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I merely ask whether this is a fitting minute and a half Ode for Memorial Day, for the US or for soldiers in general.

Or an Ode to Armistice Day?

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I hear the buzzing of Schroedinger's Gnat, and I want to set it to music.

I think it is indeed fitting, Ondib, and I congratulate your effort. I must agree with you that we owe a great debt to our servicemen in uniform, for protecting us all from the aggression and violence by which the USA, Israel, and their allies, the whole of the civilized world, have been so unjustifiably assailed.

I think it is a noble thing you do here, to support the military, intelligence, and national security entities charged with protecting our free, benevolent, and just nation from the irrational and rootless aggressions of evil. Kudos to you and our troops!

Hello Benji, (Benjamin "Benji" Weissenstein),

 

You appear to be very interested in my work and posts.  I am not quite sure what prompts your interest. I am sure that my meandering thoughts and modest attempts at musical composition are not worth so much of your time and thought. Still, I don’t wish to dissuade you from pursuing any avenue of interest that you may happen upon (at least, not for the time being).

 

That being said, if you are at the age that your photo suggests, I feel I owe it to you to be as straightforward and sincere as possible.  I wish to speak to you without irony or double-entendre.  Sarcasm of your sort does not really become you. Not in someone so young. 

 

If you looked at this thread at all, and at what I have written elsewhere on this site, you know I do not embrace the rather transparent propaganda put out by our government.  You would know that I do not believe, as the corporate media report, that the Pentagon is simply dedicated to “protecting us all from the aggression and violence …”  Perhaps you don’t either.  I don’t know how cynical you are.  As a “rock musician,” I would hope that you know better.  (Being a “child of the sixties,” perhaps I have an exaggeratedly idealistic notion of what a rock musician should be).

 

I believe you also know that I do not think our “intelligence agencies” and our “military institutions” are always acting in the best interests of the US, or in the best interest of humanity.  Quite often, and probably in the majority of cases, they are acting not to defend or to protect US citizens, but to destroy and to kill countless tens of thousands of people half way around the globe with whom we have no business at all, unless it is to secure control over their commerce, their social and their political institutions.

 

The music was intended to satirize the kind of nationalism that you (partly) mock in your comment, and was subsumed into a larger work called “Crisis in Ukraine,” which you can listen to at this url, if you are genuinely interested.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zP9nA5ZrGE&index=2&list=PL...

 

But I would invite you to give us your true opinions, about the issues discussed on this thread, or about the music, or about anything.  Why?  I say this because a “dishonest flattery” (if I can so describe your recent statements, on this and other threads) is worse for both you and for me than honest disagreement, frankly and openly stated. 

 

It’s up to you, of course.  Let’s just try to keep the conversation as civilized and as polite as possible.  (If am wrong in my interpretation of you remarks, please forgive my presumption).

 

Yes I am very interested. I sense from your hostile tone that perhaps I have offended you in the zealousness of my admiration. I apologize and humbly ask you forgiveness, but there is no mockery in my compliments.

I find your prose and music beyond compare, even among the "greats", such as Beethoven, Kant, Schubert, and Descartes; their hallowed luminosity seems to pale by comparison. Does that opinion offend you? I sincerely apologize if it does, but I think, in the spirit of this forum, even one as learned as yourself should refrain from falsely interpreting others' words, or using contemptuous and abusive language on those who only wish to drink from your well of learning, would you agree? I don't think that sort of behavior elevates the standard of dialog, nor the general spirit of the place.

Now, having clarified these points, may we continue with the musical topic of the post?



Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Hello Benji, (Benjamin "Benji" Weissenstein),

 

You appear to be very interested in my work and posts.  I am not quite sure what prompts your interest. I am sure that my meandering thoughts and modest attempts at musical composition are not worth so much of your time and thought. Still, I don’t wish to dissuade you from pursuing any avenue of interest that you may happen upon (at least, not for the time being).

