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The Rest is Noise   You are logged in as Guest
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runner

 

Posts: 352
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

The Rest is Noise 

Upon recommendation, I retrieved Alex Ross' book on 20th century music from the local library, and have completed reading it. I prefer reading books to reading reviews about books, so I approached Ross without preconceptions. Having finished it, I turned to the usual blurbs of praise on the back of the dust jacket. My own suggestion for those interested in the topic is to read the book, of course, but also then to compare and contrast The Rest is Noise with the 1997 edition of Harold C. Schonberg's The Lives of the Great Composers, starting on p.378 of Schonberg and reading on to the end on p.619. In my opinion, Schonberg easily bests Ross both in quality of argument and quality of presentation. But you be the judge.

But Ross does offer some tantalizing suggestions as to the state of music, and by extension, the other arts, today. I offer some quotes:

From the Preface: "in the twentieth century, however, musical life disintegrated into a teeming mass of cultures and subcultures, each with its own canon and jargon. Some genres have attained more popularity than others; none has true mass appeal."

From Chapter 11, Brave New World: "Music exploded into a pandemonium of revolutions, counter revolutions, theories, polemics, alliances, and party splits. The language of modern music was reinvented on an almost yearly basis: twelve-tone composition gave way to 'total serialism', which gave way to chance music, which gave way to a music of free-floating timbres, which gave way to neo-Dada happenings and collages and so on."

From After the End: "Styles of every description--minimalism, post-minimalism, electronic music, laptop music, Internet music, New Complexity, Spectralism, doomy collages and mystical meditations from Eastern Europe and Russia, appropriations of rock, pop, and hip-hop, new experiments in folkloristic music in Latin America, the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East-- jostle against each other, none achieving supremacy."

Why does this kind of talk remind me of something I once read somewhere else.....

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 27 2015 23:24:25
 
estebanana

Posts: 7702
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: The Rest is Noise (in reply to runner

quote:

From Chapter 11, Brave New World: "Music exploded into a pandemonium of revolutions, counter revolutions, theories, polemics, alliances, and party splits. The language of modern music was reinvented on an almost yearly basis: twelve-tone composition gave way to 'total serialism', which gave way to chance music, which gave way to a music of free-floating timbres, which gave way to neo-Dada happenings and collages and so on."

From After the End: "Styles of every description--minimalism, post-minimalism, electronic music, laptop music, Internet music, New Complexity, Spectralism, doomy collages and mystical meditations from Eastern Europe and Russia, appropriations of rock, pop, and hip-hop, new experiments in folkloristic music in Latin America, the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East-- jostle against each other, none achieving supremacy."

Why does this kind of talk remind me of something I once read somewhere else.....



I'll not comment because I can't be sure you did not cherry pick your excerpts to support your defense of your one book. Unfortunately I don't have access to this book or a library that has 'Lives of the Composers'.

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The fox knows many books, but the hedgehog knows only one book.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 28 2015 1:24:54
 
runner

 

Posts: 352
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Rest is Noise (in reply to estebanana

I fully support your decision to not comment.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 28 2015 3:10:50
 
chester

Posts: 765
Joined: Oct. 29 2010
 

RE: The Rest is Noise (in reply to runner

What are the differences between electronic music, laptop music, and Internet music?

I guess you don't need internet for the first two, and can forgo a computer in favor of a switch and some wires for the first?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 28 2015 5:03:09
 
runner

 

Posts: 352
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Rest is Noise (in reply to chester

Electronic music consists of sounds generated or modified by tone generators, tape machines, etc., and has been around since the 1940s if not earlier. Ross' book has no index entry for either laptop music or Internet music, but he does mention them additionally on p.515, as follows: "Each new technological advance--digital sampling, the MIDI interface for computers and synthesizers, computer music software, interactive Internet linkups--mandates a change in technique. The advent of laptop computers means that composers can carry their life's work in a backpack, and via the Internet they can send it around the world at the touch of a button." Perhaps Wikipedia can provide additional information on all three subjects.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 28 2015 14:44:23
 
runner

 

Posts: 352
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Rest is Noise (in reply to runner

More hauntingly suggestive talk about music in the past century, from Harold C. Schonberg (and Robert P. Morgan)-- these are the concluding paragraphs of Schonberg's Lives of the Great Composers:

"In the concluding chapter of his comprehensive Twentieth-Century Music, Robert P. Morgan discusses the pluralistic nature of much of today's music after the 1970s. The period was characterized by 'a range of compositional attitudes and aesthetic ideologies unprecedented in the history of Western music. Even basic distinctions between what is and what is not music are no longer easily maintained, and lines between different types of music have often faded to the point of invisibility.' Various styles of music not only exist simultaneously, but 'now they impinge on one another, both directly and indirectly, and often overlap entirely.... The extreme pluralism of current music seems to suggest that the present period actually does not have a musical culture of its own.'

Morgan goes on to conclude: 'The openness and eclecticism of current musical life has been bought at the expense of a system of shared beliefs and values and a community of artistic concerns. The isolation of contemporary music from the larger social fabric, as well as the extreme strategies introduced to combat this isolation, are symptomatic of this condition.... Whether or not one likes what one hears, current music represents an honest, if unflattering, image of a cluttered and unfocused age... At least until there is a profound shift in contemporary consciousness, it seems likely that music will retain its present pluralistic and uncentered quality. For music to change, the world will have to change.'

Which, in effect, more or less complements the last words of the first and second editions of Lives of the Great Composers: 'It had been an interesting, a wild, a highly productive thirty-five years--but it had gone up a dead end. Whatever the complex of reasons, the period after.....World War II and the following decades saw a hiatus in the mighty line of powerful, individualistic composers that had extended from Monteverdi through Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg.'

Alas, those words are still true."

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The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 4 2015 16:55:13
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