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Music Composers Unite!

I hate having to make a thread about this because I thought it was common sense but I guess I have to. 

I, and many other member of this forum, can no longer tolerate threads and topics being hijacked for other members wanting to discuss other topics that are loosely related or not related to the original topic. It is disrespectful to the original poster and it does not make it enjoyable for those who want to join the original conversation. Consistent topic derailment, especially if the original post complains about it, will result in suspension. 

Consider this a new rule, if we must call them that, and interpretation of it will be completely up to the admins. Post wisely.

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Peter said, "Everything is about music."


A strict logician and musicologist might say the following:  The above statement is not about music.  It is about "everything."  Perhaps the amended statement, "Music is about everything," would be considered more acceptable in the current circumstances.

Dave, you said,


'Ugh, I'd as rather not bring it up again, but look.'


I think you can bring it up again, if you so desire.  It's up to you, since this is obviously a music related issue.


You went on to say,


"This is what I'd asked:  'So . . . those of you who play with orchestras, or have done, what's your preference?' ."


Then you said to me, "Among other things, you replied:


" . . . don't write just for one violin, but write music for every string, every bit of wood in that instrument, for the bridge, and pegs, and for every molecule that the instrument is composed of. That is possible, now, you know."


But, Dave, that was not the whole of my statement, and if you take it alone, apart from other statements I made, you lose the meaning of my larger point.  I'll attempt a different way of explaining it.  Mine was simply one of many possible answers to your question, involving preferences of instruments and parts for instruments.  Clearly, the synthesizer, the electronic keyboard, and computerized instruments I mentioned are options, and can be played "within an orchestra."  Of course I was speaking in a metaphorical way, a mystical way, or in a poetic way, when I spoke of "writing music for every molecule," but it's almost literally true, when you consider that modern sound sculpture can reproduce real sounds, like the sounds of instruments made of glass, steel, nylon and glass, and combinations of these, with varying degrees of tension and compression. (More on that below).   I said,


" ...  it is true that a computerized instrument which is capable of accurately synthesizing all musical sounds, and many more types of acoustic vibration, will be said (in some sense) to supersede all individual musical instruments.  This can be stated from the point of view of the composer who does not seek out a large ensemble of instrumentalists and performers  ...  "It's not an unreasonable perspective.  And I strongly state, this is not simply a matter of  just composing, using a computerized apparatus.  The UPIC, or synthesizer, or modern electronic instrument can be used, and has been used, by composer-performers in concert.  It's something amounting to a tradition, by now.   I saw Stockhausen do this in 1976, and many others have done so since that time."


I think, Dave, you must have heard a synthesizer, or computerized instruments of some kind, being played WITHIN an orchestra at some time.  IN MY VIEW, only a narrowing of the concept of "instrument" to a pre-World War II perspective, or earlier, would disallow the mention of instrumentation used by Varèse, Xenakis, Stockhausen, and many others.    Busoni conceived of the idea even earlier.   You may or may not, upon deeper reflection, think this was relevant to the broader topic.  I did honestly think it was relevant (and that it is relevant today, and that the point will become more and more relevant as time passes): and there is no rule in logic or in discourse which says, one person's consideration of what is "relevant" must over-rule and dominate an exchange about a subject in modern times.  This is especially true, in connection with an open minded consideration of possibilities, which may involve a wide variety of approaches and conceptual interpretations of the nature of "instruments," orchestras and musical ensembles.   You said,


"Using my description of the topic as 'vague' as an excuse is meaningless, since that referred to the fact that there will be as many perspectives on what a musician likes to play as there are musicians."


That latter part, underlined, is precisely my point. As many perspectives as there are musicians, composers, performers, even individuals.  And electronic instruments, of the type designed by Xenakis, and Stockhausen WITHIN AN ORCHESTRA, constitute one possible choice.  I might also say, this:  One doesn't or shouldn't really need an "excuse" to express one's view on a topic connected with music and a choice of musical instruments, in a Composer's Forum, or so it seems to me.    You expressed discomfort with my having said,


"In a contemporary music ensemble, I believe, the best parts to play within, around, underneath or above an orchestra..."


