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Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:42 pm

felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: What good is all that pseudo-academic gobbledygook if you can't listen to a few seconds of music and say which note is functioning as the root, or what quality seventh chord is being played, and how it wants to resolve? This maybe sounds a bit mundane next to "pitch physics" but these are the questions that matter in making actual music.
but then there is 'atonal' and 'free' and 'noise' and 'collage' music were those rules are (often conciously) thrown overboard and don't apply ...
wanting chords to resolve is pretty oldfashioned afaik ... how do you resolve a cluster?
but yeah, i learned all those old techniques and it is useful. even if it took me a long time to 'unlearn' 'm ...
In my view, there are two types of people who compose in atonal clusters and such: those such as Ives and Boulez who have already mastered conventional musical technique and consciously want to move beyond it (i.e., those who have earned the right), and those who haven't.

I've been listening this morning to Webern and Schoenberg. Their "atonal" music is tantalizingly close to tonal-sounding (and very beautiful), but of course they are studiously avoiding any functional harmony. I'm still not convinced that one cannot identify roots, but the music moves too fast for me to do so. Of course, without any functional harmony, the whole idea of a "root" is nonsensical. I believe the reason why this music never "caught on" with the listening public is because there is very little to latch onto (because of the missing functional harmony), in the sense that it's not very "memorable" -- there are no simple melodies to hum or whistle. It's too bad, really, because this music is sumptuous. Messiaen is more memorable, largely because much of his music is pseudo-tonal (and he had a real talent for melody, when he chose to exercise it).

As far as "free" music, most of what I've heard is just a bunch of dudes blowing and honking away, usually playing in one or two modes over several minutes (most of Coltrane's later stuff, Albert Ayler, etc), which I loathe. I don't believe that this music is subject to any theory (outside of psychology). Better efforts in this realm (such as Ornette Coleman's Double Quartet album "Free Jazz") often find one or more participants playing more or less stock bebop riffs while the others try to respond in interesting ways. This has more to do with "call and response" blues than anything else.

Noise music is largely un-pitched, and as such falls outside the realm of music theory. I'm not sure what collage music is.
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Post by strettara » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:06 pm

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Post by shreddoggie » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:02 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: What good is all that pseudo-academic gobbledygook if you can't listen to a few seconds of music and say which note is functioning as the root, or what quality seventh chord is being played, and how it wants to resolve? This maybe sounds a bit mundane next to "pitch physics" but these are the questions that matter in making actual music.
but then there is 'atonal' and 'free' and 'noise' and 'collage' music were those rules are (often conciously) thrown overboard and don't apply ...
wanting chords to resolve is pretty oldfashioned afaik ... how do you resolve a cluster?
but yeah, i learned all those old techniques and it is useful. even if it took me a long time to 'unlearn' 'm ...
In my view, there are two types of people who compose in atonal clusters and such: those such as Ives and Boulez who have already mastered conventional musical technique and consciously want to move beyond it (i.e., those who have earned the right), and those who haven't.

I've been listening this morning to Webern and Schoenberg. Their "atonal" music is tantalizingly close to tonal-sounding (and very beautiful), but of course they are studiously avoiding any functional harmony. I'm still not convinced that one cannot identify roots, but the music moves too fast for me to do so. Of course, without any functional harmony, the whole idea of a "root" is nonsensical. I believe the reason why this music never "caught on" with the listening public is because there is very little to latch onto (because of the missing functional harmony), in the sense that it's not very "memorable" -- there are no simple melodies to hum or whistle. It's too bad, really, because this music is sumptuous. Messiaen is more memorable, largely because much of his music is pseudo-tonal (and he had a real talent for melody, when he chose to exercise it).

As far as "free" music, most of what I've heard is just a bunch of dudes blowing and honking away, usually playing in one or two modes over several minutes (most of Coltrane's later stuff, Albert Ayler, etc), which I loathe. I don't believe that this music is subject to any theory (outside of psychology). Better efforts in this realm (such as Ornette Coleman's Double Quartet album "Free Jazz") often find one or more participants playing more or less stock bebop riffs while the others try to respond in interesting ways. This has more to do with "call and response" blues than anything else.

