Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

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Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:38 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Sylph wrote:
So - why?
So - why are you starting yet another anti-modernist thread on this board??
Talk to the hand!

Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:26 pm

karlhenning wrote:
diegobueno wrote:So - why are you starting yet another anti-modernist thread on this board??
Indeed . . . .
Karl, make up your mind! Either you like the thread or you don't! Either you know why it was started or you don't!

It wasn't anti-modernist at all! Quite the contrary!

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by karlhenning » Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:47 pm

Sylph wrote:
karlhenning wrote:
diegobueno wrote:So - why are you starting yet another anti-modernist thread on this board??
Indeed . . . .
Karl, make up your mind! Either you like the thread or you don't! Either you know why it was started or you don't!

It wasn't anti-modernist at all! Quite the contrary!
I suspect that it was not your intent. In effect, though, it could be taken as inviting The Usual Pile-On ; )

(In a way, I don't 'like' the thread, because . . . liking so much contemporary, modern music, I know of no 'reason' for not liking it : - )

maestrob is perfectly right, you know: there's bad stuff written in all styles.

Cheers,
~Karl
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jserraglio
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by jserraglio » Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:24 pm

Reasons for NOT liking . . . ?

I dont not like, I like contemporary, modern music.

Why?

1. lots of other people dont: snob appeal.
2. cut-out bins once were full of the likes of Blackwood on Cedille or Wuorinen & Martino on Koch: tried and liked them.
3. hearing a live perf gets me interested in the composer:
  • Gruber, I heard conduct Dancing in the Dark
    Adams, I heard his introduction to Naive and Sentimental Music
    Sessions, after a perf of his Eighth Symphony
    Part, after Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
4. I like:
  • ephemera: which led me to --> Berio and Golijov
    rock music: " " " --> Terry Riley, Philip Glass, & Frank Zappa
    organ music: " " " --> Olivier Messiaen

Mango

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Mango » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:00 am

Sylph wrote:I think that people on this board, but not only, are much more attached to Romanticism in music than to any other epoch or style and all have a very hard time liking (not to mention loving) music composed after Arnold Schönberg until today, 20th century music basically... Lachenmann, Ligeti, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Adès, Carter, Glass, MacMillan and so on, there are thousands of them, many of which people just don't listen to or downright detest.

So - why?
Silly question with lots of even more silly answers provided.

Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:03 am

Mango wrote:
Sylph wrote:I think that people on this board, but not only, are much more attached to Romanticism in music than to any other epoch or style and all have a very hard time liking (not to mention loving) music composed after Arnold Schönberg until today, 20th century music basically... Lachenmann, Ligeti, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Adès, Carter, Glass, MacMillan and so on, there are thousands of them, many of which people just don't listen to or downright detest.

So - why?
Silly question with lots of even more silly answers provided.
One of those silly answers being yours. If you are smarter than the rest, why don't you enlighten us with a more thought-through answer.

Mango

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Mango » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:36 am

Sylph wrote:
Mango wrote:
Sylph wrote:I think that people on this board, but not only, are much more attached to Romanticism in music than to any other epoch or style and all have a very hard time liking (not to mention loving) music composed after Arnold Schönberg until today, 20th century music basically... Lachenmann, Ligeti, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Adès, Carter, Glass, MacMillan and so on, there are thousands of them, many of which people just don't listen to or downright detest.

So - why?
Silly question with lots of even more silly answers provided.
One of those silly answers being yours. If you are smarter than the rest, why don't you enlighten us with a more thought-through answer.
No sorry, yours was the silly post as (i) you completely over-stated your case in the OP, (ii) you didn't explain what position you take on this matter, (iii) you made a petulant remark when somebody dared question your silly question, and then you tried to laugh it off; (iv) you haven't come back to offer any elucidation of what you think of the responses so far.

All that can possibly be said on this matter has been said before on previous threads, if only you had bothered to use the search facility. Previous responses can be reduced to the simple fact that the reason why contemporary music is not so popular as pre-contemporary music because the majority of classical musical lovers don't care for it so much. Since their time and financial resources are limited it's not surprising that contemporary music gets relatively short shrift. I don't believe that any of the answers above adds materially to this.


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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:09 am

Mango wrote:
Sylph wrote:
Mango wrote:
Sylph wrote:I think that people on this board, but not only, are much more attached to Romanticism in music than to any other epoch or style and all have a very hard time liking (not to mention loving) music composed after Arnold Schönberg until today, 20th century music basically... Lachenmann, Ligeti, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Adès, Carter, Glass, MacMillan and so on, there are thousands of them, many of which people just don't listen to or downright detest.

So - why?
Silly question with lots of even more silly answers provided.
One of those silly answers being yours. If you are smarter than the rest, why don't you enlighten us with a more thought-through answer.
No sorry, yours was the silly post as (i) you completely over-stated your case in the OP, (ii) you didn't explain what position you take on this matter, (iii) you made a petulant remark when somebody dared question your silly question, and then you tried to laugh it off; (iv) you haven't come back to offer any elucidation of what you think of the responses so far.

