• Preston
    9
    What is it about classical music that makes it classical? What do we mean by classical? Something that withstands the test of time? I think that tastes change. The music I listen to today may not even be appreciated in 100 years, or even known, like much of the music from a hundred years ago, I'm sure. This doesn't even include other forms of art. I don't really want to get into the definition of what makes art great, but hat makes art and different art forms translatable into other epochs.

    Why do we still read Homer and other ancient writers? I think that there must be something timeless about them, something quintessential. Or, are we just recycling the canons of art due to someone else's tastes? I admit that with open canons we must agree that tastes play important roles in creating our interests, even if we end up opening our hearts and thoughts to other art. What say ye?
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    I had a conversation years ago with an insightful friend about classical Asian art. He pointed out that all such art is produced according to a strict tradition and that usually the works were unsigned. This is because their intention was to replicate the ideal form of the artwork which had been handed down by tradition from time immemorial, and the person of the artist was of no consequence (although they might be recognised for their excellence).

    In the ancient world I'm sure it was the same, insofar as classical works of all kinds were intended to conform to an archetype. Classical art always conforms to very strict proportions and measurements, which are thought to replicate the essential form - quintessence, as you have said.

    I'm sure it never would have occurred to an individual in pre-modern times whether he or she liked or didn't like some classical form. That is because in some important sense 'the individual' with tastes and expectations, didn't matter. With the advent of modernity, what the individual thinks begins to matter, as does innovation for its own sake - often novelty is prized above all else, such is the rapacious demand for the 'new'. Speaking of which, a TV series by the famed art critic Robert Hughes called 'The Shock of the New', provided great insights into what makes modern art, modern.

    I'm someone who never really studied the classics, and now regrets it - although perhaps, if it had been beaten into me in the old-fashioned way, I would have rebelled against them. But I have come to appreciate the virtues of classicism, even if I'm not very well schooled in them. So much of modern life is instant, disposable, new, and ultimately only landfill, of which we have far too much already.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    Why do we still read Homer and other ancient writers? I think that there must be something timeless about them, something quintessential. Or, are we just recycling the canons of art due to someone else's tastes? I admit that with open canons we must agree that tastes play important roles in creating our interests, even if we end up opening our hearts and thoughts to other art. What say ye?Preston
    My broken heart continues to hurt at the choice I made to study political science and law, even though I was accepted into a prestigious school to learn classical antiquity and ancient history, which has always been a great love of mine. I collect rare books and I have a fondness for classical art. When I went back to Italy again a couple of years ago, I nearly fainted when I saw the works of Titian or Carravagio. The choice to pursue a different study was not even for professional or financial purposes, but it was a moral one and paradoxically made because I spent my early teens and adulthood engrossed in old books. As a consequence, my moral attitude is very traditional and it reflects in the choices that I have made that completely contrast with the culture of my environment.

    There is a universalism and even a parallelism in the classical that has a depth and passion regarding moral and immoral points of view held at the time and is a reflection of the culture. Terms like honour, love, pride, strength or cowardice, were not terms used loosely as it is today, where people just shrug their shoulders and behave like morons. Those of us are drawn back to it because we may feel that we have lost that uprightness and want it back again. I theorised this vis-a-vis my interpretation of why people can become extremists, reverting to a more strengthened identity formed through traditional albeit misinformed avenues, because most of our understanding of history is symbolic. It symbolises the Forms, non-physical representations of what is truly worthy and perhaps something that we yearn for.

    It could also be a form of escapism since it often expresses mostly of what was glorious, even if our conclusions of matters pertaining to history are fictional and will always remain inadequate. We desire to be entertained by a sophisticated fantasy without all the hullabaloo that our noisy and banal reality is filled with, shielding ourselves and our lives from being consumed by the boredom that those around us inflict.
  • River
    24
    Classical work I feel holds it's reverence just because it's so original. Even now, what we consider "classical" or "the classics" might not have been referred to as such a hundred years ago. It's not just our generation that believes these works (Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Aristotle) to be the best, what we should strive for, in the Renaissance they certainly (much more fervidly than now) looked back to "antiquity" for their exceptional work.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    "Classical Music" per se belongs to a specific period: roughly, the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Mozart and Haydn are the quintessential "classical" composers, with Beethoven being a bridge from the classical period into the Romantic Period. Compare Beethoven's symphony #1 with #9. In common parlance, classical music tends to mean "serious orchestral and choral music" including solo works for organ, piano, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, opera, oratorios, masses, requiems, and so on, written anytime between 1000 and 2017.

