What drives us to classical music?

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by Zohia, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. Zohia

    dreftar

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    Pop is Popular

    The pop music of every generation is largely transient. The music that lasts and is filtered down through the generations becomes classic. The worst of each era's popular music is discarded. Some wonderful music has been composed and written since gramophonic recording became technically and economically feasible. Alas a heap of dross has also become available. Unfortunately, as recording music has become cheaper the amount of music to be discarded has increased at a phenominal rate. In a society seemingly, hellbent on turning the planet into a wasteland of its own waste, music is just another commodity to be used and thrown away.

    However amongst the heap of Pop Pulp there are many treasures. Much of Paul Simons Songbook, Some Lennon McCartney, Bob Dylan, Etc. I approach all the genres of music with an open mind and get pleasure from a wide variety, however I do find myself back listening to Classical music at the end of each journey. That is probably not surprising as it was the no expense sparred music that has lasted and lasted. To rap it up, I did listen to Akon's new album and enjoyed many of the tracks, especially those like "No Trouble" and "Locked Up" - he tells it how it is and gives an insight into how some young people feel.

    There are gems in all genre's of music waiting to be found - Even an old standard like "Good Night Irene" played by Kelly Joe Phelps is amazing!
     
    dreftar, Mar 13, 2006
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  2. Zohia

    Zohia

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    First of all it would be necessary to clarify what you mean by pop music. As I recently saw in a documentary about pop music, in the way that pop means popular, it could be anything from rock to classical music (anyone can hum through Beethoven’s 9th most popular movement, so that could be considered pop).
    However it seems to me that you’re defining pop as non-classical music. I would never consider Dead can Dance as pop though I’m not quite sure where I’d “put” it. Coincidentally, I am familiar with their music as one of their cds has a fragment of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights on the front which aroused my curiosity, making me buy it. I totally agree with what you said:

    I think there are some groups that explore sonority in interesting ways and they’re one of them. Just like good ethnic groups (I’m not sure if I can call them that), as Na lua, a Spanish group that recreates traditional music from Galicia.

    Now concerning what you called “pop music”…
    You made an extremely good point when you mentioned the cueing of rage and despair by the music’s energy and rhythm. I think it’s exactly that! The slight variations in music, followed by the slight variations in the urban groups that listen to it, must vary according to some minor differences in the way those youngsters feel cued by rhythms and sound. I was never able to listen to this kind of music… double pedal (I’m not sure about the translation but I mean “pedal duplo” in the drums) makes me feel sick and sometimes scared.

    As you said, it’s also about getting into a state of trance, instead of getting in contact with one’s deeper emotions. I was, for a long time, a fan of The Doors (Ray Manzarek is probably the greatest enemy of organ lovers!?), having a special preference for their longer songs, like The end and Celebration of the lizard. Being a logical progression of smaller songs, I remember listening to the last one in an attempt to become alienated. And, contrary to what one could think, this is clearly the intention of the composer (the main difference here is that the lyrics do play a major role in the achievement of that state); there are sections where there isn’t even a “three note melody”: it’s just a repeated note on the organ, creating that sense of estrangement.
    In a live recording, Jim Morrison introduces the song like this:

    «Now listen, we’ve got a special treat for you right now. It starts of kind of quiet so if everybody would just kinda relax, take a few deep breaths, think about your eventual end and what’s gonna happen tonight and we’ll try and do something good to your head.»

    Some of the lyrics:

    «Once I had a little game,
    I liked to crawl back in my brain.
    I think you know the game I mean,
    I mean the game called go insane!

    Now you should try this little game,
    just close your eyes, forget your name.
    Forget the world, forget the people
    and we’ll erect a different steeple.

    This little game is fun to do,
    just close your eyes, no way to lose!
    And I’m right here I’m going to,
    release control, we’re breaking through!»


    Overall I think it’s about loosing consciouness of the self and/or getting out of one’s body, either being it through unjustifiable rage or mere alienation.
    Why is that? Why is there this need to forget about one’s mind or body?
    Well, I have no idea and can only make guesses.