 

That being said, if you are at the age that your photo suggests, I feel I owe it to you to be as straightforward and sincere as possible.  I wish to speak to you without irony or double-entendre.  Sarcasm of your sort does not really become you. Not in someone so young. 

 

If you looked at this thread at all, and at what I have written elsewhere on this site, you know I do not embrace the rather transparent propaganda put out by our government.  You would know that I do not believe, as the corporate media report, that the Pentagon is simply dedicated to “protecting us all from the aggression and violence …”  Perhaps you don’t either.  I don’t know how cynical you are.  As a “rock musician,” I would hope that you know better.  (Being a “child of the sixties,” perhaps I have an exaggeratedly idealistic notion of what a rock musician should be).

 

I believe you also know that I do not think our “intelligence agencies” and our “military institutions” are always acting in the best interests of the US, or in the best interest of humanity.  Quite often, and probably in the majority of cases, they are acting not to defend or to protect US citizens, but to destroy and to kill countless tens of thousands of people half way around the globe with whom we have no business at all, unless it is to secure control over their commerce, their social and their political institutions.

 

The music was intended to satirize the kind of nationalism that you (partly) mock in your comment, and was subsumed into a larger work called “Crisis in Ukraine,” which you can listen to at this url, if you are genuinely interested.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zP9nA5ZrGE&index=2&list=PL...

 

But I would invite you to give us your true opinions, about the issues discussed on this thread, or about the music, or about anything.  Why?  I say this because a “dishonest flattery” (if I can so describe your recent statements, on this and other threads) is worse for both you and for me than honest disagreement, frankly and openly stated. 

 

It’s up to you, of course.  Let’s just try to keep the conversation as civilized and as polite as possible.  (If am wrong in my interpretation of you remarks, please forgive my presumption).

 

I'm listening to this and I find it hilarious. I hope this is not offending you, but I find it a great musical joke. I suppose US patriots won't be too happy about it though. Oh well.

Spiros, I am not at all offended by what you said.  On the contrary, I find it the most gratifying of all the comments made.  You are probably one of the very few who saw this for what it was:  Simply an elaborate "musical joke," as you said.  I enjoyed doing it, and having my little laugh, if only a few others did. I have to admit, my favorite criticism, which still makes me laugh, was this one posted above:  "No [it was not fitting], Charles Ives. I actually played this for a veteran, and he said if you were in the room he would slap you first with the left hand of liberty and then with the right hand of freedom." [emphasis added]  I thought the poster was himself joking at first, but he was not.  That was priceless.

 

Benji, (Benjamin "Benji" Weissenstein),

 

You said, “Yes I am very interested. I sense from your hostile tone that perhaps I have offended you in the zealousness of my admiration.”  You do offend not just me, but God in heaven with such expressions, to be sure. I must stop you, and say, along with Haydn, that if there is any virtue, or beauty, or truth in anything I have said or done,  “It comes not from me at all, but from above!”  So I, who am dust, as Haydn says, deserve no praise or compliments.  You say, “I apologize and humbly ask you forgiveness, but there is no mockery in my compliments.”  All the more reason for me to ask you to desist, since I am totally unworthy of the approbation which you try to heap upon me. I don’t think you should say, “I find your prose and music beyond compare, even among the ‘greats,’ such as Beethoven, Kant, Schubert, and Descartes; their hallowed luminosity seems to pale by comparison.”  Nor should you praise Beethoven, Kant, Schubert or Descartes as you do.  You have probably heard that Ringo Starr revealed a few days ago in an interview, that one of his chief musicologists demonstrated conclusively that Beethoven really died in 1796. He was, it seems, replaced by a man who won a Beethoven look-alike contest, called Wilhelm Schearer.  So none of the works composed after 1796 were written by the “real Beethoven.”   It was all a sham, and this should be a lesson for all of us, that we should not venerate the people we thought we should.  Venerate no one, unless it is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

 

“Does that opinion offend you?”

 

The opinion that the “hallowed luminosity” of the greats pales in comparison to me?  Such an opinion is very offensive, yes.

 

“I sincerely apologize if it does.”

