I just came across this. It is an article, imo, about the future of all live art music and about the future of all of us either as performers, composers or both.

My basic thought is that if they can attack Wagner's Ring then they can attack everything else smaller by comparison. Is this the beginning of the end of all classical music as we know it?

Taking a position for a conversation on these matters, I would like to stress that I have nothing against using VSL or other libraries for mock-ups, presentations etc, and if I could afford any of them I would use them to write my scores and mock-ups more convincingly, but there is where I would stop. I still mean that my music is for real human performers and real audiences.

Please read the article in the link provided-it does not take long-and comment according to your beliefs.

Anger Over Plan for Electronic Music in Staging Wagner’s ‘Ring’ Cycle

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  • Hey Socrates..

    I'm not so concerned - in this context - Hartford can't afford an orchestra, but there is a will to perform the Ring.

     From what i understand, even operas produced in big cities, with big names, still barely scrape by.

    To support - along w everything else, an 80 or more piece orchestra  - would have the tickets running into the hundreds of dollars just to break even.  

    I don't think this threatens the local musicians in Hartford, as there wouldn't even be a live production w orch.  

    But I do see it as a 'lesser' .  Not only canned sound, but also significantly,  it is 'pre conducted'!!  

    It seems things are more and more going this way, but i believe the 'live spirit' of music will always be sought after by those who love music and seeking something truly 'vital'.

  • If you are of a certain age you remember when every kid in the neighborhood was starting a rock band in his garage.  On any weekend you could walk into the local bar and there would be a live band playing.  I have enjoyed playing in pit orchestras for community theaters.  You get paid peanuts but there are many amateur musicians whose entire social life revolves around performing musicals.  If would be a shame if local communities went to canned music just because it was more convenient or better performed.  I hope this is a short lived fad.  People prefer live performances.

         I would think copy right laws would have something to say about this.  You could rent a score and enter the music into digital form and perform it, but you would not be allowed to sell your digit version to anyone else.  Some, maybe all companies would not even allow you to make digital copies.

  •  

    Thank you all for your replies so far.

    To me is very difficult to point the finger and blame any particular individual. (But I can think of other things to blame).

    I tend to agree with Gregorio's and Laurence's comments more.

    Laurence I don’t understand well the copyright issue: Wagner is long dead so artistic copyright does not apply in this case.

    I thought that when we recreate from a score music outside artistic copyright there could be only a mechanical copyright issue of the software used but we are entitled as byers of such software to publish anything to our hearts content. Please enlighten me.

    Ray, I spend a lot of my gigging life like you say-using hand held sequencers etc. I did not care about quality (although I tried to do the best of what my equipment would allow) or adherence to style, composer's intentions, and a lot of other issues that in the particular circumstances of the gig would be beside the point. How can you address such questions, trying to earn a living, when you use just a Yamaha sequencer for auto-accompaniment? I'm sorry you don’t find the issue topical. To me is vital.

    Dave, the capabilities and results obtained by VSL are indeed marvellous imo, but this is not the issue here either. I posed the question as political/philosophical.

     

    Coming back to "things that I could blame", here we have USA, the most powerful country in the world which cant't afford staging the Ring as intended by Wagner, yet can afford spending trillions on armaments.

    Food for thought that to me.

  • This article doesn't faze me in the least, nor do I think it's very helpful to blame anyone.  Many orchestras have experimented with non-human performances of various kinds for quite a few years now, but we serious musicians never stop performing or attending performances.  I see our local and state wide performances growing by leaps and bounds, not lessening.  The folks here have been extremely creative both in their presentations and in their marketing, so that it is truly a "hip" thing to attend live concerts here.  I know we're in a bubble in my area, surrounded by three major universities all within spittin' distance, but thank god for the bubbles that help keep culture alive.

