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What are the most annoying things about modern composers?


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Author Topic: What are the most annoying things about modern composers?  (Read 1555 times)
ahinton
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« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2015, 10:48:16 pm »

Incomprehensible or obtuse program notes.

Actually in fine arts most of these texts are generated automatically, you know? Wink

http://www.playdamage.org/market-o-matic/
Your reference here reminds me - perhaps inevitably - of the postmodernist generator (see http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/ and links towards the bottom of each piece to the next automatically generated piece of self-confessed meaninglessness); OK, of course it's easy to poke fun at something like this which was constructed specifically to poke fun at the kind of pseudo-intellectual academic witterings that can be randomly generated by its intended use (and I have no doubt that Delius would have fallen out of his chair with laughter had he lived to witness such examples), but what's more seriously worrying is the sheer paucity of material distance between this kind of thing and the descriptive pseudo-explanatory hogwash such as that which Neil illustrated upthread, be it in the guise of programme notes or anything else that might be in danger of being read or heard by listeners to the music to which it is attached.

In the context of all of this - and to seek to answer the question posed in the OP - I might suggest that one of the most irritating things is when a composer in interview (or otherwise) opines "what I was trying to do is..."; he/she shouldn't have been "trying" to do anything at all but instead actually doing it to the best of his/her ability. Can anyone really imagine Busoni starting off from the premise of "what I'd like to try to do is write a really big piano concerto that explores this, that or the other series of paradigms and places into focus the various possible hierarchical relationships between piano and orchestra and, towards the close, betwen soloist, orchestra and male chorus"? - or Mahler thinking "whilst all of my symphonies to date have sought to traverse a journey from darkness to light, my sixth will be different in that its exploration of the various positives and negatives of life will arrive at a hard-won - but really lost - conclusion in which the latter are predominant"? - or some such nonsense? God forbid! (as He or some else did)! The two composers, like most others with any integrity and professionalism, were quite simply far too busy writing their music and, in so doing, providing their own "explanations" in that music. I do not wish to sound unduly trenchant about this, but the purpose of a composer of music is to compose music...

"Buddy, can you spare a paradigm" was a phrase that used to occur to me when faced with examples of such codswallop; might Delius, in a parallel situation, have thought twice about writing A Walk to the Paradigm Garden...
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« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2015, 05:35:24 pm »

... indeed, I've often thought that, if I could say in words what I aimed to convey in a piece, I'd write the words instead of the piece ...

This is so, so true, and not just about music, but virtually any art form, especially poetry. If you can reduce a poem to a short explanation of its "message", you don't need the poem. As Pound said, "Messages are for Western Union".

Incidentally, on the subject of abstruse programme notes, back in the days when I used to hang out with more musical company than I do today, I occasionally wrote bogus programme notes for new pieces when the composer didn't want to supply any. They were parodies much in the style of the drivel quoted above, but always with a few giveaway cues that the text was not serious (such as a completely fatuous and banal ending - take Neil's example and add at the end, "The piece also was inspired by watching Milwall playing Scunthorpe").
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ahinton
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« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2015, 06:16:49 pm »

... indeed, I've often thought that, if I could say in words what I aimed to convey in a piece, I'd write the words instead of the piece ...

This is so, so true, and not just about music, but virtually any art form, especially poetry. If you can reduce a poem to a short explanation of its "message", you don't need the poem. As Pound said, "Messages are for Western Union".

Incidentally, on the subject of abstruse programme notes, back in the days when I used to hang out with more musical company than I do today, I occasionally wrote bogus programme notes for new pieces when the composer didn't want to supply any. They were parodies much in the style of the drivel quoted above, but always with a few giveaway cues that the text was not serious (such as a completely fatuous and banal ending - take Neil's example and add at the end, "The piece also was inspired by watching Milwall playing Scunthorpe").
That could be for a new work by Shostakovich, though, couldn't it?(! - well, substitute Rangers for the former and Celtic for the latter and...)...
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Maud
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« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2015, 01:50:37 am »

I love modern music but what do you find annoying?
The human voice.
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ahinton
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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2015, 08:14:56 am »

I love modern music but what do you find annoying?
The human voice.
Why? And only in "modern music" (whatever that might be)?...
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Ian Moore
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2015, 02:53:59 pm »

I love modern music but what do you find annoying?
The human voice.

