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Discussion of Composer Mark Andre: heir to Lachenmann, Grisey, Stockhausen and Bartok, or heir to insanity?

This discussion of MARK ANDRE has been posted in Honor of Lara Poe, Kristofer E., Bob Porter, Ingo Lee, Dave Dexter, Joseph Harry, H.S. Teoh, Greg B. Fredrick z, Rodney M and Ray. I wanted to thank all those who have participated in the discussion of Helmut Lachenmann. The recently posted composition, Divergence Quartet, by Lara Poe, helped me learn about several new aspects of modern string composition and contemporary classical music. Among other things, the Quartet inspired me to listen to and acquire more knowledge about Lachenmann, and now, Mark Andre, whom she mentioned. Mark Andre studied under Lachenmann (who was himself a student of Stockhausen), and the "spectralist," Gérard Grisey. The work linked to below may exemplify the developments we have been talking about in contemporary classical music. I think it may be highly significant, given that Mark Andre is said to be "one of the most sought after composers" during the current period. It's a composition for String Trio, with the score provided on the screen of the youtube video.

During the discussion of Lachenmann, some participants appeared to be detractors of his work, and others were either neutral or supportive. My questions here, about Mark Andre would be these:  do people think this string trio represents some continuation of tendencies that have been developing because of, or since the time of, Bela Bartok?  Which tendencies?  Does Mark Andre's Trio "go beyond" the Quartets mentioned in the Lachenmann thread in some ways?  Overall, does Mark Andre's Trio suggest something positive, negative, or neutral in the evolution of contemporary classical music?  I am interested in all opinions. Judged purely on its own merits, what can be said about this String Trio, either critically or in its favor?  Those are some of the questions that interest me. But people should feel free to comment on this thread about all aspects of Mark Andre's work, and about modern work in general.

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Some more insanity is inevitable so I'll just clean up any unnecessary references right off the bat.

Carry on.

Greg, it shouldn't be inevitable. we already know where this and other discussions are going so just end it now.

Heading such a discussion naming members with differing opinions is not to gain answers and/or more knowledge but simply to divide. There will never be an answer suiting an antagonistic nut job only more questions and more division. Don't tell me it's going to take as long as it did the last time to close it down and then maybe we can discuss our self obsession with publishing our own music.

And yes, you may altered the header but not soon enough for control c ;-)

Discussion of MARK ANDRE in Honor of Lara Poe, Kristofer E., Bob Porter, Ingo Lee, Dave Dexter, Joseph Harry, H.S. Teoh, Fredrick, Rodney & Ray


P.S. My last input on this thread.

Greg Brus said:

Some more insanity is inevitable so I'll just clean up any unnecessary references right off the bat.

Carry on.

It's not always a good idea to draw many conclusions from small samples. But since I'm not likely to listen to any more of his music, it will have to do.

My impression of Lachenmann is that his music might tend to be a series of sound events that drift from one to another. Andre's trio seems to be one sound event punctuated by some of the more unpleasant sounds the instruments can make. Two things come to mind:

1. Andre must have watched a lot of movies where the alien was stalking it's human prey in the night.

2. Regarding the scratching and other harsh sounds. In the theory of art reflecting life, life isn't always pretty. I get it. So here is a piece that reflects life going along and, boom, things good and bad keep happening.

OK, that's as much as I care to think about this piece.  

I listened to Andre's String Trio which you gave us a link to; thank you for that. I found the piece fascinating, and although it won't make my top ten list, it is important to me as a source of inspiration. And more than that, "new" music of whatever flavor keeps me involved when I grow tired of "old" music. My only quibble with this piece is the extended periods of silence that are included.. Perhaps if we watched a video of a live performance we could understand why those interludes are necessary.

With your permission Serenity, I will post here a link to a piece that Rodney Money mentioned. It is Schoenberg's "A Survivor from Warsaw".  This music, while undeniably "modern", is very accessible and provides a clear link from older forms to some of the material that we have been listening to here. This is a powerful and well produced version of this piece, which also helps us appreciate it.

Funny, I felt there wasn't nearly enough of it.

Serenity Laine said:

  I also have problems with too much "extended silence,"

[                                                                                                       ].

Kristofer Emerig said:

Funny, I felt there wasn't nearly enough of it.

Serenity Laine said:

  I also have problems with too much "extended silence,"

The Stravinsky response to the Cage Piano Concerto (4'33" of silence) "I look forward to much longer works by this composer."