Noise music is largely un-pitched, and as such falls outside the realm of music theory. I'm not sure what collage music is.
Glad to see someone actually listens to (and enjoys) the music of the Viennese 3. I was fortunate to study it in depth in school and some interesting patterns emerged especially with regard to your thoughts on tonic recognition. I love these guys personally.

Here is what my teacher taught (don't blame me I am only the messenger):
  • 1. Schoenberg was stumbling and bumbling a lot - he invented the technique and there was a lot of trial and error regarding what constituted doing it right. His music is wonderful but as far as strict 12 tone technique he made mistakes in the process of finding and inventing them.

    2. Berg was true romantic period composer and though he uses the 12 tone technique, he is constantly bending the rules to his expressive desires and thus ending up with lots of inferred harmonies and temporary tonal centers. This is why (or maybe how) his music is so lyrical despite being (supposedly) in such a rigid idiom.

    3. Webern - the true master. His serialism is rigid, complete, and perfect. He is the Bach of serial technique - not an extra note anywhere. Every choice of rhythm, articulation, and dynamic is just so. To me every single piece of his exquisitely crafted music is sublime and hypnotic. He is by far my favorite - maybe I am a purist. Schoenberg invented it and you see his work in the pieces as the theory and technique evolves. Berg bent it to follow the romantic period need for pathos, but Webern uncompromisingly perfected it and the architectural brilliance of his technique is audible in every single piece.
I do not believe the concept of root is inconsistent with lack of functional harmony. All Hindustani Classical music is extremely tonal and the beauty of the 8ve species is directly in reference to SA yet it is completely modal and makes no reference to or use of harmony. Harmony assists in revealing tonality but it is not a necessary component of it. A didgeridoo is perhaps the most powerful tonality tool known to man.

The rules of classical harmony are definitely NOT thrown overboard in atonal music in fact just the opposite: they are adhered to religiously but simply in the opposite. The theory states that to truly achieve atonality one must vigorously observe all the conventions of tonality so they may be avoided and subverted at all times. Look at 20th Century Music by Stuckenschmidt for a lot of analysis of the rigors of 12 tone composition relative to conventional harmony. Its kinda like a theory of anti-gravity or anti-matter or something.
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Post by felixer » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:08 am

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:I'm not sure what collage music is.
if done with tape it's often called 'musique concrete'. in modern stuff you hear it a lot on hiphop/rap records: pick several unrelated bits and combine 'm to get something new. some dj's do it with three turntables. for a while i put eno's 'on land' under pretty much any record i have. it became a bit of a benchmark: the good stuff goes along without any problems, it's 'open' enough to allow other things to shine thru ...
shreddoggie wrote: Here is what my teacher taught (don't blame me I am only the messenger):
  • 1. Schoenberg was stumbling and bumbling a lot - he invented the technique and there was a lot of trial and error regarding what constituted doing it right. His music is wonderful but as far as strict 12 tone technique he made mistakes in the process of finding and inventing them.
schoenberg took classical harmony as far as it went, taking cues from wagner. and then decided that if he wanted to go further he needed to get out of that system. his early atonal pieces are free: no system. but he decided he couldn't go on like that and worked out the serial/12tone system. he needed a handle. obviously when inventing anything you'll stumble along the way ...
shreddoggie wrote: 2. Berg was true romantic period composer and though he uses the 12 tone technique, he is constantly bending the rules to his expressive desires and thus ending up with lots of inferred harmonies and temporary tonal centers. This is why (or maybe how) his music is so lyrical despite being (supposedly) in such a rigid idiom..
his stuff is serial/12tone but he choose his series so that it can also work as a quick moving harmonic construct. check his violin concerto: some of the best melodies ever :love: he goes far away from the implied harmonies but always comes back. this is the romantic notion of the hero who returns home after battling in faraway lands ...
shreddoggie wrote:
3. Webern - the true master.
yep :hail: and the example of the next generation ... because he truly broke away from the romantic tradition. after two worldwars the young generation was understandably sick of hero's ...

