Author Topic: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?  (Read 369 times)

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sandalwood

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Does sounding tuneful or playful compromise a work's status as art music? Or, how "simple" and unconvoluted is it allowed to be? Or, how obvious can "external" influences (jazz, ethnic etc) be before it is no more eligible? Where exactly does that styx lie to avoid crossing-over? What are the decisive factors or general criteria that apply? Where/what are the thresholds/triggers?

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 10:53:22 AM »
Another thoughtful topic from you, Reha. A rather difficult one, I fear.
 
I think we tend to categorize music by consensus rather than by clearly defined criteria.
 
Is Rhapsody in Blue classical music? Or for that matter, is your last composition?
 
Miles Davis said he no longer uses "jazz" as a category. Louis Armstrong said, "All music is folk music. I ain't never heard no horse sing a song." And Gunther Schuller's Third Stream Music tried to combine jazz with what the main stream considered classical.
 
For me, there's no easy way to answer any of your questions.
 
Pop music and folk music are usually pretty recognizable as such by their milieus and characteristics. But, for example, The Beatles' A Day in the Life, many of Dylan's songs, and some of Stephen Sondheim's musicals might arguably be considered classical music.
 
The best I can can do is to mentally pigeonhole music when I hear it, with nothing more substantial than a feeling. If it arrests my interest enough to want to listen to it closely, it feels "classical." But even this is an incomplete observation.
 
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gogreen

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2019, 05:47:44 AM »
Works whose popularity endures are "classics," so works that are not enduringly "popular," (don't ask me to define that), are not classics. I believe the characteristics that make the works of, say, Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky enduringly popular, also make the music of Elvis Presley or the Beatles popular. All works that endure become classics.

Tónskáld

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 07:35:53 AM »
Oh, thought-provoking question...

I think it's quite obvious that 'classical' music is culturally determined, as its status has changed even from century to century. I mean, Mozart and Beethoven were writing the popular music of their day, and it sounds almost nothing like the popular music of our day. That isn't exclusive of music, though; literature and art have seen a similar paradigm shift over the centuries.

So, in our day and age, and in my opinion, 'classical' music isn't necessarily determined by its tunefulness or complexity; it's determined by the intent of the composer. Modern classical composers may not write for the same reasons as Mozart and other popular tunesmiths of the so-called Classical era (and beyond). But I think it's still safe to say that modern classical composers practice at the highest form of their art. We aren't necessarily writing music to sound "good and popular," we tinker with the very building blocks of music to see what mankind has yet to discover. I would argue that all other genres write music to please the masses (with a few individual exceptions).

I'm not saying I'm a good composer, but very few of my family members/friends like listening to the 'serious' (i.e., classical) music I write. It's really only appreciated by those who have some musical training, who can speak the language of music just well enough to understand the extent of my 'tinkerings.' I daresay that's true of most composers of classical music these days.

So those are some of my thoughts jotted down rather helter-skelter and probably with little comprehensibility.

Michel.R.E

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2019, 05:49:55 PM »
That is an oft-repeated error: Mozart and Beethoven were NOT writing the "popular music of their day".
The popular music of their day is QUITE forgotten now.
What Mozart and Beethoven were writing was art music, meant for a more educated audience with a more sophisticated palate. It was not "popular music" by any means.

"L'Homme armé" was a popular song of its day.
Palestrina's mass using the theme, Josquin's mass using the theme.. those were NOT "popular music".
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2019, 11:43:01 AM »
You pose an interesting set of questions, but I think they are actually separate and not closely related.
Does sounding tuneful or playful compromise a work's status as art music?
The Vivo section from Stravinsky's Pulcinella is both tuneful and playful, but it is also quintessential Stravinsky.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC6102fSUAU

Yes, I know the original "tune" was written by somebody masquerading as Pergolesi, and was probably not originally playful.  But all changes once Stravinsky got hold of it. 
Or, how "simple" and unconvoluted is it allowed to be?
I don't have a good example, but I think there are probably some trivially simple and unconvoluted sections inserted as contrast into otherwise unsimple, convoluted works.
Or, how obvious can "external" influences (jazz, ethnic etc) be before it is no more eligible? Where exactly does that styx lie to avoid crossing-over?
Jazz and ethnic influences present some challenges.  The harmonies, modes, and rhythms can certainly be incorporated into art music and have been many times.  I don't think anybody would challenge Milhaud's La Création du monde it's place as art music.