    Instead of finding someone or something to blame, I think each one of us can do our part in keeping music alive and well, in whatever way we can.  Here are some of the things I enjoy doing:

    * Attending live concerts and being a donor for several of the best chamber groups or orchestras
    * Encouraging my students to attend live concerts, and helping them get family rates
    * Encouraging my students to give live concerts at least once a month, in various local venues
    * Helping my students develop their ears, so that inferior musical sounds are really not acceptable to them
    * Giving several major concerts per year, with all newly composed music, all performed by live performers
    * Sponsoring international composition competitions, with prizes of money, CV sites, inclusion in music apps, etc

    I don't let my students "compose" with DAW, but instead they all use music notation software.   No matter how young they are they take to notation naturally, and they love putting notes on staff paper.  We're not concerned with mock-ups, since we're writing for performance, not for computer playback.  We work with high-caliber performers all through the composition process, so the young composers know the joy of writing for real live human beings, and talking to them about their pieces.    They also learn first hand about the various instruments - not just how they sound, but how they feel, the fragrance of ebony or silver or rosewood, how different instruments have a certain heft and weight.  I'll never forget the $30,000 bassoon that one of our performers brought in to show us, or the alphorn or the orchestral harp.  A petting zoo of instruments goes a long way in instilling a love for real music and real musicians that lasts a lifetime.

    Our performers seem to love the process - they get to be involved in the creative process, and use their expertise to help the young composers grow musically.  It's a win-win that eventually involves the entire community.

    We're sort of in a period of the Second Dark Ages, especially in the US.  Music and art and culture as a whole are not huge priorities for a lot of the Powers That Be.  But I celebrate the people who kept culture alive in the previous Dark Ages, and try to emulate them.   Instead of cursing the dark, I just want to light a lot of candles, preferably scented ones.  ;-)

  • Hi Socrates,

    Not only does this not bother me, but I take it as a good sign. Any interest in continuing to present music in any way is a good thing. I am reminded by your story of the furor and outcry which took place when they put that big glass pyramid in front of the Louvre - lots of "gnashing of teeth" by the traditionalists, who said it would ruin everything. But it didn't, it is just an extension of the grand old into our era, and perhaps will bring a younger audience in to see what the fuss is all about, and maybe get an exposure and audience that it wouldn't otherwise get >

    str2_relaxparisfirst_chester-770x470.jpg Interesting topic, thanks for posting it!

    Gav

  • If we start with Wagner where do we stop? That was one of my initial concerns?

     

    It is very interesting to read through all replies and I thank you all for them. Many interesting points made which would take us further into discussion if that is what we should do.

    Julie, I congratulate you in all your activities and I hope that everyone of us would act similarly in trying to keep live music going, and musical profession secure, as well as our culture intact and against commercial considerations as far as this thing is possible. Yet, I think that without state sponsorship, perhaps in the long run and globally it is a losing battle. I agree with you that we are in a sort of dark ages again and not only culturally-culture being only a by-product of economy imo. I have stated this before (and other far more wise men than me), but I tend not to be as hopeful as you, in the sense that in the first period of dark ages (enforced by church ideological oppression and brutal feudal power) at least the arts on one hand found some enlightened patrons (Lorenzo de Medici comes easily to mind) and on the other hand musicians tended to be more concerned about common causes, more united and thus they formed themselves in guilds to come out of those dark ages. This thing is which bothers me much: I did not observe it in the different attitudes and stances adopted by the musicians referred to in the article on either side. I don’t think that these musicians would differ very much in their aesthetic goals in presenting the world with a staging of the Ring. If they would be given the right help and opportunity of course they would do it with real orchestras

    in my opinion, but they do differ in strategies adopted. There it is where the state is absent and where it has a duty to be present in my opinion again. Since we don’t have old Lorenzo anymore, there are only two ways I can think of. Either we put our trust with Trump who replaced him now a days or we get the guild spirit going again. I feel very sorry for both the musicians that received threats and for the musicians that will not get the opportunity to do this Wagner gig, being replaced by machines, but I consider it as a lack of coherent strategy and trade union spirit.