messiaen is interesting in that he took his ques from nature: birdsong in particular (his card said 'composer and ornithologist'). but anything the french touch gets romantic if you let them :mrgreen: so that is where that sugary coating comes from ... he knew about webern too but at the time getting a score of a webern piece was very difficult. no internet, you see :hihi: ...
shreddoggie wrote: The rules of classical harmony are definitely NOT thrown overboard in atonal music in fact just the opposite: they are adhered to religiously but simply in the opposite. The theory states that to truly achieve atonality one must vigorously observe all the conventions of tonality so they may be avoided and subverted at all times.
that's a negative definition. to me atonal music breaks with harmony in trying to make the different instruments independent, not 'the many supporting the one', like in a feudal system. remember the harmonic system was formalized by rameau who worked at the french court. bach was working for the church. you do not want a root because that takes you down to earth and it's old political hangups: root=king=gravity. if you truly want to fly (anarchy/freedom, anti-gravity aka space music) you need to leave the root behind. it may not be popular because most people are homey, like the mud on their shoes and some chief to tell 'm what to do ... to each his own ...

modern technology makes it possible for each player to sound as big as he/she likes: no need for a bunch of slaves in the trenches to do the supporting work. this opens up new ways of thinking and organizing. it's just that most folks haven't really caught up mentally and think that with all that power under their fingertips now they can be boss. it'll take a while before people take their responsebility and can have power without cruelty ...
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Post by pixelmechanic » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:48 am

While not about sound/music per se, I've always found Kandinsky's Point and Line to Plane to be a useful resource for thinking about organised structures and Kandinsky often refers to visual objects as sounds -

https://archive.org/details/pointlinetoplane00kand

The other thing that I tell students to think about when organising sounds is the idea of CRAP design: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity

Another set of useful principles can be found in Gestalt - figure/ground, continuation, closure, common fate etc.
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Post by shreddoggie » Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:12 am

Actually it is not a 'negative definition' though some may take it that way as their sensibilities dictate. It is the classical definition of atonality: not having a tonality. The theory put forth was that to achieve this was the devices of music that lead us to tonality (in a world that assumes polyphony and functional voice leading), music be actively subverted in order to achieve true atonality rather than the colloquial sort of "it sounds crazy and without sense" definition used by lay people. This is at the center of the idea that gave birth to the 12 tone technique.

I was very careful to construct my postings on the subject framed as A. The opinions of others as I understand them. B. My opinions, while avoiding C. Telling others 'how it is' - when it comes to music theory and history with respect to my knowledge and training this is a serious error.

Show proper courtesy and give the benefit of the doubt to those whose credentials you are not familiar with, or at least practice a greater level of consciousness with regard to making the error of 'gather round the campfire kids and let me tell you about music' - I don't need a primer on European music theory throughout history, especially in the context of agreeing with what I wrote in the first place.
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Post by Yeggman » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:10 pm

shreddoggie wrote:Actually it is not a 'negative definition' though some may take it that way as their sensibilities dictate.
I don't think Felixer was trying to cast aspersions on you in any way - I'm pretty sure that Felixer didn't mean "negative definition" to mean that your definition was treating the idea of atonality with negativity.

Felixer most likely meant "negative definition" as in your definition was "in the negative" - that is, it was defining atonality not by describing what it was, but by describing what it wasn't - a "negative definition".

One of the rules of creating a proper definition of an idea is that one should use positive terms (what the thing being defined is) - rather than negative terms (what isn't the thing being defined isn't).

Defining an idea using negative terms is generally understood as a logical fallacy, except when absolutely no other options are possible. (Ultimately this comes from Aristotle's logic).

