Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by karlhenning » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:08 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Bottom line is: everyone has the right to listen to his/her music of choice.....as long as it's not forced on me. Fact is, many who do not appreciate art music have no idea of its scope, wealth of charm, power and spirituality. One is NOT a snob because one does not choose to like everything under the sun. We all are selective----so don't be ashamed to ADMIT it!
Jack, I endorse all the points of your "bottom line" line without reservation.

There's a lot of baggage in your other lines, though, which a prudent and impartial accountant would trim ; )
I'm unsure what you mean by "a lot of baggage", Karl---but accountants deal in figures. I express myself fairly succinctly in words (much more so in my 32 short stories than here, 'natch!), but I don't feel I "beat around the bush"...! 8)

Tschüß,
Jack
No matter, Jack, for the points you detail as cited above are lean and on target.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by 7flat5 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:31 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
7flat5 wrote:There were certainly secular songs which provided the basis for Gregorian chant.
In general I do not agree that classical music from the Middle Ages through the modern period is uniformly owing to popular or folk sources, and where it is inspired by them it so transcends them that the origins, frankly, fade into artistic insignificance.
Remembering this statement, I was interested to read this, from Telemann's 1739 autobiography, recently translated http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/view ... 19&start=0 for us.

"When the court moved itself for a half year long to Plesse, an Upper-Silesian area which the Promnitz family governed, I became acquainted there as well as in Krakau with Polish and Moravian music, in its true barbaric beauty. It consisted, in common inns, of a fiddle buckled around the waist, tuned a third higher than otherwise usual, which thus could outcry half a dozen others, a Polish goatskin bagpipe, a bass trombone, and a regal [small organ]. At better-looking places, however, the regal was omitted and the first two were reinforced: as I have once found 36 bagpipes and 8 fiddles together. One should hardly believe what kind of wonderful inspirations the bagpipers or fiddlers have when they improvise while the dancers rest. An observer could snatch from them, in eight days, thoughts for an entire life. In short, in this music lies very much good, if the hearer knows how to take it. I have, after some time, written various long concerti and trios in this manner, which I presented in an Italian dress, with alternating Adagi and Allegri."

Mr. Telemann seemed to doubt that the "origins... fade into artistic insignificance."

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by karlhenning » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:31 am

7flat5 wrote:Mr. Telemann seemed to doubt that the "origins... fade into artistic insignificance."
And yet, how significant is this in light of Telemann's music? His work just sounds like folk music, I gather?

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by 7flat5 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:50 pm

karlhenning wrote:
7flat5 wrote:Mr. Telemann seemed to doubt that the "origins... fade into artistic insignificance."
And yet, how significant is this in light of Telemann's music? His work just sounds like folk music, I gather?

Cheers,
~Karl
Well there are a few things that might be said. Telemann seems to come awfully close to acknowledging the superiority of these fiddlers and dudelsackists to his own skills, at least as improvisers, and pretty much as composers who have "in eight days, thoughts for an entire life." He also admits to taking music in this style and presenting it "in Italian dress" for his audience. This might be less charitably characterized as presenting a bleached, bloated, and safe version of what he perceived as a very vigorous and complex music, for the amusement of the classes by which he was paid. He explicitly labeled a lot of his music as folk dances of this sort, though it is another argument whether this music is representative of the average, let alone the best, of his output. At the very least, he does not dismiss it as inferior, though his description of it as "barbaric" seems to be at odds with some of his other comments as to its qualities obvious to a careful listener.

Of course, you could say that it sounds like "just folk music," if you were so inclined.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:53 am

I think what Telemann is telling us here is not to discount the efforts of "naive" or "barbaric" musicians. They have ideas of their own which a learned musician may profitably take inspiration from. He might have faulted the Silesian musicians for lack of economy, for pouring out in 8 days enough ideas to last a lifetime -- in other words, just playing one tune after another after another, rather than taking one tune and developing it within the framework of a binary form as his music in Italian dress does.
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by 7flat5 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:06 pm

diegobueno wrote: He might have faulted the Silesian musicians for lack of economy, for pouring out in 8 days enough ideas to last a lifetime -- in other words, just playing one tune after another after another, rather than taking one tune and developing it within the framework of a binary form as his music in Italian dress does.
Considering he prefaced this statement by saying "one should hardly believe what kind of wonderful inspirations the bagpipers or fiddlers have," I don't think he was faulting them at all. Quite the opposite, "if the hearer knows how to take it."

