Arnold Schoenberg: Classic or Dud?

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I've been listening to Erwartung and Pierrot Lunaire.

sundar subramanian, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

there was a second viennese school weekend in dublin's national concert hall recently -- schoenberg, webern and berg. completely unfamiliar territory for me, but i was completely bowled over by how fresh and surprising and colourful the music was. i just loved it, particularly schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31, Pierrot Lunaire, Erwartung, and especially webern's Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30, which just roXoRed! so, classic classic classic.

what recordings of Erwartung and Pierrot Lunaire are you listening to?

rener, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Verklärte Nacht is great.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Friede auf Erden alone makes him classic.

Dan Perry, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Pupil Anton Webern's 'Five Pieces For Orchestra' has to be the most lapidary, alpine, stratospherically beautiful thing in all of modern classical music. No repetition. Just single chimes, a strum, a french horn, some pizzicato strings, all otherworldly and pure. Terrifying and gorgeous.

Anecdote: In Hollywood, Brecht and Schoenberg met. They nattered on for about an hour without really finding much common ground, until S. told a story about climbing a mountain with a donkey. The animal zigzagged left and right rather than heading straight up. S. admired its intelligence. Brecht was delighted to picture the fussy serialist being taught a lesson by a donkey, and wrote a poem about it.

Pop fact: I sang a song about this onstage last night onstage at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York. It's called 'Travels With A Donkey'. I also performed another Schoenberg-influenced song, 'Pierrot Lunaire'.

May I be the first to pronounce myself a ponce.

Momus, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

...Come to think of it, I also sang 'Radiant Night', named after another Schoenberg piece, and containing the line:

'I find Schoenberg's 'Verklarte Nacht' the lovliest thing I've heard...'

Momus, Tuesday, 12 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I've been listening to the Sony Classical disc conducted by Boulez. Erwartung is played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and sung by Janis Martin. Pierrot Lunaire is recited by Yvonne Minton and played by Daniel Barenboim, Michel Debost, Anthony Pay, Pinchas Zukerman, and Lynn Harrell. It just struck me recently how utterly incredible it is.

Momus: Do you know the German title of the Webern piece? I have the complete works but the titles are all given in German so there's nothing labelled "Five Pieces for Orchestra." I guessed that "Funf Satze op 5 (orchestral version)" might be the one (since it's a 5- track orchestral piece). I just put it on. It sounds good. Hmmm, I wonder if "Funf Stucke op 10" is orchestral.

sundar subramanian, Wednesday, 13 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Now I think you probably were talking about "Funf Stucke op 10". This is great.

sundar subramanian, Wednesday, 13 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Yep, the Webern thing (and it *is* terrific) is opus 10. Funnily enough, I do have a copy with the piece titles in German, but the *work* title in French.

I can't do the German double-s beta in HTML, so bear with me:

I. sehr ruhig und zart

II. lebhaft und zart bewegt

III. sehr langsam und auBerst ruhig

IV. flie end, auBerst zart

V. sehr flieBend

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 13 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

It's not a beta; it's two esses. So if you can't type ß, type ss (my wife writes sz, but she's an old fashioned girl).

Schoenberg rules. Maybe we'll move to Mödling.

Colin Meeder, Wednesday, 13 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

two months pass...
oh Schoenburg is so big, he's been to all the different forms, his opus nos. coincide with years of human non-developement (eg op. 42 piano/orch, one of my faves) -- is Kol Nidre a sreious devotional work ? am i too young to see the stench sarcasm humer of 'ode to Napoleon' ? the violin trio still grows, a concession to webern-esque instrumentation on schoenburg scale -- i still love the five orhestral pieces by s. -- those pieces between 1900 and 1920, gorgeous

webern will never know -- friendly fire? collateral casualty ? if Moses and Aaron had been completed it would have out-scandalised rite- of-spring surely

George Gosset, Sunday, 9 June 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
I've got a recording of pierrot lumaire yesterday and I'm really bowled over by it.