I was reading about this notion several months ago, so it came into my mind.  I said what I did, in this way, because in Stockhausen's, and in other avant-garde composers' acoustical conceptions, the concert hall is (and has been) actually altered.  Speakers are installed that do play LITERALLY within, around, above, and below an orchestra, and within, around, underneath, or above an audience.  Electronic and Sound Theaters at some universities have been, and are now, actually being constructed this way, so that both orchestral and electronic, or various synthesized sounds can IN REALITY come from many different directions.  I am not making this up.  Do you think I am?  Of course, the use of any computerized instrument can be limited to playing solely WITHIN the orchestra as well.  I see nothing wrong with mentioning the other possibilities.  Even Gustav Mahler had trumpets playing, not WITHIN the orchestra, but sometimes, off stage, or behind the stage, away from the orchestra.   None of this is as strange as you appear to think it is.  It's quite common, even though it is not totally standard (any more than the trombone or the piano were considered normal in Bach's and Palestrina's time).  You stated,


"There was no inadvertent misunderstanding on my part."


That's for you to say, of course, if you wish.  But in any case, you still may not understand my point, fully.  It is possible. And I may not yet fully understand your perspective.  In fact, both possibilities are likely. That's why dialogue often continues, and why we do well to deepen dialogue and discussion, so that the points can move closer and closer to crystal clarity, and mutual comprehension can be obtained, if that is possible.  


You noted, "I was asking the perspective of players, not fans of experimental composition."  


But I am not clear why that should matter. There are many types of playing, and many ways to "play," instruments, live, automatically, taped, recorded; and as one might normally play a piano, or one might "play" a piano using a "piano roll," as Conlon Nancarrow did. (Even Mahler, Stravinsky and Ravel did this).  Consider the performance of many instruments, even a large ensemble, automatically, as in the case of the "Ballet Mechanique."   I am not sure it makes sense, necessarily, to exclude "experimental composition" or experimental modes of playing.  You asked about preferences, and I told you what I preferred.  It wasn't a question about what YOU prefer.  It was a question posed about what OTHERS prefer. If I asked a question about what instrument you might prefer, or what part you would like to play, and you said "the harpsichord," I think it would be equally unwarranted on my part to reject that answer (or call it irrelevant), simply on the grounds that I DIDN'T HAVE that preference, or have it in mind, when I asked the question.  Presumably, part of the purpose of any question, in a forum, is to receive answers you may not have anticipated, or even answers you might not agree with.  Perhaps those answers are actually the best.   I don't think a person's individual question can ever dictate as narrowly as you suggest how responses should be given, or what words and concepts should be utilized. 


You speak of my words as being "deliberately provocative."  Webster defines provocative, as:


"causing discussion, thought, argument, etc."


I don't really see what the problem is, unless you object to discussion and thought (or even "argument," in the best sense of the word, according to a dialogical, dialectical or rational set of procedures, as we see recorded in the writings of Johann Joseph Fux or Plato).


Webster also has this:


Example of provocative in a sentence:


"a thoughtful and provocative book"


That sounds like a good thing, to me.  It certainly does not entail anything rude or personally disrespectful.


You also said,


"you shouldn't turn the discussion to unconventional, unrelated or impossible compositional concepts ..."


I am not quite sure why "unconventional concepts" are in and of themselves (or even in this context) "bad," or why they constitute notions that "should not be said."    If  one doesn't like them, one can ignore them.  If someone does like an unconventional idea, it can spark additional conversation.  The internet is not some cramped place with limited space.  Scrolling up and down is quite easy.  When I read something that doesn't interest me, I simply scroll past it.  I am not sure why the new environment of the internet is not usable in a way that can be appreciated and user friendly to all concerned, whatever ideas (conventional or non conventional) are expressed.


On the issue of sound sculpture:


You spoke of the Logic Sound Sculpture system in what I thought were very limited terms, and I wonder how much you've delved into it, and actually used it, since it can and does actually present "real sounds" in a way that older systems did not (such as the Moog Synthesizer for example).  On top of that, I made it clear that I was not simply speaking of Xenakis' system, or Logic Sound Sculpture alone, but also of future systems to be developed.  I think I am conceptually allowed "to prefer" instruments that may be developed in the future, which may sound absolutely and totally indistinguishable from real live instruments today, and which (in future) may actually and literally be able to create acoustic vibrations down to the molecular, atomic, or even subatomic level.  Of course, this is only the case if I am permitted to use my imagination in connection with the music of the present, the avant-garde alternatives, and any potential future development.   


When you spoke of " impossible compositional concepts ...," I wondered what you meant.


What occurred to me was the French saying,


Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible ...


[Be realists, demand the impossible].

[Picasso, 1968]


Of course, Peter, my sympathies are fully with your position. 