    We start with Wagner? With opera (the gem in the crown of artistic achievement)? Who would thing about ethics in trying it tomorrow with little Bach or insignificant Vivaldi. The audiences can be trained to accept it far more easily than the Ring. There they would sit as "robots" listening to La Stravaganza with glorious Vienna sounds dictated by current "economic realities", or so the excuse would be. (I don’t think Vivaldi meant this concerto set to be all that extravagant-only an opinion).

     

    Dave, I hope the above gives you a clearer picture of my concerns and worries with the situation developed, which I took as an example indicative of the cultural climate we live in today. I still am with you in using VSL if I could afford it, but as I said that is only because of lack of real resources. We are not really talking of our music in this conversation although we can draw results from our experiences from it. DAWs, electronic sounds, etc. may suite a lot of good new music. The point here is old music, or music that is meant to be played in the old ways, but sorry if I misunderstood you.

     

    Gav, I agree with you that anyway to present music is a good way if it is a matter of survival. But The political angle of the question does not go away. What the hell is the state doing about all this. I pay my taxes for education, health care, the arts and all those kind of social reasons, but never for the trillions spend on armaments that the politicians go ahead and do without so much as a "by your leave". Sorry but I failed to see the similarity between the Wagner ring story of the article and your example of the Louvre pyramid. If people objected to the pyramid to me they are enemies of the new, short-sighted and generally what I would term as reactionary. But the people that condoned the pyramid did not at the same time destroy the old Louvre buildings, whereas in my mind a staging of an opera (well, many in this case) with human orchestra being replaced by samples is doing exactly that: Knocking down the musical Louvre. I would be grateful if you elaborate a little more so that I can understand better your similarity.

     

    Hi, MM Coston. I agree with most of what you say about the present work and opera in general, also that electronic music which in the future (or present and recent past for that matter), can play works that are humanly impossible (Boulez in his first period of integral serialism comes easily to mind here :-) ).

    I have a different opinion than yours when it comes to giving the audience what is possible with the means we have (as far as the Ring cycle of the article is concerned here), because I believe that the audience should be given the Ring as Wagner meant it, I mean not any watered down version of it. They have a right to it cause they paid taxes for it. And especially in the case of Wagner, to quote an old teacher of mine, he is the only operatic composer whose operas can be played as instrumental pieces(taking away all vocal parts) and still pass the test.

    I kind of agree with that, meaning that the instrumental parts are far too important to the concept of the Ring and you cannot replace them by mechanical performance however persuading.

  • Hi Socrates - I don't have anything to add! Just replying so you'll see I read your point -


    Socrates Arvanitakis said:

     

    Gav, I agree with you that anyway to present music is a good way if it is a matter of survival. But The political angle of the question does not go away. What the hell is the state doing about all this. I pay my taxes for education, health care, the arts and all those kind of social reasons, but never for the trillions spend on armaments that the politicians go ahead and do without so much as a "by your leave". Sorry but I failed to see the similarity between the Wagner ring story of the article and your example of the Louvre pyramid. If people objected to the pyramid to me they are enemies of the new, short-sighted and generally what I would term as reactionary. But the people that condoned the pyramid did not at the same time destroy the old Louvre buildings, whereas in my mind a staging of an opera (well, many in this case) with human orchestra being replaced by samples is doing exactly that: Knocking down the musical Louvre. I would be grateful if you elaborate a little more so that I can understand better your similarity.

     

    WAGNER'S RING (a political/philosophical question for all of us)
    I just came across this. It is an article, imo, about the future of all live art music and about the future of all of us either as performers, compos…
  • Taking a position for a conversation on these matters, I would like to stress that I have nothing against using VSL or other libraries for mock-ups, presentations etc, and if I could afford any of them I would use them to write my scores and mock-ups more convincingly, but there is where I would stop. I still mean that my music is for real human performers and real audiences.