All that can possibly be said on this matter has been said before on previous threads, if only you had bothered to use the search facility. Previous responses can be reduced to the simple fact that the reason why contemporary music is not so popular as pre-contemporary music because the majority of classical musical lovers don't care for it so much. Since their time and financial resources are limited it's not surprising that contemporary music gets relatively short shrift. I don't believe that any of the answers above adds materially to this.
Ah but you see, Mango, what Sylph has done is get people talking. It's going to be pretty bland if every post has to concern recordings comparisons of a very narrow band of composers from Mozart to Mahler. No?
Sylph's question, silly or not, is one I've asked several times: at gigs, in trying to get the BBC to perform my work, in (real) fora and summer schools where this music is being composed discussed and played, in talking to (pardon the dirty word) critics... I get no reasoned answer and it affects me as an "unfamiliar name" even though my own work is within easy reach (which is probably where I went wrong). So since the subject was raised I was interested in people's views on this (internet) forum.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with most music written between c1920 and about 1985. Thereafter things go astray and I can cope with about 50% of what I subject myself to...but then I know I'm missing a point somewhere with this latterday music. It sounds so samey and undifferentiated. Then...live performance becomes important again because much unlistenable music is fine as theatrical/multimedia events.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Fergus » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:59 am

absinthe wrote:
....Sylph's question, silly or not, is one I've asked several times: at gigs, in trying to get the BBC to perform my work, in (real) fora and summer schools where this music is being composed discussed and played, in talking to (pardon the dirty word) critics... I get no reasoned answer and it affects me as an "unfamiliar name" even though my own work is within easy reach (which is probably where I went wrong).. ..
I would have thought that acceptability by a wider audience would actually help to ensure longevity and perhaps even a pre-requisite for it??

Mango

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Mango » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:20 pm

absinthe wrote: Ah but you see, Mango, what Sylph has done is get people talking. It's going to be pretty bland if every post has to concern recordings comparisons of a very narrow band of composers from Mozart to Mahler. No?
Sylph's question, silly or not, is one I've asked several times: at gigs, in trying to get the BBC to perform my work, in (real) fora and summer schools where this music is being composed discussed and played, in talking to (pardon the dirty word) critics... I get no reasoned answer and it affects me as an "unfamiliar name" even though my own work is within easy reach (which is probably where I went wrong). So since the subject was raised I was interested in people's views on this (internet) forum.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with most music written between c1920 and about 1985. Thereafter things go astray and I can cope with about 50% of what I subject myself to...but then I know I'm missing a point somewhere with this latterday music. It sounds so samey and undifferentiated. Then...live performance becomes important again because much unlistenable music is fine as theatrical/multimedia events.
I would agree that radio media such as the BBC play a disproportionate amount of "traditional" classical music, say music composed from 1700-1950, compared with material outside those dates. In terms of transmission time there is probably something like a "normal" distribution around these dates, with the majority of it coming from music composed between 1780-1890. I doubt that the BBC is any "worse" in this respect than other radio stations, and in fact I bet they are a lot better than most. They do this because it is what their listeners want to hear, not because some high-ranking radio executive has a personal disliking of classical music outside these time bands, or for some other trivial reason, as no doubt some people believe.

The reason that listeners want to hear this traditional type of classical music is because it has passed the acid test of respectability, i.e. history/public opinion has determined it to be the very best that was produced of that type among tons of lesser material of the same vintage by other, less talented, composers. With regard to such music, present-day listeners do not have to scratch their heads and ask "is this any good?". Apart from their own perceptions they can be assured that it is good because it has probably appealed to many previous generations, and also because people who know more about the technicalities of music have already given it the nod of approval. Nor do they have to ask "is there anything better from the same era?", as the market has already sorted that out too.

With regard to contemporary music, and especially anything written after about 1985, it is not popular because the jury is still out assessing its long term worth. There is no shortage of well-established older material, and hence there is no rush to find new material. Parts of the new material will no doubt in due course displace, or possibly add to, the existing canon, but in ways that are difficult/impossible to anticipate right now. The chances are that history will forget the vast majority of contemporary composers, in similar manner as history has treated the majority of 18th, 19th and early 20th Century composers. Sadly from the point of view of budding composers, the market's demand is probably way smaller than the potential supply, so only the very best will succeed.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by barney » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:36 am

