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Topic: Atonal Music

  1. #1

    Atonal Music

    Shall we continue the discussion from the orchestrator vs composer thread?
    Mahler, what are your \"very serious concerns over the future of music if composers continue to write this sort of music?\"

  2. #2

    Re: Atonal Music

    look, let\'s be honest, I\'ve never met anyone (really... never) that likes to throw on a nice afternoon of Webern with some tea..... or Shoenberg.... or John Cage.... or many other pieces written in the 20th century. I had a theory teacher once say music should be \"aesthetically pleasing\", which in my humble opinion and the opinion of pretty much 99.9% of the rest of the world, Atonal music is not. BUT, if it were not for the far out experiments of such composers, we never would have discovered many of those sounds. To me it\'s part of a pallette of colors to choose from. What would the X-files sound track be without a prepared piano? I think what is really cool is when those elments are worked to the point that while they may be \"atonal\" or more specific \"serial\", they sound and function tonally. That makes the piece interesting as far as I\'m concerned. This is the way music evolves.

    Take for example the jews harp. I\'m not gonna throw a solo jews harp CD in the player and jam out for the afternoon...however, I might throw one in for 15 minutes to hear some specifics about the instrument, then take the idea and translate it into a bigger piece, at which point this really odd instrument sound pretty cool, for a few bars. It\'s the evolution of music, and I applaud those who have gone before and will come after who want to be experiemental. It\'s like medical research... someone\'s got to experiment... doesn\'t mean it\'s going to become the norm... but it\'s got to be done [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] That\'s my 2 cents.

  3. #3

    Re: Atonal Music

    another example is the way ethnic music has made it\'s way into western music. I don\'t spend my afternoon listening to tribal drums, but they sure are a nice edition to the lion king.....

  4. #4

    Re: Atonal Music

    oops, I meant Addition, not Edition [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: Atonal Music

    Originally posted by J. Whaley:
    oops, I meant Addition, not Edition [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">And you meant \"jaw harp\", not \"jews harp\". (I know, I know. But you don\'t want to be going in to a bar in the Bronx, playing some beautiful impressionistic music, then telling a very large African American fellow that it\'s called \'Golliwog\'s Cakewalk\' either.)

    Back to ATONAL music. None of my business. Each to his own. Huge contribution. And a load of codswallop to boot.

    I doubt that film composers would have \'missed\' certain \'sound FX\' even if such towering geniuses such as Cage hadn\'t stretched the limits of serious music (and the patience of all sane people), by throwing hammers at pianos or playing the bloody radio, or sitting in front of a piano doing not much of anything, when he could have got a proper job instead.

    The thing I like most about \'experimental\' music is that it\'s right there in the program notes: \"You are about to listen to a bunch of crap, but you might want to pretend you enjoy it when you\'re drinking a cocktail and sneering at the Dolly Parton fans who live in the trailer next door.\"

    I have an Atonal story: I\'ll try to keep it short (but no promises), and all you pee-paw fans can hurl abuse and pick holes in it afterwards.

    I had to play in a guitar competition once (but don\'t get me started on that). I had to play a \'composition\' written by one of the judges. To say this thing was a piece of s h i t is to underestimate the odor produced by really bad music.

    I couldn\'t play it. I hated it. I wanted to murder it. I wanted to set fire to it and laugh like a madman. It was all over the place. I had no idea so many little dots could fit on a page. The time signature changed constantly and everything was tied in some way to everything else. My professor thought I \"couldn\'t understand it\". Poor me. It was beyond my severely limited intellectual inventory.

    Instead of practising, I decide to give it a \"Julian Bream\" (I swayed this way and that. I made faces like I was eating a sour plum. I almost fell off my chair, so deeply was my psyche tied to this music.)

    I made it all up. Everything. I made it all up.

    After the \'performance\', the composer announced to the audience (someone\'s granny and her dog, if I remember correctly) that I had \"walked the fine line between the written music and extemporization\". He even wrote it down (although from the expression on his face, I think the old granny\'s dog may have twigged to what was going on).

    I rushed into the pub afterwards (as one does after a performance so bold) to dance and sing and poke fun at all the Ping-pongers and I waved my little piece of paper at them in triumph.

    \"He didn\'t say you performed it perfectly\" was the general answer around the pub (I\'ll admit that my dancing was sub-par).

    When I was at college, talented people were thrown out for writing music, while phoneys garnered the acclaim and the arts council grants.

    There is no such thing as atonality. It is a con. It is more of a religion or a belief system than a musical style. It simply does not exist.

    Oscar Wilde said of \'books\' (and I paraphrase because I\'m too lazy to do any research): \"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are either well-written or badly written. That is all.\" (sorry Oscar)

    The same goes for music (kind of). A bunch of phonies hijacked \'serious\' music because all the good composers got killed in the second world war.