    Socrates,

    I am with you on the above quote. There should be in my view a last bastion of traditional practice but I fear it is too late and the digital revolution will ultimately consume and dictate absolutely everything. It will in actual fact probably get worse (or better!!) with the advent of newer technology and perhaps in about 50-100 years, quantum computing for all.

    I doubt then that mock-ups wont be called as such anymore because instruments then will be indistinguishable from the real ones - you may even have virtuoso concert players selling themselves virtually as a matter of course, as indeed Joshua bell has already done. I wonder what the reaction has been to him from the muso world?

    I lived through the turbulent times in the late 1980's and early 1990's as a professional when computing and especially sampling, started to infiltrate the industry of media music. I had to get to grips with the technology or sink, it was such an unstoppable force. I can also state with confidence that musicians soon began to see less and less work.

    Is this particular case serious?, the answer might depend on where you want to draw the line, because the threat is real as it is to many traditional occupations - the digital revolution has changed lives and economies forever, can orchestras adapt and survive, I for one hope so.

  • Ray, I find your comment out of context and uncalled for, (and  maybe as an effort to derail this conversation whether you are aware or unaware of it), but still worse, as very insulting to all hard-working, tax-paying Greek people. The Greek governments for the last 70 years are mainly responsible for the unviable economic situation in Greece, not the people. I am sorry to see you as a typical victim of western press, try to educate yourself a little better before you comment on such matters. On a personal level, I don’t live and work only in Greece, but most of my working life in UK. I paid taxes in both countries, but I saw a better return in UK for my money. Take care.

     

    Hi Dave, I think that in some cases (most cases) composer's intentions are pretty clear. So, there I disagree with you that we cannot know anything about them. In this particular case of Wagner, of course I agree that we cannot know what he would be writing today and for what medium. But, I remember watching a film (Richard Burton playing Wagner, I think) where they introduced to him the newly invented accordion. He did not seem very enthusiastic about it. He said: so this thing here you call a musical instrument that will replace the violin or clarinet? Well, not in my music, I can assure you (or something to that effect-can’t remember well, sorry).

    The rest is politics. Re-read what I wrote above.

     

     

     

    Hi Mike, thanks for your contribution. On a personal level I think our stories are quite similar. I lived and worked in London at the same period as you and saw the challenges of the digital revolution and how it affected my profession. In the beginning back in the late 70s I was working mainly as a bouzouki soloist with 5-6 band members. First we dropped the drummer, then the bass player, then guitar and keyboards and finally I ended up doing the gigs myself with a lot of Japanese machines as my company. That was late 90s when I made the same basic thought as you: either adapt or sink. Well, I am still trying to adapt as a composer, but as a player I preferred to stop all that artificial mechanical noise around me. I left London and ever since I ve been working mainly In Crete or Athens as a teacher and performer. I can claim with certainty that these last 20 years have been the happiest for me as a performer although not so lucrative as in London. I have performed the following song in all sorts of arrangements with powerful sequencers and sound systems, all over Europe, but still I prefer this performance completely acoustic, captured by some tourists in a sea side taverna in Crete. Just bouzouki and guitar (and lots of raki, of course). Did I win or lose? It is anyone's opinion. I lose on the money side, but I'm far more happy. Gigs in London had become a charade towards the end. and I mean music to make me happy and give me euphoria when I play it, otherwise there's no use.

    In 50-100 years' time perhaps my complain would be irrelevant to most musicians. but still if I was alive then I would take my guitar in the moon light in some Greek shore, just to get that euphoria (and to impress the girls). Are there going to be any girls and boys in 100 years' time?

    In any case, I don’t know if this particular case of the article is all that serious, but to me is certainly indicative and reflecting our musical culture.

    Rebetiko Song Live

    Sokrates & His Μαγκασ Τραβα ρε Μαγκασ και Αλανι
    Rembetiko Tragousia
  • Good luck Ray!

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