    Is "Classical Music" any better than Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, or late 19th/early 20th century music written for orchestra? No, but it's definitely not the same.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    We can look back to antiquity in architecture, the visual arts, literature and philosophy. For music, our furthest reach is a small collection of work going back to roughly the first millennium. Earlier than 1000 AD, there just isn't much trace, and what there is requires a great deal of sleuthing to reconstruct it. Some people have attempted to recreate Roman and Greek music (It's interesting, but who the hell knows whether it has a shred of validity?).

    Classical work I feel holds it's reverence just because it's so original.River

    Maybe. Is it so 'original' or is it just the earliest example we have? Take a look at Roman glass. It's quite beautiful, at least in some cases. But form followed function for a lot of Roman glass, just as it does for contemporary glass. A cup a person can drink out of needs a certain shape. Romans didn't appreciate wine dribbling down their chin onto their clean clothes either, so their utensils needed to fit the human mouth, just like modern ones do. They decorated their utensils with motifs they liked, just as we do--but different motifs.

    This Roman drinking glass was made about 1900 years ago. Nice. But... a glass is a glass is a glass.

    220px-Cirkusbæger-fra-Varpelev_DO-2608_original.jpg
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    Do you think, because it's from the Roman empire, that it is therefore an example of a classical work? It might be vernacular or quotidian art - pretty, functional, but not necessarily an example of classical design, other than by association. (Mind you, I suppose a bona fide art historian, which I'm definitely not, would have to make that judgement.)
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    Is "Classical Music" any better than Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, or late 19th/early 20th century music written for orchestra? No, but it's definitely not the same.Bitter Crank

    I initially assumed the same, but when you look at the question, he was talking more about classicalism methinks.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    This Roman drinking glass was made about 1900 years ago. Nice. But... a glass is a glass is a glass.Bitter Crank

    But a glass is not Julius or Augustus Cesear, or Crassus, Nero and Commodus. A glass is not the axion room in the house of Vetti or the Villa of Mysteries. A glass is not Arch of Constantine or Byzantinian art on the walls and ceiling of the Hagia Sophia. You have reduced the history into a mere object so no, it is not just a glass. It is a gateway to understanding what people were like 1900 years ago.
  • mcdoodle
    995
    In the ancient world I'm sure it was the same, insofar as classical works of all kinds were intended to conform to an archetype. Classical art always conforms to very strict proportions and measurements, which are thought to replicate the essential form - quintessence, as you have said.

    I'm sure it never would have occurred to an individual in pre-modern times whether he or she liked or didn't like some classical form.
    Wayfarer

    I don't think our knowledge of Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture, for instance, bears this out. In Greece, in quite a short period the favoured relationship between the head and body, for instance, changed from Polykleitos, who I think is believed to be the first to try and introduce prescriptive ratios, to later sculptors. The period in which strict proportion is known to have been used in sculpture is short, and greatly exaggerated by Roman writers like Pliny later. Architecture has more 'natural' constraints, but the Greek models, I accept, are more pervasive in this field.

    Then in the early Italian Renaissance people like Mantegna and da Vinci rediscovered the joys of proportionality at the same time as their art exploded into physicality, and interest in the natural human body, against the strictures of medieval art.

    There's great aesthetic pleasure to be found in proportion, no doubt about it, and the echoes between formulas Nature has evolved and great artists have employed are profound. But some bad artists and architects have also been deeply influenced by proportion at the expense of vision and understanding.

    At the risk of sounding deeply postmodern...to me our finding our foundations in ancient Greece and Rome - whether in art or in philosophy - is a sort of creation myth, a secular story that appeals to certain prejudices in us, which we then reinforce by constantly referring back to Plato and Aristotle, Polykleitos and Lysippos. I enjoy it, I engage it in it myself, but it's a myth.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    a glass is not Julius or Augustus CesearTimeLine

    Curses, foiled again.

    You have reduced the history into a mere object so no, it is not just a glass. It is a gateway to understanding what people were like 1900 years ago.TimeLine

    My apologies to the Romans. A display of common objects from Pompeii (fish hooks to frying pans)--and Pompeii itself or any other contemporary site--shows their handling of the material world was about the same as modern peoples'. That alone can shock our sensibilities. "What! They solved these problems 2000 years ago?"

    On the other hand, Greco-Roman religion is more of a challenge to us militant monotheists. To us, the improper Priapus, the child of Dionysus and Aphrodite (who had their own weird origins) presents something of a challenge to understand. As an unreliable prick joke, we can understand him well enough; but as a god he had other functions aside from simple up-front fertility, or so I read somewhere, and that makes him more complicated. All the gods back then seemed to have had multiple personalities.