Mango wrote:
absinthe wrote: Ah but you see, Mango, what Sylph has done is get people talking. It's going to be pretty bland if every post has to concern recordings comparisons of a very narrow band of composers from Mozart to Mahler. No?
Sylph's question, silly or not, is one I've asked several times: at gigs, in trying to get the BBC to perform my work, in (real) fora and summer schools where this music is being composed discussed and played, in talking to (pardon the dirty word) critics... I get no reasoned answer and it affects me as an "unfamiliar name" even though my own work is within easy reach (which is probably where I went wrong). So since the subject was raised I was interested in people's views on this (internet) forum.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with most music written between c1920 and about 1985. Thereafter things go astray and I can cope with about 50% of what I subject myself to...but then I know I'm missing a point somewhere with this latterday music. It sounds so samey and undifferentiated. Then...live performance becomes important again because much unlistenable music is fine as theatrical/multimedia events.
I would agree that radio media such as the BBC play a disproportionate amount of "traditional" classical music, say music composed from 1700-1950, compared with material outside those dates. In terms of transmission time there is probably something like a "normal" distribution around these dates, with the majority of it coming from music composed between 1780-1890. I doubt that the BBC is any "worse" in this respect than other radio stations, and in fact I bet they are a lot better than most. They do this because it is what their listeners want to hear, not because some high-ranking radio executive has a personal disliking of classical music outside these time bands, or for some other trivial reason, as no doubt some people believe.

The reason that listeners want to hear this traditional type of classical music is because it has passed the acid test of respectability, i.e. history/public opinion has determined it to be the very best that was produced of that type among tons of lesser material of the same vintage by other, less talented, composers. With regard to such music, present-day listeners do not have to scratch their heads and ask "is this any good?". Apart from their own perceptions they can be assured that it is good because it has probably appealed to many previous generations, and also because people who know more about the technicalities of music have already given it the nod of approval. Nor do they have to ask "is there anything better from the same era?", as the market has already sorted that out too.

With regard to contemporary music, and especially anything written after about 1985, it is not popular because the jury is still out assessing its long term worth. There is no shortage of well-established older material, and hence there is no rush to find new material. Parts of the new material will no doubt in due course displace, or possibly add to, the existing canon, but in ways that are difficult/impossible to anticipate right now. The chances are that history will forget the vast majority of contemporary composers, in similar manner as history has treated the majority of 18th, 19th and early 20th Century composers. Sadly from the point of view of budding composers, the market's demand is probably way smaller than the potential supply, so only the very best will succeed.
And, as you point out, they like it. I don't care that Chopin/Schumann/Brahms/Verdi etc is approved by posterity; I love the music. I love some lesser known music, eg Field. That takes me through Stravinsky. After that there are many works I like and admire, and some I don't. I've heard Adams I esteem and Adams I don't. I hardly know Golijov, but the five or so works I have heard I loved. Contemporary music doesn't make great background music. I excoriate myself for using background music, but I often do just the same, and obviously so do others. It's on while we're working. Mozart piano concertos are awful background music because they force themselves to the forefront of my consciousness.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by karlhenning » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:26 am

barney wrote:I don't care that Chopin/Schumann/Brahms/Verdi etc is approved by posterity; I love the music.
This isn't really cut-and-dried like this, of course; you are part of the posterity approving of the music. The res is that the musical language of Chopin/Schumann/Brahms/Verdi has been long assimilated into the general Western consciousness. It's part of our environment, of our musical comfort zone; whether we "care" about that is beside the question.
barney wrote:. . . Mozart piano concertos are awful background music because they force themselves to the forefront of my consciousness.
For me, they are excellent background music, for exactly the reason I give above. And they are generally regarded, in purely practical terms, as excellent b. m.; why, for WCRB, which in its programming choices has reshaped itself as The Soundtrack to Your Dentist's Waiting Room par excellence, the Mozart piano concertos (and one of the horn concertos, and the flute & harp concerto) are daily fodder.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by karlhenning » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:33 am

Mango wrote:. . . With regard to contemporary music, and especially anything written after about 1985, it is not popular because the jury is still out assessing its long term worth. There is no shortage of well-established older material, and hence there is no rush to find new material. Parts of the new material will no doubt in due course displace, or possibly add to, the existing canon, but in ways that are difficult/impossible to anticipate right now. The chances are that history will forget the vast majority of contemporary composers, in similar manner as history has treated the majority of 18th, 19th and early 20th Century composers. Sadly from the point of view of budding composers, the market's demand is probably way smaller than the potential supply, so only the very best will succeed.
Excellent points, all.

Even sadder from p.o.v. of a budding composer, the limited oxygen in the room is taken up even by the mediocre 18th- and 19th-c. composers whose voluminous 'offerings' the miracles of recording & music reproduction technology, plus the paleomusicology industry, have exhumed. History sifted that stuff out as (far the most of it) obviously not in the same league as the great composers; but in our day, there is a profitable market in safe-as-milk music, and the lesser contemporaries of Mozart, Beethoven & Brahms furnished that in abundance.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Jack Kelso
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:15 am

karlhenning wrote:
Mango wrote:. . . With regard to contemporary music, and especially anything written after about 1985, it is not popular because the jury is still out assessing its long term worth. There is no shortage of well-established older material, and hence there is no rush to find new material. Parts of the new material will no doubt in due course displace, or possibly add to, the existing canon, but in ways that are difficult/impossible to anticipate right now. The chances are that history will forget the vast majority of contemporary composers, in similar manner as history has treated the majority of 18th, 19th and early 20th Century composers. Sadly from the point of view of budding composers, the market's demand is probably way smaller than the potential supply, so only the very best will succeed.
Excellent points, all.