"5. A definition should not be negative where it can be positive. A definition should state what a term means rather than what it does not mean. We should not define "wisdom" as the absence of folly, or a healthy thing as whatever is not sick. Sometimes this is unavoidable, however. One cannot define blindness except as "the absence of sight in a creature that is normally sighted"

The difficulty with negative definition is that there are just too many things a given term does not signify. So in our example in this discussion, if atonality is just "not having a tonality", then do we count things like the noise of a factory or a steam engine as being "atonal"? Maybe some of us do actually, but it wasn't the goal of Schoenberg's idea and I think also not the goal of your definition to have the idea be used in that way, but your definition does leave it open to being logically used that way.

So, that's most likely what Felixer meant - he was looking for a more robust definition of atonality than just saying that it's the absence of tonality.

Whether or not a more robust definition is possible is another topic...

(Personally, I think of "atonality" as referring to a pretty specific methodology used by specific people during a specific time, and not so much as a generic descriptor that can be easily applied to any work. But of course different people go about it differently).

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Post by strettara » Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:16 am

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: In my view, there are two types of people who compose in atonal clusters and such: those such as Ives and Boulez who have already mastered conventional musical technique and consciously want to move beyond it (i.e., those who have earned the right), and those who haven't.
I think that applies to a transitional period, the early days of a mode of expression or technique. But what would be wrong with someone studying and making exclusively atonal music, of whatever kind, 100 years after its introduction and acceptance?

I'd agree that that person would be missing out on a huge amount of music from other periods and areas, but I don't see how the mere fact of not being versed in those modes would invalidate his music.
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Post by felixer » Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:56 am

Yeggman wrote:
shreddoggie wrote:Actually it is not a 'negative definition' though some may take it that way as their sensibilities dictate.
I don't think Felixer was trying to cast aspersions on you in any way - I'm pretty sure that Felixer didn't mean "negative definition" to mean that your definition was treating the idea of atonality with negativity.

Felixer most likely meant "negative definition" as in your definition was "in the negative" - that is, it was defining atonality not by describing what it was, but by describing what it wasn't - a "negative definition".

One of the rules of creating a proper definition of an idea is that one should use positive terms (what the thing being defined is) - rather than negative terms (what isn't the thing being defined isn't).
exactly, thank you :tu:
so music is atonal if all notes are equal, have the same weight. the easiest rule (serial/12tone) is that they should occur equally often: the dice are true, not loaded ... any note can be seen as the root at any time: you can still built traditional chords if you like (as those chords are basically extensions of the overtones any instrument produces).
but chords are there to add colour, not to support anything else, so you can use any set of notes as a chord simply by sounding 'm at the same time ... that's how you arrive at clusters.
there is no real need to know about mozart or beethoven.
and if your instruments don't produce overtones in whole number multiples (like strings/columns-of-air do) but with some fraction (like in drums, gongs, marimba's etc): no problem. adjust your tuning and proceed as usual 8-)
pixelmechanic wrote:While not about sound/music per se, I've always found Kandinsky's Point and Line to Plane to be a useful resource for thinking about organised structures and Kandinsky often refers to visual objects as sounds
yeah! great book, although i seem to have mislaid my example. so thanks for the link :mrgreen:
kandinsky and schoenberg were good friends. the spirit is the same 8-)
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:49 pm

strettara wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: In my view, there are two types of people who compose in atonal clusters and such: those such as Ives and Boulez who have already mastered conventional musical technique and consciously want to move beyond it (i.e., those who have earned the right), and those who haven't.
I think that applies to a transitional period, the early days of a mode of expression or technique. But what would be wrong with someone studying and making exclusively atonal music, of whatever kind, 100 years after its introduction and acceptance?

I'd agree that that person would be missing out on a huge amount of music from other periods and areas, but I don't see how the mere fact of not being versed in those modes would invalidate his music.
You are describing what composers refer to as the "naive" approach, and I personally do not believe it is possible in atonal music. What you end up with is either cacophony, or something which is still tonal because the composer is not studious enough to know how to avoid getting what he's been hearing his whole life into his composition.