    Greco-Roman politics, like Greco-Roman material culture, is not too hard to understand, once you have a cheat-sheet and Cliff Notes in hand. What's his name--Publicus Toiletus?--was governor over West Felafel during whose reign...
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    I read in the Great Somewhere that the Egyptians maintained a very strict horizontal to vertical proportion in their burial chamber hieroglyphics for maybe a thousand years or two. The wall-covering script, was 'artful' but maybe not 'art'. The artisans were expected to not innovate, and techniques were devised to assure conformity to ancient norms.

    Western pages of script, whether manuscript or print, have conformed to certain conventions for a long time too. It makes sense to standardize the width of a column, the amount of space between lines, the height vs. width of letters, and so forth -- apart from purely decorative features. There's a bit of art to it, but a lot of service to the needs of the human eye. Of course, a page is not the same as a large wall.
  • jkop
    533
    .


    The ancient Egyptians depicted what they knew, not what they saw. As far as I know it was not until the 19th century when the very idea of art began to orbit around the latter idea, that art would only be what an artists sees from his/her subjective point of view. The idea of art as something objective was covertly banned.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    We only have what survived. What we have of classical literature, philosophy, history, and so on is thought to be a small fragment of what was produced in that period of what, a thousand years? The Loeb Classical Library fits into a bookcase. There are less than 600 titles in all. If the entire corpus of ancient writing were suddenly to be discovered, it's hard to tell what we would then think of the Greeks and Romans.

    Marble and bronze survived better than glass, leather, fabric, and the like. Whether the bird-glass is vernacular or high art, I don't know, and without a lot more samples, one wouldn't be able to tell. There is a range of glass pieces, some of them plain, some of them very elegant or fancy. My guess is that the Roman riff raff were not swilling cheap wine from anything like the bird glass.

    If the bird-glass is quotidian, it still requires much the same technology as high art. Modern 'art glass' and glassware from IKEA both require much the same technology too. Some glassware dug out of Martin Luther's parents' midden from 600 years ago (+/-), where presumably it ended up because it wasn't valuable, looks like nice modern stemware (in shape, thickness, etc.). Maybe they had far better glasses to drink out of, but we don't have them.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    At the risk of sounding deeply postmodern...to me our finding our foundations in ancient Greece and Rome - whether in art or in philosophy - is a sort of creation myth, a secular story that appeals to certain prejudices in us, which we then reinforce by constantly referring back to Plato and Aristotle, Polykleitos and Lysippos. I enjoy it, I engage it in it myself, but it's a myth.mcdoodle

    Consider the emergence of the Buddha image in India. For the first several hundred years after the Buddha, his form was not depicted at all - the very early sculptures seemed to depict his presence allegorically, in the form of a frieze showing devotees bowing to an empty seat, or a parasol with nobody under it.

    429678adf9accaa2846498626c9c7baa_350__2.png
    'Aniconic' depiction of the Buddha, with devotees apparently bowing to an empty seat.

    For a long while there was a belief that the motivation behind this 'aniconic' phase was mystical - that it conveyed the elusive nature of the Buddha, in that his form couldn't be captured. But art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy had a much more quotidian explanation - that traditional artists didn't know how to depict the Buddha, because he was outside the tradition, and there were no precedents as to how to depict him. Another historian said that the aniconic depictions were simply representations of worshippers gathering at places of pilgrimage, so the Buddha wasn't depicted because he hadn't been there. (I do note that the long argument over the significance of an absence of something is ironically typical of Buddhism.)

    In any case, the Indo-Greeks (under Alexander) eventually adopted the Greek image of Apollo to produce the famous and beautiful Gandhari sculptures of the Buddha:

    39d52bfc41ae77798c951d7f262e8e3c.jpg
    Gandhari image of the Buddha, showing the influence of Greek sculptural techniques, based on the form of Apollo.

    And elsewhere in India, the various schools began to depict him along lines derived from pre-existing archetypes of sages and devas, albeit with very specific characteristics which were said to characterise the Buddha (such as extended earlobes).

    In any case with such sacred art and architecture, the proportions and characteristics are very minutely proscribed, and that is certainly not an idealisation. The form is handed down and is understood to be based on, and to embody, revealed truth.

    There is a University of Sydney lecturer in sacred architecture, Adrian Snodgrass, whose two-volume work Architecture, Time and Eternity: A Studies in the Stellar and Temporal Symbolism of Traditional Buildings is specifically about the archetypal symbolism of sacred architecture.

