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Topic: How to listen to atonality?

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  1. #21

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    But for the most part, when people say "dissonant" they mean "not pleasing to *my* ears." I believe this is how Tom used the term in his post... it's not that he doesn't hear dissonances... of course he does! He just doesn't consider them displeasing.
    Jamie has it exactly right. That is how I used the term. I did not suddenly become unable to detect the proximity of different notes ("Where did they go?!! I thought I heard a minor second interval here a moment ago, NOW IT'S HIDDEN FROM ME!!!!) It was my reaction to close intervals and note density that was forever altered, rather than the detection of same. Not to mention my evaporated need for harmonic resolution.

    All of this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Charles Ives. During a performance of a piece by Carl Ruggles there was a heckler in the audience. In defense of the piece, Ives supposedly shouted to the man "Stand up and use your ears like a man!"
    One of my favorite quotes! I first encountered this quote back in the '60s when I was devouring all things Ivesian. By the way, if anyone wants to give themselves a "dissonance" test try out Carl Ruggles Sun Treader - it is unrelenting. Wimpy ears need not apply.

    Tom

  2. #22

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hopkins
    One of my favorite quotes! I first encountered this quote back in the '60s when I was devouring all things Ivesian. By the way, if anyone wants to give themselves a "dissonance" test try out Carl Ruggles Sun Treader - it is unrelenting. Wimpy ears need not apply.
    Hah! Sun Treader? Cream puffery! Try Penderecki's Utrenja. That'll put hair on your socks!
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  3. #23

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    "My socks are hairier than your socks!!!" "No they aren't!!!" "Yes they are!" "ARE NOT" "ARE TOO!!"

  4. #24

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hopkins
    "My socks are hairier than your socks!!!" "No they aren't!!!" "Yes they are!" "ARE NOT" "ARE TOO!!"
    ha! nothing beats mine! I live with a long-haired cat AND a huskey that's ALWAYS shedding, year-round.

    *****

    back to the original topic
    but even perception-wise, I find over-use of consonance to be "dissonant"... in the sense that it is tiresome to my ears.
    I like a nice balance of (what my ears and mind perceive as) dissonance and consonance.

  5. #25

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    I just thought that you might like to have a little 12 tone music.

    http://www.soundessentials.com/mp3/1...Commercial.mp3

    Enjoy

    Andre

  6. #26

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Bookmarked!
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  7. #27

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by alavelle
    I just thought that you might like to have a little 12 tone music.

    http://www.soundessentials.com/mp3/1...Commercial.mp3

    Enjoy

    Andre
    HA!!! Oh wow, that is HILARIOUS!! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time...

    Edit: I did some research on the commercial and found this, with a better-sounding version: http://www.therestisnoise.com/2006/0...ll_enjoy_.html

    Wooo, that's funny...
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  8. #28

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy
    "tonal" music, in the strictest sense (as I said earlier - "strict") is music that is based on principles of tonal relationship/tonal harmony. This means music that is governed by the tonic-dominant-subdominant relationship.
    Ok I see. Mmm sorry if I got a little argumentative . But I get what you're saying.

    Now for some more questions, probably for Tom but of course anyone else as well. So when you come to a point where dissonance becomes normal, or even enjoyable, how does music accomplish tension/resolution? Seems like that now becomes much more challenging. Does it come to depend more heavily on other musical aspects like rhythm?

    Or I suppose even harsher dissonances? And Tom, does that mean that you'd now consider something like Dvorak or Beethoven to be trite or quaint? I guess that makes perfect sense. I mean, after all, they're centuries old. Why shouldn't they be quaint?

    I was reading today about how in 1800 or so, it was not at all customary for orchestras to play old pieces all the time. But they continually do today, and now the layman's ears (mine included) are stuck about 150 years in the past. Kinda weird.

  9. #29

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    I find that I gain more respect for the artists of past doing things ahead of their time now that I am so comfortable with modern music.

    BTW... Shostakovich is pretty lightweight when it comes to amount of dissonance. He is often flat out tonal.

    It is best to ease yourself into that typr of music. Atonal music as a whole is a very old style and not at all the modern style. It was around for its heyday in the 1920s-30s. After that it was realized that the ear will find a pitch center.