Furthermore, concerning this "negative definition" controversy, isn't the very word "atonal" a negative definition because of the prefix "a-" which means "not"?
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Post by Yeggman » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:42 pm

oops double post
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Post by Yeggman » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:44 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
Furthermore, concerning this "negative definition" controversy, isn't the very word "atonal" a negative definition because of the prefix "a-" which means "not"?
:hihi: :yay:

This thread is for making obscure academic jokes though, right?


Schoenberg preferred "pantonal" of course. It seems to me the "atonal" term was applied by his detractors.

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Post by felixer » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:47 pm

Yeggman wrote:Schoenberg preferred "pantonal" of course.
manytonal? alltonal? übertonal? oh dear, now i've done it :hide:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: the "naive" approach
i bet calling any of those rap/hiphop guys 'naive' could earn you a broken nose. or worse :hihi: quite a bit of african singing is def not tonal. nor is most 'east-coast' synth music. i think it's a big mistake to take the european tradition and look at it as the 'true basis' for everything. look, i happen to be yer typical white male academic european. but that's not something i'm proud or even happy about. it's just the way things have turned out. so i need to go that road. but my best moments are when i can forget all that and 'just play music'.
and yeah, sure, with my free improv group we sometimes burst out with some 40ies bigband or 50ies bebop stuff. and it's fun. but i consider it a fall back. just a giggle. we sometimes can't help ourselves ... but in our best moments we don't count notes. we don't try to avoid anything. we 'just play' ... and that doesn't come easy for guys like us.

let me throw in a couple of other names: xenakis, ligeti. where did they come from (and i don't mean the country/culture they were born in). they produced utterly original stuff: it doesn't follow any serial/12tone rules (although they were aware of that) and it isn't based on bach-mozart-beethoven (although they certainly knew about them too). are they 'naive'? i don't think so ... can you explain it? i doubt it ...

i think i'm going to play 'eonta' really loud now 8-) and 'just enjoy music' :mrgreen:
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Post by Yeggman » Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:56 am

felixer wrote:xenakis, ligeti. where did they come from (and i don't mean the country/culture they were born in). they produced utterly original stuff: it doesn't follow any serial/12tone rules (although they were aware of that) and it isn't based on bach-mozart-beethoven (although they certainly knew about them too). are they 'naive'? i don't think so ... can you explain it? i doubt it ...
Perhaps most of Xenakis's ideas come from his previous discipline of architecture, and indeed mathematics and geometry. His approach was pretty "naive" inasmuch as he didn't have very much formal music training...

Xenakis even went to Messiaen to study music and Messian himself said:

"I think one should study harmony and counterpoint. But this was a man so much out of the ordinary that I said… 'No, you are almost 30, you have the good fortune of being Greek, of being an architect and having studied special mathematics. Take advantage of these things. Do them in your music'."

but at the same time, Xenakis did study harmony and counterpoint as a child, and he sang in choirs and learned a lot of sacred music. So he wasn't really totally "naive", he did have a firm basis of music knowledge which he could expand upon by applying his architectural and mathematical ideas. He probably wouldn't have been so successful in his methods if he hadn't had the counterpoint and harmony training... but he also may not have been able to apply the architecture/math/geometric ideas to music as radically as he did if he had pursued more formal music training. Not totally "naive" but also definitely not totally trained either... either way I think we can be happy that he went the way he did


Ligeti is my favourite! but as an example for your argument he doesn't work so well... he was formally trained in the traditional methods at a few different music conservatories starting in his early teens I think, ending up at the Liszt conservatory in Budapest.

I have a book somewhere that's just semi-casual discussions with Ligeti about music, he talks about many years in an early period where all he wrote were very traditional Western music pieces (and even writing pieces that were directly copying Bartok, although whether or not that counts as "traditional" I don't know :hihi: ). In that book he mentions some events that opened up his mind and pushed him to try new things and move beyond his early stage of derivative works, but I don't remember what it was, been some years since I read it.