    Granted, sacred architecture and 'the classics', broadly defined, are not synonymous, but I think that there is considerable overlap. I certainly don't have expert knowledge of the subject matter, but I'm sure that similar principles are embodied in classical art and architecture generally, but that we do indeed live in a period in which such an understanding is occluded.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    What is it about classical music that makes it classical? What do we mean by classical?Preston

    "Classical Music" per se belongs to a specific period: roughly, the late 18th and early 19th centuries.Bitter Crank

    In common parlance, classical music tends to mean "serious orchestral and choral music"Bitter Crank

    I would say "classical" is more than just common parlance for that music; the contemporary classical community will still use the word "classical", to some extent. Although the egregiously pretentious attempt at unpretentiousness, "New Music", is also applied to contempo classical. Classical is also lumped in with jazz as "art music", in the west. Another sad misappropriation of a term...

    but what makes art and different art forms translatable into other epochs.Preston

    I think all "great" art that lasts over generations deserves the due it's given. But this doesn't even have to do with taste; it has to do with the evolution of human consciousness. The artists we revere throughout history are always the artists that were concurrent with how human thought was developing. So there's actually not even any valid argument that can be made as to whether Beethoven or Picasso or whoever "deserves" to be lauded as they are; their work is just intrinsic to human development itself. It doesn't matter if you like it or not. Any critique of their work is just technical, which belongs in the graduate school classroom, or between friends, but not in an objective critique of whether an artwork "should" be accepted as important. The development of art isn't like the development of science; there's no "wrong" in art, there's only evolution. Art is more like physical reality itself in that way, rather than similar to science as a discipline.

    Another aspect of art critique, though, is that even the big figures of an era existed in a milieu of other artists that were doing something similar, or else the "big figure" was the one who rebelled against the milieu. So there's always a technical or taste element in when that happens (Rothko vs. Mondrian, for instance; I personally find Rothko to be oppressive, while Mondrian sparks my imagination). So the taste of the taste-makers themselves informs what's considered "great" (if I was a taste-maker at the time, I would have pushed Mondrian and not Rothko), but what we don't seem to realize is that all of this exists in a complex web of philosophical, developmental and historical factors: the evolution of our human consciousness. What happens so much in the art world is certain artists or critics are vilified for their work or taste, but no one acknowledges the inevitable flow of how art evolves with consciousness. You may hate a certain artist or critic, but they're successful because of how they fit into the jigsaw of evolving consciousness. Personally, I think studying this is more beneficial than studying works just based on taste, or current trends or fads. And it's possible to retain my own personal taste while studying the evolution of art and consciousness disinterestedly. Plus, taste often evolves with study.

    Why do we still read Homer and other ancient writers? I think that there must be something timeless about them, something quintessential. Or, are we just recycling the canons of art due to someone else's tastes?Preston

    I do have to concede, though, as mcdoodle said, that we also fetishize certain epochs of art that align with our current philosophical obsessions. But even this still falls under the umbrella of art reflecting the evolution of human consciousness. And the veneration of the classics is pretty much just academic at this point (read: dead). But it's influence is still permeating our general consciousness, I would imagine. I'm not too well read on the classics either.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    we also fetishize certain epochs of art that align with our current philosophical obsessions.Noble Dust

    Rather a Freudian remark, I feel.
  • jkop
    533
    no one acknowledges the inevitable flow of how art evolves with consciousness.Noble Dust

    19th and early 20th century historians of art and architecture did, but they were wrong. For example, Wölfflin, Schmarzow, Gideon and others worked under the dubious assumption that art evolves with consciousness from, say, something simple to something advanced.

    The tiny space inside ancient Egyptian pyramids, for instance, was explained as the expression of a less developed consciousness than the interior of the Pantheon in Rome. The most advanced consciousness was supposedly exemplified in the austere modern designs of the modern architects for whose organisation Gideon was the secretary. His "operative historiography" of architecture made the consciousness of the members seem to be the most evolved in human history. Megalomaniacs.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    19th and early 20th century historians of art and architecture did, but they were wrong. For example, Wölfflin, Schmarzow, Gideon and others worked under the dubious assumption that art evolves with consciousness, say, from something simple to something advanced.jkop

    I'm not familiar with them, so thanks for the info. I'm still learning a lot about these topics and have a tendency to rattle off a lot of thoughts in a row without much organization.

    The most advanced consciousness was supposedly exemplified in the austere modern designs of the modern architects and their organisation for which Gideon worked as the secretary.jkop

    Yeah, this reeks of modernism in it's purest form. It's wild how quickly these sorts of ideas were erased by post-modern thought.