    One of them has to do with something you wrote (Suffering): post-modernism has thrown the human to a nullity of being. We live in an era of easy access to everything, there’s really nothing noble enough to suffer about and life is resumed to basic emotions, felt in basic, regular levels.
    However, adolescence is, by its nature, a stage where you’re supposed to build an identity, to produce and create, to feel and suffer, or to produce (i. e. expression of the self through art) based on suffering. If our times don’t offer us true reasons in which to base our suffering, there has to be at least a synthetic replacement of that need. Considering classical music is in its majority hard to like or understand on a first level basis, deep emotions induced by pop music are the closest thing teens can get. The one guaranteed way to intensely feel something, as they don’t have to crave for anything, everything being easily achieved.

    I think the importance of reaching these states (mentioned above) might not only be true for rage and despair, but also for alienation, as it gives a sense of individuality (self-importance) in a somewhat culture of masses. But alienation can be a different case anyway, as it’s been a common link through time and space (Jim Morrison did try to pursue the sensations American Indians produced with the use of mescaline).

    As Aldous Huxley brightly put it in his Brave new world, when he mentioned the occasional need of adrenalin treatments in order to suppress some kind of suffocating daily stability, it’s all about alienated excitement!

    Nonetheless, there’s more to pop (when defined as non-classical) then these dark sonorities. I don’t think it’s always about rage, despair and self dissolution. After all, most teenagers don’t belong to these darker, more aggressive or alienated urban cultures. Thelike classire are all those pop groups (U2, Robbie Williams, Pearl Jam, etc) that sing normal songs for regular, satisfied adolescents that deal with the stage’s tasks without major problems or conflicts. Or, at least, regular, satisfied adolescents that don’t feel the need to be cued by these songs and just listen to them as any person would read a novel.
    The most they probably usually try to get out of music is a slight maximization of basic emotions or some excitement – what you’d call entertainment.

    In the overall context, the role played by lyrics seems to be a simple pointer as to what you should or shouldn’t be listening to (gothics would probably consider it outrageous and sinful if “one of them” was caught listening to Shakira).

    I don’t want, by any means, to sound dogmatic. It’s adolescents that like to be categorised as one of ‘this’ or ‘that’ group.

    And then there are always those for whom lyrics do count, where music functions, through the symbiosis of lyrics and melody, as a way of living/reliving types of experiences that are meaningful for the self, or exploring one’s life philosophy.

    [No one except RdS will recognise him but…] I truly identify with some of Jorge Palma’s lyrics which, in association with his lovely melodies, produce a way to make me relive some of my valued life experiences. It isn’t, and never was, about alienation and exacerbation of extreme emotions. Though his music is quite simple, to me it would seem that it deals more with those ego emotions you mentioned.

    [There are also those that enjoy classical music and alike. Usually a different breed...]


    I agree. It’s as if only intensity, and not quality, counted.

    This is something I’m not quite sure about… There are still many intelligent people; I’m just not sure if there are less bright (truly intelligent and creative) people.
    Though, as I stated, music appears to be a way to attain intensive sensations or alienation, there are individuals that seem to create new things, ideas and thoughts from those experiences. Maybe some do recreate the suffering of other times and build new meanings from their personal experiences.
    Just like you’d recreate or understand that suffering from listening to classical music.

    Concluding: People aren’t always characterized by the music they listen to, but by the way they listen to it.

    Sorry for being too extensive and repetitive!!!

    Joana

    P.S.: Do you know you could be arrested for misspelling Kurt Cobain’s (or, as some say, Kurt NoBrain) name? His fans would get mad if they found out!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2006
    Zohia, Mar 13, 2006
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  3. Zohia

    titian

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    Yes I admit that my system is not there where I want it to be and that's why I'm working on it even if nearly anybody who listened to it wouldn't touch it anymore. Trying to move on means sometimes also to go back a step or two (maybe even 5). When Tones was here it wasn't the furtherst it was at its best but that isn't the point.
    In the last 12 months, even if I've got such a system, I booked over 60 tickets for orchestral concerts. Most of them were for large orchestral music. I also go to the rehearsals (I got a special pass) in order I can also percept the sound-quality in the concert hall without getting emotionaly caught up by the music or the event it self. To tell you the truth if you would hear the quality of the concert hall at home you would just say something is wrong on your system. To be onest there are some sound characteristics which are better in the concert hall but there are others which are better at home, when the room was acousticaly treated.
    The problem for me is another: who goes to so many concerts and get used to the live sound?
    Who goes to so many performances in order that he can afford to spend an evening only concentrating on the sound-quality and not in the music? For that reason I go sometimes twice to the same concert plus the rehearsal. I wonder how many time Tones was in the last year to a orchestral concert. Getting used to live music is in our days very difficult because most of the time we listen through Hifi equipment. Talking about live sound is rediculous, also for me. More you get into it, more you notice that there isn't the life sound. There are so many live sound that can be so different one from the other. Some sound characteristics though are given in all live concerts and some of these very few systems can reproduce.

