What good is new music?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Aaron, Nov 1, 2002.

  1. Aaron

    Aaron
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    An interesting article was brought to my attention. In the May 1, 2001 edition of American Record Guide, Donald R. Vroon postulates an interesting observation about music and the cravings for something new.

    The title of the article is Critical Convictions. Here are some excerpts.

    That's all I dare reproduce. Look for the article. I think you'll find it enlightening.

    I should note here that Vroon is not a Christian. A central pier in the argument for New Worship is that it is something that contemporary society can identify with. Well here is a spokesman for that society that says "hogwash."
     
  2. Bro. Curtis

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    Good artice, great disclaimer. [​IMG]
     
  3. Brett Valentine

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    Very interesting article.

    I remember as a music undergrad in college, I found the "push' for "new serious" compositions to be strained and artificial. It seemed that any person trying to write a piece that was of a more tonal (what we would consider "melodic")nature was labeled (or simply thought) a derivative throw back, at best, to the Romantic period (referring to a style of music from around the late 19th century).

    While some of the 20th century atonal music is interesting (usually from a more "mathematic"-music throry point of view) and some even pretty, not much of it seems to touch the heart or inspire. It's the "pretty stuff" from the likes of Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart that seem to reach the most people. . . Not the later (more atonal and "avant garde") composers like Varese, Stockhausen, or Berg. No matter how much it was stressed, and we were encouraged to listen to and compose in the style of the modern composers, it never held any great weight with myself, my sister, brother-in-law, or many of my friends who graduated.

    Relating that to the current culture, the problem with a lot of what's "new" (meaning what's getting airplay) is that it is based on economic motivation. . . The "current style" as dictated by focus groups. I'm pretty sure "God don't care 'bout no focus groups."

    Something written to fit a demographic, at some point, has to be artificial in nature. . . targeted to a certain group of listeners to make the most amount of money in the least amount of time.

    Something written from the heart to God, "It Is Well With My Soul," for example, will show the difference in a conspicuous manner, and yet, that is not limited to the musical styles of the last 2 or 3 centuries. A person shaped by a culture designed around focus groups still can write within that style, from their heart to God. They were shaped by that culture which is "contemporary" for them, and their frame of reference (there is, however, no excuse for putting out a song with poor theology for the sake of poetic liscence).

    As to the need to honestly, authentically identify with a "current culture" being "hogwash," I didn't get that exact sense from the article. I thought he was saying that the past styles still retained their validity regardless of what the latest thing might be, and that the latest thing could very well be junk.

    The musical styles I [​IMG] most easily identify with are the styles of my youth/young adulthood. . . Not my childhood, and not necessarily with what's "immediate," but also, not as readily the music of centuries past (though I did grow up listening to classical music as well as jazz.

    That said, what stuck with me was his statement: "Newness has no value at all in itself." He's right; newness has no value at all in itself, but it does mean "new money" from a culture carefully, relentlessly trained to always want the "newest, most up to date. . ."

    Brett

    [ November 01, 2002, 04:01 PM: Message edited by: Brett Valentine ]
     
  4. Helen

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    I don't think anyone here on BB who has seen my posts would doubt I am anything but 'radically conservative', but I had to chuckle at the article and the thread. All music was new once. In the days of the Strausses, the waltz was considered lewd. Musical compositions of incredible quality were done under enormous time pressure from sponsors and opera deadlines. The demand for something new was constant.

    We have a few from those years that we consider classics. There will probably be a few from our generation that achieve that status, too. Not many. Most of it, as it always has been, is junk. But each generation probably truly is responsible for something new that will become classic.

    I can look back on my high school years and say without hesitation that a lot of Henry Mancini material is classic.

    Some of the current praise choruses will probably also attain the status we now give to some of the fine old hymns in time. Not many, but a few.

    Just wanted to balance this a little... :D
     
  5. Aaron

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    Helen, you missed the point.
     
  6. JonHenry

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    You know that Schoenberg was not so much "new" as he was "original", and that radiated to his small school of Berg & Webern. The first generation or so after this was also gifted & creative -- Messiaen, on up to Penderecki & Carter.