 

Do not apologize to me, but to the spirits of the great composers and philosophers, or those you used to think were great, they who now dwell on high.   Apologize to the forum, for your attempt to raise me too high above my appropriate station, and for your efforts to flatter me—for I am a person not fit to lick the boots of most unqualified kazoo tuner.  Please don’t say, “one as learned as yourself should refrain from falsely interpreting others' words” because my poor mind reels with the complexity of the simplest facts, and cannot but interpret things in a mistaken fashion, especially when you thrust me far above my wonted position up into the starry realms of fame and position.

 

“Now, having clarified these points, may we continue with the musical topic of the post?”

 

I don’t know how we can go on, when you refuse to treat me as an equal, and as a mere mortal such as yourself. You must desist, desist, from ever praising me again, even with the slightest nod of approval.  Please, I beg you.

 

I kind of like it. I wrote a piece kind of similar in my saxophone concerto but I also quoted native american music that played on top of military tunes. I see why some might be offended, our military culture encourages blind patriotism. I saw that first hand when I live in Killeen/Ft. Hood (largest military base in America). But I know a few Vets that would love this piece, probably wish it was longer. 

Tyler wrote,

"I kind of like it. I wrote a piece kind of similar in my saxophone concerto but I also quoted native american music that played on top of military tunes. I see why some might be offended, our military culture encourages blind patriotism. I saw that first hand when I live in Killeen/Ft. Hood (largest military base in America). But I know a few Vets that would love this piece, probably wish it was longer. "

Tyler that sounds fascinating.  I am very interested both in the saxophone (which I think is a highly underused instrument by classical composers) and in the use of Native American music. Your "quotations" of Native American music, played on top of military tunes is something I would like very much to hear.  Do you have a version we can hear, a link to that?

Of course, it was premiered about a year ago. Here is the recording. In one spot, I used set theory based on dates of most of the American conflicts in wars since the american revolution. 

http://youtu.be/P2UFu8HDslw

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Tyler wrote,

"I kind of like it. I wrote a piece kind of similar in my saxophone concerto but I also quoted native american music that played on top of military tunes. I see why some might be offended, our military culture encourages blind patriotism. I saw that first hand when I live in Killeen/Ft. Hood (largest military base in America). But I know a few Vets that would love this piece, probably wish it was longer. "

Tyler that sounds fascinating.  I am very interested both in the saxophone (which I think is a highly underused instrument by classical composers) and in the use of Native American music. Your "quotations" of Native American music, played on top of military tunes is something I would like very much to hear.  Do you have a version we can hear, a link to that?

Excellent.  Thank you for posting it.  I will definitely give it a thorough listening to.

Tyler Hughes said:

Of course, it was premiered about a year ago. Here is the recording. In one spot, I used set theory based on dates of most of the American conflicts in wars since the american revolution. 

http://youtu.be/P2UFu8HDslw

Thank you Susan, (Susan Partlan) for your very supportive and generous comments regarding the piece Crisis in Ukraine. Your words are very friendly and empathetic.  Based on what you have said, I believe you understand exactly what I was trying to do.  The short excerpt was never intended to stand alone, but I posted it when I did as a sort glimpse at a “work in progress.”  It might have been unnecessarily provocative to post a satirical rendering of patriotic American music on Memorial Day, as I did. Still, it  did incite an interesting conversation.  I continue to have my doubts about the general practice of the using of satire and irony in music.   Musicologist James McHard argues that contemporary music does not strengthen itself or move forward when it relies heavily on parody; he believes today’s “sound based compositions” should instead work towards the creation of new and original aural experiences, which are not so closely tied up with allusions to tradition (see   The Future of Modern Music: A Philosophical Exploration of Modernis...). I think he makes a good point.