    regards

    titian
     
    titian, Mar 14, 2006
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  4. Zohia

    tones compulsive cantater

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    In the last year (indeed, several years), regretfully, not at all. Living in Basel and working in Zürich, plus all the family business at the weekend, doesn't leave me much time for it. Thank goodness for the poor facsimile that is my hi-fi!
     
    tones, Mar 14, 2006
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  5. Zohia

    Zohia

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    I once thought this could be a solution for me but strangely most times it works totally the way around.
    When watching most DVDs, image distracts me from sound and makes the whole experience boring as, contrary to what we were saying in earlier posts, I don't feel a tv screen recreates in me the sense of occasion and risk... maybe because it's done, its definitive.

    However:

    In the way that DVDs allow us to observe the way these "ancient" masters played, they're the best thing one could ever wish for (well, apart from wanting to go back in time and listen to them live:D).


    Probably this lack of connection to the music when image is added has to do with the way I try to use it. For example, I bought a DVD of Richter and Rostropovich playing Beethoven's cello sonatas in a live concert and haven't managed to watch it for more then 5 minutes yet. I had never listened to these and thought it would be nice to start from there but it seems it's not working so I'll have to go the other way around and listen to a recording first. Or maybe I'll only enjoy this DVD truly when my technique allows me to play them on the cello and I find it a resort for ideas on the ways to play.

    As an exception, I do like to watch Mezzo (I don't know if it's available in Switzerland), specially Mezzo Sequences. As it's only sequences of performances and it's always a bit unexpected (I'm not watching it for a reason) I find I do connect with the music making I'm watching and listening to.

    Joana
     
    Zohia, Mar 14, 2006
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  6. Zohia

    Zohia

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    I think you might have missed the point.
    Why would you consider it a good song? Probably because you can relate to it easily, I mean, feel some emotional awakening when listening to it.
    What RdS was saying is that this specific emotional awakening seems almost senseless as there isn't a clear message apart from that rage and despair. Or, it seems primitive as it's a mere exacerbation of a basic emotion.

    I think a parallel could be made in classical music, specially with the romantic period. My evolution inside classical hasn’t allowed me to go too much forward from romantic and some early 20th century music precisely because what I pursue most of the times when listening to this is an immediate click, feeling something without having to understand, as probably has to happen with ancient music before you can connect.

    That’s what moves me when listening to Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Miaskovski, Elgar, Fauré, Débussy, Kernis, etc.

    However I think that even with these composers the experience can’t be as linear and direct as with the music we were discussing and that RdS listened to. With music from these composers there is an evolution of emotion through the piece itself, a sense that a story is being told and not that we’re just listening to something about a crude and ‘out of context’ feeling.

    Well, I do know that some people who like Nirvana’s music have a prior knowledge of Kurt Cobain’s life path and probably feel related to his suffering. It’s from that knowledge that they further interpret songs like Rape me and so on.
    However, the big achievement of classical is that you don’t need to know anything about the composer’s life to reconstruct your meaning through a particular piece. You can add or follow the music through you own personal narrative.

    With Rape me, the most you could do would be to follow the music with your personal way of experiencing whatever emotions are activated by the sound.

    What do you think about this?

    Joana

    P.S.: That Lordi guy is way too weird.... :JOEL: I googled him and came up with a picture of his band which... well, you know what I mean:). Do you have any links to some videos of his performances? It must be funny to watch them moving...
     
    Zohia, Mar 14, 2006
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  7. Zohia

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    I know I have missed the point, and I am proud of that. It is not a good thing to analyze too much. Better just listen - that means right side brain activity (or no activity at all) which is better than excessive left side brain activity.