Even sadder from p.o.v. of a budding composer, the limited oxygen in the room is taken up even by the mediocre 18th- and 19th-c. composers whose voluminous 'offerings' the miracles of recording & music reproduction technology, plus the paleomusicology industry, have exhumed. History sifted that stuff out as (far the most of it) obviously not in the same league as the great composers; but in our day, there is a profitable market in safe-as-milk music, and the lesser contemporaries of Mozart, Beethoven & Brahms furnished that in abundance.

Cheers,
~Karl
I don't quite understand the phrase "lesser contemporaries of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms", Karl. Isn't it a mighty stretch to regard Wagner, Bruckner or Tschaikowsky as "lesser" compared to Brahms?! Schumann was left out (since he's NOT a contemporary of Brahms) and is regarded as the greatest composer of his time (roughly 1829-1854).

Perhaps I'm reading you wrong there.... :?:

If for you the Mozart piano concerti are "excellent background music", doesn't this tell us a lot about your deeper understanding of Mozart's music? I mean, what would you think of a mature listener's opinion that the symphonies of Prokofiev and Shostakovitch would be "excellent movie music"?! To my logic, both are comparable comments.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:54 am

Who said anything about Schumann, Jack? Your logic let you down there, at least.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:40 am

Jack Kelso wrote:I don't quite understand the phrase "lesser contemporaries of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms", Karl.
That would be contemporaries of (for example) Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms whose music is nae so guid. Whom you speculate to be claiming that Wagner, Bruckner or Tchaikovsky are "lesser" compared to Brahms is a mystery I do not choose at present to explore.

That this statement touched off your Schumann hair-trigger . . . Jack, there's something you need to let go of, lad.

Jack Kelso wrote:If for you the Mozart piano concerti are "excellent background music", doesn't this tell us a lot about your deeper understanding of Mozart's music?
Perhaps (just perhaps, Jack) I have made deeper and more sustained study of Mozart's music than you. The degree to which I do or do not prefer to listen to Mozart, does not at all touch the question of my understanding of the music (another logical misstep on your part, perhaps).

Cheers,
~Karl
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Boston, Massachusetts
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http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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Brendan

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Brendan » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:30 pm

Once again . . .

Much music composed in this century [20th] encourages only primitive forms of motion or inhibits natural motion altogether. Many twentieth-century composers focus on sound qualities or on abstract tonal patterns, and performers of their compositions often neglect whatever kinematic potential the music may have. The absence of natural motion information may be a significant factor limiting the appreciation of such music by audiences. While compositional techniques and sound materials are subject to constant change and exploration . . . the laws of biological motion can only be accepted, negated or relaxed. If more new music and its performers took these laws into account, the size of the audience may increase correspondingly.
Shove & Repp, 1995

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by arglebargle » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:45 pm

Well, just offering a layperson's off-the-cuff uneducated opinion on this: I think it comes down to emotional response, what kinds of emotions are being evoked and also to what degree newer music emphasizes head over heart.

This is a huge generalization of course but the newer stuff seems more and more interested in reflecting real life, as it were, in all it's disjointed, upsetting, abrupt messiness. So instead of creating a new place of coherent beauty or interest or wonder or fascination or adventure which the listener is pleased to occupy for a while, it insists on having something grittier and more challenging to say, on reflecting real life back at the listener. Some of us appreciate and get this sort of art more than others.

Also music over time seems to become more and more intellectual, appealing ever more to the mind alone and so perhaps requiring a greater degree of musical education or listening experience or sophistication than most are ever likely to have time to acquire.

Again, I realize these are massive generalizations and there are obvious counter-examples (Bach was pretty intellectual as far as I understand) and I suspect people have been saying similar things through the centuries about whatever was new in their time..., but it seems to me looking in from the outside, that much recent work is aimed less at evoking any sort of immediate positive emotional response than in the past, and more at saying something significant, or creating surprise, or providing something technically different and challenging for the more abstract pleasure of doing those things.
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by some guy » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:14 pm

arglebargle wrote:looking in from the outside
Exactly. The exact wrong place from which to look. From the inside, this is what contemporary music looks like:

"A new place of coherent beauty and interest and wonder and fascination and adventure which the listener is pleased to occupy."
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:44 am

karlhenning wrote:Who said anything about Schumann, Jack? Your logic let you down there, at least.

Cheers,
~Karl
Well, Pardon me! I thought you intended to completely cover the period 1760 through the end of the Romantic Era and just left off Schumann accidentally. No faulty logic on MY part there, Karl!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:00 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:I don't quite understand the phrase "lesser contemporaries of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms", Karl.
That would be contemporaries of (for example) Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms whose music is nae so guid. Whom you speculate to be claiming that Wagner, Bruckner or Tchaikovsky are "lesser" compared to Brahms is a mystery I do not choose at present to explore.

