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sgcim

"Gimme Some Of That Ol' Atonal Music'

45 posts in this topic

I've mentioned this before, but about 15 years ago I fell in love with Schoenberg's mid-20's opus numbered chamber-works that all include winds.  More specifically...

  • Serenade, Op. 24 - for clarinet, bass clarinet, mandolin(!), guitar, violin, viola, and cello - plus a bass vocalist (on one movement only)
  • Wind Quintet, Op. 26 - for standard wind-quintet: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon
  • Suite, Op. 29 - for sopranino clarinet in Eb, standard Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, vioin, viola, cello, and piano
  • ...plus Webern's chamber arrangement of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony #1, Op. 9 - for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

There's also a really nifty "sonata" arrangement of the Wind Quintet for piano and either violin, or else flute (and I've got recordings of each version, for flute or violin) -- and both versions are just dandy!!

People complain about serialism not being any fun, but I find these particular pieces just about as spritely and "dancy" as all getout.  When I was working to pack up our house to move to Washington DC, and it was just me for a few months trying to get that house shaped up to put on the market, I only had about 200 CD's to listen to -- most of them stuff I was going to get rid of, plus a all these Schoenberg pieces.  Damn, if that music isn't ever just about THE best thing ever to get shit done to.  I think I literally listened to 1-2 of these works every day (or every other day) for several weeks there.  Joyous music, in my book, and complicated too -- but it always put a spring in my step, if not literally then at least mentally.

And the funny thing is that I'm really NOT especially fond of wind quintets and other stuff like this generally.  Sure, they're ok, but it's not like Wind Quintets are a specific 'thing' I'm into or anything.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I've had three spate reactions to the "Big 3" -

  1. Schoenberg was never really stirring for me until recently, and when it started to be, it was due to - surprise! - readings/interpretations that focused on the music, not the math. Funny how that works...
  2. Webern used to actually piss me off, make me angry. I've come off that now, but still need to hear the "right" interpretation. But now, I am open. The one that turned me around was a Chicago Symphony thing that Organissimo's Own Larry Kart (The Dean Of Online Music Critics) hipped me to. That one literally stopped me dead in my tracks and made me reconsider everything about Webern, just...reset button pushed.
  3. Berg has always sounded good to me. He just has.

So, I don't buy the notion that any one "system" is inherently going to kill music. If Schuller was conscientiously calling anything out, it should not have been Schoenberg's methods, it should have been the mindless literal systemic(?) devotion to that system - any system - at the expense of personality, imagination, you know, basic humanity.

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

 

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22 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I've had three spate reactions to the "Big 3" -

  1. Schoenberg was never really stirring for me until recently, and when it started to be, it was due to - surprise! - readings/interpretations that focused on the music, not the math. Funny how that works...
  2. Webern used to actually piss me off, make me angry. I've come off that now, but still need to hear the "right" interpretation. But now, I am open. The one that turned me around was a Chicago Symphony thing that Organissimo's Own Larry Kart (The Dean Of Online Music Critics) hipped me to. That one literally stopped me dead in my tracks and made me reconsider everything about Webern, just...reset button pushed.
  3. Berg has always sounded good to me. He just has.

So, I don't buy the notion that any one "system" is inherently going to kill music. If Schuller was conscientiously calling anything out, it should not have been Schoenberg's methods, it should have been the mindless literal systemic(?) devotion to that system - any system - at the expense of personality, imagination, you know, basic humanity.

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

 

I think that Webern disc I plugged might have been this one with the Vienna Philharmonic:

https://www.amazon.com/Schoenburg-Survivor-Warsaw-Webern-Orchestral/dp/B000001GF3

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It was, and I have an ongoing problem with never being able to find it when looking for "Chicago" on the spine. Go figure.

But that's one helluva record.

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On 2/10/2019 at 4:08 PM, Chuck Nessa said:

Why the opposition? If you don't like it, leave it alone. Too many great works were created in the system for me to dismiss it.

Sometimes Gunther was off base (nasty word removed). He had his own agenda.

Yeah, I don’t really get why someone would care enough to post this, much less think this was a clever zinger.  But such is the nature of trolls.