Even so, it's fun to do some linguistic philosophical analysis with these propositions about music.  Reviewing your suggested proposition, with a bit more scrutiny, we can call it,


Sentence A.


"Everything is about music."


[Clearly false, since the above sentence begins with the subject EVERTHING, and the predicate is "music," not the subject.  So the above sentence is about EVERYTHING, not about music," as I mentioned before].


But let's not despair.   It gets more interesting, and more promising, I think, if we go further.


Sentence B. 


"This sentence is about music."


[Clearly false, again, because the subject of the statement is "this sentence," and again, the predicate is "music," so the above statement is about "this sentence," and not about music—illustrating a second time that not everything is about music, since both Sentences A and B are not about music].


That seems bad, but things improve here:


Sentence C.  


"Music is not what this sentence is about."


[But certainly, THIS statement IS ABOUT MUSIC.  Even though the statement says it is not about that.  "Music" is the subject of the sentence, grammatically, and the predicate is the phrase "not what this sentence is about."  But since the subject of the sentence is the word "music,"  MUSIC is what the sentence must be about].


And finally, in line with your thought,


Sentence D.


"Music is what all things are about,"


[The subject is clearly music, so the sentence is definitely about music.   And since the predicate is "what all things are about," this much follows:  it can be set down as an axiom, which, if it is stated a certain way, the entire proposition "Music is what all things are about," can be accepted as an axiom. It can even be set down as an indisputable postulate, provided all the terms contained therein are defined in a very specific and exact way].


The only problem is that "this entire post may not be about music;" or the problem is that "MUSIC may not be what this whole message is about."  The post itself may instead be about logic, linguistics, subjects and predicates.  So it could be off topic.


Oh well.




Are we still posting crap on this thread?

'We'?.... it seems one of us considers this crap to be 'manure' to enrich the soil in the

garden of thought. Perhaps 'crap' does not truly describe it properly.

Perhaps, dancing in BS is good for the soul and can only enhance our creativity.

Then again, perhaps not.     lol                  RS    (ridiculously satirical)

What was the movie that  famously gets quoted for the line,

'What we have here, is a failure to communicate'.

(not your failure Tyler)
Tyler Hughes said:

Are we still posting crap on this thread?

Hey there Dave, as an aside, I wonder how many composers actually do play

in a band or orchestra. I haven't looked to see if there is a 'forum' dedicated to

'players'. I personally have not sat in a orchestra, but would think that from the

perspective of a member of an orchestra, that any money paying 'gig' would be

good. Since all parts only contribute to the whole, and given the fact that most

'players' are just that, players and not composers, I wonder if they are thinking as they play,

'why doesn't someone write something that 'makes me shine'. Nor do I think composers

generally write with that in mind. I think it's more about the opus than the performers.

No doubt, a gifted musician, can enhance their part, by whatever means they can muster

and create, and in time, they may 'stand out' from the crowd, but I would think that any effort to

steal the show, so to speak, would lose someone a job, which would mean loss of income to them.

Considering tuning pegs seems about as relevant as the humidity in the concert hall.

Should composers next consider and prescribe which deoderant the orchestra uses?

Playability is another issue, that may leave some wincing.                          RS

Peter, the only gauge I have been able to deterrmine so far as to whether something is

'off topic'  or not, is if someone complains. ( this, after a few yrs. here)

Personally, I would leave that call  to the discretion of the OP and tell the complainers to

go get their own life.(you know who you are) They are in no way obligated to participate in any discussion.

I'm sure that you would agree, that tip-toeing around egg shells is about as bad as a turd in the punchbowl.

These pages are really quite secluded, and IMO it is similar to channel surfing a TV- If I don't like the show,

I move on. I don't call the TV provider and bitch about what others may be watching.... and if no one is

watching, those shows will fade away and die.

Granted, the first priority here should be music. I appreciate and try to respect that.

I also can appreciate the fact that the admin.'s don't want to waste their time policing childish spats.

Tho' I like the idea, I realize this site is not intended to be 'The Composer's Bar and Grill'.

A place where music oriented folks can meet, have a beer, and discuss what's on their minds.

I applaude the originators of the site for initiating it, but wonder at the wisdom of limiting the

discussions. ( this is not to say that hi-jacking a thread is acceptable or to be tolerated )

... but I would leave that to the OP to decide and make the call.    RS

So Im going to read most of these post, to determine what is off topic. Im going to vet through these and take appropriate action.

This thread is closed. 


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