    From the very beginning dissonance has been the spice that makes music great. How about major 7th chords in Mozart and leading tone suspensions... Mozart also wandered OFTEN outside of the scale and was very chromatic in his melodies (but not at all in his harmonies). Beethoven was the first to really push harmony, but his melodies are much weaker than Mozarts and often took a back seat to harmony which at times was very in your face for that period.

    Then came Wagner....

    Listen to Tristan und Isolde. Study the score... study a piano reduction and analyze it note for note, harmony for harmony. This piece is credited with changing everything. (Although due credit must be given to Chopins Preludes in A minor and E minor) There is never resolution in the entire opera. It is one big cadence that never resolves. It is absolutely fantastic.

    From there you can move on to Debussy and Ravel. And I'm not talking Claire de Lune (unless Wagner still seemed dissonant). I am thinking Ravel's Daphis et Chloe in particular. This is an amazing work that will engross you for every bit of its 57 minutes.

    Now time for the fun stuff. BÚla Bartˇk. This guy may someday be known as the greatest composer of the 20th century. As a matter of fact, speaking of Shostakovich, Bartok composed the monumental Concerto for Orchestra (his last major work) as a response to how miffed he was that Shostakovich was so critically successful while he was not. Listen to Concerto, study the score, analyze it. At this point, traditional harmony is not nearly as important as creating a 'shape' to a piece. Having is 'go' somewhere. All five movements seem to tell some unknown story. (Although those who know me, know that I don't believe in program music).
    That piece is in Bartˇk's 'diatonic' style. Based on scales derived from his study of folk tunes. His other style, the 'chromatic' style is he next step in your ear's evolution. Music for Strings, Celeste, and Percussion. This piece is beautiful, dramatic, violent, and moving at the same time. So many colors composers have gotten to work with since the beginning of the 20th century.

    Once you have a taste for that, you may have already discovered more chromatic stuff that interestes you. If you are going to try Schoenberg, try Pierrot Lunaire ... and please keep a translation of the lyrics nearby. Warped music for a warped story. No 18th century harmony would do it justice. Wozzeck is a very, very dark opera by Berg. And it doesn't sound atonal to me. (Or maybe all the murder and stuff get's in the way... the music just fits)

    The main thing is learn to use dissonance. Push the boundaries. It will make the music one writes so much more interesting. Don't worry about fitting melody with notes in the harmony. Don't stack just triads, do 7th, 9th chords... whatever you want.

    The simplification of harmony actually happened in the Classical period. It took an entire century to undo that. Music of the 19th century took us to where we are now, and that place is absolute freedom. Just remember to give your piece 'direction'. That is where the skill lies. As for examples of some crazy pre-classical music I have just one name: Gesualdo. Hehe.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  10. #30

    Re: How to listen to atonality?

    Quote Originally Posted by jesshmusic
    It is best to ease yourself into that typr of music. Atonal music as a whole is a very old style and not at all the modern style. It was around for its heyday in the 1920s-30s. After that it was realized that the ear will find a pitch center.
    Absolute nonsense! Atonality has never been more popular. OK so it may not be the mainstay of film music, or jazz or pop, but modern 'classical' composers, on the whole, have certainly not relinquished it.

    The problem is radio stations such as Classic FM, which, when they play anything more recent than Beethoven, play unremitting crap with no content. They play endless Karl Jenkins and Ludovico Einaudi, and try to suggest that this is the modern face of Classical music. In fact such composers are just talentless - they have nothing to communicate, and no technique to do it with. But because the average listener is ignorant, and unaware of what else is out there, they assume that this is the pinaccle of what's going on. It's a bit like when a reader of crap romance novels becomes convinced that they are great literature.

    In fact there is a whole world of new 'classical' music going on which is still building on the changes of the 20th century, and has certainly not relinquished atonality at all. In fact, in the world of 'serious composers,' those who embrace tonality at all are seen as freaks, or at best quirky oddities. Even someone such as Arvo Part, who has found a completely new way to work with tonal centres, is regarded as the 'pop' end of the avant-garde, and the question of whether he is a complete fraud seems to be raised quite frequently.

    Don't get me wrong, I personally don't hold with the idea that tonality was dead; and I often feel more like listening to Arvo Part than Ligeti or Birtwistle. But the notion that composers have backed off from atonality is just absurd.

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