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People like modern art; why not modern music?

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A piece of visual art may be placed on the wall of your home. You can view it every time you walk by it, or sit in the room where it is located. Of course it may just become part of the room, just like a piece of furniture, and you pay little attention to it. 

One does not play a recording of a piece of 20th century classical music over and over all day long day after day so it it becomes part of the regular ambiance as is done with a piece of visual art.

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I think one big difference is that modern music — as it is with all music — must be experienced over a set length of time (the duration of the piece). The length of a particular work might vary from performance to performance (and maybe even be designed to be of a variable length — in the case of ‘aleatoric’ music).

Whereas most visual art (except ‘video’ art), is normally experienced for as long or as little as the viewer decides.  You can take 45-minutes to tour an entire exhibition, never spending more than 3-4 minutes looking at one particular work, and often even just a minute or two).

It’s one thing to stare at a Jackson Pollock painting for 3-4 minutes — and entirely another to listen to a whole 15-30 minute orchestral or chamber music piece.

And I’m NOT trying to put a relative value judgement on the comparative merits of these two entirely different mediums. I love art - especially when art first started getting ‘modern’ in the early 20th century — and we love going to art museums and galleries (more so museums).

I’m simply saying that the kind of attention that visual art demands gives control to the viewer (to linger on some works longer, and dismiss other works in but a minute) — whereas music (especially difficult music) demands one’s attention over that duration of the experience.

A ‘bite size’ piece of music is maybe 10 minutes (I’d argue). That alone is twice as long as most people spend looking at any one individual work of visual art in a museum.

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22 hours ago, clifford_thornton said:

Finally, the visual art world is very much a way to move money around and it's a lot harder to funnel cash through weird music.

Yeah, this component of laundering via visual art is something I find hard to separate from that universe, like it’s an integral aspect of the whole production. 

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8 minutes ago, Peter Friedman said:

One does not play a recording of a piece of 20th century classical music over and over all day long day after day so it it becomes part of the regular ambiance as is done with a piece of visual art.

I've got two box sets (Sony & DG) of The Rite Of Spring that will witness to the contrary!

And when we talk about "regular ambiance", I take that to mean what is going on in my head, because otherwise there is no such thing as "ambiance". That is a perceived (ie - internally created) process and concept, not an absolute one.

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Posted (edited)

20 minutes ago, Peter Friedman said:

One does not play a recording of a piece of 20th century classical music over and over all day long day after day so it it becomes part of the regular ambiance as is done with a piece of visual art.

You’re right of course, but I sorta did that very thing once.

When I moved from KC to DC in 2011, I first moved all our stuff (incl. all my umpteen-thousand CD’s) — I had a few alternate recordings of some beloved pieces I was getting rid of, and then I had to work on getting the house to ready to sell for a couple months after we’d already moved all our stuff to DC (where my wife already was).

And I ended up listening to about 3-4 of my favorite Schoenberg chamber pieces with winds — his wind quintet, and the ‘serenade’ and I forget the other two by name (all of them have opus numbers in the mid-20 range).  And I listened to those pieces almost daily for several weeks — sometimes 2-3x in the same day.

It was a lovey experience, as I’ve always found those particular Schoenberg pieces (thorny as they are) — also very ‘dance-y’ — literally making me feel like dancing around the room. WHICH turned out to be excellent music to be working to, putting me in a very “get stuff done!!” sort of mood.

It was a very positive experience, having that modern classical music going all the time like that, for several weeks there.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I'm not at all averse to doing a "total immersion" thing on any music that I want to let into my personal interior ambiance. This would be a conscious choice...usually. Sometimes the hooks (not in the pop sense) get set and I get reeled in.

 

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The idea that you can experience a piece of visual art again and again similarly is pretty untrue in my estimation. Most works of art are seen by very few people in an ideal habitat; for conservation and preservation purposes, being under bright light for years on end, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, is not good for most pieces. More often than not, a viewer only gets one shot at seeing something, much like a piece of music whether it was precomposed or not. I don't really think that looking at a painting or sculpture is a frequently repeatable experience, even if you have unfettered access to a work. There are too many variables at play (and I say this as someone who owns several small pieces of modern or contemporary art and has worked in art museums/arts institutions for over 20 years).

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1 hour ago, clifford_thornton said:

The idea that you can experience a piece of visual art again and again similarly is pretty untrue in my estimation. Most works of art are seen by very few people in an ideal habitat; for conservation and preservation purposes, being under bright light for years on end, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, is not good for most pieces. More often than not, a viewer only gets one shot at seeing something, much like a piece of music whether it was precomposed or not. I don't really think that looking at a painting or sculpture is a frequently repeatable experience, even if you have unfettered access to a work. There are too many variables at play (and I say this as someone who owns several small pieces of modern or contemporary art and has worked in art museums/arts institutions for over 20 years).

