play that version. But I like hearing artists change stuff around, and I would hope they do everything imaginable to make their music fresh and exciting. I don't want to watch a bored artist, 'cause seeing their lack of excitement will make me less interested, and then it's just a bad time for all involved at that point. So U2 can do whatever the hell they want to their music, I'll be happy to give the new twist on it a listen.
I'm probably wrong on this, but U2 are the first rock band I've been aware of who make an art form out of reinventing their songs for live performance. Sometimes I think they must develop multiple versions in the studio and then save the best for the live performance. For example, the extra verse in the live version of One takes an already phenomenal song up through the stratosphere, and as far as I can tell they had that version ready to go for the ZooTV tour from the beginning.

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


Thanks . Same to everything you've said as well. And I also agree that this was a great idea for a thread-lots of fascinating discussion going on here, lots of great thoughts being shared. Well done, all.

Angela
Awesome. If you have some new points to bring up, please feel free. Don't want this thread to get locked into Q & A mode.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:14 PM   #51
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Originally posted by Zihua
This is a really interesting topic and a great read, thanks everyone for the insights.
Welcome to the verbosity!

Quote:
Originally posted by Zihua

So.. it's not expecting too much to hope that others can broaden their horizons in any field of art appreciation, but it is quite naive at best - and self-centred and narrow-minded at worst - to expect others to adapt their tastes to follow your own?
Seems like you're following the thread well, though I hope you don't see anyone suggesting others should adapt their tastes to follow their own... sounds like a sort of aesthetic fascism

Quote:
Originally posted by Zihua

The 'nomuzak' site goes to great pains to try to explain that it's really not a matter of being elitist to condemn all pop music. But it somehow reminds me of that Simpsons clip where the crazy professor guy is lecturing these poor infants on the theory behind the little coloured ball popping wheely toy, and one girl asks if she can just play with it, to which he replies something like "No you won't enjoy it on as many levels as I do, nyahey .." (And then he goes on to goof around with it himself). You know the one?
haha, unfortunately no, but it sounds good. I should re-iterate, that site wasn't to be taken too seriously, but as an example of the mentality i was alluding to... seems sometimes these threads gain more traction if you provide some sort of provocation ;-)

Quote:
Originally posted by Zihua

I guess there's art enjoyment and art appreciation, two things which don't necessarily overlap. Get someone to listen to a piece of music that just doesn't resonate with them on any level, and although they may appreciate the sophistication of the artist and the creation, what's that worth if they're not capable of enjoying it? Compare that with, say, giving them a snippet of a poppy music piece that evokes glimpses of their childhood memories; that music is a snapshot in time, as is most pop, and in that way it can be treasured for life regardless of its 'muzak' quality.
Great point!

Art is one of the few things you almost can't avoid looking at on at least those two levels- enjoyment and appreciation. Maybe that's why our intuition goes off when we see someone reacting on only one level - ie: elitist if they're only "appreciating" and shallow if they're only "enjoying", or something like that. (probably over-simplified there, but hopefully you know what I mean)
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:26 PM   #52
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Anyone who's new to the thread, or already involved, if you have some on-topic questions or points to make, feel free to post them. There's a lot of good discussion going on, but I don' t necessarily want the thread to become a series of 1-on-1 conversations (though that may work best, not sure at this point)

cheers-
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:10 PM   #53
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Originally posted by dr. zooeuss


Those are some good ones as well. In searching online the other day I came across the wikipedia description of the "Great American Songbook" - has he ever talked about that?
He hasn't specifically talked about the "Great American Songbook," but in one of the earlier class periods, we were talking about the Brill Building, which was where most of the great songwriters worked during the first half of the century. During that discussion, he did talk about "My Funny Valentine" being the most covered song ever, and I see now that it's one of the songs in the so-called "Great American Songbook." While we were working in that time period, he also spent a good amount of time talking about Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and others though.