'beautiful' and 'ugly' sounds coexisting with fairly loony vocals. 21 'tracks' (poems), each being mostly 1-3 mins, truly incredible.

the CD i have has a recording of erwartung but I haven't got to this yet.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 1 February 2003 17:41 (eighteen years ago) link

Erwartung is really intense; I think you'll like it Julio.

Strange but true performances of Pierrot Lunaire:

- Bjork performed excerpts live (there's no official recording but I'm told there are bootlegs)
- Cleo Laine recorded a version back in the 70s (it was released on LP, I've never heard it)

My favorite Schoenberg tends to be stuff from the period when he'd made the leap from tonality into atonality but hadn't yet codified the twelve-tone technique. So in addition to Pierrot and Erwartung, favorites include The Book of the Hanging Gardens (a lovely song cycle with none of the hysteria of Pierrot/Erwartung); Schoenberg's own set of Five Orchestra Pieces; Herzgewächse (another vocal work, with surreal accompaniment from harp, celeste, and harmonium); and among the piano works of this period, the set of six short pieces.

Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Saturday, 1 February 2003 18:10 (eighteen years ago) link

heh...I just heard Pierrot again. After listening to it I'm so 'satisfied'. but yeah I'll def go to erwartung later.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 1 February 2003 21:46 (eighteen years ago) link

I like the works for solo piano to be the bestest for repeat listening. Really passionate and bent, especially once he goes twelve-tone -- it's insanely emotional music. Would recommend the Glenn Gould 2 disc set 'Piano Works', worth it entirely for the first disc.

2nd string quartet has the breakthrough into atonality in the last movement, listening to it intact can feel a lot like losing your mind. fun to play on headphones at work.

Jon Leidecker, Tuesday, 4 February 2003 00:35 (eighteen years ago) link

I've been listening to the prelude to Gurrelieder on repeat all day! thanks ILM!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 4 February 2003 06:45 (eighteen years ago) link

May I be the second to pronounce Momus a ponce.

(PS: J/K MOMUXOR!!1 X-TRA ***HUGGLEZ*** 2U!!!)

Dan I., Tuesday, 4 February 2003 07:05 (eighteen years ago) link

chamber concerto #1 & #2, variations for orchestra, piano concerto (op.42) -- these are medium size works (15-30 minutes) that i think are the most accessible and colouful (no german, lots of variation)
5 pieces for orchestra is so condensed that pts 4 & 5 are only partially satisfying, as they sorta meld the pieces together with a nice arch climax and some inversions but each piece is over with it's idea in 2 minutes
whereas chamber concerto #1 (from the same period) is so endlessly self reflective that recognising the trails of theme/variation amidst all the orchestral and harmonic diversity seems to provide enless jollies
remember the 'minimalists'? my favourite schoenburg is when he's at his most 'maximalist' (like the 'ominous' op. 42)

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 4 February 2003 12:47 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...

listening to the unfinished (schoenberg wanted to write another part) 'jacob's ladder' - so so good, but it does sound complete, the thing ending on a very high note.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 23 December 2004 23:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Worst thing to happen to music. Ever. Even worse than rap.

Geir Hongro, Thursday, 23 December 2004 23:16 (sixteen years ago) link

haha after I sandwiched the schoenberg in between a couple of rap CDs: cam'ron's 'purple haze' and the last bubba sparxxx record.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 23 December 2004 23:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Schoenberg is without a doubt soooo much better in theory than when you're actually listening to his work. the music is interesting to talk about, look at, study, and analyze but goddamnit for the life of me i just HATE actually hearing it.

than again (naturally) i've been rather casual with hunkering down and getting through one of his pieces, so give me say a year and maybe my view will change. it's also been a while.

lemin (lemin), Friday, 24 December 2004 01:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Verklärte Nacht seconded.