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:48 pm

diegobueno wrote:As a general statement, I have no problem saying that classical music, or art music, or serious music, is better than other kinds of music. For one thing it contains a wider variety of music than any other, and is deeper in terms of history. To be sure, it's a catch-all term for a whole universe of musical experience, 1000 years of musical history and in any period therin with multiple styles and genres, and work by the best minds in the musical business. The various genres of popular music tend to be exclusive. Any tiny variation in style needs a new label (techno, ambient techno, house, being examples from 10 years ago or so). If classical music were defined in those terms there would be billions and billions of labels based on time period, instrumentation, etc. There is so much more to be found within the bounds of classical music simply because it is defined so broadly.
This is it, you are definining it so broadly and yet rating it all similar and with the same ambition. I wouldn't necessarily say that a simple classical contredanse is greater than a classic pop song for example.

There can be good 'classical' music and there can be bad, the same with popular music.

"The various genres of popular music tend to be exclusive."
And that statement is absolutely NOT true. There can all kinds of influences between the many different areas of popular music, indeed the influence of classical as well. It's a much broader area than you admit.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:32 pm

It's all just Music, be it Baroque or Reggae...it makes people think, it makes them happy, and, it can make them sad, no reason to consider one Genre better than the other IMHO...even the word 'Superior' has a pretentious ring about it... :wink:
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:55 am

starrynight wrote:
diegobueno wrote:As a general statement, I have no problem saying that classical music, or art music, or serious music, is better than other kinds of music. For one thing it contains a wider variety of music than any other, and is deeper in terms of history. To be sure, it's a catch-all term for a whole universe of musical experience, 1000 years of musical history and in any period therin with multiple styles and genres, and work by the best minds in the musical business. The various genres of popular music tend to be exclusive. Any tiny variation in style needs a new label (techno, ambient techno, house, being examples from 10 years ago or so). If classical music were defined in those terms there would be billions and billions of labels based on time period, instrumentation, etc. There is so much more to be found within the bounds of classical music simply because it is defined so broadly.
This is it, you are definining it so broadly and yet rating it all similar and with the same ambition. I wouldn't necessarily say that a simple classical contredanse is greater than a classic pop song for example.

There can be good 'classical' music and there can be bad, the same with popular music.
Duh. So what?
"The various genres of popular music tend to be exclusive."
And that statement is absolutely NOT true. There can all kinds of influences between the many different areas of popular music, indeed the influence of classical as well. It's a much broader area than you admit.
Of course there can be many influences. And as soon as there is, they make up a new label for it.
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:18 am

diegobueno wrote: Of course there can be many influences. And as soon as there is, they make up a new label for it.
But I don't care what labels other people make for music, I listen to it on my own terms and in my own way. Modern classical music I simply order by decade, not by style or nationality. Modern popular music I don't split into loads of different genres at all, I actually just put it together by decade (and I count decades from the year 1, such as 2001 - 2010). So my lists of albums mix all kinds of different things together.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:05 pm

Chalkperson wrote:It's all just Music, be it Baroque or Reggae...it makes people think, it makes them happy, and, it can make them sad, no reason to consider one Genre better than the other IMHO...even the word 'Superior' has a pretentious ring about it... :wink:
So, Chalkie---for you nothing is "superior" or "better" or "greater" than anything else. Then how does one account for "good taste"...or "bad" for that matter....!? :roll:

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:48 pm

There can be good and bad in any genre, just listen to a style on its own terms.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:44 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:It's all just Music, be it Baroque or Reggae...it makes people think, it makes them happy, and, it can make them sad, no reason to consider one Genre better than the other IMHO...even the word 'Superior' has a pretentious ring about it... :wink:
So, Chalkie---for you nothing is "superior" or "better" or "greater" than anything else. Then how does one account for "good taste"...or "bad" for that matter....!? :roll:

Tschüß,
Jack
There is no accounting for taste, good or bad as it is purely subjective, to think that Classical Music is Superior to other kinds of Music is merely your opinion, fans of Death Metal would disagree with you, nothing is worse in my book than elitism, something you seem to enjoy given your previous posts on the subject...
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:15 am

starrynight wrote:
diegobueno wrote: Of course there can be many influences. And as soon as there is, they make up a new label for it.
But I don't care what labels other people make for music, I listen to it on my own terms and in my own way. Modern classical music I simply order by decade, not by style or nationality. Modern popular music I don't split into loads of different genres at all, I actually just put it together by decade (and I count decades from the year 1, such as 2001 - 2010). So my lists of albums mix all kinds of different things together.
Maybe so, but that doesn't negate what I said. They do make up a new label to account for miniscule differences in sound. So you have "techno", "house", "acid house", "minimal techno", "free techno", "ambient techno house" and so on. And devotees of these kinds of music will rattle off these names to prove how broad their tastes are while "all you like is classical". :roll:
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:24 am

Chalkperson wrote: nothing is worse in my book than elitism,
What's the matter with elitism? I think it's a good thing, especially in a field like music, which is so difficult to master that only a few people do outstanding work in it. I think it only fit to celebrate those elite few.
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:51 am

diegobueno wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: nothing is worse in my book than elitism,
What's the matter with elitism? I think it's a good thing, especially in a field like music, which is so difficult to master that only a few people do outstanding work in it. I think it only fit to celebrate those elite few.
My answer has nothing to do with the Musician or Composer at all, it's about Jack's Enjoyment of Having an Elitist Attitude...ie, snobbery, although I was trying not to use that particular word...
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:42 am

diegobueno wrote:
starrynight wrote:
diegobueno wrote: Of course there can be many influences. And as soon as there is, they make up a new label for it.
But I don't care what labels other people make for music, I listen to it on my own terms and in my own way. Modern classical music I simply order by decade, not by style or nationality. Modern popular music I don't split into loads of different genres at all, I actually just put it together by decade (and I count decades from the year 1, such as 2001 - 2010). So my lists of albums mix all kinds of different things together.
Maybe so, but that doesn't negate what I said. They do make up a new label to account for miniscule differences in sound. So you have "techno", "house", "acid house", "minimal techno", "free techno", "ambient techno house" and so on. And devotees of these kinds of music will rattle off these names to prove how broad their tastes are while "all you like is classical". :roll:
Some people look at music that way, but not everyone. It's better not to then you can look at a style of music more objectively on the musical invention within a style instead of just rating whether it is good depending on if it just ticks some stylistic boxes.

'Elitism' suggests a narrow view of music. Those who have a more diverse approach to music (willing to listen to different styles) I trust more with their judgement of music.

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:00 am

starrynight wrote: 'Elitism' suggests a narrow view of music. Those who have a more diverse approach to music (willing to listen to different styles) I trust more with their judgement of music.
You're wrong, of course. One can have an exceedingly diverse approach to music and still recognize that it's not all created equal, because it's not, and it's foolish to pretend that it is.

And let's address the issue of "willing to listen to different styles", shall we? Let me name a few styles that I listen to:

Medieval monophonic (Gregorian chant, Hildegard)
12th century organum (Perotin)
14th century ars nova (Machaut) (and somehow I've skipped the ars antiqua, which is a different style)
14th century ars subtilior (Solage, Matteo de Perugio)
15th century contenance angloise (Dunstable)
Flemish school (Josquin, Ockeghem)
High Renaissance (Palestrina, Vittoria, etc.)
English lutenists (Dowland)
Seconda prattica (de Rore)
Italian Madrigal
English madrigal
English consort music (Ferrabosco et al)
English virginal (Byrd et al)
Early baroque opera (Monteverdi)
Early French baroque opera (Lully)
Early baroque organ music (Frescobaldi)
French baroque keyboard (Couperin)
Italian middle baroque (Cavalli)
High baroque Italian (Handel, A. Scarlatti)
Itlalian-Iberian keyboard (D. Scarlatti, Soler)
German High baroque (Bach)
Low down dirty baroque (P.D.Q. Bach)
Roccoco/Galant
Mannheim School (Stamitz)
Viennese Classical (Mozart, Haydn)
Sturm & Drang/Empfindsamer Stil (Haydn of the 1770s, sometimes CPE Bach)
Late classical (Beethoven, most of Schubert)
Biedermeier (Weber, Spohr)
Bel canto (Bellini, Donizetti)
German romantic (Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann)
Chopin (a class by himself, with many followers)
Wagner (also a class by himself)
French Grand Opera (Meyerbeer)
Late Romantic (Brahms, Dvorak)
Post-Wagner romantic (Strauss, Mahler)
Russian National (Rimsky, Borodin, etc.)
French Impressionist (Debussy, Ravel)
Modernism I (Stravinsky, Prokofiev)
Modernism II (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern)
French modernism (Poulenc, Milhaud)
American transcendental (Ives, Ruggles)
Soviet (Shostakovich)
American Boulangerie (Copland, Piston, all the Boulanger students)
Darmdstadt school (Nono, Maderna)
Polish avant-garde (Penderecki, Lutoslawski)
American minimalist (Glass, Reich)
European "holy" minimalism (Part)
Post minimalists (Adams, Torke)

Jeez, I'm getting tired. I'll let some guy complete the list on the modern side, and jbuck fill in the holes in the early music side.

All of this music gets lumped into the category of "classical music". So to embrace this classical music is in itself to take on a staggeringly diverse universe of music encompassing 1000 years of history and music from all over the globe (now, in the late 20th century and early 21st, including Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese composers). There's worthy music in all of the categories listed above, along with not-so-great music of course. But even eliminating the not-so-great, the body of music we have come to know, for better or worse, as classical music is a universe of music dwarfing whatever categories you care to set against it.
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by absinthe » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:45 am

That's an opinion of course. Not one that I would agree with. People toss in these genres as if they were discrete entities but the fact still remains that "classical music" - the sort that, if you want to buy recordings of it, you go to the basement of HMV Oxford Street and turn right - is elitist. I'm glad. I need something to be elitist about.

I'm perfectly happy that when I mention Mozart to the neighbourhood kids (let alone Penderecki, David Diamond or Heiner Goebbels) they frown and exclaim "What? 'Oo's he?"

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:22 pm

diegobueno wrote:
starrynight wrote: 'Elitism' suggests a narrow view of music. Those who have a more diverse approach to music (willing to listen to different styles) I trust more with their judgement of music.
You're wrong, of course. One can have an exceedingly diverse approach to music and still recognize that it's not all created equal, because it's not, and it's foolish to pretend that it is.

And let's address the issue of "willing to listen to different styles", shall we? Let me name a few styles that I listen to:

Medieval monophonic (Gregorian chant, Hildegard)
12th century organum (Perotin)
14th century ars nova (Machaut) (and somehow I've skipped the ars antiqua, which is a different style)
14th century ars subtilior (Solage, Matteo de Perugio)
15th century contenance angloise (Dunstable)
Flemish school (Josquin, Ockeghem)
High Renaissance (Palestrina, Vittoria, etc.)
English lutenists (Dowland)
Seconda prattica (de Rore)
Italian Madrigal
English madrigal
English consort music (Ferrabosco et al)
English virginal (Byrd et al)
Early baroque opera (Monteverdi)
Early French baroque opera (Lully)
Early baroque organ music (Frescobaldi)
French baroque keyboard (Couperin)
Italian middle baroque (Cavalli)
High baroque Italian (Handel, A. Scarlatti)
Itlalian-Iberian keyboard (D. Scarlatti, Soler)
German High baroque (Bach)
Low down dirty baroque (P.D.Q. Bach)
Roccoco/Galant
Mannheim School (Stamitz)
Viennese Classical (Mozart, Haydn)
Sturm & Drang/Empfindsamer Stil (Haydn of the 1770s, sometimes CPE Bach)
Late classical (Beethoven, most of Schubert)
Biedermeier (Weber, Spohr)
Bel canto (Bellini, Donizetti)
German romantic (Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann)
Chopin (a class by himself, with many followers)
Wagner (also a class by himself)
French Grand Opera (Meyerbeer)
Late Romantic (Brahms, Dvorak)
Post-Wagner romantic (Strauss, Mahler)
Russian National (Rimsky, Borodin, etc.)
French Impressionist (Debussy, Ravel)
Modernism I (Stravinsky, Prokofiev)
Modernism II (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern)
French modernism (Poulenc, Milhaud)
American transcendental (Ives, Ruggles)
Soviet (Shostakovich)
American Boulangerie (Copland, Piston, all the Boulanger students)
Darmdstadt school (Nono, Maderna)
Polish avant-garde (Penderecki, Lutoslawski)
American minimalist (Glass, Reich)
European "holy" minimalism (Part)
Post minimalists (Adams, Torke)

Jeez, I'm getting tired. I'll let some guy complete the list on the modern side, and jbuck fill in the holes in the early music side.

All of this music gets lumped into the category of "classical music". So to embrace this classical music is in itself to take on a staggeringly diverse universe of music encompassing 1000 years of history and music from all over the globe (now, in the late 20th century and early 21st, including Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese composers). There's worthy music in all of the categories listed above, along with not-so-great music of course. But even eliminating the not-so-great, the body of music we have come to know, for better or worse, as classical music is a universe of music dwarfing whatever categories you care to set against it.
But are you not doing the very thing that you were complaining people did with popular music, putting things in narrow categories?

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:28 pm

Cultivation is the ability to distinguish between similars.

What one does with or about those distinctions, of course . . . .

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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by some guy » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:52 pm

Indeed!!

It does seem that the subtext of this topic is "Are people who listen to classical music superior to people who listen to other kinds of music." :wink:
"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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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:55 pm

starrynight wrote:
But are you not doing the very thing that you were complaining people did with popular music, putting things in narrow categories?
No.

I am expanding on a sentence that I wrote first time around
me wrote: If classical music were defined in those terms there would be billions and billions of labels based on time period, instrumentation, etc.
I had to make this explicit to counter your implication that people who listen to classical music "only listen to one style of music". In other words, if pressed, we could do this, but we choose to see it all as one super-large universe which challenges us to explore it in all its diversity.
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:38 pm

some guy wrote:Indeed!!

It does seem that the subtext of this topic is "Are people who listen to classical music superior to people who listen to other kinds of music." :wink:
Some, (fortunately not many) here think like that, unfortunately...
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:44 pm

THEHORN wrote:Last evening a 8 PM on PBS, Gustavo Dudamel was interviewed by none other than Tavis Smiley for an hour.I was surprised that a celebrity like Smiley showed this much interest in classical music,and the whole thing was very interesting.

Smiley asked if classical music is "elitist". Of course,the notion that this kind of music is in any way elitist is a myth. The term elitist implies that orchestras and opera companies are trying to exclude people,which is the farthest thing from their intentions.

Many people don't realize that far from trying to "exclude" any one because of "elitism", they are always trying to attract more and more people to their performances, not only young ones.
I hope Robert does not mind me quoting him from another Thread..he puts it very well...
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by karlhenning » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:08 am

I have no idea who Tavis Smiley is.

But, I don't feel superior because of that lack of knowledge . . . .

Cheers,
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Jack Kelso
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 01, 2011 6:45 am

Chalkperson wrote:
diegobueno wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: nothing is worse in my book than elitism,
What's the matter with elitism? I think it's a good thing, especially in a field like music, which is so difficult to master that only a few people do outstanding work in it. I think it only fit to celebrate those elite few.
My answer has nothing to do with the Musician or Composer at all, it's about Jack's Enjoyment of Having an Elitist Attitude...ie, snobbery, although I was trying not to use that particular word...
There goes our friend Chalkie again on his rocking-horse trying to discredit me. Insults are the only weapon of the logically bankrupt.