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

i wonder if you have any examples? sounds like a discussion-oriented class- those are always the best (!) ..does he change the flow of instruction to accommodate music you guys mention?
Well, a few people in the class are into the grunge sort of era, Nirvana and the like, and he has mentioned them on more than one occasion, usually in comparisons to other groups. And, my first paper was about The Flaming Lips, and when I went in to discuss the idea with him, he mentioned that he hasn't listened to them at all, so I made a CD of the songs that I used in the paper for him, and he said that he really enjoyed the songs; I guess that would count too. He doesn't change the topics based on music that we bring up, mostly because the last three weeks of class are being completely made up by us. We have to put in proposals for three listenings and at least two readings next Monday. Then, from those, he'll choose the last three weeks worth of material. It's our chance to have a real say in what we talk about.

Oh, and yes, it is completely a discussion class, which is wonderful. The way he goes about the discussions is he usually poses a question or two to us about a reading or listening we did, and then the conversation goes from there.

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

It seems any well-balanced music lover will bring that balanced perspective to music as well. (loving both "pop" and "classical")
I completely agree. Although, I'll admit that I haven't taken up classical as a love of mine quite yet. Though I have been listening to Explosions in the Sky, while not a classical band by any means, they do have some similarities, such as longer pieces of music separated into fairly distinct movements. But, my roommate does listen to some classical music because she was in band in high school, so maybe I'll ask her about where to start...

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

Maybe part of the issue is that in some ways pop music crowds out classical in so many instances in everyday life these days. If we didn't have to take a class on it in college, we might not ever gain an appreciation of classical music, or even pause long enough to give it a second thought..
Again, I agree. Pop music, by now, is such an intricate part of our lives that it's difficult for classical to get a foot in the door with most people. Plus, and I feel I can say this because I'm part of this generation, most younger people see classical as boring and aloof compared to pop music, which is the kind of music they were brought up on.


Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

It's one of the reasons the Radiohead self-release is so interesting... it heralds a future of opportunities for artists to break free of these constraints
I'm definitely interested to see if other artists try to follow Radiohead's example or not as well.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:48 PM   #54
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Originally posted by onebloodonelife


He hasn't specifically talked about the "Great American Songbook," but in one of the earlier class periods, we were talking about the Brill Building, which was where most of the great songwriters worked during the first half of the century. During that discussion, he did talk about "My Funny Valentine" being the most covered song ever, and I see now that it's one of the songs in the so-called "Great American Songbook." While we were working in that time period, he also spent a good amount of time talking about Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and others though.
There it is (even if he didn't mention it by name).

I wonder to what extent there is//may be such thing as the "great international songbook" in the future. Of course there are a few songs that have been set to familiar pieces of music and translated into many languages; lots of the well-known ones are probably hymns or Christmas Carols...

Also to mind is "Ode to Joy", a poem set to part of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony during the 1800s, which has since become the Anthem of the European Union, and consequently saw U2 play a recorded version in the frantic opening to some (or all?) of their "Zooropa" (riff on "Europa")//"Zoomerang" dates. (Hey, do I get points for tying that back to U2??)

In any case, I find it adds another level of appreciation for the Zooropa-ZooTV concept to recognize that they mixed the EU anthem in with the cyber-satellite-staticked-frenetic-video-walled-sensory-assault that opened those shows:

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

Well, a few people in the class are into the grunge sort of era, Nirvana and the like, and he has mentioned them on more than one occasion, usually in comparisons to other groups. And, my first paper was about The Flaming Lips, and when I went in to discuss the idea with him, he mentioned that he hasn't listened to them at all, so I made a CD of the songs that I used in the paper for him, and he said that he really enjoyed the songs; I guess that would count too. He doesn't change the topics based on music that we bring up, mostly because the last three weeks of class are being completely made up by us. We have to put in proposals for three listenings and at least two readings next Monday. Then, from those, he'll choose the last three weeks worth of material. It's our chance to have a real say in what we talk about.

Oh, and yes, it is completely a discussion class, which is wonderful. The way he goes about the discussions is he usually poses a question or two to us about a reading or listening we did, and then the conversation goes from there.


Oh, was that you that posted the Flaming Lips paper a week or so ago?

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

I completely agree. Although, I'll admit that I haven't taken up classical as a love of mine quite yet. Though I have been listening to Explosions in the Sky, while not a classical band by any means, they do have some similarities, such as longer pieces of music separated into fairly distinct movements. But, my roommate does listen to some classical music because she was in band in high school, so maybe I'll ask her about where to start...
Hey Explosions in the Sky are from Austin! (sort of)... I guess that means I should've seen them ten times and be an expert, but I'm not though I do enjoy what I've heard. I definitely would like to pick up one of their albums, any recommendations?