So you can't really call Ligeti "naive", because he was highly trained in counterpoint, tonal harmony & the bach-mozart-beethoven-etc tradition, and it seems to me that what he went on to do is a pretty direct growth out of those practices, especially the counterpoint.

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Post by Yeggman » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:15 am

felixer wrote: nor is most 'east-coast' synth music.
I would definitely agree that there's a lot of Western or westernized musics that don't really require the musician to have any basis in Western music theory to practice successfully: noise music, ambient music, musique concrete & other sample-based methods, free improv (thinking like Keith Rowe and AMM, not free jazz, although I do love that Ornette Coleman double quartet record, and Ascension by Coltrane), experimental synthesizer music, etc. A lot of the music people make with modular synthesizers :hihi:

Like what need would Merzbow have to know how to resolve an augmented 6th chord or whatever? That knowledge would have zero relevance to his work.


And also agree that there are lots of global music traditions that obviously do not require Western music theory - and some like Indonesian gamelan where the nature of the timbres generally prevent any sort of tonal harmony gestures at all. But most of those global traditions have their own set of codified theory anyway, some of them even older and perhaps more refined than western music theory. So it would be pretty euro-centric to call people in those traditions "naive" because they don't know Western theory, when they are most likely highly trained within their own theory traditions. Like, you're not really going to even begin to be able to play Indian classical music without years and years of study in that tradition, so there's no naiveté there.

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Post by felixer » Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:09 am

obviously xenakis and ligeti had some formal training. otherwise they could never have produced a score that a standard orchestra could play. and both are europeans. hard to avoid the classical tradition even if you wanted too. but they both made a hard break and at some point went their own way. i think it would be stretching it to say they have developed from an older tradition. i mean, stockhausen was a big bartok fan, but you can't hear any of that in his later work. and of course ligeti and bartok have a connection. but i wouldn't have guessed by simply listening.

what i'm aiming at is that any new development needn't be connected with the past. everybody has his/her personal history, no way around that, but breaking with that past doesn't make you naive. i'd call it 'a fresh perspective'. or 'a flexible outlook' :lol:

merzbow is a good example. i wouldn't have guessed he is japanese. he could have come from anywhere ... even ryūichi sakamoto feels that him being japanese is of no importance as he doesn't feel bound by that tradition and admits knowing very little about it. good for him! he managed to break free and choose is own path ...
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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:22 am

I think that one point that was made was that this knowledge of traditional music theory was not only a part of a composer's background, but that its rules actually informed the processes of a successful composer who then 'seemed' to avoid them....how would one know, truly, that he/she was composing 'atonally', or was taking it beyond that into purely timbral methodologies, unless one was totally familiar with what one was avoiding.

But, of course, Xenakis' methods didn't require this at all. He didn't compose in the traditional manner, where perhaps some semblance of all this might be true. He constructed his pieces out of stochastic techniques, which were not built on western music theory. Similarly, though John Cage studied western music theory at first, I think that he was not considered to be very good at at (relatively), and ultimately his methods and theories didn't depend on it.

I think that, in this argument, it is good to distinguish between what is available to a person who decides to pursue composition seriously, in whatever culture he/she grows up in, and ultimately how this person's techniques and theories evolve. It's probably still true that, at least in a Western society like the US, or in Europe, that it's impossible to avoid being swamped with Western music while growing up - pop music, the superficial music classes that one receives in school, various bits of training - either private or public, where as a kid, you're generally not going to be trained primarily in more modern techniques.

Regardless of how the technology is making it more and more possible theoretically for one's training to be exclusively in alternative techniques and ideas, it's still rather impossible to grow up unexposed to traditional music, and probably immersed in it. One could look at the fact that it isn't possible to compose with total naivete as due to the distractions of the culture, and not something that informs all composition (either directly or indirectly) for the better.