There was a formerly active member here, an exceedingly intelligent man, but rather understated. The sort of person, very much unlike me, who could speak profundity in simple, terse terms. One could discern in conversing with him that he had a great deal of real-world experience in the musical realm. Everyone should read his bio, to which I provide the link here. I'll also quote the pertinent paragraph directly. Nothing esoteric and philosophical, just a pragmatic observation about the modern state of music with which I broadly agree in many respects:

Sylvester Wager

"I go to dozens of classical concerts every year, and that keeps keep me humble. The "real" and "accepted" body of mostly dead composers is awesome. I have not seen a real and lasting challenge to them for decades. There is a great deal of talent out there: just no decent work. We may be at the end of the classical-music era. Museum-orchestras are popular, these days. They make attempts to premiere works - but the new music they play is no longer "classical." I think it might be time to accept that being novel is not the king/queen of all virtues. I really do not care "when" it was written: just that is was."

                                                    -Sylvester Wager

In 1996 a journalist, John Horgan, in his book, The End of Science, declared that science was over. He reasoned that the only mystery yet unsolved by science was gravity. Once that hurdle was vaulted scientists could put away their calculators for ever. Then a funny thing happened. In an experiment in a huge tank of water more than a mile underground, dark matter was detected by Japanese scienists. Suddenly our knowledge of 98% of the universe was down-graded to 5%, oops.

Every scientist stands on the shoulders of his predecessors. Occasionally giant discoveries pop up virtually overnight, but most of science happens incrementally by thousands of people working in tandem over long periods of time.

Music is a branch of physics. It is the application of techniques to cause wave fronts to amplify each other, to blend, or to cancel each other out. The harmonies or dissonances produced are combined with rhythms to evoke emotion in the listener. The emotions evoked are programmed into our DNA and are similar across all nationalities and cultures. Music is the universal language. Theoreticians who posit that music has evolved randomly, ignore the underlying physics. Music has not evolved but rather has been discovered in a pattern which has paralleled the development of science.

A google search of early 20th century composers yields names like, Copland, Gershwin, Debussy, Britten, Bartok, Prokofiev, Ravel, Strauss, Holst, and Sibelius, all famous and great composers. A search of late 20th century composers yields names like Cage, Glass, Messiaen, Stockhausen, and Varese, all relatively obscure and their greatness, a matter of opinion, as evidenced by this forum. The early 20th century composers have in common tonality, harmony, and an embracing of all the elements of music passed down from previous generations. They stand on the shoulders of the great composers before them.

Late 20th century composers have virtually nothing in common with their predecessors and indeed have rejected most of the elements of music. It is as if they have declared an end to classical music in the late 20th century. But classical music has not ended. If you attend any concert at a university you are much more likely to hear Copland than Cage, Gershwin than Glass, Mendelssohn than Messiaen and Strauss than Stockhausen. I would be more inclined to believe that classical music had ended if a great musician like Yo Yo Ma were to declare at his final concert, that he had played every worthy piece and there was nothing left to interest or challenge him. Then he would smash his cello over the podium and disappear into the night. But these late 20th century composers are not musicians or even composers. At best, they are innovators with sound and noise. At worst, they are charlatans and buffoons.

It is perplexing that students in high school and college slave away at mastering an instrument, performing in an orchestra, and studying music theory, then professors encourage them to write pieces that ignore everything they have learned, as if Bach is primitive, Berlioz is passe and Bartok is pastiche. Classical music is not dead. It may be on hiatus due to liberal journalists, ivory towered professors, and a musically illiterate public, but it will always survive and flourish.

I encourage every young composer to study the great composers, emulate their style and incorporate their techniques, not to copy or plagiarize but to stand on their shoulders. It is only from that position that we can attain the cutting edge and glimpse the next great breakthrough in classical music. It will come, at a snails pace, or in a sudden rush. Then we can all participate, and put this period of classical music malaise behind us.

Re: Your query about Mark Andre.  His “music” can be described in one word, irrelevant.

I love and admire the music of dead composers. As for those that are still alive I think it would be useful to hasten their demise so as to appreciate them more fully.


        Present company excluded, I hope.

(My 2 cts.)   I would posit that consensus on this is ultimately secondary.  "Meaning" (whether that be beauty or whatever one deems as meaningful) is in the eye of the beholder.  

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