That this statement touched off your Schumann hair-trigger . . . Jack, there's something you need to let go of, lad.

Jack Kelso wrote:If for you the Mozart piano concerti are "excellent background music", doesn't this tell us a lot about your deeper understanding of Mozart's music?
Perhaps (just perhaps, Jack) I have made deeper and more sustained study of Mozart's music than you. The degree to which I do or do not prefer to listen to Mozart, does not at all touch the question of my understanding of the music (another logical misstep on your part, perhaps).

Cheers,
~Karl
How strange---I try to clarify your posting and you think I need psychoanalysis.

Karl, I am very comfortable in the accepted values placed on supreme masters such as Mozart, Schumann and others. But to refer to the former's piano concerti as merely "background music" for you surely does not inspire a thinking listener to conclude that you have made a "deeper and more sustained study of Mozart" than someone who is still capable of loving this music in the FOREGROUND---any more than your remark some time ago about Handel's great operas and oratorios as being "business as usual".

Maybe TOO MUCH listening to atonal/serial music can warp or alter one's concepts of true tonal greatness?

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:54 am

It’s never going to be easy to explain. “Science” has made little progress to explain the hows and whys of our experiencing music. Applied to music, semantics and semiotics seem to have drowned in words. Whether the effort was wasted remains to be seen - our experiences are always our own and cannot be communicated easily in words. Yet it’s evident that tonal / diatonic music appeals more widely than music based on other (western) systems. Mozart is easy because, though each piece sounds different, all conform to the same principles. Our senses slowly condition to allowing small departures that bring surprises – certain chord sequences, cadences, modulations and so forth – but Mozart Inc is never far from acceptance because things always resolve nicely.
The power of the resounding perfect cadence (a sort-of loud “Amen”-type cadence) can’t be underestimated. Last week I went to a Medau dance session – basically choreographed aerobics. A new number was being introduced. It built up to a triumphal perfect cadence. The participants just stopped and applauded rather than pause after the closing steps. It must have touched something instinctive.

Contemporary music rests on no particular system. Once serialism strangled itself composers were on their own. No standard has evolved. The interior logic of every work is likely to be different from the next, assuming it has logic at all (no problem to me if it hasn’t – I’m not claiming it should have). Since contemporary works rarely appear on commercial CDs, rarely have more than a premiere, it’s difficult to strategise a process to access this music. So unless a listener is broadminded enough to just listen, accept or reject as the moments evolve, it will always seem alien. Over a period of time listeners may adapt but from what I've heard of the most recent young, contemporary composers: drossy, undifferentiated streams of sound that drizzle on for a whole hour when five minutes would do, why should people bother when there's "easier" stuff around?

How much work should one do to be entertained?

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by THEHORN » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:33 am

Actually, listening to mediocre works by lesser composers of the past can be very valuable. It provides us with a wider frame of reference, and hearing mickey mouse works from the past teaches one to appreciate the true masterpieces and keep us from taking them for granted !
But there also many genuinely interesting and enjoyable workd from the past that don't deserve their neglect, as so many recordings have shown in recent years.
We must be profoundly grateful that there is so much diversity of repertoire for us to hear, live or recorded.
We can hear an infinitely wider variety of music than ever before in the history of Western Classical Music !

UBill

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by UBill » Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:30 pm

As I wandered through this interesting thread, I was listening to Saariaho's excellent Graal Theatre for violin and chamber orchestra. A very listenable piece of modern music - I like the version for chamber orchestra better than the orginal for full orchestra because I find the violin line works better with the smaller orchestra - from one of my favorite living composers.

I was surprised to see MacMillian listed as one of the comporsers lovers of romantic music does not listen to. For the last 20 years or more he has written very romantic sounding music. Sofia Gubaidulina's St. John Passion is a very Bach sounding work of true beauty. The symphonies of the British serialists Fricker, Searle and Frankel are full of wonderful themes and rich music that most listeners would never guess were actually based on tone rows.

I guess what I am trying to say is that most people who do not like music after 1950 have just not found the compsers that continue to write tonal or tonal sounding music.

One thing I have found over the last 10 years of reading - which I do a lot - and posting - which I hardly ever do now - is that the vast majority of those who enjoy listening to music of the 20th and 21st century know almost all the music of all the great composers of the past. While the vast majority of those who enjoy listening to music before 1950 very seldom know very much about the music written after 1950.

Now I am going to listen to Bach's solo cello Suites mixed with Britten's. It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon listeing to great music.
Last edited by UBill on Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by BC » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:04 pm

I'm a neophyte in classical music compared to most posters here, mainly listening to 20C stuff, not very difficult music by and large, but mainly modernist - Stravinsky, Bartok, Messaien etc. I think the debate is fatuous. Some people listen to modern music and hear an unpleasant noise and stop, or persist and hear nothing of value. Others find it hugely rewarding, or at least full of a potential that makes them want to hear more. There's no right or wrong response. The only thing I can't stand is people being prescriptive about what other people ought to like. Why can't people listen to what they want to listen to, and leave the rest of the world to do the same, without preening themselves on some imagined superiority arising from the kind of sounds that give them pleasure? It would take a satirist of the calibre of Jonathan Swift to do justice to the absurdity of that kind of shallow narcissism.