They remind me of "Dirty Three", an Aussie three-piece (funny that) that I was briefly into a few years ago... violin, electric guitar, drums, no vocals, I'd describe them as "garage classical" - very melancholy sound on the disc I have --> "Ocean Songs" ..very interesting if you get the chance to look them up.

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

Again, I agree. Pop music, by now, is such an intricate part of our lives that it's difficult for classical to get a foot in the door with most people. Plus, and I feel I can say this because I'm part of this generation, most younger people see classical as boring and aloof compared to pop music, which is the kind of music they were brought up on.
So, maybe classical music really is the last refuge for people seeking an "alternative" to the frantic pace of a musical landscape engulfed in pop music.. I get a bit weary that even though two bands can sound very similar, they can be "polar opposites" based on their image, attitude, fandbase, etc. It's very hard to divorce pop music from the baggage associated with image, whereas classical music is nearly completely free of that- it can be refreshing.



Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

I'm definitely interested to see if other artists try to follow Radiohead's example or not as well.
I heard they weren't the first, just the first "big name", and I think Saul Williams' new one was released the same way. I'm fairly certain this means the end of the ubiquity of the album format sooner or later, though I've yet to meet many people who agree with me on that.
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:52 PM   #55
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Originally posted by dr. zooeuss
I agree partially, however, I think any future historian looking to find a "pop" group that encapsulates the 80s-00s the way the Beatles do for the 60s and early 70s, and Elvis for early rock, is going to be hard-pressed to do better than U2.

Also, I think contemporary composers like John Williams will be known for as long as the movies he composed for are, and it's hard to imagine Star Wars ever being completely forgotten, for the place it occupies in film and pop culture history, not necessarily for the enduring quality of the film(s).
I hadn't thought about film music and Williams; that's a good point. Yes, Star Wars probably has a fairly good chance at enduring a while, especially if 'science fiction' in general does. Although my guess is that even now, not many people could name more than 3 or 4 (if that) of the 75 or so other films he's scored...I think film, in which music usually figures far less centrally than it does in opera or ballet, may have its limits as a shelf-life enhancer for music.

Why do you think U2 are uniquely qualified to "encapsulate" the 80s-00s? I don't really have any singular alternative in mind, but I don't think I'd say they fit that role to the extent the Beatles or Elvis do for their respective 'golden ages.' It seems to me that the most significant change in popular music 80-00 has been the rise of rap and hip-hop, genres which U2 have only the slightest of ties to.
Quote:
I agree to a point. Maybe this is naive on my part, but I don't think history ever completely neglects to consider "what was known and popular at the time" as a good representative of what an era should be remembered by. And with the expansion of documentation afforded by new technologies, the issue of remembering or determining what was popular in this era of history should not be much of a guessing game, (barring some cataclysmic destruction of these records, I suppose)
Oh, I agree that "what was known and popular" is important too. And as far as that goes, plenty of classical pieces were and are famous above all because they're 'showstoppers,' not because they're seen as some aesthetic pinnacle--e.g. The Nutcracker Suite, which few critics would consider Tchaikovsky's peak artistic achievement, but is almost certainly his best-known and loved work among the general public. However, I think sales figures are unlikely to become the critical factor in determining what's seen as worth preserving and/or what continues to hold considerable appeal.
Quote:
I agree with this, however, it starts to erode my understanding of the distinguishing characteristics between classical and folk/pop/rock.

ie: what's an example of classical music that lacks a complex musical idea?

what's an example of folk/pop/rock that carries most or all of these complex ideas?

in these cases, what makes the simplistic classical piece "classical" and the complex folk piece "folk"?
Well, just for starters...Satie, Handel, Verdi and Schubert all come to mind as composers who wrote many pieces which could plausibly be described as "simple," while Frank Zappa and Phish come to mind as 'popular artists' whose works are often quite complex musically.