    We run into a problem when we require students to forge on and write in this "new" teritory, which has actually been trampled to death in the past 100 years. That's why Alan Forte ("Structure of Atonal Music") really likes show tunes from the 20's & 30's.

    We start running into big trouble in the John Cage school. He opened up a can of worms, and he would have said that opening up a can of worms was music. In school, some teach you to make music using the same matrices, the same mathematic principles. Then when you're out of those classes, others teach you to make music with an aerosol can & a drum. Or whatever.
    That's bad "new".
    Ives was pretty good "new". Beethoven was great "new".

    I realize i haven't said anything new... ;)
     
  7. JonHenry

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  8. Aaron

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    More from the article:

     
  9. JonathanDT

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    It's too late tonight to post a full rebuttal, but let me just say....

    It sounds like someone has a serious case of nostalgia, and that nostalgia has colored his views. There are many large flaws in his argument, for instance he assumes that if someone wants something new, that they aren't happy or dislike the old. Not always the case. I love my current music, but do I also want newer music? Definently!! It's not out with the old in with the new, it's listen to the old and add in the new. If I built a wall around myself so that nothing new could affect me, I would be missing out on a huge amount of terrific stuff.
     
  10. Aaron

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    Remember, Jonathan, these are just excerpts. So you may want to read the whole article before you write your rebuttal.

    I merely posted this as an interesting, though eminently relevant, thought. Nothing more.

    So you won't get any argument from me.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Appreciate the good article Aaron. Reminds us that there is "nothing new" even in the "new" music!

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Maybe not in his mind. [​IMG] While there are many themes repeated over and over in the artistic realms, there are certainly new ideas and new ways of working in every medium. Simply the advances in technology create new mediums for artistic expression and new ways of presenting and transforming thought that are fresh and new.

    Um, yes they do. As a professional editor/writer, I know this from experience. People want something fresh and new to read.

    Not being a rabid visual arts fan, I tend to go to exhibitions of classic work -- impressionism is my favorite. We have world-class art museums in Fort Worth.

    I know from experience that many people go to see paintings because they want to see famous pieces of art (they go for the name of the famous artist, not necessarily the content), but they often find meaning and beauty in unexpected works from "lesser" artists in the process. I would say this fellow is wrong here as well.

    I'm always looking for new music... I love music and have a huge eclectic collections of styles and artists, and I'm always looking for something else. I find great meaning in excellent music.

    I also compose songs with my love and we try to make everything fresh and new in our striving for excellence. There are always new ideas -- especially using alternate tunings on guitar and non-traditional meters.

    </font>[/QUOTE]I don't know the context of this quote, so I don't know the identity of the people who might "adopt it". But there is always new music available for those who have ears to hear it. While it's true that excellence is very hard to find, it has always been that way. But if we are dismissive of artists who struggle to perfect their craft and disparage their "good" new work just because it doesn't meet with our vision of "excellence", we are denying God's creative gift in the artist and discouraging the development of future works of excellence.
     
  13. Brett Valentine

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    Good point. I think the problem is more in the way they were presented, and the general but unspoken "attitude" surrounding the like. And, interestingly enough, while Berg and Webern don't speak to me, I do like what I've heard by Penderecki & Carter.

    The impression I got was that the progression of music to "synthesis" (following along the same path as philosophy, art, etc.)"ran itself out of track," as it almost had to do. I think jazz, in the form of Coltrane and the like carried the torch further, and the present day descendents (Pat Metheny, MIke Stern, Mike Brecker, Wayne Shorter, etc.) who seem to be in the same category of having all 12 notes of the scale available for soloing all the time, but over a more "tonal" harmonic structure.

    And that last statement speaks volumes about the music industry. . ."making music using the same matrices. . ." the same beat, the same type of arrangements, the same vocal sounds, the same melodies, the same hair cuts, the same moves, the same type of publicity shots. . . and all designed to generate the highest rate of cash flow.

    . . .And Beethoven as a precursor to the Romantic Period was pretty incredible "new."

    Brett
     
  14. JonathanDT

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    Well, I was gonna post a reply, but BaptistBeliever did a pretty good job summing up my opinion. Also seems like this article is in direct opposition to Psalms 33:3.

    God bless,
    ~JD
     

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