If some folks prefer Heavy Metal to Hindemith or rap to Respighi that's their business. But if they deny the greater breadth, structure, melodic and harmonic invention, etc. of art music then they should rather be active in sociology than in music.

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

starrynight
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:30 am

Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:40 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
diegobueno wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: nothing is worse in my book than elitism,
What's the matter with elitism? I think it's a good thing, especially in a field like music, which is so difficult to master that only a few people do outstanding work in it. I think it only fit to celebrate those elite few.
My answer has nothing to do with the Musician or Composer at all, it's about Jack's Enjoyment of Having an Elitist Attitude...ie, snobbery, although I was trying not to use that particular word...
There goes our friend Chalkie again on his rocking-horse trying to discredit me. Insults are the only weapon of the logically bankrupt.

If some folks prefer Heavy Metal to Hindemith or rap to Respighi that's their business. But if they deny the greater breadth, structure, melodic and harmonic invention, etc. of art music then they should rather be active in sociology than in music.

Tschüß,
Jack
I'm not a big fan of heavy metal or rap, although there are some things I probably like if I look far enough. But really greater complexity in music doesn't necessarily mean the music is better, and quite alot of the music in Hindemith and Respighi doesn't appeal to me. I remember liking something from Respighi's Three Botticelli Pictures and there are some other things I would no doubt like. But to pile up a completely different style of music and whole genres like metal or rap against some quite good but arguably not great classical composers doesn't seem that equal a way of looking at things anyway. I don't see the point in dismissing whole genres of music, surely there can be invention in any kind of music?

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Jack Kelso » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:12 am

starrynight wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
diegobueno wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: nothing is worse in my book than elitism,
What's the matter with elitism? I think it's a good thing, especially in a field like music, which is so difficult to master that only a few people do outstanding work in it. I think it only fit to celebrate those elite few.
My answer has nothing to do with the Musician or Composer at all, it's about Jack's Enjoyment of Having an Elitist Attitude...ie, snobbery, although I was trying not to use that particular word...
There goes our friend Chalkie again on his rocking-horse trying to discredit me. Insults are the only weapon of the logically bankrupt.

If some folks prefer Heavy Metal to Hindemith or rap to Respighi that's their business. But if they deny the greater breadth, structure, melodic and harmonic invention, etc. of art music then they should rather be active in sociology than in music.

Tschüß,
Jack
I'm not a big fan of heavy metal or rap, although there are some things I probably like if I look far enough. But really greater complexity in music doesn't necessarily mean the music is better, and quite alot of the music in Hindemith and Respighi doesn't appeal to me. I remember liking something from Respighi's Three Botticelli Pictures and there are some other things I would no doubt like. But to pile up a completely different style of music and whole genres like metal or rap against some quite good but arguably not great classical composers doesn't seem that equal a way of looking at things anyway. I don't see the point in dismissing whole genres of music, surely there can be invention in any kind of music?
I think you might have missed the point of my posting. But at any rate both Respighi and Hindemith are today solidly regarded as "great", whether one likes them or not.

I can certainly dismiss rap and acid rock as noisy and irritating to me. I feel liife is too short to delve into these genres searching for that sea-shell on the mountain peak. However, if you enjoy those things---be my guest! :D

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

diegobueno
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:51 am

All this being said, I would not advocate erecting an impenetrable wall between "classical" music and the various vernacular styles. To the contrary, I would say that artistic music needs to keep its grounding in the dance music from which it developed. Stuart Simon, in this deliberately provocatively-titled piece (two of them, actually), argues that a consistently high-minded art is also a dull and ultimately unsatisfying art. What he teasingly calls "trash" is actually necessary (and therefore not really trash at all) to make a rounded and fully human art.