I think his latter works were impenetrable noise. Then again, that's how I feel about all "serialism." It's music with no color---to me, at least.

Salvador Saca (Mr. Xolotl), Friday, 24 December 2004 02:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Which of Schoenberg's works are (considered) impenetrable noise? I think of heard quite a range of his work but it all seems pretty immediate to me. (Compared to, say, Merzbow . .)

C'mon, what's the REALLY difficult serialist stuff? Hurt me!

Soukesian, Friday, 24 December 2004 18:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Schoenberg is hardly noise and it's hardly impenetrable. See my comment upthread about the instrumental passages from Gurrelieder.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Friday, 24 December 2004 20:16 (sixteen years ago) link

lemin- I'd be interested to know what pieces have you heard?

diff serialist stuff? I guess you'd go for milton babbitt and charles wuorien's discs on tzadik (both are a mix of electronic and acoustic pieces). also see my eliot carter thread but I do remember liking his string quartet no.5. I do have his 'oboe concerto' but haven't got too far with that one yet. Another point: Schoenberg is atonal and not serialist (where serialist technique took atonality to its logical conclusion but I don't remember reading that he had composed anything of that rigour, partly bcz the technology available to realize these scores had not become available -- which lead to electronic music, which had only been explored, but I'm specualting; microtonality also led to the creation of new instruments and also the attempts to make synthesizers). The 'point', at the very end of all this, is that you had all these techniques that the composer could make use of -- music could, by turns be tonal, atonal, microtonal, serial, electronic, acoustic or (crucially) prolonged immersion could into any of these lead the composer into v personal visions/concepts -- classical music may have lost its public to rock and jazz etc but beyond that the music just got fkn great, I've spent much of the year hunting down music from the 50s onwards and really enjoying it right now.

Schoenberg can be very effective in emotional terms; 'jacob's ladder' has these instrumental/choral/vocal passages, quite diff to get a handle on at first but the last 10 minutes in particurlar had these strings, the textures in a flux combined with the vocals in the end made it all very dreamy and touching.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 25 December 2004 00:17 (sixteen years ago) link

sorry some of that. its late here.

'which lead to electronic music, which had only been explored, but I'm specualting; microtonality also led to the creation of new instruments and also the attempts to make synthesizers'

early synthsizers (as well as new instruments -- harry partch etc etc), as I recall from just reading through some of the history, were used to realize compositions that required the use of microtonality that could not be performed on the available acoustic instrumentation.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 25 December 2004 00:26 (sixteen years ago) link

the solo piano pieces are the best place to start because you can follow the melodic lines, they're catchy even. and very emotional and gripping. The orchestral works are great but take their toll really quickly; his method gave him a grip on how to handle notes, but his arrangements for orchestra can get undifferentiated & soupy. unlike Webern, who handled things by paring down, getting sparse, hocketing individual lines across multiple instruments, clarifying the wonderful notion of klangfarbenmelodie (which foreshadowed and laid the groundwork for musique concrete)

in fact, that's one thing about 12-tone / serialist works worth mentioning in the age of CD listening, where many of the reissues fill the CDs to 74 minute capacity: this is densely packed music that improves when you give it time to breathe. listening to three 25 minute concertos in a row with 5 second pauses between each is _not_ how these pieces were meant to be heard by anyone, it's no wonder it feels like work even to people who are genuinely curious to hear it.

(also these pieces are often downright annoying if you leave them on in the background, they assume they've got your full attention like most music written for the concert hall.)

for years my only Webern was that 3 disc Boulez set, organized in chronological order. it made no sense at all until I began programming out individual works or manually stopping the disc after a piece, they unpack themselves in your head after they're over. before I started doing that, I'd just listen for 30 minutes, break myself, put the whole thing back on the shelf.

Have been listening to much more Webern since iTunes made it easy to drop in 'six bagatelles' or something between other tracks.