Brendan

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Brendan » Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:35 pm

Indeed. But why do I have to sit through a Sculthorpe piece I cannot abide in order to hear a Beethoven Symphony on the night? The AC crowd continue to throw that stuff at the folk who don't like it and wonder why they continually object. I have given up my season tickets to my local orchestra to avoid the modern AC: I hate it more than I am willing to endure it to get to the music I like.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by some guy » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:22 pm

Brendan wrote:Indeed. But why do I have to sit through a Sculthorpe piece I cannot abide in order to hear a Beethoven Symphony on the night? The AC crowd continue to throw that stuff at the folk who don't like it and wonder why they continually object. I have given up my season tickets to my local orchestra to avoid the modern AC: I hate it more than I am willing to endure it to get to the music I like.
Um, because it's not all about you? Plenty of people, in Australia and elsewhere, do indeed enjoy the music of Sculthorpe (which is pretty mild, and even pleasant to people who don't like to listen outside of their own little boxes).

I know you're pretty stuck in your rut, but surely even you can have figured out by now that you do not have to sit through anything, mild Sculthorpe or not, in order to hear a Beethoven symphony. All you have to do is buy your season tickets and then show up at the hall in time to hear the Beethoven. (Does your orchestra really not seat people between pieces??)
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
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Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by arglebargle » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:41 pm

Plenty of people, in Australia and elsewhere, do indeed enjoy the music of Sculthorpe (which is pretty mild, and even pleasant
Mr. Sculthorpe's writing for string quartet can be quite engaging indeed. A couple (nos. 8 & 11) are included in this fabulous box set of the mighty Kronos Quartet's 25 year retrospective.

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Brendan

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Brendan » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:00 am

But why an I forced to listen to Sculthorpe and other such garbage I despise in order to see Beethoven played live? Why is the audience of old music constantly assailed by music they do not like? Program AC for AC fans - fine. But I will simply not see any live music unless I check the program because I loathe the AC imposed upon me unwillingly.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by bricon » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:43 am

Brendan wrote:But why an I forced to listen to Sculthorpe and other such garbage I despise in order to see Beethoven played live?
You're not!

Your local orchestra has scheduled Beethoven twice for the 2009 season. The first concert features the Leonora Overture No.1 along with works by Tchaikovsky and Brahms. The second concert to feature Beethoven has the 9th Symphony alone.

If you wanted to drive a few hours up the highway, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra features Beethoven on about 20 nights this year. Several concerts like this one are all-Beethoven affairs.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:02 am

THEHORN wrote:Actually, listening to mediocre works by lesser composers of the past can be very valuable. It provides us with a wider frame of reference, and hearing mickey mouse works from the past teaches one to appreciate the true masterpieces and keep us from taking them for granted !
But there also many genuinely interesting and enjoyable workd from the past that don't deserve their neglect, as so many recordings have shown in recent years.
We must be profoundly grateful that there is so much diversity of repertoire for us to hear, live or recorded.
We can hear an infinitely wider variety of music than ever before in the history of Western Classical Music !
I agree. How about listening to some SUPERIOR works by lesser-known Romantic Era composers----like Robert Volkmann's Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, op. 44? Or Karl Goldmark's Second Symphony in E-Flat? Or Joachim Raff's wonderful 3rd, 5th ("Lenore"), Seventh ("In den Alpen"), 8th or 9th Symphonies? Tschaikowsky, Dvorak, R. Strauss, Sibelius and Hans von Bülow had undying love and respect for Raff's music. They should have entered the standard repertoire long ago.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by BC » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:59 am

Brendan, I have the opposite problem. I am bored rigid by Beethoven's orchestral music. I live in a smallish provincial city, and despite subsidy, orchestras coming here obviously feel obliged to provide a heavy programme of Beethoven - presumably to get respectable audience figures to support the renewal of their grants. I'd guess Beethoven appears on at least 60% of orchestral programmes. Add in Mozart, 80%. The musicians' own lack of interest in this overfamiliar music often wafts into the auditorium like a bad smell.

Occasionally there will be a piece of very challenging modern music in the programme. It is usually played first, and is invariably very short - average less than 10 minutes. I would agree with you that this is pointless - I don't think many converts will me made. It's also arguably ill-mannered, since few people are specifically there to hear these obscurities and everyone knows that most of the audience are having foisted on them against their will. I don't mind these short pieces; occasionally there is something I like; but I understand the objections and if the practice was stopped I wouldn't complain.