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The original post is basically a less funny, 67 year lag version of “the jerk store called, they’re running out of YOU!”

Edited by Guy Berger

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Didn't bother to read the OP (or watch - even the opening still shot looked dopey). Used to spend time on classical discussion forums, and have seen more than enough "tonal drone" trolling.

Edited by T.D.

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Chuck said it best: "Why the opposition? If you don't like it, leave it alone."

Trolls are best ignored.

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I saw Pierrot Lunaire live once, performed by people who really understood music in general. There was phrasing, dynamics, color, a place for every note, every note in its place, in service to the whole, the narrative, everything was just right. It was amazing. (and btw, that piece is atonal, but not serial, he had not yet developed the serial technique).

So yeah, fuck this trolling shit. I'm being asked to laugh at what in my experiences are lies. Why am I expected to laugh, and why am I expected to overlook the lies? What kind of a mind engages in that type of thing, overlook a lie and then laugh at its objects? What kind of disease are we trying to spread with this kind of discomboutational venom? I don't think it's at all healthy to drive the bus down that road, it's overcrowded with enough lemmings as it is, and we all know where it ends up.

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I witnessed a performance of Pierrot by these amazing folks:

R-9804531-1486682800-7812.jpeg.jpg

It was wonderful.

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I found the visual element to be, perhaps, key to the whole thing. Being in the room with this person telling this story, looking right at them while they told it. Pretty hard to disengage when that's going on. After all, it was composed for live performance, not for a record date. Once again, live music...

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

I saw Pierrot Lunaire live once, performed by people who really understood music in general. There was phrasing, dynamics, color, a place for every note, every note in its place, in service to the whole, the narrative, everything was just right. It was amazing. (and btw, that piece is atonal, but not serial, he had not yet developed the serial technique).

So yeah, fuck this trolling shit. I'm being asked to laugh at what in my experiences are lies. Why am I expected to laugh, and why am I expected to overlook the lies? What kind of a mind engages in that type of thing, overlook a lie and then laugh at its objects? What kind of disease are we trying to spread with this kind of discomboutational venom? I don't think it's at all healthy to drive the bus down that road, it's overcrowded with enough lemmings as it is, and we all know where it ends up.

I'm not trolling, I'm merely responding to the attitude my composition teacher had some 40 years ago, when he was predicting that people would be listening to twelve-tone music in the morning while they ate their cereal. Gunther Schuller wrote in that essay back in 1962 that it has been over 50 years, and people are not responding to twelve-tone music the way they responded to similar changes in the style of classical music in a similar amount of time.

Now it's been almost 100 years, and still no response from the vast majority of classical music lovers. As Larry noted a while back, the programs of all the major orchestras has gotten more conservative if anything, with the dominant programming being from the 19th Century.

When i posted the two humorous takes on twelve-tone music I posted here on musician websites, they all just found it very funny, and moved on. Why get so upset about this?

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Who would have thought that a classical thread would provoke this angst :D

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2 minutes ago, sgcim said:

I'm not trolling, I'm merely responding to the attitude my composition teacher had some 40 years ago, when he was predicting that people would be listening to twelve-tone music in the morning while they ate their cereal. Gunther Schuller wrote in that essay back in 1962 that it has been over 50 years, and people are not responding to twelve-tone music the way they responded to similar changes in the style of classical music in a similar amount of time.

Now it's been almost 100 years, and still no response from the vast majority of classical music lovers. As Larry noted a while back, the programs of all the major orchestras has gotten more conservative if anything, with the dominant programming being from the 19th Century.

When i posted the two humorous takes on twelve-tone music I posted here on musician websites, they all just found it very funny, and moved on. Why get so upset about this?

Myopic. Hell, the sheer number of "classical music lovers" - of any type of "classical music" - has shrunken so much since 1962 that the only "trend" that's readily apparent to me is that the audience for truly composed, or compositionally-based, music has been in decline for about as long as the more easily grasped (and slowly-devolving) "song" has been on the rise.