But certainly works can't be categorized as "classical" or "popular" based on technical complexity alone. Zappa actually wrote symphonies and jazz ensemble pieces as well as the "rock" he's better known for, and Phish certainly incorporated jazz and country elements into many of their songs, but insofar as I'd classify most of their works as some type or another of "rock," that'd be based on the prominence in them of certain signature features of rock such as the twelve-bar progression and its variants, backbeat, throaty/'rough' vocal timbre, and being guitar-and-drum-based. While jazz and country commonly display some of those features, they're very rare in classical. And they're very rare in most 'folk' musics too--at least if you're using 'folk' in the sense of 'traditional,' which presumably rules out rock (and jazz, and country), since those are very young, 'fusion' musics incorporating elements from multiple traditional cultures. (Obviously 'fusion' isn't unprecedented in tradtional musics, but not to anything like that degree, that I can think of anyway...and also, here's another instance where the development of recording technology--which happened right alongside the emergence of those genres--surely greatly enhanced the scope and speed of both that fusion and its broader influences.)
Quote:
You're making a good point, definitely. However, on a common sense experiential level, I can say I do better studying for a test to Mozart than I do listening to Nine Inch Nails. That's not to say that Nine Inch Nails actually makes me less intelligent *BUT* in an extreme case where one child is exposed to 90% frantic, percussion-heavy music and another child is exposed to 90% soothing, classical music, is it completely off-base to consider this may impact their ability to focus and concentrate on tasks given them, and over time impact their perceived and//or applied level of "intelligence" as reflected in various academic pursuits?
Yes, for many people "frantic, percussion-heavy music" is probably a poor choice for enhancing attention to "academic pursuits," but actually I don't think that's what the 'Mozart Effect' people are getting at. Their claim seems to more be that structural complexity enhances certain cognitive skills by 'priming' the relevant neuroanatomical pathways, not whether or not the music is unduly 'distracting' or 'disturbing' to most people. ('Distracting' and 'disturbing' are also much more subjective judgments than structural complexity...there are plenty of classical pieces which strike many listeners as 'disturbing,' 'disquieting,' 'too loud' etc.)
Quote:
Let me ask this then: to what extent would you agree that the presence of vocals and lyrics in music steer a piece toward the "folk/pop" end of the spectrum, while an instrumental piece more readily fits "classical" criteria?
I ask this specifically about Jazz, ie, say an Etta James tune in the first instance, and a Miles Davis piece in the second, but I think the implications could extend beyond Jazz as well.
I don't think the presence of vocals has much to do with it at all; hundreds of classical pieces include vocals--choral works, operas, works composed for soloists with or without instrumental accompaniment, etc. Every traditional music I'm familiar with includes both vocal and instrumental tunes, too. It is true that country, 'pop' and rock almost always feature vocals, but I don't think that really amounts to much in terms of whether they're "more like folk" or "more like classical".

Also, I think I touched on this earlier, but pre-mid-20th-century jazz (i.e. pre-bebop jazz)--and I suppose, any contemporary jazz which self-consciously hearkens back to it--is a much more debatable contender for the 'more like classical' label IMO.
Quote:
When I think of the most well-known classical composers I think Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, but I don't think of social unrest. Am I mistaken?
I think she maybe more meant "in times of considerable social and cultural change," not necessarily "unrest" in the sense of upheaval, war, decline etc. The former could certainly be applied to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach: the latter's era (late Baroque) was characterized by rapid consolidation of state power in royal courts (think Louis XIV); rapidly expanding trade; development of the printing press; a concerted drive on the Church's part to be more 'accessible' to the common man (musically and otherwise); and a shift to Church and court as the main sources of patronage for artists. Whereas the era of the former two (Classicist) was characterized by the rising influence of 'natural law' philosophy (think Isaac Newton) with consequent emphasis on meticulously orderly articulation; the growing public visibility of classical music as 'performance music,' with international tours for orchestras; and a shift to the nobility, not the Church or the courts, as the main sources of patronage (which among other things often meant 'economizing' by focusing on elaborate solo and small ensemble works).
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:50 PM   #56
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Originally posted by dr. zooeuss


There it is (even if he didn't mention it by name).

I wonder to what extent there is//may be such thing as the "great international songbook" in the future. Of course there are a few songs that have been set to familiar pieces of music and translated into many languages; lots of the well-known ones are probably hymns or Christmas Carols...
That is quite a thought-provoking idea, having an international set of "standards." Although, other than religiously based pieces of music, I don't see it happening, especially not now, since I wouldn't count a lot of music from the current time period as worthy of being a "standard."