    The idea of art evolving with consciousness from simple to advanced isn't really the same sort of evolution that I'm talking about. I guess it's almost more development than evolution. A change in consciousness and a change in the internal, metaphysical "stuff" of art is undeniable, I think, but for me the problem is that a purely humanistic view of the evolution of consciousness is naive. We immediately assume that consciousness evolving is a progressive, positive thing, if we're typical humanists. This is connected to how the enlightenment helped sever the church from the state, and bring about a view of human freedom where we can realize our own evolution in the here and now. This is distinct from the actual evolution of consciousness going on in history. That was our first, infantile realization of it's existence. But I think of the evolution of consciousness as neutral until it's imbued with content from a source outside of itself.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Haha, maybe. I need to find the name of the author who wrote that essay on fetishization in art that I mentioned in another thread.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    It's Theodor W. Adorno - On the Fetish-Character In Music and the Regression Of Listening
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    Figures - I think he got it from Freud (I'm thinking of Totem and Taboo and other essays of that ilk).

    I'm more inclined towards Jung - and you can't admire both, in my view ;-)
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Haha. I like Jung a lot (I'll even go so far as to say I think the Myers Brigg personality test gets a bad rap - it's based on his ideas), but I don't know Freud well enough to make a judgement. I was just now reading up on Adorno, and his book "Aesthetic Theory" sounds very appealing. A goodreads reviewer says:

    On a grand level art, according to Adorno, is (1) against the world and polemical towards society (“by crystallizing itself as something unique to itself, rather than complying with existing social norms and qualifying as ‘socially useful,’ it [Art] criticizes society by merely existing, for which puritans of all stripes condemn it”); (2) inherently affirmative (positive), and (3) aloof from the “culture industry” and commoditization.

    A lot of that aligns with my views on art as well. I might order a copy. You're familiar with Adorno?
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    Hardly at all. He is one of the founders of the New Left, so was enormously influential on the counter-culture (as was Herbert Marcuse), and also influenced many academics and 'lit. crit'. I have read a bit about his 'Dialectic of the Enlightenment' and see a lot to agree with, but his overall orientation is marxist-materialist so not really my cup of tea.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    his overall orientation is marxist materialist so not really my cup of tea.Wayfarer

    Ah, not my cup of tea either. I'll research more before ordering a copy. It seems that good aesthetic theory is hard to come by, though. Everything is too analytical; even the stuff that's not part of the analytic tradition. That's why, reading this on wikipedia

    Adorno's posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, which he planned to dedicate to Samuel Beckett, is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to modern art which attempts to revoke the "fatal separation" of feeling and understanding long demanded by the history of philosophy and explode the privilege aesthetics accords to content over form and contemplation over immersion.

    Piques my curiosity to read his stuff. And that essay I read in college certainly has stayed with me. We'll see; more to come later.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    there's no "wrong" in art, there's only evolution.Noble Dust

    I disagree that art evolves. It doesn't evolve in the same way that sculpture, poetry or literature doesn't evolve.

    Hildegard of Bingen--1098-1179; German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath--(sample below) worked in the milieu available to her-- Monastic chant. She brought her own creative process to the occasion of creating music or some other art form , which is what every artist does.

    She is a one-off movement, mostly because almost no music survived from her day, and for several centuries after. Bach also composed in a particular milieu, and his imprint on music is much too big to count as "evolution". The same can be said for most composers who we mark as 'the greats'.

    And there is 'wrong' in art, or so musicians tell me. Haydn's scores are polished, because Haydn's position gave him time to perfect. Mozart, on the other hand, was frequently rushed, under pressure, short of funds, and so on. His scores have rough passages (so I am told).

    Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) Didn't evolve from Hildegard or Johan Sebastion; his music is clearly 19th century, but he is a forerunner of jazz. Jazz didn't evolve from Gottschalk, he didn't cause jazz to happen, he just composed music which--looking back--has some aspects of early jazz.

    So, Hildegard, Bach, Gottschalk, Adele: What evolutionary development do you see here?







  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    I disagree that art evolves. It doesn't evolve in the same way that sculpture, poetry or literature doesn't evolve.Bitter Crank

    Well, right away, there seems to be some confusion; I mean "art" as a canopy for any medium, including sculpture, poetry, etc. It seems you mean the same, except, then, I'm confused why you even made this comment?

    I'm not familiar with von Bingen, and I'm not sure what your argument is, in regards to her. The music sounds great, reminds me of gregorian chant, etc. But I'm not sure what you're arguing.

