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Author Topic: New, yet accessible  (Read 38989 times)
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Precious
Omar the Tent Maker

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« Reply #20 on: Oct 21, 2006, 09:51AM »

Clever If you are going to write for piano, remember we are limited to around 10  notes at a time (I say around because we can *sometimes* double up), and very very few of us can hit anything over a 12th, if we are able to hit that at all (I'm limited to an octave unless I use two hands...there goes Moonlight Sonata).

I made another post somewhere around here about my top 10 pet peeves as a piano player...I still stand by everything I said.

I'll throw in that while I play mainly classical/baroque/etc pieces, I've been known to play more contemporary stuff like Billy Joel (he is fun to play) Norah Jones (rarely what is printed resembles what you hear in her recordings), and my lone Five for Fighting song (note for note what you hear in the recording).  

Not a lot of contemporary musicians utilize the piano.  :(

New and authorized arrangements would be awesome.  Don't water it down though.  I love a challenging piece....I know my limits though.  

I'll tell you if I can't play it because of the size of my hands, so don't get cranky if I refuse your piece.

That said, I would love to see some of fellow forumite's piano works.

I have Finale '05 so I can receive those files, and .pdf's would be ok if you use a different method.  I'll print it and go play it.  My email addy is attached to the bottom of all my posts, and yes, it is accurate, my main, and checked frequently.

If you share just to share, tell me, and I'll keep my opinions to myself.  If you want a critique, please don't be upset if you don't like what I say.  I do get asked to play in church sometimes, and if I like your piece enough, I might ask your permission to play it there!

(I just realized that my post is slightly off topic and a shameless beg for new music.  Sorry about that.)
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« Reply #21 on: Oct 22, 2006, 10:54AM »

I believe Dave Tatro hit the nail on the head:

Repetition.

If you look at the tonal pieces that are most popular (and that most of us would rather step on a nail than play), they're highly repetitive (not to say repetitious).

In the Mood, Pachelbel's Canon, 1812 Overture, etc.  

Non-musicians like to get a theme sandblasted into their heads before hearing the variation, countermelody, and so forth.

Repetition helped Philip Glass sell a lot of contemporary music.  

Also judicious use of dynamics, rhythm, and space makes music more accessible to audiences, regardless of the tonality used.  Music that focuses on 'note choice' tends to be cerebral.
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Brisko

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« Reply #22 on: Oct 23, 2006, 12:33PM »

I think what you're really talking about is form.  Most classical forms revisit (or repeat, if you will) the same materials at various points throughout-- this gives a piece unity.  Tonal considerations further unify the piece.  Fugue, Rondo form, sonata form; heck, binary forms like the ubiquitous AABA song form-- all of these are based on repetition.

I find non-tonal music to be much more palatable if it is based some sort of formal structure, and I think this might be the case for other listeners, too, because it provides structural unity to the piece, even if there is no tonal unity.

Bartok frequently used strict formal structures, too, which added unity to the unconventional tonal/harmonic structures he used.
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« Reply #23 on: Oct 23, 2006, 12:44PM »

Quote from: "Brisko"
I think what you're really talking about is form.  Most classical forms revisit (or repeat, if you will) the same materials at various points throughout-- this gives a piece unity.


I think that's part of it, but not the whole thing.  Consider a melody, 32 measures long, where each measure is completely different from the others.  Consider another melody, also 32 measures long, with repeated rhythmic devices and melodic motives.  The latter will be more easily remembered and thus more accessible.

Pick pretty much anything by Mozart.  He'll repeat motives immediately, most of the time.  It stands to reason; music before recordings was designed to be heard exactly once, so the important "information," the parts that the composer wanted you to notice returned later, were repeated earlier, so as to make them familiar.
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Brisko

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« Reply #24 on: Oct 23, 2006, 01:30PM »

Yup, I'll grant you that.  Maybe I should have said "classical forms tend to be more accessible because they are repetitive."  Certainly, the Mozart example is accurate, and I think the practice of emphasizing important material through repetition was pretty wide-spread in his time.  Beethoven did this too.
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #25 on: Oct 23, 2006, 02:42PM »

Quote from: "Brisko"
Beethoven did this too.


Absolutely!  So much of his 5th is repetition of the "short-short-short-long" pattern established in the first four notes of the whole stinking thing.  It shows up both in melody and accompaniment.  (Bill McGlaughlin called him a "rhythm machine" in one of his episodes of Exploring Music.)  I think that repetition is what makes this symphony so memorable (and, thus accessible?).
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Gary P Kimzey
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« Reply #26 on: Oct 23, 2006, 11:53PM »

Quote from: "gpkimzey"
Quote from: "Brisko"
Beethoven did this too.


Absolutely!  So much of his 5th is repetition of the "short-short-short-long" pattern established in the first four notes of the whole stinking thing.  It shows up both in melody and accompaniment.  (Bill McGlaughlin called him a "rhythm machine" in one of his episodes of Exploring Music.)  I think that repetition is what makes this symphony so memorable (and, thus accessible?).


I was going to suggest this too.

Sing the first, say, minute of beethovens 5th.

..............

That's reppetition for you.

And everyone knows it - probably the most remembered bit of music ever.

If you go up to someone and in a monotone say: da-da-da-dum, they'll know what you're referring to.

That's what's missing from most modern music.

Little ideas that are memorable.

I think that many modern composers have to many BIG ideas, and not enough small ideas - da-da-da-dum.  Of course this is not universal, and many composers still write works based on a single cell.  What I'm getting at though, is that today, most music is just to complex.  I confess to making my music complicated aswell, with tonnes of tiem changes and accidentals etc.  That's what I hear in my head, but is it accessible?  Well, to me it is, maybe even to the people reading this, but probably not to the public.  Todays compsoers need to learn one thing, i think:

THINK SIMPLE STUPID!
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Dennis K.
« Reply #27 on: Oct 24, 2006, 06:14AM »

hooraayyyy!!!
A call to dumb down music!

What makes Beethoven 5 so memorable is that elements from and allusions to the opening theme appear throughout all 4 movements.  The music is tremendously complex, in that regard.  I am sure that there are some composers who have the mental stamina to sustain and idea, but many have neither the fortitude nor the patience.  As a result, their music is more like a collection of stuuf rather than a cohesive piece.

Complexity (or lack thereof) is not what makes the music memorable.  Examples of music lacking complexity:  Quick! - sing a theme composed by Stamitz - c'mon guys - he was as prolific as Mozart! - Yet his music is very much a generic classical sound....  I am searching my vast intellect for a single theme and coming up empty.....  Another example - the mountains of fly-by-night, boy-meets-girl, pop that is here today, gone tomorrow.  3-5 chords, and if it has a secondary dominant, it is considered profound - Yet no one remembers it unless it was attached to some event like the senior prom.

One of the elements that can make a piece memorable is a smooth flow of ideas.  Throw in all the new stuff you want, but lead me to it from a place I am familiar with.  Allow the music to be a journey, like a train ride, not a teleporter.

PS - Bill McGlaughlin has some really great stuff to say.  Good show, GP.
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Dave Tatro
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« Reply #28 on: Oct 24, 2006, 11:32AM »

Quote from: "MonsterAar"
I think that many modern composers have to many BIG ideas, and not enough small ideas - da-da-da-dum.  Of course this is not universal, and many composers still write works based on a single cell.


I guess that I would fall roughly into this category. I tend to be rather motivic in my writing and I will literally beat a motive TO DEATH to make sure that it is securly installed in the listeners' consciousness before proceeding. When I do proceed, it is usually in a manner that explores and clarifies the motive some more. Once that sucker is FIRMLY entrenched in the listeners' minds (ie- by the end of the first movement or large section), I may get cute and play around with it a bit more.

A good example of this is in a brass quintet that I am working on. The entire first movement is based on a 5-note octatonically-derived motive. In the second (slow) movement, I use the exact same motive played backards as the beginning of a lyrical melody. The audience will probably not catch this very clever bit of notework. However, it is my experience that the subconscious of the listener will percieve this to a be cohesive connection to the first movement even though they may not understand the mechanics of it.

I also have to echo Dennis's comments about complexity and memorability. And I would amplify that from the composer's point of view, the task of making music "simple" and cohesive for the listener can be very complex indeed. To construct a whole symphony based on a simple rhythm or a few intervals is a monumental undertaking.

Look at the first movement of Mahler 9. The entire (1/2 hour) movement is based on    #:space1:   . That's right. Just a descending major 2nd. Pretty amazing! And when you dig deeper into Mahler and find out that this interval plays a big role in one of his songs and then find out what word went with those notes, etc, etc, it gets even more profound. Of course, Mahler was a VERY self-referencing composer, bordering on musical narcissism, but that's beside the point.....
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #29 on: Oct 24, 2006, 11:55AM »

For clarity, I hope nobody thought I was implying Beethoven's 5th (or anything else) was "dumbed down".  Beethoven's music is mind-bogglingly complex.  I was just commenting on the repetitive nature of that single motive, like Dennis said, throughout all 4 movements.
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Gary P Kimzey
Brisko

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« Reply #30 on: Oct 24, 2006, 12:06PM »

I think one of the things that makes a piece memorable, or accessible, or _____, is unity.  That unity can be structural, tonal, harmonic, or melodic (or all of the above).  Dennis hit on this:
Quote from: "Dennis K."
What makes Beethoven 5 so memorable is that elements from and allusions to the opening theme appear throughout all 4 movements. The music is tremendously complex, in that regard. I am sure that there are some composers who have the mental stamina to sustain and idea, but many have neither the fortitude nor the patience. As a result, their music is more like a collection of stuuf rather than a cohesive piece.