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss
(Hey, do I get points for tying that back to U2??)
Sure, why not?



Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss



Oh, was that you that posted the Flaming Lips paper a week or so ago?
'Twas me.

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

Hey Explosions in the Sky are from Austin! (sort of)... I guess that means I should've seen them ten times and be an expert, but I'm not though I do enjoy what I've heard. I definitely would like to pick up one of their albums, any recommendations?

They remind me of "Dirty Three", an Aussie three-piece (funny that) that I was briefly into a few years ago... violin, electric guitar, drums, no vocals, I'd describe them as "garage classical" - very melancholy sound on the disc I have --> "Ocean Songs" ..very interesting if you get the chance to look them up.
Honestly, any of the Explosions in the Sky albums are a winner, but my favorite is How Strange, Innocence. Otherwise, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place or Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever are both great. And, I've just named 3 out of their 4 albums...

Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

So, maybe classical music really is the last refuge for people seeking an "alternative" to the frantic pace of a musical landscape engulfed in pop music.. I get a bit weary that even though two bands can sound very similar, they can be "polar opposites" based on their image, attitude, fandbase, etc. It's very hard to divorce pop music from the baggage associated with image, whereas classical music is nearly completely free of that- it can be refreshing.
Definitely true. It's nearly impossible to separate an artist from their projected image. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the music industry forces a certain image upon the buying public. There's no way that we, as a culture, can accept an artist with no image. A lot of that mentality comes from the "music video" generation, in my opinion. Once music videos became a part of the industry, image was considered to be one of the most important, if not the most important things about an artist. At least looking at the "pop" charts...



Quote:
Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

I heard they weren't the first, just the first "big name", and I think Saul Williams' new one was released the same way. I'm fairly certain this means the end of the ubiquity of the album format sooner or later, though I've yet to meet many people who agree with me on that.
I think it's inevitable for more artists to choose to release their albums on their own, but it's going to be a long process, simply because of the control the industry has over things like image, as I discussed briefly. But, I also think that there's always going to be a place for the industry, and for the artists that use the industry to release albums, especially for those who rely more on their image than talent.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:16 AM   #57
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

I hadn't thought about film music and Williams; that's a good point. Yes, Star Wars probably has a fairly good chance at enduring a while, especially if 'science fiction' in general does. Although my guess is that even now, not many people could name more than 3 or 4 (if that) of the 75 or so other films he's scored...I think film, in which music usually figures far less centrally than it does in opera or ballet, may have its limits as a shelf-life enhancer for music.
Yeah, true. Still, even with the greatest known composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, etc, the general public are probably only familiar with a handful of their compositions, but the fact that they have a large catalog keeps them alive in the minds of academia, and provides a much larger body of work for the scholars.


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Why do you think U2 are uniquely qualified to "encapsulate" the 80s-00s? I don't really have any singular alternative in mind, but I don't think I'd say they fit that role to the extent the Beatles or Elvis do for their respective 'golden ages.' It seems to me that the most significant change in popular music 80-00 has been the rise of rap and hip-hop, genres which U2 have only the slightest of ties to.
Uh oh, now you've done it. I'm a fan of hip-hop, so I appreciate your bringing it up. Initially i'd say, any of the concerns you've expressed so far about the "youth" of rock and pop , and this making it very difficult to determine their futures, are compounded several times over with hip-hop. It's true that it's been around since the mid-70s even, but it really only began to get the sort of attention that would merit historical remembrance in the mid to late 80s.

Then, in the mid-90s as it really could've developed into something great, it was co-opted by record labels and became dominated by "gangsta" culture. I think it's just now getting back on its feet and I still don't think it's representative of the totality of current pop music in 2007 by any means, let alone in the 90s or 80s. Though it is exerting a wide influence, it is one influence among many. I hope the history of hip-hop will not record it's major achievements as having taken place in the last 12 years especially, as most of the material that was popular then is a very poor representation. Of course this is all my opinion, but it is a young art form, is that much closer to the present, and that much more difficult to get perspective on. Also, the genre has faced a lot of obstacles in producing great prolific acts, for a variety of reasons. It is that much more fickle and tumultuous than rock, which is already tumultuous when placed next to "folk musics in general", as are those in turn when placed next to classical.

