Hooligans-The Game Others The State of Modern Music

The State of Modern Music

Today’s practitioners of what we as soon as known as “modern day” music are obtaining themselves to be suddenly alone. A bewildering backlash is set against any music making that demands the disciplines and tools of investigation for its genesis. Stories now circulate that amplify and magnify this troublesome trend. It after was that one could not even method a main music college in the US unless well ready to bear the commandments and tenets of serialism. When 1 hears now of professors shamelessly studying scores of Respighi in order to extract the magic of their mass audience appeal, we know there’s a crisis. This crisis exists in the perceptions of even the most educated musicians. Composers right now appear to be hiding from specific difficult truths concerning the creative method. They have abandoned their search for the tools that will assist them produce actually striking and challenging listening experiences. I think that is for the reason that they are confused about quite a few notions in contemporary music creating!

First, let’s examine the attitudes that are needed, but that have been abandoned, for the improvement of particular disciplines in the creation of a lasting modern music. This music that we can and will have to make gives a crucible in which the magic inside our souls is brewed, and it is this that frames the templates that guide our very evolution in creative believed. It is this generative method that had its flowering in the early 1950s. By the 1960s, quite a few emerging musicians had turn out to be enamored of the wonders of the fresh and fascinating new globe of Stockhausen’s integral serialism that was then the rage. There seemed limitless excitement, then. It seemed there would be no bounds to the inventive impulse composers could do anything, or so it seemed. At the time, most composers hadn’t definitely examined serialism carefully for its inherent limitations. But it seemed so fresh. However, it quickly became apparent that it was Stockhausen’s thrilling musical strategy that was fresh, and not so a great deal the serialism itself, to which he was then married. It became clear, later, that the procedures he used had been born of two unique considerations that ultimately transcend serial devices: crossing tempi and metrical patterns and, specifically, the idea that treats pitch and timbre as particular instances of rhythm. (Stockhausen referred to the crossovers as “contacts”, and he even entitled a single of his compositions that explored this realm Kontakte.) These gestures, it turns out, are actually independent from serialism in that they can be explored from various approaches.

The most spectacular strategy at that time was serialism, even though, and not so much these (then-seeming) sidelights. It is this incredibly strategy — serialism — having said that, that just after possessing seemingly opened so numerous new doors, germinated the pretty seeds of modern music’s personal demise. The method is highly prone to mechanical divinations. Consequently, it makes composition simple, like following a recipe. In serial composition, the less thoughtful composer seemingly can divert his/her soul away from the compositional course of action. Inspiration can be buried, as approach reigns supreme. The messy intricacies of note shaping, and the epiphanies a single experiences from necessary partnership with one’s essences (inside the mind and the soul — in a sense, our familiars) can be discarded conveniently. All is rote. All is compartmentalized. For a lengthy time this was the honored approach, extended hallowed by classroom teachers and young composers-to-be, alike, at least in the US. Soon, a sense of sterility emerged in the musical atmosphere numerous composers started to examine what was taking location.

The replacement of sentimental romanticism with atonal music had been a important step in the extrication of music from a torpid cul-de-sac. A music that would closet itself in banal self-indulgence, such as what seemed to be occurring with romanticism, would decay. Here came a time for exploration. The new option –atonality — arrived. It was the fresh, if seemingly harsh, antidote. Arnold Schonberg had saved music, for the time being. On the other hand, shortly thereafter, Schonberg created a severe tactical faux pas. The ‘rescue’ was truncated by the introduction of a process by which the newly freed course of action could be subjected to manage and order! I have to express some sympathy here for Schönberg, who felt adrift in the sea of freedom offered by the disconnexity of atonality. Massive forms depend upon some sense of sequence. For him a system of ordering was needed. Was serialism a excellent answer? I’m not so specific it was. Its introduction supplied a magnet that would attract all those who felt they required explicit maps from which they could create patterns. By the time Stockhausen and Boulez arrived on the scene, serialism was touted as the cure for all musical challenges, even for lack of inspiration!

Pause for a minute and assume of two pieces of Schonberg that bring the issue to light: Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 (1912 – pre-serial atonality) and the Suite, Op. 29 (1924 serial atonality). Pierrot… appears so very important, unchained, just about lunatic in its unique frenzy, even though the Suite sounds sterile, dry, forced. In the latter piece the excitement got lost. This is what serialism seems to have completed to music. Yet the interest it received was all out of proportion to its generative power. Boulez as soon as even proclaimed all other composition to be “useless”! If the ‘disease’ –serialism –was terrible, a single of its ‘cures’ –absolutely free chance –was worse. In rap song of lectures in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1958, John Cage managed to prove that the outcome of music written by likelihood indicates differs very little from that written applying serialism. Even so, possibility seemed to leave the public bewildered and angry. Possibility is likelihood. There is absolutely nothing on which to hold, absolutely nothing to guide the thoughts. Even highly effective musical personalities, such as Cage’s, generally have problems reining in the raging dispersions and diffusions that possibility scatters, seemingly aimlessly. But, once more, lots of schools, notably in the US, detected a sensation in the creating with the entry of free of charge opportunity into the music scene, and indeterminacy became a new mantra for any person interested in producing some thing, anything, so long as it was new.

I believe parenthetically that 1 can concede Cage some quarter that 1 may be reluctant to cede to other people. Generally possibility has grow to be a citadel of lack of discipline in music. Also usually I’ve noticed this outcome in university classes in the US that ‘teach ‘found (!)’ music. The rigor of discipline in music producing must never be shunted away in search of a music that is ‘found’, rather than composed. Nonetheless, in a most peculiar way, the power of Cage’s personality, and his surprising sense of rigor and discipline appear to rescue his ‘chance’ art, exactly where other composers just flounder in the sea of uncertainty.

Nevertheless, as a remedy to the rigor mortis so cosmically bequeathed to music by serial controls, possibility is a really poor stepsister. The Cageian composer who can make likelihood music talk to the soul is a rare bird certainly. What seemed missing to several was the perfume that makes music so wonderfully evocative. The ambiance that a Debussy could evoke, or the fright that a Schonberg could invoke (or provoke), seemed to evaporate with the modern technocratic or totally free-spirited ways of the new musicians. Iannis Xenakis jolted the music globe with the potent solution in the guise of a ‘stochastic’ music. As Xenakis’ operate would evolve later into excursions into connexity and disconnexity, offering a template for Julio Estrada’s Continuum, the path toward re-introducing energy, beauty and fragrance into sound became clear. All this in a ‘modernist’ conceptual approach!


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