It's really irrelevant whether one likes or dislikes certain forms of music, where the artists have broken away from these traditional methods. It's not an argument to claim that you hate free jazz like the later Coltrane, or that you don't find Merzbow 'musical', etc, etc.

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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:08 pm

felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: the "naive" approach
i bet calling any of those rap/hiphop guys 'naive' could earn you a broken nose. or worse :hihi: quite a bit of african singing is def not tonal. nor is most 'east-coast' synth music. i think it's a big mistake to take the european tradition and look at it as the 'true basis' for everything. look, i happen to be yer typical white male academic european. but that's not something i'm proud or even happy about. it's just the way things have turned out. so i need to go that road. but my best moments are when i can forget all that and 'just play music'.
and yeah, sure, with my free improv group we sometimes burst out with some 40ies bigband or 50ies bebop stuff. and it's fun. but i consider it a fall back. just a giggle. we sometimes can't help ourselves ... but in our best moments we don't count notes. we don't try to avoid anything. we 'just play' ... and that doesn't come easy for guys like us.

let me throw in a couple of other names: xenakis, ligeti. where did they come from (and i don't mean the country/culture they were born in). they produced utterly original stuff: it doesn't follow any serial/12tone rules (although they were aware of that) and it isn't based on bach-mozart-beethoven (although they certainly knew about them too). are they 'naive'? i don't think so ... can you explain it? i doubt it ...

i think i'm going to play 'eonta' really loud now 8-) and 'just enjoy music' :mrgreen:
Sorry, man, but this sort of response, to me, is just white noise. Save it for somebody else. If your intention is to make me feel like a chauvinist for being a western person, it didn't work.

And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
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Post by ear ear » Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:16 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
Who is doing this? You'd have to be insane. Surely anyone doing any kind of repeated activity starts making judgements about what they are doing, applying lessons learnt and making rules?

I love these threads, and chasing down obscure and usually interesting music and ideas. I have recently got hold of Subotnick's Wild Bull, Stockhausen's Aus den Sieben Tagen, Warren Burt's Wilson Installations (love Pythagoras' Babylonian Bathtub) and Thomas Ankersmit's Figueroa Terrace -- all very interesting, and have some Phil Niblock and some Trevor Wishart in the post. And I recently found a good interview with Phil Niblock. Very thought-provoking that he finds FM 'horrible', while his own musical practice explores overtones.

:guinness:

But....
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:I've read this entire thread, and I've gotta say, much of this thread is a classic example of what I call "reading too high."
While listening to and reading about new (to me) music has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way I hear sounds, I could admittedly do with getting down to making more music and thinking about how I want to make music. Just because someone has done, researched and written a book about x doesn't necessarily mean I should be doing it, however fascinating it may be...

Which comes back to your point about naivety. Composers need to be aware of theory and tradition to write meaningful music, but on the other hand they need to put the theory aside to concentrate on writing music... -- and how is a composer to know what their own music should be, what theory should be adhered to and what theory should be put aside, or the musical endeavour through which they will most likely find the greatest satisfaction or strongest sensations, or contribute most meaningfully to society or music, or make the most money, or, or.....? This brings to mind the saying attributed to Albert Einstein to the effect that the more one learns the more one realises how little one knows. How much do you need to know to write meaningful music?

Also, you seem to think that composers should work primarily/overridingly with reference to musical theory and tradition, but you don't seem to allow much scope for inspiration from outside musical theory and tradition (Phil Niblock, for example, seems to have been inspired by 60s minimalist visual art), nor that people may have, and act on the basis of, particular appetites or aversions.
He throws the ink first and works out what it is later. "I've got to turn that into parrots." - Ralph Steadman

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Post by felixer » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:47 am