BTW, not sure how much you want to pursue this topic, but I recently read this great article about the roots and development of hiphop-

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/n...re4/index.html

I consider it a little on the academic side of a subject that isn't necessarily designed with extensive analysis in mind, but it does a thorough job, and gave me some new insights into the genre.

(Also, since the topic has come up: I love the Beatles, and think they deserve all the credit they get, but I tend to see Elvis as very over-rated, though I'll admit I haven't done a lot of reading up on him.)

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
Oh, I agree that "what was known and popular" is important too. And as far as that goes, plenty of classical pieces were and are famous above all because they're 'showstoppers,' not because they're seen as some aesthetic pinnacle--e.g. The Nutcracker Suite, which few critics would consider Tchaikovsky's peak artistic achievement, but is almost certainly his best-known and loved work among the general public. However, I think sales figures are unlikely to become the critical factor in determining what's seen as worth preserving and/or what continues to hold considerable appeal.
Agreed. I wasn't thinking sales figures so much as how often certain artists or pieces of music are preserved as part of our 20th//Early 21st Century culture in films, novels, tv, advertising, etc. created during this period of time.


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
Well, just for starters...Satie, Handel, Verdi and Schubert all come to mind as composers who wrote many pieces which could plausibly be described as "simple," while Frank Zappa and Phish come to mind as 'popular artists' whose works are often quite complex musically.

But certainly works can't be categorized as "classical" or "popular" based on technical complexity alone. Zappa actually wrote symphonies and jazz ensemble pieces as well as the "rock" he's better known for, and Phish certainly incorporated jazz and country elements into many of their songs, but insofar as I'd classify most of their works as some type or another of "rock," that'd be based on the prominence in them of certain signature features of rock such as the twelve-bar progression and its variants, backbeat, throaty/'rough' vocal timbre, and being guitar-and-drum-based. While jazz and country commonly display some of those features, they're very rare in classical.
I'm with you this far.

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
And they're very rare in most 'folk' musics too--at least if you're using 'folk' in the sense of 'traditional,' which presumably rules out rock (and jazz, and country), since those are very young, 'fusion' musics incorporating elements from multiple traditional cultures.
Actually I've been surprised when listening to (an admittedly rather small amount) of traditional folk music, i guess i'm thinking primarily of West African, Middle Eastern and East Asian, (and definietly European) that I have heard combinations of throaty, solo vocals, drum (or other percussion), and some sort of stringed instrument with surprising frequency. I may have the wrong impression about how common it is, but in some ways I don't see an enormous stylistic distinction between the evolution of late 19th and 20th Century blues into rock and what we consider "pop" music today.

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
(Obviously 'fusion' isn't unprecedented in traditional musics, but not to anything like that degree, that I can think of anyway...and also, here's another instance where the development of recording technology--which happened right alongside the emergence of those genres--surely greatly enhanced the scope and speed of both that fusion and its broader influences.)
Good point about recording technology. Going back to hiphop for a second- it's a musical form that couldn't exist without the development of recording technology.

Also, maybe from an uneducated 21st Century perspective, when I listen to recordings of traditional folk music originating centuries ago 1) perhaps I insert 20th century sophistications into the music when I'm listening which aren't really there, and//or 2) maybe the musicians playing them in the age of recorded music, despite their best efforts not to, may be inserting more modern musical conventions into their performances than they're aware of.

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
Yes, for many people "frantic, percussion-heavy music" is probably a poor choice for enhancing attention to "academic pursuits," but actually I don't think that's what the 'Mozart Effect' people are getting at. Their claim seems to more be that structural complexity enhances certain cognitive skills by 'priming' the relevant neuroanatomical pathways, not whether or not the music is unduly 'distracting' or 'disturbing' to most people. ('Distracting' and 'disturbing' are also much more subjective judgments than structural complexity...there are plenty of classical pieces which strike many listeners as 'disturbing,' 'disquieting,' 'too loud' etc.)
It reminds me of the notion that young children are better at learning languages before the age of six or so. Do you think there could be a connection between the concepts? I haven't heard the Mozart Effect people specifically claim that it's most effective before a certain age, but the increased language acquisition capacity before a certain age is more or less accepted as fact, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]
I don't think the presence of vocals has much to do with it at all; hundreds of classical pieces include vocals--choral works, operas, works composed for soloists with or without instrumental accompaniment, etc. Every traditional music I'm familiar with includes both vocal and instrumental tunes, too. It is true that country, 'pop' and rock almost always feature vocals, but I don't think that really amounts to much in terms of whether they're "more like folk" or "more like classical".

