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some thoughts on classical music

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What do people get out of classical music? I went to classical music concerts with my parents when I was younger, and saw many people wearing suits at such affairs. I believe that the majority of people who attend such events are not there for the love of the music, but to feel that they are cultured or are part of the elite. I have a cynical attitude towards people in general, and when they are attending art galleries, church, or music concerts, I believe that for most of them it is not for the purpose of enrichment, but for the image, to identify with the culture, and to feel better about oneself.

In regards to classical music, I don't see how people could like symphony music. To me it is a clever orchestration of many instruments which people listen to as background music. I prefer the music in which it is one player or just a few playing, rather than symphony music.

It would not surprise me to find that one's tastes in life are genetic and inherited, including what type of music one likes. It is harder to realize that because of the generation gaps that exist in music. But with classical music, there is no generation gap because it is all old. I have my father's taste in classical music, with an appreciation of Bach. My mother tends to like symphony music.

The type of classical music I like is organ and harpsichord played by a single player. I prefer the sound of the harpsichord to the piano. I'm not sure why the piano is more popular. For me it sounds like crap compared to the harpsichord. The idiotic mutterings of Glenn Gould while playing Bach on a piano, which people liken to be a product of eccentric genius, disappoint me.

I see the role of the player of music as hardly much different from the secretary typing papers for the boss at the office. If a player injects one's personality into the piece, such as Glenn Gould does playing Bach, the player is not a good one but is in fact becoming vain and failing at his mundane task which is hardly different from a monk writing a Bible by hand. To me the people of value are the composers and not the players. Nowadays all one has to do in order to get a player would be to transfer the sheet music into a midi file and have a synthesizer play it. That would be a good way to store lots of classical music in a compact form, as most of it is passed down by way of sheet music.

Edited by eclectica

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I think you might change your tune if you spent a night listening to Classical music under the stars at the Hollwyood Bowl. My sense is that the social settings you were brought up in probably soured you on the genre--

My favorite classical music composers were the Russian romantics Rimsky-Korsokov--they were as loud and vibrant as Led Zeppelin. Lots of times, I put on a classical station as bg music to relax. And a lot of great movies have incorporated classical music--Amadeus for one. What's not like to like?


Curious as to what other members feel about classical music. What are your favorites?

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orchestration of many instruments
that's the beauty of it. All instruments working together. The result sometimes is brilliant but I can't listen to classical for too long. After a while it gets annoying like all music other than your favorite kind.

I agree. Most people just attend those concerts just to fool themselves and others that they are part of the elite.

I have no favorites

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I played in a full symphony orchestra for about 6 years. Definitely one of the finer things I've done. The composing is genius, rarely if ever found in today's composers.

I've also played in a heavy metal band and now listen to RnB, rap, and trance, so I think I've had a pretty good spectrum of exposure. Nothing can compete with the technicality, melodies, and development that classical music brings. And it soothes the soul.

Maybe some of the "elite" at the symphony concerts are there for show, but I bet 90% then are trul classical music lovers with a good education on the history of the genre...

If the CSO wasn't so damn expensive, I'd be there more often too...!

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Hi, Eclectica... I know, it's long time since you posted that message, but I still feel I'd like to answer something... Of course, I don't want to discuss about you liking or not this or that... how you do know, that sort of choice is only a matter of personnal taste, experiences (good or bad), understanding also, and, in with understanding comes of course knowledge (learned or not)... I count for no importance the type of cultural environnement one is coming from or one is used to... and, over all those reasons, that big liberty of thought and conviction included in your own US laws (a great thing!).

No, I just would like to make a few remarks...

You mentioned first, the fact of the public at concerts, wearing suits and so on, and being there only for the appearence... well, that is quite possible, and, around the 70th, I myself was very much campaigning for that sort of freedom, since, it is true that the costume is not important to listen to music or see a painting... Only, in the same way, you don't need to be in costume to take your sweet heart in your arms... but some time, for occasions, you may just wish to take a nice shower and wear something little bit more formal than usual, maybe for his/her birsday (dunno what is your gender!), or wedding's date, or even just for the surprise... I must say, I'm a chamber musician (Violin & pno, str. quartet etc), and I did my 1000th concert around the year 2000. I like to play unformally, for an unsophisticated audience, but, playing a formal concert in penguin suit puts it in a different dimension, even if, like I always did, I tried even though to establish a more direct and unformal contact with the public, presenting the pieces I was going to perform, and very oftens joking a bit, of course, not tavern jokes, but keeping with place and circomstances, and having the public even laughing quite loud some time...

I felt that it was a good preparation for them to relax a bit, and to put them in good condition to listen to the composers...