 

My own experiences in Russia and my close friendships with Ukrainians made it almost impossible for me not to write the piece, however. It was my personal response to events going on in Kiev, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  The use of, and distortion of, the anthems of the main players (the US, Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, Poland etc. and the “Internationale,” as well as the Crimean Anthem and the Ode to Joy, at the end) all seemed natural and appropriate to me in this context.  Also, there is something in the works of Prokofiev and Shostakovich (my favorite mid twentieth century composers) that will often inspire me towards the expression of irony and satirical humor in music, and even parody at times.  From a purely thematic point of view Crisis in Ukraine is very different from what Stockhausen’s Hymnen (“Anthems”) tries to do, because, in spite of the distortion that occurs in his work (as a result of the merging and faint allusions to patriotic music and the Internationale, played via unsteady short wave signals) his work appears to affirm the “anthems.”  I intended to interrogate them, and even negate them, almost in Boulez’s or Adorno’s sense of negation.  [Of course, Pierre Boulez thought the entire musical fabric of traditional tonality, melody and harmony had to be negated—nothing in music should be “recognizable” from past practice that came before Schoenberg.  But in that case, no anthem could ever be heard or identified.  See the book Boulez, Philosophy and Music].

 

I am affirming “human brotherhood,” genuine transnationalism and the elevation of the mind and heart above the petty “nationalisms” expressed in the anthems; while at the same time satirizing and rejecting the false “internationalism” represented by the “Internationale,” and the Leninist and Stalinist misuses of the sentiment contained in the “workers’ anthem.”  I attempted this by inversions and variations on the “Internationale,” and the slowed down re-phrasing of the theme from Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, at the conclusion of the piece, which I saw as the positive affirmation of a more or less distant and peaceful future.

 

Once again, thank you for your interest.


Susan Partlan said:

Hello, I am new to the forum and would like to make friends here so I will refrain from making political comments (I refrain from this in general, not just on forums). To me this piece makes sense within the larger “Crisis in Ukraine 1 & 2" piece, less so by itself. For one thing that piece begins with some gravitas and has other moments of irony and sadness. Satirizing works best IMO with irony and gravitas too, because it means to convey that the thing seen (or heard) is not what it appears to be -- this usually needs pointing out via the art of satire because there is a thread of sadness, sadness that the thing taken for what it appears to be conceals a darker, more complex truth. “Crisis in Ukraine 1 & 2" is really good and the short snippet posted here works well within the context of the whole piece.

Tyler's Saxaphone Concerto Mvt. III is brilliant. 

 

I look forward to your piece, Susan.  Thanks again for your kind words.  “Political stances” within the heart of any work of art are bound to be problematic, and I was careful not to “take sides” in Crisis in Ukraine. I know a sister and a brother who have diametrically opposed views on the current war in the East, near the Russian border. Though I share more with Luigi Nono and Iannis Xenakis in my political views than I do with many other composers, I usually do not express ideological positions in my musical work, even indirectly.  I do find the expression of “spiritual feelings” to be suitable within music, in the broadest sense of the term “spiritual.”

 

We read:  ‘"Human Brotherhood" HA... Its a dog eat dog world and YOU are wearing milk bone underwear.’

 

Can or should that be the point of view of “composers?”  If one embraces the pessimism of Camille Saint-Saens, perhaps the statement appears to have some validity.    However, from the point of view of Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Prokofiev and Stockhausen, perhaps, there is a slightly more elevated, more spiritual and more optimistic view of the destiny of humankind, which does embrace many exalted ideals, often including the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God. 

 

If materialism, hopelessness and despair— asserting man is no more than a soulless vulture—is a person’s “cup of tea” or so-called philosophy, then one can simply join the ranks of the Wall Street Investors.  In so doing, there may be a danger or a tendency to forget about the transcendent values inherent in the best of what we call “music.” 

 

I am often pondering the fact that “dogs eating other dogs” (and even those gentle canines who don’t) can hear all the sounds of a symphony orchestra.   Even so, like other “savage beasts,” they don’t actually appear to be very much soothed by Beethoven Quartets, the Ode to Joy, or Bach partitas.  Humans do, however.  Why is this? Great music and high art seem to inhabit a slightly higher sphere than the world of animals eating one another, companies that produce dog food and PR firms that advertise fashionable underwear.

 

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