The challenge comes with different "philosophical" goals of jazz and some ethnic music.  How do you incorporate the improvisation of jazz or an Indian Raga into a "classical" piece?  But maybe that begs the question because (I contend) those forms are also "art music" in their own genres.  Blending multiple art forms is probably more difficult than incorporating "foreign" elements into our art music.
What are the decisive factors or general criteria that apply? Where/what are the thresholds/triggers?
I suggest that this is entirely subjective.  If you think it's "classical" art music, it is. 
(And if someone else doesn't, expect an argument.  :)  )

flint

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 11:46:28 AM »
In Western music, I'd argue that intent is what separates art from noise.
"Music is like wine; the less you know about it, the sweeter you like it." - Robertson Davies

Tónskáld

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2019, 12:43:26 PM »
That is an oft-repeated error: Mozart and Beethoven were NOT writing the "popular music of their day".
The popular music of their day is QUITE forgotten now.
What Mozart and Beethoven were writing was art music, meant for a more educated audience with a more sophisticated palate. It was not "popular music" by any means.

"L'Homme armé" was a popular song of its day.
Palestrina's mass using the theme, Josquin's mass using the theme.. those were NOT "popular music".

My apologies for misleading everyone with my opinion. I was merely stating things as I saw them and in no way do I feel it deserves such strong feedback as you gave. In fact, I fail to see the usefulness of the correction in the first place, especially in a thread that's asking for purely subjective thought content.

I must admit that I find the majority of your posts hostile, unwelcoming, and disdainful. I have no interest in being part of a forum where the administration does not treat its members respectfully, however knowledgeable said administration may be.

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2019, 01:35:01 PM »
...  I was merely stating things as I saw them and in no way do I feel it deserves such strong feedback as you gave. In fact, I fail to see the usefulness of the correction in the first place, especially in a thread that's asking for purely subjective thought content.
I will probably regret jumping into this, but I feel that further comment is needed.

Electronic communication is tricky; there is no body language to supplement and give nuance to the words.  You see strong feedback; I see correction of a misunderstanding.  If someone were to say "The earth is flat" I would expect a correction. 

I know nothing about the popular music of the classical period, but I suspect those writing it did not study with the period's masters of art music as Mozart, Beethoven, etc. did.   (And I expect to be corrected if I'm wrong.)

Michel.R.E

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2019, 03:43:21 PM »
I see now that my presence here is no longer desired, so I will make myself scarce.

I'm not here to pamper people and tell them ho brilliant they are.
I'm here to teach and share the 40 yrs of knowledge I've accumulated through my professional studies.
Apparently, that isn't good enough, so... I will desist.

Enjoy the forum, hopefully people will still be able to learn something from the participants.
And hopefully it will not go the way of so many other forums where only praise is given, even to music that is not worthy of praise.

Those that wish to have my guidance can do so by contacting me in private.
I have offered my knowledge free of charge for years on this forum, and I see no reason to be treated the way some here have.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Ron

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2019, 05:16:38 AM »
Sorry folks, but I agree with Michel. This is not the forum we began years ago. You will hear very little from me, if anything at all, for the same reason. We never tolerated members attacking each other. Michel's post was not a personal attack--the response to him was.
Ron
Rules? What rules?

mjf1947

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2019, 06:23:45 AM »
Well .... since I am the administrator let us all take a deep breath here.

The purpose of the forum as stated is to provide an encouraging environment for composers of all skill levels to post/share  their works and respectfully receive appropriate feedback.  All participants are valued.

