• @ Jon:

    Thank you for your response Jon. I'd also like to point out that we agree with each other.

    We might write a composition to communicate a private or public matter. We as humans take interest in other humans, as we're social creatures. In writing a composition that communicates a private matter, we extend our inner selves to our fellow man in hopes that we might write a composition that others can relate to. In writing a composition that communicates a public matter, we extend a proverbial hand to our left, a proverbial hand our right, and we join hands as a people in hopes that we might write a composition that captures whatever it is that is the public matter.

    I now address thoughts and feelings, which for me is the result of external and internal influences. I can't have the thoughts and feelings of others, nor can I have the communications and deeds of others, therefore I must compose from the standpoint of me.

    I make an honest effort as a composer to connect with people. I begin with a private matter or a public matter, then experience thought and feeling based upon internal influences and external influences, and then communicate via the deed of composition what I hope people will be able to relate to.

  • Or,

    Music expresses musical ideas, the execution of which can create feelings in the listener. 

    Bob Porter said:

    And another angle might be that I'm not trying to express my "feelings" (for , indeed, who would care about my feelings), so much as "a" feeling. I'm might be trying to project a particular idea or mood.

    As a family project, my wife (the artist), my daughter(the writer), and I were going to create a production about "Dawn". I was the only one to finish. My "Dawn" composition dealt with the idea of dawn as I conceived it. So it was dawn run through the filter of my feelings, yes. But more about the concept itself than how I felt about it. It's a fine line, I know.

  • Ray, google?


    1. "Improvising is a complex and difficult task, and for those of us who have studied it at the college level and use it to earn a living, it's considered to be on par with writing music."

      Considered by who? Writing what kind of music? 

      "Popular music of any era is intellectual and emotional, for there's subtle complexity and difficulty within grotesque  ease and simplicity. Popular music in the USA has its highs and its lows: I, however, find it to be important to listen to Billboard playlists, because if I don't understand people, then how will I write anything that will connect with them?"

      Pop music by definition is good if lots of people go out and buy it. Whether or not it's complex or intellectual is irrelevant.  It can be both complex and intellectual to a degree.

  • Ray,

    it was a very feverish young girl who was besotted with Freddy Chopin'. During the middle of a concert in Paris she kept exclaiming, "Oooh, isn't he just sooo romantic? Isn't he just sooo romantic!!!" - And it all caught on.

    Later, it was identified that she was both deaf and dumb - and, what's worse, English.

    Raymond Kemp said:

    As an unlearned member of the music listening public can I ask some expert here to answer the question:

    Who exactly, name the "romantic period" in concert music "romantic"?

  • I tend to agree with Jon in this debate. Take a simple case study - the effect of the predominantly Major 7th. harmonies in "Satie's most famous Gymnopedie: I think that the emotional affectation produced by this music, amongst any selection of random individuals who proved sensitive to the music, would prove remarkably similar. There seems little doubt that, say, the romantic works of Chopin and of Rachmaninov will engender remarkably similar emotional responses in any statistical audience. And I would put it down to the simplest tangible connection between mathematical/acoustic logic and emotional affectation:

    Ask any person with a 'musical ear', 'Which interval sounds peaceful, and which interval sounds painful to you - a unison, or a minor second.' The answers will be remarkably concordant, and entirely unscripted, untutored. Everything else proceeds from there. And the reason that Chopin and Rachmaninov produce such strong and predictable emotional affectations in their listeners can be directly attributed to the wash of piquant harmonies that underpin their very architectural melodies. 

    I also agree with Jon that one can listen to music from a different culture for a first time, and be immediately affected in a deep emotional or moral way. Once again, there is an imperious contract of natural psycho-acoustic logic in play. Tonal relations, and the establishment and release, or not, of dissonance is invariably in play - but the idiosyncratic makeup and expression may be something altogether new. 

    I have a CD I love by a native American flute player, Red Earth Danz by William Two Feather. It was a genre of music I had never heard before, and, upon the first hearing, I was very emotionally affected. But there is no magical disassociation between the mechanics of music and its emotive effect, the two are intertwined. The clear basis of tonality is present in Mr. Two Feather's music, and, as well, the primary principle of dissonance preparation and release. Its all just executed in a different idiosyncratic form, precisely in order to express a different emotional/moral landscape. And what a powerful landscape, technically simple though the music may be.

    Nonetheless, that all said, I do prefer the crossover music performed by little Willy Two Feather's blood-brother - Johnny One Fart.

    Jon Corelis said:

    I disagree with all of this for almost more reasons than I can count, a few being:

    • music has emotional content because I recognize that content when I hear the music, and emotion in art as in dreams is always real (cf. Freud:  the imagery of dreams is illusory but their emotional content is real, e.g. the tiger you dream is frightening you is an illusion, but the fear you feel in that dream is a real fear of something real)
    • to say that a word other other signifier is entirely subjective and depends on yourself and the society you belong to seems to me self-contradictory
    • this seems to be saying that the artistic value of music is created by following conventional rules in a prescribed manner, but if that were true then it would be possible to teach any normally intelligent person to be a great composer
    • my own experience in listening to music from cultures I have little knowledge of is that often it is immediately appealing, and that if I keep listening to examples I start to understand both emotional and technical things in it, and if fact if at that point I go to scholarly discussions of the music, I find that most of what I've seen in it on my own is real

    John Aulich said:

    Music doesn't carry emotional content, it carries the signifiers that we associate with certain emotions. Just like words, the signifiers are entirely subjective and depend on yourself and the society you belong to. As a very (oversimplified) example, the western classical paradigm contains certain keys, scales and modes that can invoke particular moods. If you played Beethoven's 9th to an uncontacted Amazon tribe, they would not get the same feelings or even really understand it, because their musical signs will be different to ours. The OP is right, composer's are not emotionally incontinent - often, the most successful pieces are carefully controlled constructions containing the appropriate signifiers for whatever it is they are expressing.

    How do you create the illusion of emotion in your compositions?
  • Michael,

    as I said this is not the place to be vending my extra-musical wares, but, yes, I will provide an outline for you and, if you are then interested, I can provide you with some of the script to Volumes I, II, and III. Let's move this discussion to the Politics thread, A New Incendiary - (or, as some would have it - An Outright Fizzer.)

    Michael Tauben said:

    I for one would be interested in reading about your proposed changes and how you envisage them being implemented and by whom. You could start a new thread or continue in your previous one. I am very sceptical that there would ever be the political will, especially on the global level, for radical change. 

    BTW I have downloaded the Lindberg Clarinet Concerto and I'll try to listen to it several times over the coming week.

    Mark Nicol said:

     My thesis is also designed to mitigate violence in the procurement of some very radical, but I would argue very logical and extremely necessary, fundamental political, economic, and educational changes.

    How do you create the illusion of emotion in your compositions?
  • @ Mark:I appreciate that you'll be moving your tangent to another thread, for although I love reading what people think and feel, I like threads to be on-point as much as possible.

  • Well this is a great subject you've opened up here Gordon. Hey, you and I couldn't be more different, but then I think we may both be a bit out there. I read several Mahler biographies when I was first at uni, and was a Mahlerphile. Yes, I forgot all of those dismal facts about his life. But so many others suffered the same sorts of things in those days. How many of Bach's children died? The German Romantic age gave vent to a lot of grandiose self-eulogising in a way, (and not entirely absent from one of my own little scores). Mahler was very self-possessed, consumed with his music, his destiny. Compare his attitude to his work, again, with that of Bach. Read some of the grovelling inscriptions that Bach put on his title pages, so as to ingratiate his oft unworthy patrons. What a change, with the shift from the ancient Autocratic/Theocratic State to the modern Egalitarian State. And, ultimately, it was very interesting how German/Austrian super-Romanticism collapsed upon its own excesses, leaving us with Webern's rather desultory 'minimalism', what I would call Hindemith's 'anti-aesthetics', and then the sardonic outpourings of Weill and Brecht.

    Talking jazz, give me some leads on some great music Gordon. Discovered quite a lot at uni. And, in referencing back to the theme of this thread, it is 'expressive jazz' that I love - particularly Miles, Miles, Miles. I love just about everything he did up to and including In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew - god, there are some bad false relations in there but - what the hell. I like Lester Young, Bird and Dizzy, Stephan Grapelli, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, the Train - Billie for sure, and Sarah sort of. (I don't bloody well like Thelonius Monk, not at all, and I think Django was actually rather tasteless, would rather hear Stephan alone). Who's really good, writes/plays really expressive jazz now? I'm ignorant, and I have a taste for more.

    We've had students from the excellent Adelaide Uni jazz course go straight to Berklee, and Cirque du Soleil. And we have a repeat visiting lecturer here - James Morrison. What an instrumental genius - check him out on youtube - Snappy Too.

  • Mark,

    Try some Chris Potter, Dave Holland and some Wayne Krantz for something a bit more contemporary. Also of course Bill Evans solo piano stuff and one of my old faves Erroll Garner.

  • Thanks for that Mike, I really mean it. Every time I get a new CD of music I love I'm like a kid with a new toy. On the other hand rappers are perfectly happy to play with one toy for the whole of their lives.

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