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Contemporary Music

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Again I have to disagree. There was and still is a hardcore of really cerebral stuff that leaves most people cold, but I disagree about how you lump together Stockhausen, Ligeti, Carter and Cage. Just take Cage for example. The music for prepared piano is wonderful and something that appeals to a much broader audience than you imply.

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Moderator
The music for prepared piano is wonderful and something that appeals to a much broader audience than you imply.

Hmm. Not broad enough to include me, I fear. :(

There is some great film music, if you avoid Hollywood cheese. Michael Nyman and Philip Glass both written some great stuff, and Wim Mertens score to Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect is a favourite of mine.

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The Ligeti etudes are the finest set of piano pieces of the last 50 years imo, and they do have emotional appeal in spades. Yes, they are an intellectual challenge, but then great art was never meant to be 'easy' , I can't abide the 'classics to relax to' approach. Why the hell should it be easy to listen to? Most of the music I love needs work, in the same way Beethoven late quartets do, repeated listening and familiarity that then breeds rewards (for some). I agree that Darmstadt has a lot to answer for, but out of that came many reactions, and the state of play now is as diverse as ever.

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Super Wammer
I think this discussion comes up pretty regularly, as do many others, and ends up in the usual circular fashion ie. those that like new music (especially the challenging stuff) and those who don't. Tones has a point that a thorough grounding in music, or regular exposure to it, can help in appreciating some of the complexities, but most think life's too short for the effort involved...

The composers khapahk lists are relatively easy to listen to - not being snobbish here, just that it's 'conventional' musical language, though Pickard's stuff is quite interesting - and I personally like to hear composers pushing the boat out a bit. I can take the 'new complexity' to a degree, but my own bias is towards the 'spectralist' school, hence why I like Ligeti, Saariaho, Murail etc. I like texture over cheap tunes, and 'holy minimalism' is a complete copout IMV. Mind you, Karl Jenkins is laughing all the way to the bank with his tripe, and many of the composers I list aren't exactly rolling in it, so that says summat I suppose...

Can't argue with the fact that a lot of the composers I've listed deal in relatively "conventional musical language". Despite that fact, there is still a considerable variation in style between them and I don't think that the adjective "conventional" should be seen as meaning they're boring or repetitive. As ever, it's the usual subjective issue of horses for courses and those composers tick quite a number of boxes for me personally. Having said that, I do sometimes need different boxes ticked and reach for the Messiaen. Ligeti, Stockhausen etc recordings that also inhabit the LP/CD shelves.

I'm probably one of the people that Tones mentioned above "who come from rock with its strange noises and tortured guitars to classical". I'm now listening to a lot of contemporary jazz as well, which has it's own complexities but that's yet another story !

k

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I'm not sure I agree with Tones's point. I think anyone who is genuinely open-minded, curious and interested in contemporary culture in general can and will find something to enjoy in contemporary music. I don't think you have to have any particular grounding in music to be surprised, amazed, excited by some contemporary music just because some of it is so surprising, amazing and exciting. Some stuff is of course really hard to listen and challenges even the most die-hard fan, but I'm convinced there are lots of people out there who do not have any formal music education who can get into quite a bit of contemporary music. I'm sure there are quite a few on the Wam like that. Give them a few pointers and they'll be happy to dip into it.

I think you need to be careful with the "open-minded" bit, ol' bean - it smacks a wee bit of "I am, but you're not". In the end, it boils down to individual taste, and given the individual tastes already on display in this short thread, there may be some of us who simply will never "get" it, no matter how hard we try, and that has nothing to do with open- or otherwise-mindedness. I personally suspect that if I only had Mr. Bach to listen to for the rest of my days, I'd be more than content and I don't really need any contemporary stuff, but, as Alan said in his original post, classical music should be a progressing art form, not a museum piece, and we classical lovers should support it if we can.

I look forward to more pointers to listenable stuff.

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khapahk, I quite agree, none of those you list are 'bad' composers, of course not, there's just nothing in there for that is challenging enough for me personally, Pickard aside; his Icarus and the Piano Concerto are well crafted and have some interesting orchestration. Jazz does have some cutting edge to it, which is why I quite like the composers who integrate improvisation, electronics etc into their work.

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Some of those who find modern music difficult should try a site like this

https://articulatesilences.wordpress.com/index/

links to youtube clips and good non-technical descriptions of the music

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I can't abide the 'classics to relax to' approach. Why the hell should it be easy to listen to?

I totally agree with you. But it needs to provoke an emotional response, not just an intellectual one.

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Well there we have the full circle- what elicits an emotional response is so personal its virtually impossible to argue. As I said above, I find Ligeti at least as emotional as any number of other composers, and anyway, what passes for emotion in music is highly debatable..

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Super Wammer
khapahk, I quite agree, none of those you list are 'bad' composers, of course not, there's just nothing in there for that is challenging enough for me personally, Pickard aside; his Icarus and the Piano Concerto are well crafted and have some interesting orchestration. Jazz does have some cutting edge to it, which is why I quite like the composers who integrate improvisation, electronics etc into their work.

Definitely. I'm quite enjoying Pickard's chamber music as well; the string quartets are particularly interesting (IMHO!).

k

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Two really lovely pieces of minimal music.:^ Even Tones couldn't object to ten Holt's Canto Ostinato could he?

Kronos Quartet did a great job of bringing some quite challenging contemporary music to wider audiences. Here's one of my fav pieces by Feldman, a bit of leap from Reich but cut from the same cloth sort of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_Q-1u6sNgQ

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