Also, I think I touched on this earlier, but pre-mid-20th-century jazz (i.e. pre-bebop jazz)--and I suppose, any contemporary jazz which self-consciously hearkens back to it--is a much more debatable contender for the 'more like classical' label IMO.
Yes, thanks, I do remember your saying that about jazz, but my knowledge of jazz also has a long way to go, so I was seeking clarification on the point. Thanks.

So the essential distinction between classical and folk then deals with the complexity of the music, and the presence of musical features such as polyphony, phrase length variation, modulation, etc. I can buy that (though I'm not intimately familiar with the nuances of those terms off the top of my head).


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland


I think she maybe more meant "in times of considerable social and cultural change," not necessarily "unrest" in the sense of upheaval, war, decline etc. The former could certainly be applied to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach: the latter's era (late Baroque) was characterized by rapid consolidation of state power in royal courts (think Louis XIV); rapidly expanding trade; development of the printing press; a concerted drive on the Church's part to be more 'accessible' to the common man (musically and otherwise); and a shift to Church and court as the main sources of patronage for artists. Whereas the era of the former two (Classicist) was characterized by the rising influence of 'natural law' philosophy (think Isaac Newton) with consequent emphasis on meticulously orderly articulation; the growing public visibility of classical music as 'performance music,' with international tours for orchestras; and a shift to the nobility, not the Church or the courts, as the main sources of patronage (which among other things often meant 'economizing' by focusing on elaborate solo and small ensemble works).
Wow, thanks. You wouldn't consider writing an interference essay on all of this, would you?
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:32 AM   #58
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Originally posted by onebloodonelife
[B]

That is quite a thought-provoking idea, having an international set of "standards." Although, other than religiously based pieces of music, I don't see it happening, especially not now, since I wouldn't count a lot of music from the current time period as worthy of being a "standard."
There are some gems out there. And a lot of schlock.

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife
[B]

Sure, why not?
haha, thanks. I guess you already knew all about that then?


Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife
[B]
'Twas me.
Cool. Sorry I didn't read it. It looked good but a bit overwhelming.

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife
[B]
Honestly, any of the Explosions in the Sky albums are a winner, but my favorite is How Strange, Innocence. Otherwise, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place or Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever are both great. And, I've just named 3 out of their 4 albums...
Well you're a lot of help aren't you!? (joke) I have a long list of music I "want" to get- I'll have to just add them.

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife
[B]
Definitely true. It's nearly impossible to separate an artist from their projected image. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the music industry forces a certain image upon the buying public. There's no way that we, as a culture, can accept an artist with no image. A lot of that mentality comes from the "music video" generation, in my opinion. Once music videos became a part of the industry, image was considered to be one of the most important, if not the most important things about an artist. At least looking at the "pop" charts...
Yep, well-said.

Quote:
Originally posted by onebloodonelife

I think it's inevitable for more artists to choose to release their albums on their own, but it's going to be a long process, simply because of the control the industry has over things like image, as I discussed briefly. But, I also think that there's always going to be a place for the industry, and for the artists that use the industry to release albums, especially for those who rely more on their image than talent.
Yes, maybe so.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:36 AM   #59
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:38 PM   #60
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haha, thanks. I guess you already knew all about that then?
I didn't


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Originally posted by dr. zooeuss

Cool. Sorry I didn't read it. It looked good but a bit overwhelming.
No worries. I honestly didn't expect anyone to read it because it was huge.


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Originally posted by dr. zooeuss
Well you're a lot of help aren't you!? (joke) I have a long list of music I "want" to get- I'll have to just add them.
I think pretty much everyone on the board is in the same boat...we all want way too much music.
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