http://amusicianrambling.blogspot.com/2 ... actor.html

http://amusicianrambling.blogspot.com/2 ... trash.html

I am on record here as saying that I think classical music is superior to other kinds of music. If I didn't believe this I wouldn't have become a classical musician. I might have learned to play the electric guitar, and I'd have more and better-paying gigs than I have now. But the popular music still has value to me. I regard it -- and I think this is a common function it serves in society -- as a time-stamp. A song gets heavy rotation on the radio for a while and then it disappears. From then on, the song becomes bound up with the events that were happening in your life when it was being heavily played. Depending on what was happening in one's life, these songs can take on deep personal meanings. For a composer this store of deep personal meanings can be a gold mine. Think of Mahler and what used to be derided as the "vulgar tunes" he would introduce into his symphonies. It turns out that when he was a child he witnessed a terrible fight between his parents which upset him to such a degree that he ran out into the street, where the first thing he encountered was a street musician playing some sentimental tune. From then on, sentimental street tunes were associated with the feelings of anguish he felt at that moment.

Mahler's compositions are in part an attempt to replay the emotional wounds of his childhood in order to bring about a more satisfactory outcome, and ultimately to heal those wounds. Psychologists say this is characteristic of human behavior in general, for instance in our choice of romantic partners -- one selects a mate who resembles one or more of ones parents in order to work out the unresolved conflicts one has with ones parents. That these unresolved conflicts can be encapsulated in tones is powerful stuff, and a powerful tool for a composer who knows how to use them.

One might say, and I often heard this thought expressed at CMG, "yeah, but that only says something about the listener and not the music itself". That's exactly the point! Music only has meaning in as much as a listener gives it meaning. "The Music Itself" is nothing but a pile of notes. But a composer who has a pile of notes that have deep emotional meaning for himself, even if only for himself, has more to work with than one who is just working with a pile of notes. That's why I find popular music a vital starting point for musical composition, particularly the popular music of the 60s and 70s, the music I heard in my youth and has formed all kinds of personal associations. This kind of music has the further advantage of not being widely used in serious composition and so satisfies the need for innovation.

I'm already hearing some of you say "so why do you think that only serious composers have deep emotional relationships with music? Don't you think that Jimi Hendrix had a deep emotional relationship with the music he played*? Aren't you being a little presumptuous here?" Well, yeah, I am. So it all comes back to the question of "why is classical music superior to other kinds"? I dunno. All I can say is the arguments I've offered on this thread satisfy me even if they satisfy no one else, and part of the satisfaction is knowing that my conclusion is the result of some reflection, or perhaps more accurately, that I have engaged in a certain amount of reflection to justify the conclusion that was predetermined in my mind. That's as much as you can hope for in these kind of aesthetic arguments.


* younger readers may substitute a more recent example of their choice.
Black lives matter.

starrynight
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:30 am

Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:55 pm

diegobueno wrote:All this being said, I would not advocate erecting an impenetrable wall between "classical" music and the various vernacular styles. To the contrary, I would say that artistic music needs to keep its grounding in the dance music from which it developed. Stuart Simon, in this deliberately provocatively-titled piece (two of them, actually), argues that a consistently high-minded art is also a dull and ultimately unsatisfying art. What he teasingly calls "trash" is actually necessary (and therefore not really trash at all) to make a rounded and fully human art.

http://amusicianrambling.blogspot.com/2 ... actor.html

http://amusicianrambling.blogspot.com/2 ... trash.html

I am on record here as saying that I think classical music is superior to other kinds of music. If I didn't believe this I wouldn't have become a classical musician. I might have learned to play the electric guitar, and I'd have more and better-paying gigs than I have now. But the popular music still has value to me. I regard it -- and I think this is a common function it serves in society -- as a time-stamp. A song gets heavy rotation on the radio for a while and then it disappears. From then on, the song becomes bound up with the events that were happening in your life when it was being heavily played. Depending on what was happening in one's life, these songs can take on deep personal meanings. For a composer this store of deep personal meanings can be a gold mine. Think of Mahler and what used to be derided as the "vulgar tunes" he would introduce into his symphonies. It turns out that when he was a child he witnessed a terrible fight between his parents which upset him to such a degree that he ran out into the street, where the first thing he encountered was a street musician playing some sentimental tune. From then on, sentimental street tunes were associated with the feelings of anguish he felt at that moment.