But the point remains that that, in my neck of the woods at least, someone who likes a bit of Mozart or Haydn, mainstream nineteenth century repertoire, and perhaps Sibelius and the more popular Mahler pieces will find their tastes abundantly catered for, with comparatively little to discomfit them, in the 20 or so performances given by professional orchestras in a normal year. Anyone looking for something even a little more adventurously modern - a substantial piece by Bartok or Shostakovich or Stravinsky or for example - will be lucky if 2 or 3 pieces are played in the year, and they will almost certainly be expected to sit through Beethoven or something equally appealing to conservative tastes for the other half of the concert.

Given the many tedious hours I've spent struggling to find something to like in Beethoven, Brahms and the like in order to hear something that enthuses me, I find I'm hard pushed to feel too much sympathy for people who feel outraged that they have to sit through the very occasional dissonant modern piece to get their regular Beethoven fix.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by THEHORN » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:32 pm

Absinthe states that there is very little contemporary music available on CD. WRONG !!!! On the contrary, there is a vast amount of it available by who knows how many living composers. Just to make a random sample list : Ned Rorem,
Thomas Ades, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Philip Glass, Kaaia Saariaho, Tan Dun, Hans Werner Henze, William Bolcom,
Christopher Rouse, Krzystof Penderecki, Sofia Gubaidullina,
Harrison Bitwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Henri Dutilleaux,
Henryk Gorecki, Jake Heggie, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Tristan Murail, Wolfgang Rihm,
Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, and so on. This barely list barely scratches the surface.
Basically, there are only two reasons I dislike a piece.
Either it's boring or just plain uninteresting, or there's something irritating or off-putting about it.
I can accept any work as long as it's at least INTERESTING.

Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:38 pm

THEHORN wrote:Just to make a random sample list : Ned Rorem,
Thomas Ades, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Philip Glass, Kaaia Saariaho, Tan Dun, Hans Werner Henze, William Bolcom,
Christopher Rouse, Krzystof Penderecki, Sofia Gubaidullina,
Harrison Bitwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Henri Dutilleaux,
Henryk Gorecki, Jake Heggie, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Tristan Murail, Wolfgang Rihm,
Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, and so on. This barely list barely scratches the surface.
Does anyone here know whether we'll have a recording of Tevot soon? :?

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:13 pm

THEHORN wrote:Absinthe states that there is very little contemporary music available on CD. WRONG !!!! On the contrary, there is a vast amount of it available by who knows how many living composers. Just to make a random sample list : Ned Rorem,
Thomas Ades, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Philip Glass, Kaaia Saariaho, Tan Dun, Hans Werner Henze, William Bolcom,
Christopher Rouse, Krzystof Penderecki, Sofia Gubaidullina,
Harrison Bitwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Henri Dutilleaux,
Henryk Gorecki, Jake Heggie, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Tristan Murail, Wolfgang Rihm,
Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, and so on. This barely list barely scratches the surface.
Basically, there are only two reasons I dislike a piece.
Either it's boring or just plain uninteresting, or there's something irritating or off-putting about it.
I can accept any work as long as it's at least INTERESTING.
I wouldn't honestly call most of those composers "contemporary" - avant garde, some of them but that ended around 1980 - of course there's no absolute boundary but the mid-century avant garde had about burned out by then. I tend to think of contemporary as the last decade or so. Admittedly some of these composers are still around, still composing and ok, there's an amount on CD. But they've been championed in some way - nothing wrong with that as long as we realise that for each one there were maybe thirty who composed dross or just didn't happen to be in the right place at the right time but were roughly equals of those who did make it.

Have a look down recent years' short-lists of the SPNM and you won't find many represented on CD. Likewise, BBC3's contemporary programmes. It's an occasion when composers like Birtwistle, Goebbels, Ferneyhough, Smalley etc get an airing - and they did an entire programme on Carter but mostly it's unknowns getting premieres (which as I say often) are probably their dernieres too. (If a few of these new works are on CD it's because I record them!)

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Lance » Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:32 pm

I often wonder just how many CONVERTS from traditional classical music there are, either through substantial listening to new music, or through the education of it. I don't consider myself a convert, but I am more open to listening to a new piece of music. It doesn't take very long to determine if it is interesting or not. As Mel states, "interesting" is a key word. There is much Baroque-through-Romantic-period music that sometimes isn't very interesting to hear, but it does contain the main ingredients of being attractive, at least, to the ear.
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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:48 pm

Interesting point. I seized on relatively modern works at a young age (the first I recall is RVW's 6th Symphony) having never turned an ear to the classics. If I became involved with classics at all it was through school: theory (harmony (or voice leading as they say in America) and counterpoint) and analysis that inevitably concern the 16th to early 19th centuries. I turned to Beethoven for orchestration/instrumenation lessons (in this, I find his quartets interesting and appealing) But apart from a few excursions into the Classical era, maybe the Romantics too, I haven't felt the need. Listening to Radio 3 at home guarantees a fair spread but if I play a recording it's likely to be from Debussy onwards.....except I do love Renaissance music.