    Bach also composed in a particular milieu, and his imprint on music is much too big to count as "evolution".Bitter Crank

    This is an interesting point that I haven't considered. There's certainly a sense in which the giants do seem to literally "overshadow" their very milieu. But is this the sheer depth of their work itself, or just our historical projection back unto the past, thanks to the way they've been venerated in posterity?

    And there is 'wrong' in art, or so musicians tell me. Haydn's scores are polished, because Haydn's position gave him time to perfect. Mozart, on the other hand, was frequently rushed, under pressure, short of funds, and so on. His scores have rough passages (so I am told).Bitter Crank

    But how is this "wrong"? Maybe we don't need to fixate on that particular word. Funny for you to mention Mozart, as I've always been critical, and never been a fan, but even still, the fact that he wrote the music he did without the luxury of time and space to edit is still impressive. The Four Seasons is a piece I've always had a soft spot for; even just in how it somehow precludes the concept of a pop song with verse/chorus/verse/chorus form. But I'm more familiar with the late romantic/symbolist movement; the mirror here seems to be Ravel vs. Debussy. Debussy was Mozart; he coughed up a large swath of music that seemed credible, while Ravel toiled away at a small amount of music for his entire life, and only received recognition at the end of his life, and particularly in America, vs. his home country (or continent). The classic "I'm kind of a big deal in Japan" moment (thanks Tom Waits). But even now as I listen to their music, I don't feel the need to crown one the king, over the other. It's not about taste, again. Neither composer was "wrong". This mindset seems to turn into a ridiculous schoolyard game of popularity. I really can't be bothered to debate it much further than that. If you want to really study the music note for note, you'll see that Ravel was focused on preserving a strong, often simple melodic phrase, and that he had an incredible ability to translate that simple melodic fragment into any number of contexts, and then, on top of that, he just basically added the most difficult to play, Lisztian nonsense overtop, to disguise the beauty of the melody, for some stupid reason. This makes him arguably the most "pianistic" composer of all time, for whatever that might or might not be worth. Whereas Debussy wrote in a much more free, almost intoxicated manner, where brilliant melodic ideas, full of their own potential, flit past at a breakneck pace, almost leaving you heartbroken. Why didn't he develop this idea and that one further??? It seems like Debussy had a sheer quantity of melodic ideas larger than Ravel ever could have, yet no patience to develop them. Whereas Ravel had the patience to ruminate with melodic concepts until he knew for sure he needed to use one, and then patiently developed it over a long period of time. But who's to say why? What standard makes his approach wrong, versus the improvisatorial approach of Debussy? And speaking of influence on jazz, you can make the argument that both of these artists influenced jazz equally. Ravel with chord shapes and structures, and Debussy with free-flowing improvisation (he was known to improvise largely when composing)...

    Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) Didn't evolve from Hildegard or Johan Sebastion; his music is clearly 19th century, but he is a forerunner of jazz.Bitter Crank

    Wow, I'm not familiar with Gottschalk, but right away, those rigid rhythmic structures combined with the harmonic ambiguity in the first few seconds strongly remind me of American minimalism (which was itself influenced by jazz), more so than jazz, but either way, super cool! Compare with the opening moments of this:



    Thanks for the introduction. I can see how this might have influenced early proto-jazz like Gershwin.

    Jazz didn't evolve from Gottschalk, he didn't cause jazz to happen, he just composed music which--looking back--has some aspects of early jazz.Bitter Crank

    Correct: No; jazz evolved from a huge wealth of musics, including, apparently, Gottschalk, as well as Ravel, Debussy, African spirituals...

    So, Hildegard, Bach, Gottschalk, Adele: What evolutionary development do you see here?Bitter Crank

    Honestly, you seem to have created a convenient straw-man for me, based on your own musical tastes here. And what does Adele have to do with the other pieces you posted?? Is that your point here, that music hasn't actually evolved thanks to pop artists like Adele? There are so many other connecting pieces between Gottschalk and Adele, for instance, that you've left out. You also picked an Adele song that I can't stand! lol. But I do like a few of her tunes.

    I could just as easily make a list of four youtube videos, trying to make the case that music does evolve. I'll give it a shot just for shits and giggles:

    Ravel: Gaspard de le Nuit: Le Gibet



    Messiaen: Regard du Pere: Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus, No. 1



    Philip Glass: Opening



    Oceansize: Unravel (a basic but important example of pop music sampling classical, jazz, etc. Specifically, a sample of Ravel's "Le Gibet", the first piece I posted)



    Radiohead: Weird Fishes

  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    I'm not familiar with von Bingen, and I'm not sure what your argument is, in regards to her. The music sounds great, reminds me of gregorian chant, etc. But I'm not sure what you're arguing.Noble Dust

    What I'm arguing (and apparently not very well) is that music didn't evolve from Bingen (12th century) to say, Palestrina (16th century), or from Palestrina to Bach (overlapping 17th & 18th century). In between Bingen and Bach were a batch of composers, immersed below the horizons of their time (they couldn't hear what was coming next), each bringing a set of talents to the demands of the occasion -- what the king wanted to hear, how long the bishop wanted the mass to go on, what interested The People, whoever the people were that had to be pleased. This is still the case: Musicians coming to the task at hand with whatever they've got between their ears, and whatever music their ears pick up.