Yet while the piece itself is complex, the unifying factors are relatively simple.

I'm not quite in the "three blind mice" camp, yet, but I do believe that the Urlinie plays a crucial role in the cohesiveness of a good piece.
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #31 on: Oct 25, 2006, 03:25PM »

Got the Coriglianos yesterday.  I haven't had a chance to make a careful listen.  (Every time I try to listen, something comes up to keep me from it)
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« Reply #32 on: Oct 25, 2006, 03:49PM »

Quote from: "gpkimzey"
The early 20th century, in many ways, is partly to blame for the struggling "classical" music scene.  Composers, while creating works of great artistic value, pursued novelty, in many cases, to the point where the utterly sacrificed accessibility for the average listener/concertgoer.

So here's the question; how can we, as 21st century composers, write in a way that is both novel (in the good sense) AND accessible?  Specifically, what's new?  How can we incorporate 20th century techniques (12 tone music, tone clusters, aleatory music) into compositions that are new, and hold some drawing power for contemporary audiences?


So-called 20th century techniques listed here do not even begin to describe all the ideas for organizing and introducing new ideas to music that happened in the 20th century. How about we focus on the ideas that actually have more widespread appeal rather than try to make the ideas that were unpopular with audiences successful?
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #33 on: Oct 25, 2006, 03:52PM »

I'm good with that.  Please elaborate.
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Gary P Kimzey
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« Reply #34 on: Oct 25, 2006, 07:18PM »

Well, there's the obvious wealth of ideas available in the American Jazz and Rock forms, not to mention hip-hop, bluegrass, blues, etc.

Classical music in the true sense - when we call it the classical period and before - used common dance forms extensively. That's really not so today; at least, I haven't seen much of our "classical" music that borrows a great deal from our American dance music. Sure, there's some jazz, but not that much in the grand scheme of things. And EXTREMELY rarely, someone borrows ideas from the Beatles or some other more recent development.

This is especially true for borrowing rhythmic ideas, which is odd because this is where American popular music has been the most innovative.

Suites from operas were very popular at one time - suites from movies are very popular today (look at how successful the Lord of the Rings Suite that Howard Shore put together for orchestra was), but still not very common.

That's listing the things that classical music hasn't done a good job with lately as whole; there are plenty of things that are happening now that are great that I think have a lot of potential for audience that just aren't getting talked about much in this thread - things developed by the likes of Igor Stravinski, Toru Takemitsu, Lutoslawski, and John Adams, that include extreme orchestations, tone palettes of different kinds (that do not include serial techniques) rhythmic complexities (not necessarily danceable, but interesting nonetheless, especially Stravinski and Adams), fusing some different kinds of music into the classical repertoire (Bela Fleck/Edgar Meyer), etc.
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #35 on: Oct 25, 2006, 07:33PM »

More! More!

Specifically, what would you compose, how, and why?

(Not trying to be combative, I just want more information)
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« Reply #36 on: Oct 25, 2006, 07:53PM »

I suppose the obvious answer would be to write a suite for orchestra of popular dance forms - a funk tune, an old swing tune, a rock tune, a heavy metal tune, some hip-hop thrown in, etc.

To make this work, the orchestration would likely have to be rethought as well - no cheesy canned rhythm section will do; it has to ROCK and be TIGHT.
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gpkimzey

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« Reply #37 on: Oct 25, 2006, 07:59PM »

Quote from: "Andrew Meronek"

To make this work, the orchestration would likely have to be rethought as well - no cheesy canned rhythm section will do; it has to ROCK and be TIGHT.


Yeah, and even a world class orchestra would have difficulty with the rhythms, I think.  It has been my experience that most "classically" trained string players can't feel pop rhythms - they are mathmatically correct, but oh so wrong.  Maybe I've just worked with the wrong ones, though.

Good ideas!  I actually started a blues piano sonata based on a shuffle, ballad and _________ (never did decide what I wanted to put the third movement into).  Maybe I oughtta dig that thing out and dust it off. Grin
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Gary P Kimzey
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« Reply #38 on: Oct 25, 2006, 08:13PM »

I think that a world class orchestra would have less trouble than you'd think, given a great orchestration. Just after a bit of musing, I can tell you that I'd only use the strings for melody and effects. Their attacks aren't precise enough to play rhythm section kind of figures.

There are a couple instruments that could be good with power chord type voicings - especially trombones. Way cool

Hmmmm . . . I'll have to think about this more.
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« Reply #39 on: Oct 25, 2006, 08:16PM »

Oh, yeah.  Bones, trumpets, saxes (for those orchestras that use them).
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