Our orchestra here is trying to find a commercially viable balance between the 18th, 19th, 20th, AND 21st Century. the problem appears to be that the people who insist on the older rep are dying off, the people who want to hear the newer reps don't really incorporate symphony attendance into their lifestyle except, at best, as an afterthought, and the people who really want to hear the more "advanced" stuff are adequately (enough) served by chamber groups. So where's the impetus to book anything too unfamiliar?

The performance of Pierrot I saw was on the bill with a Brecht-Weil cabaret presentation, and the house was overflowing. For Crissakes, van Sweden did a one-night only Bruckner thing and it drew a little over a 50% full house. Bruckner is not atonl, for damn sure not serial, And Bruckner does not draw. Stravinsky, outside of the "popular" ones (of which there are really, what, 3? 4?) does not pack the house. We go on Saturday nights, which has the bigger houses, and very, very little, packs the house. You want discouraging? Go to a Thursday night gig. And bring a picnic basket, with a tablecloth, there's room in the seats.

Serialism didn't "kill" shit. Don't believe that. Serialism might have accelerated the general audience aversion to "difficult" music, but that was going to happen any way, just look at American culture in general. Between player pianos and Victrolas, how the hell could 3 minute pop songs of predictable repetitive structures NOT suck people? Path of least resistance for a people too busy to sit down and absorb something other than themselves.

I've heard the same shit about "jazz" for decades now, that things got too "far out" for the "average person", as if that's the fault of the music. Well hell, look at what the "average person" is into - it ain't anything having to do with thinking too much about anything that's not already right in front of their own faces. Same thing with films, television(!!!!), and traditional analog creative process. The world has already passed that by (although in what direction remains to be seen) and is not too far from jettisoning it completely.

Besides, you can't "unhear" anything once you've heard it. Shit evolves. Most of the newer classical music I hear today is as rooted in minimalism as it is anything, but the impact of the 2nd Viennese School lingers on . And the real "cutting edge" classical scene (to the extent that I've even heard of it) is all about composing as an act rather than a skill set. There's an audience, and of course it's small. But - say what you want about Phillip Glass (and I will not say much good), at one point her was in that both. And/But, I have hear the DSO perform Phillp Glass works on not one but two separate occasions and oh my yes, he did put butts in the seats. But would those same butts be in those same seats for Beethoven or Mozart or Brahms or any of "those guys"? No. They're an (largely) entirely different audience, those folks are (and I go out to the symphony for the music first, but a close second is to indulge in observational sociology before and after the immediate performance,,,fascinating things you see). And if you programmed a season of Glass-ian works in hopes of getting that all season long....no. "Average people" just do not care that much about too much of anything that is not of themselves.

I mean, I get that your composition teacher from 40 years ago was a jerk, quite possibly/probably an idiot, and apparently has left some scars that haven't healed. Such is life as an adult. And I get that Gunther Schuller wanted to be popular with both "sides of the tracks" (but read those liner notes to the Buster Smith record again to see what a fundamental disadvantage he was working from in pursuing that goal). So I get that you have "issues" with "Schoenberg" and serialism. But look at the quality and honesty of these "humorous takes". They are not funny, and they do not come from a funny place. They're part and parcel of the whole tendencies to marginalize, isolate, neutralize, and then destroy altogether anything that is "other" in culture. It's not funny and it's not benign. Not these things.

You know what's demoralizing, and quite possibly terrifying? The idea that Schoenberg/Webern/Berg all sound the same to some people. They don't, and never have, at least to not me. But I have seen what happens when malevolent idiots go about de-facing individuals for the purpose of pursuing the desire to eliminate/exterminate "their type".

Unacceptable.

48 minutes ago, Brad said:

Who would have thought that a classical thread would provoke this angst :D

Yeah, there is no real element of angst in classical music today, That's the problem!  :g

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You know what's demoralizing, and quite possibly terrifying? The idea that Schoenberg/Webern/Berg all sound the same to some people. They don't, and never have, at least to not me. But I have seen what happens when malevolent idiots go about de-facing individuals for the purpose of pursuing the desire to eliminate/exterminate "their type".

My cue to get out of the academic music scene was when the composition teacher who made that comment about listening to 12-tone music while eating cereal for breakfast, said that he thought Webern sounded like a bunch of little farts.