    The Four Seasons is a piece I've always had a soft spot forNoble Dust

    Everybody has a soft spot for The Four Seasons, judging by how often Public Radio plays it. I thought it was pure heaven when I first heard it 50+ years ago, but after 1000 times, the charm is wearing off.

    I like Ravel, but if I never heard Bolero again, it wouldn't be too soon. Also played to death.

    Have you heard Eric Satie's Gymnopédies, written in the late 1880s? Very laid back mood music; he called it 'musical furniture'. The late 1800s early 1900s witnessed some very striking artistic experimentation and innovation in music and the representational arts.



    Your collection of Ravel, Messiaen, Glass, and Radiohead was quite good. The Radiohead video reminded me of Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater who uses these very big puppets that look like that.

    Honestly, you seem to have created a convenient straw-man for me, based on your own musical tastes here.Noble Dust

    Oh, actually, I can't stand to listen to very much of Bingen and there are large stretches of Bach that I find terminally boring. I picked Bingen because her music is so old and intact. It was just a starting point. Bach is a mountain, so he's hard to miss. But for that general period, I like Haydn, Mozart, and Handel far better.

    And for contemporary pop music, I missed the boat on a lot of it the first time around, and have just recently discovered some of the stuff (as an old man) that has been famous for decades.

    What seems to happen isn't so much "evolution" as "mining the past for current material". The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britton (20th century) was based on a piece by Henry Purcell, 17th century. Britton went back and got it, Purcell didn't evolve. Same thing with black music and rock and roll.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    What I'm arguing (and apparently not very well) is that music didn't evolve from Bingen (12th century) to say, Palestrina (16th century), or from Palestrina to Bach (overlapping 17th & 18th century).Bitter Crank

    I guess if your argument is that the music was so heavily dictated by the king, or the church, or whatever, then I can see the point. But this doesn't necessarily tie in to arguments for evolution happening in later periods of art. Plus, I'm pretty sure Bach was a bit of a renegade. But i'm definitely not an expert on those early periods of Western music; it sounds like you're more knowledgeable than I am. It's a healthy reminder for me to revisit some of those musics. I do love Palestrina.

    Everybody has a soft spot for The Four Seasons, judging by how often Public Radio plays it. I thought it was pure heaven when I first heard it 50+ years ago, but after 1000 times, the charm is wearing off.Bitter Crank

    >:O Point taken. My mom had a tape of this that we played in the car when I was a kid, so I have a nostalgic connection with it.

    I like Ravel, but if I never heard Bolero again, it wouldn't be too soon. Also played to death.Bitter Crank

    Similarly, this is famously the piece that he despised himself the most, and not in part because of it's commercial success. If you're not familiar with the girth of his piano rep (Gaspard de le Nuit, Mirroirs, La Tombeau de Couperin, etc), then I definitely recommend digging into it before making a judgement about him.

    Have you heard Eric Satie's Gymnopédies, written in the late 1880s?Bitter Crank

    Yes, I love that suite more than Ravel and Debussy in general, I would say. I learned the last movement of that piece as a kid, probably like 11 years old or something. Wrecked my world. The Gnossienne's are also pretty good. Satie as a figure in general is so important; he was, seemingly, the first "dilettante" as such to make a dent in the classical scene as an outsider. Compare to the narratives of genres like heavy metal, slacker rock, etc., now adays...it's the trope of the outsider who doesn't conform...all during the late romantic period. And with Debussy's blessing, no less.

    What seems to happen isn't so much "evolution" as "mining the past for current material".Bitter Crank

    Here, now that we're getting back to the actual topic, seems to be where we disagree. Of course, evolution involves a transformation of past material. I guess the question of evolution as applied to art seems, on the outset, to be one very much of taste, which is why it's so contentious. But, like I've said, I don't see it as a problem of taste. There are actual, clear cut, musical concepts in classical as an ourvre, that we can trace over time that change, that seemingly "evolve", for instance. Or when you look at the history of jazz (which is an excellent place to begin from, since it's inception, climax and downfall all happened within less than a century), you can see a more or less logical progression of harmonic content; you see the early influences of symbolism and late romanticism, and by the end, when you reach Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and Albert Ayler's free jazz wig-outs, vs. Myles going electric and then into fusion, versus the rise of guys like Keith Jarrett, you see how the music splintered into different, unrelated factions. So again, like I mentioned somewhere above, there's evolution, but it's a neutral evolution, not automatically a positive or negative evolution. It's a natural growth.