I am intrigued as well.  Why the human voice? Strictly speaking it is nothing to do with modern composers.
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ahinton
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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2015, 10:40:28 pm »

I love modern music but what do you find annoying?
The human voice.

I am intrigued as well.  Why the human voice? Strictly speaking it is nothing to do with modern composers.
Specifically speaking it isn't - but strictly or any otherwise speaking, it's surely to do with composers of all eras.
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Maud
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2015, 12:00:22 am »

e.g. Boulez
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ahinton
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2015, 05:59:31 am »

e.g. Boulez
"e.g."? An example of what, exactly? And what about the "human voice" question which you appear not yet to have answered?...
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Ian Moore
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« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2015, 10:30:50 am »

e.g. Boulez

Sorry, I am really confused.  How did we get from the 'human voice' to 'Boulez'?  Is that your answer or are we talking about a different subject?

Ahinton, surely you're not blaming the 'human voice' for the annoying things about modern composers, are you? (Or maybe you mean the other way around - I am totally confused!)
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ahinton
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« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2015, 12:51:15 pm »

e.g. Boulez

Sorry, I am really confused.  How did we get from the 'human voice' to 'Boulez'?  Is that your answer or are we talking about a different subject?
I have no idea of the answer to that question!

Ahinton, surely you're not blaming the 'human voice' for the annoying things about modern composers, are you? (Or maybe you mean the other way around - I am totally confused!)
Evidently! No, I'm not blaming anything or anyone for anything; I merely questioned what was meant by the reference to the human voice, which I had not personally raised...
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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2015, 12:56:55 pm »

I am guessing that what Maud means is that she doesn't like modern music featuring the human voice, and Boulez's in particular. Therefore she finds modern composers annoying when they insist on writing vocal music.
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ahinton
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« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2015, 01:46:30 pm »

I am guessing that what Maud means is that she doesn't like modern music featuring the human voice, and Boulez's in particular. Therefore she finds modern composers annoying when they insist on writing vocal music.
If that is indeed the case, actually saying so in as many words wouldn't exactly have come amiss, although it might be more enlightening to have an opportunity to discover some details as to what it is about which contemporary vocal writing that apparently attracts such a seal of disapproval.

That said, I have to admit that the very premise of this thread strikes no chord with me; leaving aside who you or anyone else might classify as "modern composers" (and there would be little likelihood of arreement on that unless, at least for the purpose of this particular exercise, it were decided that the term would apply solely to living ones), it would be as hard to perceive anything like a commonality of annoyances that would be deemed peculiar to such composers and not to other composers or indeed to anyone else. Even the example cited and commented upon above - namely that of writing abstruse and sometimes overly loquacious verbiage about their works, how they came about and what they purportedly sought to achieve in writing them - is very far from common to all living/modern composers, even though it can often grate when it does occur.
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Gauk
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« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2015, 06:58:01 pm »

I think it not unreasonable to suppose that the original poster did not actually mean ALL modern composers, as if they could be reduced to a homogeneous block. If one reads the question as "What are the most annoying things that modern composers sometimes do?", then it may be fairly asked, and also puts the blame on the act rather than the actor.

It might also be interesting to generalise it by removing the contentious word "modern". Was Strauss a more annoying person than Babbitt? Discuss.

Or perhaps don't discuss.  Wink
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ahinton
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« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2015, 09:59:36 pm »

I think it not unreasonable to suppose that the original poster did not actually mean ALL modern composers, as if they could be reduced to a homogeneous block. If one reads the question as "What are the most annoying things that modern composers sometimes do?", then it may be fairly asked, and also puts the blame on the act rather than the actor.

It might also be interesting to generalise it by removing the contentious word "modern". Was Strauss a more annoying person than Babbitt? Discuss.

Or perhaps don't discuss.  Wink
"Annoying" to whom? For which very reason (among countless others) no, indeed, please DON'T discuss!...

Babbitt enjoyed a bit of jazz. Schönberg deeply respected Gershwin. My teacher Searle (whose centenary occurs today) loved the Second Viennese School and studied with pehaps the most radical of its members but also adored Liszt, Alkan, Busoni, Szymanowski and Sorabji.

Really - who "annoys" whom?...
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