Also, if someone pays an admission to go to a museum, they have the opportunity of looking at hundreds of pieces of visual art.  You get a lot of bang for your buck.  On the other hand, a ticket to a symphony likely costs more than a museum admission, and you get only two or maybe three works.  If one of the works in "modern" in the true sense of the word, it will surely be paired with a crowd-pleaser for economic reasons.

So by sheer numbers, spending two hours in a museum exposes you to a greater number of artworks than the same amount of time in a concert hall.

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17 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

So by sheer numbers, spending two hours in a museum exposes you to a greater number of artworks than the same amount of time in a concert hall.

That's a good thing?

I always have a disagreement about when we're "ready to go" at a museum. She's of the "I've seen all of it" school and I'm like, uh....I'm still looking at some of this stuff, ok? I'm one of those guys who like to linger over stuff. It's not Top 40, right?

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42 minutes ago, JSngry said:

That's a good thing?

I always have a disagreement about when we're "ready to go" at a museum. She's of the "I've seen all of it" school and I'm like, uh....I'm still looking at some of this stuff, ok? I'm one of those guys who like to linger over stuff. It's not Top 40, right?

Not saying it's good or bad.  I'm saying it's the reality of the respective situations.  

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It's not as much a reality as it is a choice. And choices are very often driven by propagandistic behavior modification from all sorts of places.

So, it's the "reality", because generally, the reality is that once you're in, you can stay until closing time.

There's not much money in making people think what you want them to think (well, for now, any way...), but there's a buttload of money to be made by getting people to think that they've made up their own mind all on their own.

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

It's not as much a reality as it is a choice. And choices are very often driven by propagandistic behavior modification from all sorts of places.

So, it's the "reality", because generally, the reality is that once you're in, you can stay until closing time.

There's not much money in making people think what you want them to think (well, for now, any way...), but there's a buttload of money to be made by getting people to think that they've made up their own mind all on their own.

The difference is you can do a quick breeze through a museum and decide where in the museum you want to spend the next two or three or five or six hours.  You don't have that luxury when you buy a ticket to the symphony.  

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Luxury? Opportunity!

And one too often wasted.

You know what's frustrating? Hearing a new(ish) piece, thinking that you like it, and then getting home to find out that it's either not been recorded at all, or only been recorded once, and then you get the record and it's not performed all that well.

It happens with older repertoire as well. 60 bajillion versions of something and you pick one (or more) before getting a good one.

So in that sense, advantage to visual art, because all it has to do is sit there and be pretty enough to get through the door in the first place. 

They don't hang scores...but you can buy them, just as you can buy books of art to study at home, after dark or even in broad daylight, just like you can buy records. 

So, actually...you want it to go home with you somehow. Even improvised music, improvised anything. If it doesn't go home with you, it didn't really matter. 

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7 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Luxury? Opportunity!

And one too often wasted.

You know what's frustrating? Hearing a new(ish) piece, thinking that you like it, and then getting home to find out that it's either not been recorded at all, or only been recorded once, and then you get the record and it's not performed all that well.

It happens with older repertoire as well. 60 bajillion versions of something and you pick one (or more) before getting a good one.

So in that sense, advantage to visual art, because all it has to do is sit there and be pretty enough to get through the door in the first place. 

They don't hang scores...but you can buy them, just as you can buy books of art to study at home, after dark or even in broad daylight, just like you can buy records. 

So, actually...you want it to go home with you somehow. Even improvised music, improvised anything. If it doesn't go home with you, it didn't really matter. 

We will agree to disagree.  I think comparing modern art and modern music. is flawed on a number of levels, including how each is experienced in time.  

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Life itself is flawed on a number of levels... like what does "agree to disagree" mean anyway, other than 'I don't want to talk about it any more"?

What's the opposite of that? We'll disagree that we agree? 

Modern language, that's what's wrong with the world today! 👁️

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

 

Life itself is flawed on a number of levels... like what does "agree to disagree" mean anyway, other than 'I don't want to talk about it any more"?

What's the opposite of that? We'll disagree that we agree? 

Modern language, that's what's wrong with the world today! 👁️

Contemporary language. People were speaking modern language back when modern art and modern music were being created. :D

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I don´t know how the situation is now, but during the 60´s there was a kind of people from intellectual or semi-intellectual level, who embraced everyting that´s "modern art". They had those modern paintings at home and went to concerts of 12 tone music and I sometimes wondered if they really can figure out what this modern painting want´s to say or what that 12 tone music want´s to express. 
My father, who sure was an intellectual person, he was interested in "difficult" classical music like Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler, read heavy stuff like Nietsche and played chess, once went to a concert of some 12 tone music, and while smoking a cigarette during intermission another gentleman who didn´t have the musical ears of my father said "gee, that´s wonderful (the "music").
My father answered: 

"I don´t know, since I don´t have musical ears".