    Same thing with black music and rock and roll.Bitter Crank

    Woah, not sure what you're referring to here as "black" music? Granted I'm no progressive liberal who's here to shame you into thinking of yourself as a racist; I'm just not sure what you mean. Plantation spirituals? Early blues? Early rock n' roll? Any era of jazz? Early hip-hop? Modern rap?
  • Punshhh
    618
    I would suggest that it is important to bare in mind that the current accepted academic interpretation of the history and development of art is itself a "period" in art history, with its own cultural perspective, amongst other periods.

    I do think though that the great and rapid development of teaching, research and information exchange over the last two or three hundred years is unprecedented and is resulting in a layering of periods, rather than the gradual degeneration of periods, which are then largely lost, as happened in the Past, pre-Renaissance periods.

    This development is I think resulting in a pervasive perspective in which all art from before this period is relatively primitive, archaic, emblematic of the crude artifice resulting from the gradual emergence of modern man from the primordial soup. The implication being that our current perspective is the enlightened truth, that we have arrived at a mature aesthetic.

    However this is in conflict with the view that our current aesthetic is degenerate in reference to the classical ideal. A charge which has some weight, although it cannot be denied that there are some artists (across the whole spectrum of the arts) who are scaling such heights as the classical artists. The difficulty in determining the reality of the situation is that movements in art are not usually recognised until many years later when see from the distance of a later age. So in a real sense we are blind to the characteristics of the present movement/period and it's relevance and importance in the historical record.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    My apologies to the Romans. A display of common objects from Pompeii (fish hooks to frying pans)--and Pompeii itself or any other contemporary site--shows their handling of the material world was about the same as modern peoples'. That alone can shock our sensibilities. "What! They solved these problems 2000 years ago?"Bitter Crank

    Damnation. I didn't anticipate such a response. I actually have nothing to say. :-O Well, I guess there's a first for everything.

    On the other hand, Greco-Roman religion is more of a challenge to us militant monotheists. To us, the improper Priapus, the child of Dionysus and Aphrodite (who had their own weird origins) presents something of a challenge to understand. As an unreliable prick joke, we can understand him well enough; but as a god he had other functions aside from simple up-front fertility, or so I read somewhere, and that makes him more complicated. All the gods back then seemed to have had multiple personalities.Bitter Crank

    Nike is still hanging around my local gym, strutting her stuff.

    I find ancient hellenistic mythology and the myriad of gods rather simple characteristically, particularly for their semblance to human form, and there was neither any codified structure or divine revelation. People just made things up as they went along, continuously influencing changes - hence the multiple personality - as a way to ameliorate the importance of changing moral attitudes. This was particularly the case by the 300s bc when Greek civilisation began to develop and the influence of Egyptians. The hierarchical structure and rank in authority was considered morally at the time the rank of what was most to the least important; Zeus and Hera, Aphrodite and Apollo, Hephaestus and Hermes etc. On the contrary, I find it way too simple to understand, if anything, Judaism as an ancient religion is a great deal more complex and much more interesting to me.

    As again, to reiterate, it is the mythological symbols that represent a contrast to human nature and behaviour and thus attempts to exemplify moral attitudes - of what was acceptable behaviour, of humanity' weakness and lack of power - and being an orally transmitted tradition that resembles the Near Eastern syncretistic religions such as Yazidi - an Islamic sect that has been influenced by Hinduism - where music and culture plays a greater role than codified practices and where stories are orally transmitted generationally vis-a-vis a unique system that shows the importance of family and a paternal structure. Ancient Greeks had the same process.

    Why do you think I love this painting so much? Because CARAVAGGIO ROCKS!

    narcissus-caravaggio-300x363.jpg

    ... AND because Narcissus is one of many symbols in Greek mythology that describe immoral or incorrect behaviour and the punishment that follows.

    Some glassware dug out of Martin Luther's parents' midden from 600 years ago (+/-), where presumably it ended up because it wasn't valuable, looks like nice modern stemware (in shape, thickness, etc.). Maybe they had far better glasses to drink out of, but we don't have them.Bitter Crank

    See, this is just awesome.
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