I am sure that members can share their educated and less so points of view in a cordial constructive environment.  If a member is indeed more skilled/learned then of course it is important to point out miss information.

Now having said that .... there are many ways to educate; maybe a link to a primary source would be helpful.

This forum by it's purpose is not an ivory tower it is a community forum and a safe place.

I ask all participants to continue to reap the benefits of a world based online community.  It offers much to many - including myself.

All members are appreciated and those with more skill are always highly respected.

I am always thrilled to get a helpful response from those more educated than I.

Please remember people participate on the forum for many reasons ....

In this holiday season .... I wish all good health and kind thoughts.

I look forward to new members and sharing with all others.

Mark

PS: Keep on posting your works ..... I am so inspired by you all~!

« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 06:29:20 AM by mjf1947 »

sandalwood

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2019, 09:16:33 AM »
By disposition, I'm concerned when a member decreases her participation or moves away from the forum for any reason. I doubly regret it when an avoidable disagreement or dispute leads to it. I highly value the forum as a select community and a great learning place. So, I wholly agree with Mark on the importance of maintaining a cordially constructive environment and that this should not be at the expense of losing touch with reality and scholarship. Safe places from truth can not be places of learning, in my opinion.

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2019, 12:17:20 PM »
... I wholly agree with Mark on the importance of maintaining a cordially constructive environment and that this should not be at the expense of losing touch with reality and scholarship.
Michel and Ron,
I would said that losing you two is "losing touch with reality and scholarship" at its worst.  I hope both of you will reconsider your decision and stay on the forum.  Over the past few years the vast majority of those on the forum have taken feedback and corrections in a positive manner.  (I've been away for a few months.  Have things deteriorated over that time?)  One person has now taken (appropriate and needed) correction as a personal attack and lashed back.  Poor form, but that's just one person.  (And I still think it must have been a mis-reading of the correction.) 

Please don't let this event sour your attitude toward the whole forum.

perpetuo studens

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Re: December, 2019: When does a work fail to qualify as "classical music"?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2019, 06:18:23 PM »
Wow, this has taken a turn to the dark side. I would respectfully suggest that we all step back a bit and take a deep breath. Everyone in this forum is entitled to his or her opinion, and we welcome a rigorous exchange of views when undertaken kindly and respectfully.

Here are a few thoughts on how we can have potentially contentious conversations where we can share our opinions without descending into argument and hurt feelings.

1. If you disagree with a comment from another member, remember that many of the cues we rely on to communicate effectively are absent in text-based exchanges and that people may feel threatened or insulted if you come on too strong, or attempt to present yourself as the only authority on the subject. You may in fact be the authority, but you will convince others of this through persuasive reasoned argument, not by asserting your position or being dismissive or argumentative. So try to express your disagreement gently and respectfully, allowing that the receiver of your input may have some ego invested in his or her opinions, and that they can’t see whether you were smiling or scowling when you typed your response.

2. If you feel offended by a comment made by another member and have a need to express your unhappiness, begin by assuming that the comment was made in good faith, that there has been some sort of misunderstanding, and explain in non-argumentative terms why you feel offended. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

3. If a member expresses to you that they are offended by a comment you’ve made, try to understand the exchange from their point of view and not take offence just because you have been, or feel you have been, criticized. When we feel criticized, it is as much because we are who we are as it is the content of the remark perceived to have been critical. Please take this into account.

4. Taking sides in a personal disagreement between two members is not productive and serves only to sow division and discontent. We should all feel free to share our opinions on the substance of a disagreement, but to take a stand on whether or not another member should feel offended or has somehow been wronged will only further alienate the member who posted the perceived insult, thus weakening the value of the forum, which relies on contributions from all of its members to be a success.

5. Personal disagreements between individuals about specific comments or other behaviour are often best handled via personal message rather than in the open forum, unless you believe the group as a whole has something to learn, or otherwise gain from, your discussion.

And of course I welcome any comment on, or discussion of the above thoughts. If it turns out there is a lot to be said we can move this discussion to one of the other sub forums.

Thanks for reading,

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

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