Now, that a part of them was only here for the other to see them, that is quite possible, and I aggree, there are certainly some in that condition, but my goal has always been to bring the music to all of them and make them listen to it... (it is becoming an habit to have music all the time, and I can't say it's bad, but it can become an habit then, not to listen to it), so I tried always to pull peoples attention to the music I forwarded to them... And I must say that, quite a few times, peoples came after the concert, saying that they never had experienced such thing... I've got a particulary good example of it... That was a private concert in a castel organised for tourists guests, some of them having no experience of classical... all in ladeedaa suits and dresses... The concert was in a salon, and we where playing with my wife the Kodaly sonata for vln & cello, and I could have touch the audience with my bow, so close they were... after that piece wich was the last, that women came... never been in a concert before, and, sitting just twoo feet away from me, had received the music full blast in the chest (I must admit it is a very powerful piece) and, I tell you, till the dinner following, she looked stoned! sort of not here!... and, I assure you, it was not put up!

An other occasion, I was still a student then, and some friend just out of the Paris conservatoire (he now has made a carrier as violinist first, and finally as a conductor), was playing in a small village in the Alpes near Thonon, for the restauration of a chapell... and there was here in among the public, an old mountaneer, a shepherd, and he listen through that Bach unaccompanied... just with eyes wide open, and, at the end of it, He couldn't restraint to exclaim; "qu'c'est beau" ("How beatiful it is!"), you know, just remembering it, brings tears to my eyes!

Of course, probably he didn't know why, but the message had passed through to him...

People can come to concerts or Art exhibitions, or Church... to be in the good part of the correct thinking and so on... but in the end, what importance, the principal is that they at least try to do it and maybe one day, something will happen to them... they will discover Beethoven, Mozart, or a God...

That sort of thing is so much depending on circomstanced and individuals ! I know of a young one (10 years ago) that I helped to get in "la Sorbonne" in musicology class... He had been a punk-guitarist till the age of 18, member of an amateur group called "Jesus and the coyotts"!!! and he wanted to become a music teacher in highschools so, he had to learn something...

As part of his training, he had to listen for that course, to some music he never listen to before, and he took home a lot of CDs from libraries... 3 month later, he was a complete junkie to Bach, Beethoven, Tchaïckovski, but even Berio and Boulez!... and when his friends from his former punk group asked him to note down one of their tunes for the SACEM... coming back afterwards, he told me that he was so surprised to realise that this music was so empty, and the fact that he found it now so ennoying!

For what you say about symphony music, I saw that you very wisely said "to me", and "I prefer", which is your total rights... you know, some ones like a big plate of "Sauerkraut", with lot of sausages and smoked pork etc, or a "Cassoulet"

from Toulouse, with broad beans, mutton, porc, goose, cooked for 5 hours in an oven till a crust forms on top, that is pushed down 17 times before to serve it... yeah, its very good and you should try it once... but some prefer Crayfish "À la Parisienne", cold, presented by two on a serving plate preferably silver, facing each other, the feelers vertically tied together with a big decorative rubbon, and the bodies filled up with cold vegetable-macedoine with mayonnaise, the flesh disposed on top as medallions with truffles slices, and all glistering under a coat of jelly... Well that wonderfull to, but so different.

To come back to the orchestra, some pieces may be just clever, but believe me, when a real great composer writes a symphony, it is far more than cleverly put!... You know, I did at the beginning of my carrier, played for 7 years in orchestras (Symphonies, but also opera, and ballet) and for the last 10 years, appart of my concerts, I used to be also the concert master of a philharmonic orchestra... of course, my prefered music always was and still is chamber music, but there can be such a power in a symphonic orchestra playing a powerful piece...

And as for listening to it as a background music... I would say that musics to be listen as a background can't be to "talkative"

I mean it really has to be music not saying very much, or you may commit mistakes in whatever you are trying to do on the side... Have you ever try to listen a music (any one) in the way you would listen to a play, or to a poem... I mean, listen to the phrase, and following it, getting the answers to it, the way it evolves, arrives to certain conclusions, changes it's mind, starts a new subject... I mean just what would happen in theater or text of litterature... I now, there aint any words with it, but it's made the same, it follows the same rules, it talks the same way, the same language: the language of the spirit. But of course you must be aware of it, since it is not always presented to you on a plate... St Ex. said: "the essential is invisible for the eyes, one sees well only with the heart" and it is also true to the earing!

For your appreciation of Glen Gould, I can only aggree with you, but possibly not completely for the same reasons...

You know, to me, the interpreter of music has only THAT role of an interpreter: Translater.