    Here's a nice picture of Lordi:
    http://www.iltalehti.fi/2006/03/11/200603114229181_vi.shtml

    Another one (nice bat!)
    http://www.iltalehti.fi/2006/03/14/200603134239939_uu.shtml

    Some videos are at their web site http://www.lordi.org
    Check out "Would you love a monsterman?"
     
    bat, Mar 14, 2006
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  8. Zohia

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    These are 'nice pictures'? How would they be if you had chosen bad ones! :newbie:

    I'll answer zohia's excellent posts asap.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 14, 2006
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  9. Zohia

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    That is quite interesting, as I cannot really connect either. I watched some Kempff and apart from the fact that I had never watched him play, I found nothing thrilling and I actually prefer the records.

    There is a special thrill in a live concert. I do not know what it is, but part of it comes from the fact that recorded sound is very different from actual sound (my hi-fi system is not that bad, actually I find it quite good and I did listen to some top of the notch and quite impossibly expensive ones).

    Partly because there actually is some kind of connection between the public and the players. I recall some spectacular cases that illustrate this: the musician all thrilled, the public too, and he clearly played for us; even the risks he took he knew we were aware of them, and he actually looked at us and smiled when a particular one went wrong or especially right. This was perhaps the most thrilling experience in concerts. It was Wieland Kuijken. Another one happened with the Camerata Lysi. One more with the Vegh quartet. This is perhaps why I prefer to listen to music in small gatherings.

    But, of course, as Tones says, one cannot always go to concerts... And with organ music this is particularly true. Even if none of the hi-fi systems i ever listened to can give you a paple image of what actually goes on, there is no way you can listen, on the same day, to several organs which stand hundreds of kms apart.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 14, 2006
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  10. Zohia

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Joana:

    Thank you for the very enlightening comments you made on my post. It is true that I am using 'pop' in a wrong way. Schubert's lieder were pop music and there are many instances of this when we talk loosely about 'classic music'.

    I too, like 'traditional' or even 'ethnic' folk music. For instance, I yet have to see all the beautiful sorrow and 'distance' which Irish popular music can convey in 'classical' music. And I do agree that Dead can Dance is rather good, even if quite different from what I am used to. Moreover, there are several very good tunes in “«'pop'»â€ music. I remember there was a group called stilleye span which I liked a lot. In my youth I like Jethro Tull (really complex, I then thought) and even The Corrigans can sound lovely.

    I am glad to know there is 'entertainment' music. What my two informants showed me was nothing like that. I have nothing against that: just simple, commonplace music is a good thing. For instance, I found a jazz band (a fellow who played the xylophone quite well) really soothing, and I recognize the merits of Keith Jarrett's Köln concerto and I quite like (indeed, I like very much) Jacques Brell songs. What is more, I even liked more 'expressionistic' music like ….. a woman whose (!!) name I do not recollect I men 'Biography'. She sings without words, just sounds, but it can be hair raising.

    So, as you fully understood, I am only talking about 'primitive' music. But I stand corrected about this not being a universal trend in adolescent music.

    About 'trance'. I do fully understand the need for that. I must say that many medieval/early renaissance composers did just that. And if we take Sweelinck's magnificent 'fugues' one is just enthralled and quite forgets about oneself. It is, it seems, difficult to get into them, but once you do, they never leave your mind, and you find yourself (O.K.: I found myself :rolleyes: ) listening to them in my mind all the time. Even the Art of Fugue has something 'trance-like'. Of course, one needs to understand counterpoint, but having mastered it, the repetition, in different guises, of the main subject, are quite trance inducing.

    I think it was Alan that said that the best way to listen to music was after having had one or two drinks too many. Now I don't drink anymore and do not stone myself, but I quite understand what he says. When I was younger, it happened to me to induce a kind of half drowsiness to be able to fully enjoy really difficult music (fugues, of course :) ).

    Now, I'm not revising this, as I am very short on time. Maybe we can return to it later.

    P.S.: This is shameful, but even if I know Jorge Palma's name, I never listened to anything he wrote …

    PPS: I think I might as well beware about having misspelt Cobain's name: there seems to be a fan here :cool:
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 14, 2006
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  11. Zohia

    Zohia

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    Ahah! Wrong thing to say! I'll make myself invited to introduce you to the wonderful world of Jorge Palma's storytelling. Be careful when you open your locker as cds will start to stack up.
    It most certainly isn't your kind of music but at least it will widen your knowledge:D!