"Why ? You supposed to have musical ears" 
My father "I also thought I have, but now after listening to this I know I don´t have musical ears". 

And we didn´t have modern paintings at home. 

I have heard some - at least for me "atonal" sounding string quartet on Ornette Coleman´s "Prime Design - Time Design". The opening is wonderful with that theme that appears as "New York" on an earlier album "Ornette at 12", but after that I couldn´t figure out nothing until the end that again makes sense to me". 

I also have a strange Max Roach CD from the 80´s with a string quartet. Only Roach and strings. Well I thought, maybe it is like the "Double Quartet" which I dug, but it was completley abstract fiddlin´ and I listened to it one time and that it was....

And about painting, well I saw some strange OC painting on the cover of "Empty Foxhole" and can live without that painting, but the music is great. 
And there is a lot of Miles Davis painting from later years, but I can live without it but couldn´t live without the music of Miles....

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Posted (edited)

The place where people have been exposed en masse to 20th century modern classic music is film and television, roughly between 1950s and mid-1970s.  Leonard Rosenman's 1955 score for The Cobweb is said to be the first Hollywood film score to use 12-tone techniques.  (The Cobweb must also hold a record for film with the most utterances of the word "drapes."). Scores such as this continued through the 1960s and first half of the '70s with composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Alex North, Jerry Fielding, and others. Star Wars ruined so many things culturally, not the least of which was Hollywood's approach to film scoring.  

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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In it's intended function, film soundtrack is a way to hang music on a wall!

A multi-media extravviganz!

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, JSngry said:

In it's intended function, film soundtrack is a way to hang music on a wall!

A multi-media extravviganz!

Yup.  As a devotee of mid-century modern design, I'm all about functional art.  But film music works subliminally.  All that background music that played on TV while I was playing with Matchbox cars and action figures left an indelible mark, and set me off on a path to buy as much of this stuff as possible.  Just as some of us buy Mosaic box sets, others of us obsessively buy limited-edition releases of film scores from the 1950s to 1970s, myself included.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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There are real orchestra playing concerts of Final Fantasy video game scores. I've seen the odd concert of Hermannn film musics, but I'd be interested in a carefully curated and presented concert or series of significant "modern classical" film music.

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Posted (edited)

5 minutes ago, JSngry said:

There are real orchestra playing concerts of Final Fantasy video game scores. I've seen the odd concert of Hermannn film musics, but I'd be interested in a carefully curated and presented concert or series of significant "modern classical" film music.

Agreed, but it probably would be hard to do for a number of reasons.  Lots of those scores have unusual ensemble configurations, and orchestras would have to hire extras.  I'm not sure the audience for that kind of thing would justify the cost.  Psycho gets performed, if for no other reason than it is all strings and doesn't require 10 percussionists.  I think Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes - the original - has been performed also.

Play Berg, Webern, or Schoenberg for the uninitiated, and they will tell you it's the soundtrack for a horror film.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Speaking of modernistic movie soundtracks, I recall some fairly interesting— or at least atypical — music on many of the original Planet of the Apes films from 1968-73 — the first two especially, and the 4th one (which was especially dark, in terms of plot and tone).

I’ve never owned any albums of CD’s of them, but I’m well aquatinted with the movies as I’ve seen all of them several times each over the years.

There’s some crazy, if not truly atonal, then at least bitonal choral(!!) music in first sequel (the 2nd film) — which left a pretty strong impression on me the very first time I hear it back in college when I was about 19 (summer right after my freshman year).

And the stark, very percussive soundtrack to the original film is outstanding in the context of the film.

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8 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Agreed, but it probably would be hard to do for a number of reasons.  Lots of those scores have unusual ensemble configurations, and orchestras would have to hire extras. 

Ah, here's an opportunity for somebody to crunch the numbers, find a backer (and a hypesperson), and then go about putting together a touring ensemble (hopefully with people who can functionally do all kinds of doubling). Movies are the crossoverhypeangle, "you will be entertained AND educated by things you always knew but never knew you were hearing" is what you get the reviews to all say in sync (although, each in their own micro-idiosyncratic personal way, of course), you open on the coasts, and then take it from there. Maybe hire some clowns to entertain the children of all ages who are sure to come from all around just to hear that modern music get down.

I used to have this kind of ideal about 60s pop, in the mid-1970s, when there was no such thing as a real wedding band. Look what happened with that. Don't let it happen to this. Strike true and strike now!

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Ah, here's an opportunity for somebody to crunch the numbers, find a backer (and a hypesperson), and then go about putting together a touring ensemble (hopefully with people who can functionally do all kinds of doubling).

Well, there's the Spaghetti Western Orchestra, and they are amazing! 

 

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