In which he makes a distinction between "modernism" and avant garde, and many other points.

I happened upon this talk to a fairly small audience and found it most engaging. I cannot help but confess that it accords with some of my views, particularly when he starts laying into Boulez and Darmstadt.

Basically it's about the evolution of compositional style into our current times.

As I've made known, I consider my musical education damaged by attempts to force techniques like serialism upon me, so it's refreshing, dare I say, to feel vindicated.

It continues for 55 minutes but can be sped up a little by setting the youtube playback to 1.25 normal speed!


I mean, how many people really sit back and enjoy later Schönberg or Messiaen these days?

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  • Nice to hear of Sir Roger Scruton here. Can't tell I could deal with 55' of spoken YT video in a foreign language, but I'll give a try. 

  • Thank you Dane,

    Excellent speaker, I liked his speaking tone very much.

    Unfortunately, many things he criticized can be done in the avantgarde style.

    Actually that is why avantgarde appeared.

    The problem about avantgarde is that it sometimes rejects to express anything.

    A style cannot be the scapegoat, the guilt lies in the way it is used and the purpose it serves.


  • The avant garde from around Schönberg's time into the 40s/50s rejected tradition outright. 

    But it overlooked a vital issue: like it or not, sound, be it speech or music or traffic noise - it communicates. It communicates something and much of that something is allied to a given culture. It's how it is with (verbal) language and music which does have many of the properties of spoken language: it's conventions; its semi-reliance on our hard-wired interpretation of timbre/the harmonic series; the elements that make or break semantics. It has its semiotics which is about giving meaning. 

    Oh, but here's me going on about this stuff which you undoubtedly already know.

    Point is, Schönberg and his mates scrapped all that. So no communication in the conventional sense was possible. It appealed only to a) the fashionable groupies who wanted to be "out front" with the latest craze, professional cultural rebels; b) those people who are happy just to listen - with no expectations of any communication.

    (I'm guilty of this. I sit in the garden of a spring evening and listen to blackbird song. I haven't a clue what they're saying but find it pleasant.) 

    For most people, Boulez' Marteau sans Maitre is about as useful as me writing this reply in Japanese or some such. Perhaps one or two may understand it but most won't.

    Marteau sans Maitre - a hammer out of control....yes, it sounds like it.

    Eimert (a co-editor of Die Reihe) had things to say about this in a couple of the periodical's volumes!


  • He states pretty well the same conversations composers have been having for a hundred years. It’s ultimately an argument that only composers and intellectuals care about IMO. Not to say it has no meaning, but I have heard it all many times before and don’t need to engage w/it again.

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