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
sorry, but this is a silly remark. any form of notation is a system you need to learn. and it always comes from a certain theory and thus aesthetic.
realising this fact, it's impossible to 'just write down what is in your head'. and also that any translation is basically a mistake: it always contains errors simply because different systems/languages never overlap completely. otherwise they wouldn't be different :mrgreen:

i get the feeling you are even more ignorant then i thought ... your head seems to be filled with things that are exclusively western and conform with standard theory. poor thing ...
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:35 pm

felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
sorry, but this is a silly remark. any form of notation is a system you need to learn. and it always comes from a certain theory and thus aesthetic.
realising this fact, it's impossible to 'just write down what is in your head'. and also that any translation is basically a mistake: it always contains errors simply because different systems/languages never overlap completely. otherwise they wouldn't be different :mrgreen:

i get the feeling you are even more ignorant then i thought ... your head seems to be filled with things that are exclusively western and conform with standard theory. poor thing ...
1. The "naive composer" thing is a theory of Schiller's, which I was paraphrasing.

2. There's no need to be an asshole. Try to keep the ad hominem attacks to a minimum.
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Post by Willowhaus » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:33 pm

Well, this is a fun thread. :party: :hihi:

When considering the ideas of music theory, I find it helpful to remember that music theory =/= music, it only describes certain aspects of certain music. Much like the difference between writing and speaking: for certain, being well-versed in one area tends to enhance the other - however, just because one can write does not automatically mean they are a great speaker, just as one can deliver eloquent speech while never touching pen to paper.

Put another way: music theory is about notation of possibilities. It is an excellent help when it says "you can go here!" - when it says "you can't go there!" is the moment it becomes a barrier to, rather than a facilitator of, actual music.

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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:54 pm

I just mowed the lawn, stewing about this thread. Now I'm done, and I realized that one of my favourite composers composes in a completely naive way: Vangelis. Of course, he doesn't read music either, so he basically improvises everything onto tape or DAW. A Russian woman comes in every so often and transcribes a bunch of it into standard notation so orchestras can play it. Other composers who have been "accused" of naive composition: Poulenc, Bruckner, Mahler... even Mozart. More or less all folk composers are naive. It's not really a pejorative.
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Post by felixer » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:33 pm

ah ... lawnmowing ...some folks start there, others end there ...

i wouldn't call vangelis naive, i think he's a walking cliché, a pastiche of cheap romantic 19th century sauce ... but to each his own. :mrgreen:

mozart may have been a kid and a bit childish but he was never naive. and neither was his dad who gave him rameau's book saying words to the effect of 'son, study this, this is the future' ... and right he was ...

mahler naive? now really, the man was a conservative, had a difficult life and his music reflects that: it always makes me sad ... but naive he was not.

i'm assuming you are quoting again ... you should mention the source ...

most folk artists follow a tradition that is quite rigid. if they deviate someone might call 'm 'judas' ... as happened to bob dylan when he started using electric instruments.

naive i would call a lot of those 90ies japanese 'laptop-artists'. there i heard some fresh approaches.
john cage may have been naive. and he cultivated it ...

or do you mean naive=unschooled? def not, methinks ...
that's like saying that people who can't read or write are stupid ... and that folks who don't write books don't have a history ...

oh and for composing and/or theory you don't need to be able to write. it can all be done in the head. like for playing chess you don't really need a board and pieces ...
Last edited by felixer on Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by peanut » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:43 am

Dr. Sketch n' Etch wrote:And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
I'm still a little confused with this definition even though I've heard it thrown around a lot by music lovers, as well as by musicians playing stuff more or less in the rock genre. It's certainly what I thought I wanted to try to do with my own music composition, that is, to play and improvise what I heard in my head. The brain does have ears, afterall. Or can the ears interpret in both dimensions.. :hihi: But anyway, this definition of naive composition really can't be achieved unless your brain comes up with musical structures outside of any traditional music listening experience. That is, you've never been exposed to any kind of composed music. And your sense of music is coming straight from the "natural" or unintentionally musical sounds found in day-to-day life.

Makes me think of Paul Auster's City of Glass which involves a child locked in a room from birth by his academic scholar father for the effect of a sensory deprivation that would lead to the discovery of God's language. The thought being that the child, having never heard any language, would speak in the natural tongue of God.

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