The other guy I studied with thought that Schoenberg was disgusting to him, and he loved Webern. Meanwhile, while they liked my tonal work (one said it sounded like Shostakovich), they both insisted that I had to write 12-tone music, because that's what everyone else was doing. I said screw 'em, and went back to jazz.

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I don't know what school you went to, but if you had gone to NT, your composition department would have been chaired by a guy who was championing Penderecki, making sure that the Electronic Music lab got fully staffed and funded, and writing a piece called "In Memorium, Frankie Newton" which pretty much sucked, but still...nothing angsty or ______berg about that title. I wasn't in that world, just around it, but I was getting the impression that serialism/12 tone/etc was already on the way out as a doctrine. But it was still very much being taught as an organization tool. I never met any comp student who insisted that it was the "only" way. but I never met any who negated it as a valuable tool, nor did I meet anybody who knew it only in it's simplest form.(except for this one guy who was all about being the new Chopin, but he was just a creep who would constantly complain that his dorm room smelled like pussy all the time, and we'd be like, dude, smoke some weed up in there to cover that stank up, and he would scoff and get in a huff about degenerates and all that). It seemed like it was studied with the same depth and seriousness as traditional "theory", which makes sense to me.

I did know one guy who was a militant serialist, and he was a really interesting story, talked a lot of really good games, and then he had his senior recital, and...it wasn't very good. Not even interesting fails, just not good. All serial, no milk, shredded wheat at its worst. But that was his fault. Nobody balmes Schoenberg for that, Schoenberg didn't write that shit, right?

Sorry about your lasting personal trauma, but I don't see what it has shit to do with Schoenberg or his music, all of which were over and done with probably before you were born. Why don't you call these assholes who really fucked you over by their names, rather than letting them hide their abuse behind somebody else?

#youtoo

Or if it's not that big a deal, just let it go and stop enabling these haters and their yutubs. You, I get. These videos, no, not at all.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

I don't know what school you went to, but if you had gone to NT, your composition department would have been chaired by a guy who was championing Penderecki, making sure that the Electronic Music lab got fully staffed and funded, and writing a piece called "In Memorium, Frankie Newton" which pretty much sucked, but still...nothing angsty or ______berg about that title. I wasn't in that world, just around it, but I was getting the impression that serialism/12 tone/etc was already on the way out as a doctrine. But it was still very much being taught as an organization tool. I never met any comp student who insisted that it was the "only" way. but I never met any who negated it as a valuable tool, nor did I meet anybody who knew it only in it's simplest form.(except for this one guy who was all about being the new Chopin, but he was just a creep who would constantly complain that his dorm room smelled like pussy all the time, and we'd be like, dude, smoke some weed up in there to cover that stank up, and he would scoff and get in a huff about degenerates and all that). It seemed like it was studied with the same depth and seriousness as traditional "theory", which makes sense to me.

I did know one guy who was a militant serialist, and he was a really interesting story, talked a lot of really good games, and then he had his senior recital, and...it wasn't very good. Not even interesting fails, just not good. All serial, no milk, shredded wheat at its worst. But that was his fault. Nobody balmes Schoenberg for that, Schoenberg didn't write that shit, right?

Sorry about your lasting personal trauma, but I don't see what it has shit to do with Schoenberg or his music, all of which were over and done with probably before you were born. Why don't you call these assholes who really fucked you over by their names, rather than letting them hide their abuse behind somebody else?

#youtoo

Or if it's not that big a deal, just let it go and stop enabling these haters and their yutubs. You, I get. These videos, no, not at all.

Actually, one of the composition teachers I had was humiliated in front of the whole world by his own daughter, who wrote a well-known book about how her father used to come in to her room in the middle of the night and sleep with her... You don't hear any of his pieces performed anywhere, anymore.

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16 minutes ago, sgcim said:

Actually, one of the composition teachers I had was humiliated in front of the whole world by his own daughter, who wrote a well-known book about how her father used to come in to her room in the middle of the night and sleep with her... You don't hear any of his pieces performed anywhere, anymore.

Thanks for that useless bit of information.

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