Music is written, and some one has to translate it in sounds for everyone to be able to enjoy it... On one side, you've got a composer, which hopefully has something to say, and on the other, you've got a public (one person, or 1000 times one person), and the only role of a player, is to translate what the first one said for the second to receive that com. as exactly and faithfully as possible. That's all!

Of course, you've got lot of clowns which are trying to transform as much as possible what has been said, to make them self so visibly present that one can only forget about the original message... it can take the form of not respecting what has been written, or in making all sorts of tricks or grimaces, pulling faces or anything which would attract the attention on himself more than on the music... that's of course where our Glen Gould comes exactly... that he needs to put his fingers in mineral water before to play, fine, but there is no use in doing that on stage... Of course, here again, there can be a line not to easy to draw... artists are human after all, even the greatests, and some time they can come down to such tricks... Liszt was known to add some very brilliant arpeggios and looking at the ladies at the same time to judge the effect... an other time, he fainted before the end of a new piece... simply he didn't had the time to achieve it... but after all, it was Liszt... and when Steibelt (a bit earlier around 1800) resorted to such things, it was only ridiculous and Beethoven could well be fed up!...

So, please, don't judge the pianer from that pianer player... Rachmaninov whas a fantastic player, and there are some excellent recordings of him (including on Ampico piano rolls), and there are a few reasonably good pianists today... Of course, I do like the harpsichord, but you can't play Beethoven, Brahms, or prokofiev on a harpsichord!... I know, it would be a humoristic answers to the pianist playing Bach and Mozart on a modern piano (even if Mozart wrote some pieces for pianoforte, his pianoforte was in fact so close to the sound of a cembalo, that even a harp would be closer to it than a modern piano!)... But again, here I would say that it is also a question of personnal taste...

You can see in what I wrote earlier, that I entirely aggree then, with your opinion on the position of the player, compared to the one of the composer... and I think the fact to be myself a player gives even more weight to it.

There is only one little mistake you are doing here, and that is not a question of opinion I think. That is when you say that one could synthetize etc... You know, I've been doing recently some heavy studying and working about and with computors, and in particular about the processing of sounds... Having decided to distribute on the net quite lot of the few 100 of recorded concerts I did, and considering that those where live recordings on tape or even on cassettes, dating for some of them back to the 70th, and not in poifect conditions always... they had to be revised...

An other thing is that having been asked recently to compose some pieces for a friend of mine, harp teacher in an other town, neading to ask her some tips about certain places in those pieces, and having edited the music through an excellent program, I made her listen trough the phone to the pieces, using for that one of the supposed to be best programs, not synthetizing but using real sound of instruments (strad an so on)...

It was good enough for that purpose, and for the sound of a harp, but sincerely, about the sound of a violin, it could have been a lovesick bagpipe... I'm only please the real fiddle doesn't sound like that I would have choosen as a kid to learn the triangle!

That is only about the sound, but now, talking about the interpretation of the music!... even if you'd use all sort of trickkery from those types of programms... "human playing and so on... a good student with only few years of studying could do far better not only for what the sound is concern, but for transmitting an emotion. To transmit an emotion, the emotion must be here in the first place...

and you can't have that out of a machine... of course, you can take each sound separately, organise it, in relation to the other, what is on top of it, underneath, before and after, organize each and every sound like that... you could manage to produce something excellent, but in that case, YOU would be the player... I mean, you would have just been doing what does the player recording a piece... with the only difference that it is faster to just take ones fiddle and to play a piece from beginning to end with whoever plays with you, than to do a huge puzzle assembling, sound by sound, of that same piece...

As a resume for that last thought, I would just add that, not like the secretary writing his bosses texts on a register, the player must give life to those texts in front of him... and, doing it, I believe that he must put all hes efforts to come as close as possible from the way the composer played or would have play it. He must really try to impersonize that composer or the style of that particular contry or time... and then PUT EMOTIONS in it... not his owns but the ones included in the music... I did once a concert of Renaissance music (playing then the Renaissance fiddle and rebec!), and there were some poems included, from Ronsard, du Bellay etc...

At one moment, during the dressrearshall, the producer addressed to the actress after she finished to read a poem (a youg girl just out of conservatoire), she had been crying in saying it (it was a sad poem about departure), and she was still crying and sobbing for a minute or so answering to the producer, so much she had been in her role... true tears and all... but she was not upset herself about anything... just had lived completely the communication... and I tell ya, that communication certainly passed!

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Well said, dsoslglece :thumbsup: Welcome to Beatking. :)

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Oh its very interesting. Could you provide me more information ?

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Ralf S., you always repeat yourself, but I notice by the threads you pick, that you have very good taste in music

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