Author Topic: Music Today  (Read 468 times)


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Music Today
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:32:54 PM »
The paradigm of classical music (as distinguished from folk, popular, or ethnic, ceremonial, etc) is that it is scored. The rerason that it is scored is for two reasons:

 A.) it "records" the music in precise, unchanging form (before audio recording was possible), and

 B.) it makes it possible to coordinate larger groups of players than folk or popular are able to control.

 There are contrasts which this creates, and consequences to this:

 C.) Music-making takes the creation of musical ideas away from the individual performer or small group, as in folk, and music making becomes a matter of performing only, and 'reading' and performing what is before the player in written form, with the composer as primary creator; i.e., it transforms what was once an exclusively'creative performance' into a written, primary act of creation by the composer, which can be reproduced and transported as pure 'idea;' this is not separated in folk or jazz, where performance is part of the creative act;

 D.) Scoring takes music out of the exclusively aural "ear" realm, and gives it a visual bias, as it is in written form, for reading, and becomes an "eye" form, more visual in nature; music in written form acquires qualities which the 'ear' mode cannot duplicate as easily; visual, written ideas can change constantly, with not as much need to remember long sequences or series of changes; human biological memory is no longer dominant, with all its weaknesses.

 With the advent of sound recording, we can now record any audio event precisely, resulting in these new differences:

 A.) is less relevant and important; and making it easier and faster to preserve performances in unchanging form;

 B.) is still relevant, in that large groups can be handled;

 C.) is less relevant, in that audio recording gives the 'ear' dimension much more power of precision, and precise performances without variance can be captured, in permanent form; it facilitates and empowers the 'performer as creator' paradigm, such as The Beatles writing songs by ear in the studio, without scoring;

 D.) is still relevant, in that scoring, a visual mode of perception in written form, facilitates ideas which can be more precise, or change more frequently, are very uniform and consistent, and are not reliant on biological memory.

 So, audio recording has changed the actual paradigm of classically scored music vs. 'ear' music. Either form can still be used by itself, independently, with all its stregths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages; but audio recording has empowered the 'ear' mode. and scored music has consequently lost some of this power, but has retained other aspects.

 Electronic music which is done on tape, without score, or performed in small groups, as with Stockhausen's ensembles (Kontakt, Prozession, Mikrophonie, Kurzwellen) is using the 'ear' paradigm.
 Varese is composing intuitively, with pure sound, but is doing so with traditional orchestral forces. He occupies a middle ground.

 Music which is scored, like Ligeti or Lutoslawski, but which is to a degree indeterminate, is also in the middle.

 It seems that the more 'independence' sound itself is given, departing from the predetermined control of precise scored instructions, the more it departs from the traditional paradigm.

 Computers allow a precise control of sound events without scoring as well, using a different form of visual language. This is what distiguishes Milton Babbitt's RCA Synthesizer works from "free" electronic works like Posseur and Varese's Poem Electronique.

 Terry Riley is a middle-grounder as well, since actual performance and improvisation is integral to his performance works (Poppy Nogood, Sri Camel), but is contrasted by scored works, such as his scored string quartet pieces and the semi-indeterminate scored piece "In C."
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno