Must it be new?

To me, yes. Most of the music I hear on this site (I listen to everything posted) is in a neo-classical/neo-romantic/19th century-imitating/or new age vein. I've no interest in this music, so don't comment on such posts. I am only interested in music which does something new, which to me is the heart of what classical composition is about. I don't think this applies to band music composers, jazz, and rock, they have a tradition they are working from. But classical is different - it, I think is supposed to be about expanding the tradition/changing the tradition/doing something new. Also, I notice that many of the pieces on this site start out slowly. I guess the composers feel like a slow-build to something exciting is a good approach, but most of these pieces come across to me as just being turgid. I like to grab the listener from the first bar. For those who feel like their approach to music is a rejection of strange 20th century movements such as 12-tone music and aleatory stuff - I agree, tonality rocks, just not the tonality of the past - come up with something new in the tonality arena, it can be done in many ways I think. I'll suggest a composer on this site who I think is underappreciated, Ondib Olmnilnlolm, who experiments with sounds in a playful and experimental way. Best to you all -

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  • Gordon to Bob (1): "To ask an undergraduate, a graduate, a post-graduate, or a professional the definition of music is absurd, as the definition of music was evolving, is evolving, and will evolve forever. I offer insight not as pedantic academic: I offer insight as a performer, writer, private educator, and theorist. Being not of a musical school of dogmatism but of a musical school of pragmatism, I insist that what I consider guidelines and what others consider rules create a foundation for exploration: the aforementioned can be reduced for the purpose of providing a beginning, as no amount of studies via thought, feeling, word, and deed will provide an end. The continued expansion knowledge, wisdom, and competence, ceasing upon death, in general, cannot be harmful to a career writer. I'm reminded that, if via such expansion of knowledge, I elect on a conscious or subconscious level to be more derivative than less derivative, then let it be: I don't believe in original, for something comes from something. When writing, I have a desire to connect with the general public, first: I believe if one cannot relate to the masses one's thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds in music, then one shouldn't write music, except for oneself and whatever elitists find pleasure in it. 

    Gordon to Ray (1): When discussing a complex and difficult language like music, one must comprehend that there exists infinite infinite solutions to a singular musical grammatical problem. I agree that some individuals use a singular minded approach: I disagree as well as take umbrage to the overgeneralization and possible zealous misreading of colleagues' posts.

    Gordon to Bob (2): "I never became a classroom educator, as I disagree with the political direction of the institution, the lack of time, space, and resources provided to classroom educators, and a dogmatic impractical curriculum that lack the flexible nature needed to guide individuals into a success life rather than rule individuals into a failed existence: I believe this is too true of the visual and performing arts. We, however, must instruct fundamentals: I believe, however, that fundamentals need to be redefined; fundamentals, at present, are outmoded. I'd, in closing, agree that, no matter the method of instruction utilized, that: neither loftiness of intelligence nor imagination nor both together create genius, and that passion alone fuels the soul of genius”.

  • Gav: I appreciate an example. I loved the work. I, however, wouldn't consider this to be modern as far as its melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic vernacular or vernacular within form are concerned. I do consider this to be modern as far as the date of its composition. I'd add that the music reminded me of folk music combined with minimalism; moments were quasi-romantic era in approach.

  • Ray,

    Thank you for your clarification. I feel as if we're on a similar page now.

    Kind Regards,


  • In Gordon's most recent reply to me, he says that the music I linked to was not, in his view, modern. I do, that's why I posted it. His comment made me think there's a companion question to the one which originated this thread: what does "new" mean? -or- worded another way - how do you define "new"? As I did in my original post, asking and answering a question, here's my answer (and as I did in the original post, I state that this is only *my opinion*, I am not asserting anything more than that): New music is something which is of its time, either drawing from the world as it exists at the time the music is created or by bringing a not-yet-heard sound into the world. New doesn't necessarily mean "utterly new": unconnected to the past or not owing anything to tradition. Sometimes it can mean "pushing a boundary," such as mixing types of music together which haven't been mixed in quite the same way before or adding new notes to traditional chords. The music I linked to certainly has many connections to tradition. It seems new to me because it has chord progressions similar to modern popular music, thus echoes things I hear in other places in the world of today.

  • Bob,

    Thank you for clarifying my position in a concise manner to Gav: I would've have gone on and on and on. And now, I think, we all understand one another.

    All the Best,


  • Bob - regarding "humming the tune" - I think it's not a bad standard. If someone can listen to a piece of music and then hum it, it means the music was memorable and they liked it enough to repeat it. I've heard this statement many times over the years, often used in a derogatory way, but I don't think of it as derogative.

  • Frederick - I can hum the love theme from Romeo and Juliet (have recently been playing it). I take your point that not all great music is hummable, but many great works are or at least have parts which are. Dit-dit-dit-DAH!

  • I think *most* people listen to music, just not classical music. In the early 2000s I did some study of what people listened to, as I was trying to break into the business. It was something like this: Popular music (Country/Pop/Rock/Rap/Hip Hop) - 90%; Classical - 4%; Jazz - 3%. I think there are several reasons why this is so; 1) There are more forms of entertainment today than ever before. 150 years ago, a live performance of classical music was a special event. Today, it's just one of many live performance options, and is also competing against the convenience of CDs, MP3s, TV, Movies, on Demand Video; 2) Classical music abandoned the audience. Say what you like about them, the nontonal movements lost the audience in a way Mozart, Chopin, Gershwin, Ravel, Britten never did. The average person thinks nontonal music sucks, and derives no satisfaction from it; 3) I don't see anything wrong with the above. (Again, as I have before in this thread, I assert that this is *my opinion* and mine alone).

  • Gav Brown said:

    I think *most* people listen to music

    I think they don't. There's always the minority, of course, but tell me - when someone puts on the radio and starts cooking, or loads up Winamp and studies for a school test - is this listening to music? Or rather some background noise to fill the awkward silence?

    Classical music with all its complexity and subtlety is for snobs with too much time on their hands. That's us, yeah. Either way, it takes some dedication (or should I say "training"?) to fully appreciate the works of Bach, Beethoven or Chopin. And here comes the fun thing: Wagner is more complicated than these, Debussy is harder than Wagner and Bartók beats all of the above. Don't even ask about Murail. Music complexity expands because it builds upon tradition and innovations of previous generations. Whereas your average Joe isn't born with two thousand years of listening experience, and more importantly, he doesn't usually care for it - digging complex music is as much a hobby as reading poetry, noone actually needs it :)

    And thus classical music "abandons the audience". AND I don't see anything wrong with the above :)

  • Greg - I agree with this - and further more could it be argued that music itself is losing its latent potency. There is so much of it around now - especially in media - that it is a drug that simply isn't as good (or as effective) as it used to be.

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