    A great composer can take any ridiculous style or trend or club and make something wonderful out of it. I just hope that this ridiculous pseudo-intellectual fraud game no longer prevails in education, but I fear that there are probably still powerful, untalented nitwits who use it as a baseball bat with which to club the talent out of others.

    By the way. The composer who wrote the piece I had to play could write some nice stuff. I don\'t know what he was playing at with that grabage. I have to assume that he got a nice grant for it, wrote it in five minutes, then went to the pub (as one does when money pours down from heaven).

  6. #6

    Re: Atonal Music

    I see atonal music as pretty much just orchestral heavy metal that replaces screaming and distorted electric guitars with tonal dissonance. It takes quite a while to get used to it, but once you do the dissonance sounds brilliant and very aesthetically pleasing. It\'s like the effect of brilliant orchestration, a great sound and harmony.
    But, that is free atonal. 12 tone is a different animal altogether, it generally forces not only atonal harmony but atonal melody and counterpoint etc. Perhaps it\'s also unnatural over stucturing but you can get used to it. I rather like Schoenberg and Goldsmith\'s 12 tone Planet of the Apes film score plus Berg\'s Violin Concerto. And I\'m afraid that to make atonal look bad you are going to have to use more than one example, there is a lot of **** in every type of music [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] And also, is your problem with all atonal music or just 12 tone? It might be true that you really just don\'t get it and not that it\'s bad. That doesn\'t make you stupid or musically inferia, just different or just that you haven\'t acquired a taste for it yet. Some people just simply need a tonal centre to enjoy music. No one is born understanding atonal music anyway. Perhaps you are some what correct about there being frauds, simply writing in 12 tone makes you look good. And writing in older styles makes you look cliched even if you aren\'t. Never the less, that doesn\'t mean that 12 tone is always crap.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Winsted, CT

    Re: Atonal Music

    I find Shoenberg immensely pleasing to listen to. 99.9% of the rest of the word think the Back Street Boy are pretty cool...

    Sorry, I meant to say Kool.

  8. #8

    Re: Atonal Music

    Anyone interested in a less \"severe\" serial/atonal experience should check out Alban Berg\'s \"Lyric Suite\" (the string quartet, as opposed to the later full-blown orchestral piece). Parts of it sound downright sweet.


  9. #9

    Re: Atonal Music

    I\'m not sure whether or not I would consider \"atonal\" music to be \"unpleasant\" to listen to. I think that if the majority of the population had been listening to atonal music over the past few centuries, the average listener might hear tonal compositions and say \"Yuck!\". I\'m a fan of writing and experimenting with really dissonant forms of composition and I enjoy writing tonal compositions just as much. Using different techniques in composition can be fun, and you can get some very interesting and sometimes unexpected results. I maintain that if the creativity and soul behind the music is there, I think that will be conveyed to the listener regardless of whether it is a tonal composition or not. Whether or not the listener accepts more adventurous forms of composition perhaps depends on how much the listener knows about the composition/technique itself. But then again, does the average listener really need to have a degree in composition to be able to understand the music?

    I for one, have heard a number of modern compositions that are atonal in nature that absolutely blew me away technically and emotionally. Others have a lot going for them on the technical side but do very little for me as a listener other than make my ears hurt. Whether or not I would venture into calling them music as opposed to a texture of sound is a hard call to make. I guess that poses the question: \"What is music?\"

    Kind of like determining what is \"art\". An amazing painting with detail and colour so vivid that you would swear that the subjects are real? Or a red dot in the middle of a giant black background. Or, dead and decomposing rabbits hanging from string as our super Canadian government felt compelled to provide a grant for a while back. Try seeing how many people flee your house with THAT hanging on your wall.


  10. #10

    Re: Atonal Music

    Originally posted by Synth2k:

    Kind of like determining what is \"art\". An amazing painting with detail and colour so vivid that you would swear that the subjects are real? Or a red dot in the middle of a giant black background. Or, dead and decomposing rabbits hanging from string as our super Canadian government felt compelled to provide a grant for a while back. Try seeing how many people flee your house with THAT hanging on your wall.

    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I\'d go for the red dot (because I thought you were \'leading\' with the \'vivid\' one) [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    I was working on a dead rabbit piece myself, but I just don\'t have the talent to pull it off.

    We have a few of those in the UK. Half a cow in formaldahyde (brilliant, stunning, polymesmeric, haggis-like in conception but ultimately quintessentially bovine). A pile of bricks (ground-breaking).

    My only concern(s): Don\'t give them my hard-earned sheckles and keep them away from educational establishments. Unfortunately, if you don\'t do the former, you get the latter.

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