Mahler's compositions are in part an attempt to replay the emotional wounds of his childhood in order to bring about a more satisfactory outcome, and ultimately to heal those wounds. Psychologists say this is characteristic of human behavior in general, for instance in our choice of romantic partners -- one selects a mate who resembles one or more of ones parents in order to work out the unresolved conflicts one has with ones parents. That these unresolved conflicts can be encapsulated in tones is powerful stuff, and a powerful tool for a composer who knows how to use them.

One might say, and I often heard this thought expressed at CMG, "yeah, but that only says something about the listener and not the music itself". That's exactly the point! Music only has meaning in as much as a listener gives it meaning. "The Music Itself" is nothing but a pile of notes. But a composer who has a pile of notes that have deep emotional meaning for himself, even if only for himself, has more to work with than one who is just working with a pile of notes. That's why I find popular music a vital starting point for musical composition, particularly the popular music of the 60s and 70s, the music I heard in my youth and has formed all kinds of personal associations. This kind of music has the further advantage of not being widely used in serious composition and so satisfies the need for innovation.

I'm already hearing some of you say "so why do you think that only serious composers have deep emotional relationships with music? Don't you think that Jimi Hendrix had a deep emotional relationship with the music he played*? Aren't you being a little presumptuous here?" Well, yeah, I am. So it all comes back to the question of "why is classical music superior to other kinds"? I dunno. All I can say is the arguments I've offered on this thread satisfy me even if they satisfy no one else, and part of the satisfaction is knowing that my conclusion is the result of some reflection, or perhaps more accurately, that I have engaged in a certain amount of reflection to justify the conclusion that was predetermined in my mind. That's as much as you can hope for in these kind of aesthetic arguments.


* younger readers may substitute a more recent example of their choice.
I'm not sure music is just a pile of notes without any basic meaning. Most people hearing slow music in a minor key would most likely think it sounds sad in some way. Any listener will respond in their own individual way to music, but that response is still guided to an extent by the composition.

Classical music has obviously developed over hundreds of years. Popular music's development has been much more recent.

diegobueno
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by diegobueno » Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:16 pm

starrynight wrote:
I'm not sure music is just a pile of notes without any basic meaning. Most people hearing slow music in a minor key would most likely think it sounds sad in some way. Any listener will respond in their own individual way to music, but that response is still guided to an extent by the composition.
You can probably go back through the archives of this forum and find that the topic of whether expression in music is "hard-wired" or whether it's culturally determined is quite extensively covered. You'll find quite a divergence of opinion. All I'm saying is that as long as everyone in a society agrees that slow music in a minor key sounds sad, then we can act as if this were factually true (until we run into people from outside the culture who have a different idea of what sounds sad). Composers have found it useful to know that they can write slow music in a minor key with a good expectation that their listeners will interpret their music as sad. Knowing how an audience is likely to react to what you've written is important part of a composer's training.
Black lives matter.

starrynight
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:30 am

Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by starrynight » Sat Jan 01, 2011 6:39 pm

Well yes of course alot of this is through cultural tradition. That's exactly why there is alot of correlation with how people respond to pieces. Reactions may differ on specifics but in much more general terms they will agree quite often. For example most people will not think the last movement of Brahms 4 is a piece full of humour and jokes.

People outside of western culture may well look at it in a very different way. But then they would also probably be unaware of the tradition behind such music and therefore some of possible intentions of Brahms in composing it as he did.

And of course there will be other threads, I know. But as someone brought this point up I discussed it here.

Chalkperson
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Re: Is Classical Music Superior To Other Kinds Of Music?

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:19 pm

karlhenning wrote:I have no idea who Tavis Smiley is.

But, I don't feel superior because of that lack of knowledge . . . .

Cheers,
~Karl
He is one very serious dude, actually... :wink:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tavis_Smiley
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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