    Can Irish music be considered celtic music (I don't think I ever undertsood this...)?


    By the way, did you know Beethoven harmonized dozens of folksongs from various countries (Ireland, Scotland, Wales and other countries)?
    I heard of it last summer when I played an arrangement for cello and piano of "The kiss dear maid, thy lip has left" and then bought their complete recording by DG last christmas (I must say I fall for celtic music quite easily).
    I haven't managed to go through all of them yet and can't say I like them too much but they must be fun to play (small ensembles).

    Joana
     
    Zohia, Mar 14, 2006
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  12. Zohia

    alanbeeb Grumpy young fogey

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    No - I didn't mean one or two drinks too many, just one or two drinks. If I had too many I'd not be able to concentrate and get inside the music, I'd just fall asleep.

    Besides, with vinyl - if I get drunk then I'll probably wreck yet another cartridge. :(
     
    alanbeeb, Mar 14, 2006
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  13. Zohia

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Joana: You are always welcome (but you must not ask me to play!); and I am looking forward to seeing you again: Jorge Palma is a good pretext.

    Alan: Reading back I see it seems I menat I drank myself to a comatose state before listening to Bach! No, I did not drink at all: it was just a mood I tried (without external 'substance' aid!) to induce myself into.

    Last: I don't know who 'THE CORRIGANS' are; I meant The Cranberries. And the lady 'whose name I could not recollect' (what took me?) is Meredith Monk.

    I was quite concentrated on another thing - this is a low level excuse :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2006
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 15, 2006
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  14. Zohia

    tones compulsive cantater

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    But of course! What else would it be? (Irishman here).

    Yes, often with interesting results. As he didn't read English, his accompaniments often aren't really suited to the words.
     
    tones, Mar 15, 2006
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  15. Zohia

    Zohia

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    So, what's the difference between Scottish folk music and Irish folk music?

    A couple of years ago I was travelling between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (unfortunately I didn't have enough time to visit Ireland as the journey would take a few days and then there wouldn't be time to visit anything properly) and got to stay in this amazing place called Dunkeld, right in the heart of Scotland. It surely incorporated everything I had idealised about Scotland. Then we stayed at this small hostel just by accident (we were coming from Edinburgh where there were no free hotels since their summer festival was in its highest) and the man who run it couldn't mingle better with the landscape (though he didn't wear a kilt :D he had some funny rose cheeks).
    There were all these instruments in the common room (fiddle, piano, guitar, all sorts of percussion, etc, etc, etc) and at night he gathered us all (people from many different countries who had only met) and played and sang some traditional music for us. It was one of the most interesting nights I've ever spent in my life!!!:beer: The sharing of experiences, specially related to music, was one of the purest. :)

    Joana
     
    Zohia, Mar 15, 2006
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  16. Zohia

    tones compulsive cantater

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    They're very similar (with natural regional differences), including the sharing of the Gaelic branch of the Celtic languages. The instrumentation is different insofar as the Irish Uilleann bagpipe never appears to have made it to Scotland (although the English Northumbrian small pipes is a similar instrument (bellows-operated and played sitting down)). This is probably because the instrument in its present form didn't appear until the 17th century (it's the only bagpipe that can play chords). Both have always had the fiddle and the flute/tin whistle (and to some extent the harp). I think the Scots also had some version of the bodhran (Irish goatskin drum played internally with a bone).The guitar and mandolin were later additions. However, the jigs and reels are much the same (as they are in Northern England).
     
    tones, Mar 15, 2006
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  17. Zohia

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Tones:

    I am aways surprised by the things you know! Might I suggest the creation of an owl smiley to your name? :cool:
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 27, 2006
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  18. Zohia

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Thank you, RdS :shame: but I would respectfully suggest that other folk (such as Pe-Zulu and your goodself) merit an owl much more than I. Me, I merely 'owl!

    P.S. Currently listening to the complete organ works of Buxtehude (the cheap Scandinavian set). Very good! (where "very good" = "I'm enjoying them a lot")
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2006
    tones, Mar 28, 2006
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