So perhaps it's how one starts.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by ChrisX » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:07 pm

Fergus wrote:For me, modern and contemporary music is far too intellectualised, technical and sterile. I do not want to listen to audible mathematics.
To me, this is a good point which is something that I have also felt for a long time. But sometimes not only the composers have to be blamed for it but also the performers. Hilary Hahn's recording of Schoenberg's violin concerto for the first time made total sense of this music to me.
Chris
"Remember what's been given, not taken away" (Brett Kull)

Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:10 pm

absinthe wrote:Listening to Radio 3 at home guarantees a fair spread but if I play a recording it's likely to be from Debussy onwards.....except I do love Renaissance music.

So perhaps it's how one starts.
Wow, wow, abisnthe! We're approaching the definition of your tastes! :mrgreen:

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:25 pm

Sylph wrote:
absinthe wrote:Listening to Radio 3 at home guarantees a fair spread but if I play a recording it's likely to be from Debussy onwards.....except I do love Renaissance music.

So perhaps it's how one starts.
Wow, wow, abisnthe! We're approaching the definition of your tastes! :mrgreen:

Hah! I wish I could answer that for myself. What of you? D'you like Meyerbeer?


I'll say this: I'm far more comfortable with Classical and Romantic music than most classical fans are with contemporary music.

;)

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by absinthe » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:35 pm

Fergus wrote:I must confess that my problem is that I cannot even get past Debussy!! For me, modern and contemporary music is far too intellectualised, technical and sterile. I do not want to listen to audible mathematics. Music for me needs to touch my soul by arousing passion and emotion and that is where the “modern” stuff fails me. It is purely a subjective thing and then I am only a simple soul.
Just noticed this from ChrisX's quote...... How can you SAY that!? What of that Philip Hammond's beautiful "Die Ersten Bluhmen". I can't think of a more soul-touching piece, premiered in 1996. Somewhat tonal. He's an Irish composer of some renown, born 1951.

;)

And here's my chance to say hello to ChrisX! Hi!

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Fergus » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:53 pm

absinthe wrote:.... Somewhat tonal.....
That is exactly where my problem lies! My ears just will not take it no matter how I try.

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by THEHORN » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:47 pm

There's a saying I love, and I hope no one here will take this personally : A mind is like a parachute : it only functions when it's open .
No offense meant.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by arglebargle » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:48 pm

Hmm, I've been inspired by this thread to add a new era to my organizational method - not something that happens every day!

So far I've:
Renaissance
Baroque
Classical
Romantic
Modern

I believe I'll have to create a "Contemporary"... now, where to draw the line...?
I'm JustAFan

Sylph

Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Sylph » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:51 pm

Arglebargle, Chalk can tell you how to do it.

He didn't continue that thread I opened... Go figure. :roll:

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:08 am

Two modern works I taped from radio remain among my favs of 20th-century music:

Wilhelm KILLMAYER: "Nachtgedanken" for orchestra

Klaus HUBER: "Tenebrae" for large orchestra

DON'T listen to the Killmayer during the day; DON'T listen to the Huber at night...alone.

Both of these distinguished composers are still living (over 80). I'm not saying I would enjoy ALL of their works (as I do e.g. Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann), but I like to pick and choose which music offers a challenge---but also isn't "100 percent dissonance for dissonance sake", like some serial music I've heard on radio. That can be a real put-off!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:14 am

Fergus wrote:
absinthe wrote:.... Somewhat tonal.....
That is exactly where my problem lies! My ears just will not take it no matter how I try.
The key is to stuff them with cotton wool first, then blindfold yourself, turn on the stereo and hit the mute button... :wink:
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by THEHORN » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:11 pm

If you would like to find recordings of fairly recent works by virtually any contemporary composer, check arkivmusic.com,
which has a huge selection of music by countless different composers, living and dead. Just look the name of virtually any living composer there, and the chances are you will find something. There truly is plenty of music by living composers there that isn't old at all. If you can't find it at arkivmusic.com, it probably doesn't exist !

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Re: Reasons for NOT liking contemporary, modern music

Post by some guy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:32 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:"100 percent dissonance for dissonance sake", like some serial music I've heard on radio.
Jack! Where do you live that this kind of music is played on the radio? (What immediately popped into my mind was that line from Life of Brian, "You lucky bastard! You lucky, lucky bastard!")

Not that there is any such thing as you've described, but still.... I get the drift. And I want to know where your radio station is!

And THEHORN, arkiv.com is pretty good, it's true, but there's a ton of stuff they have no idea even exists. If it's not on arkiv, it probably does exist, but you have to go elsewhere to find it. Hard to fault a site that lists Yasunao Tone, but they only know of two of his albums. They don't know about Palimpsest or the one simply called Yasunao Tone.

And while they have heard of Francis Dhomont (and even of Ludger Brümmer!), they haven't heard of Gilles Gobeil or Christine Groult or..., well, you get the idea! (Don't look for Iris Ter Schiphorst under her name, by the way. You'll only find her if you look under Helmut Oehring.)
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
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