(Jon L), Saturday, 25 December 2004 00:48 (sixteen years ago) link

classic, but his pupils far surpass him.

i tend to favor his pre-serialist period, when all tonal rules were abandoned for expression's sake. the 2nd string quartet is probably my favorite piece of his.

i rarely find much to say about him, though. berg composed an unbelievable violin concerto, 2 of the best operas of the century, as well as one of the best string quartets in the repertoire ("lyrische suite"). webern's sheer consistency is astounding, and even if the boulez set - which most people are familiar with - is quite hit-or-miss in terms of performance quality, the most accurate individual performances bring out more in a few bars than schoenberg did in his entire oeuvre.

schoenberg paved the way for something greater than himself, and by that i mean atonality. serialism is certainly fortunate, but total serialism sounds, to these ears, ridicuously dated already.

you will be shot (you will be shot), Saturday, 25 December 2004 01:40 (sixteen years ago) link

well said ywbs

I've got the juliard webern, what other webern performances do you recommend?

(Jon L), Saturday, 25 December 2004 06:31 (sixteen years ago) link

arditti, most definitely.

for a more emotional approach: try quartetto italiano, or - strictly for op. 5 - the brindisi quartet. they might be out of print, though... also: kronos, juilliard, lasalle and emerson are all subpar, as far as i'm concerned.

for the orchestral stuff: either giuseppe sinopoli or christoph von dohnanyi conducting.

i would love to hear non-boulez performances of the cantatas, but have not found any so far.

you will be shot (you will be shot), Saturday, 25 December 2004 08:00 (sixteen years ago) link

thank you sir

(Jon L), Saturday, 25 December 2004 08:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Wuorinen is pretty easy listening for me Julio, a maximalist like the big S. but you gotta be in the right mood. Same for Wolpe et. al. (and btw fuck john cage). Babbitt seems too dry or maybe i'm too slow for the pre-zip compressions.

The variation=episode=revelation of Webern goes too far anti-maximalist for me. I like the seemingly endless passages of mirrors of S. I prefer the more decadent total endlessness and more typically orchestral extremes of timbral variation, again i'd associate with S. or Berg. By way of contrast, Webern has been described as flashes of light gradually animating a composition.

("the right mood" ? here's my formula :
don't pay attention, hear the 'whole' in a distant landscape kinda way; delving into individual event will distract and confuse cf: sitting back and letting rhythms and tones bounce around in their wider space; the 'whole' will gradually establish itself, _not_ episodic, more a psych. garden growing in timelapse)

since i know many of schoen, berg etc too well given the limited output, i've taken to cutting up the larger pieces and listening to chunks in reverse order or even randomly .. really, cut em up and then put them back together,
esp. since everybody knows the first five minutes of each big piece well enough from all those times deciding "do i want to listen to this now, .. uh, no".

i also think people forget that these pieces were meant to unfold in a concert hall where all your concentration was required; the above mood 'advice' may thus seem contradictory, but i do feel paying attention to chunks high on theme and attention to structure pays off, but then i don't want it to end ... If imagining concert hall conditions means i forget i'm lounging in too many ways, at least it reminds me to aproach this stuff as layered drama for the ears, designed to seductively unfold. Still i'd rather listen to it horizontally. It's just too seductive.

george gosset, Saturday, 25 December 2004 09:57 (sixteen years ago) link

see I wz listening to wolpe last night -- there is that light touch, that webernian sparseness (he studied with him), with moments of violence but its all very seamless so the light and the violence are one and same.

I've only got one webern and no berg. I really need to hear this.

'serialism is certainly fortunate, but total serialism sounds, to these ears, ridicuously dated already.'

is there a diff between serial and total serial. did schoenberg compose anything serial?

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 25 December 2004 11:33 (sixteen years ago) link

i believe several major S. works presented serialism watered down (eg op42 piano concerto) ie having the bluster etc. to have invented this serialism total solution to boring repetion he in fact modidified the work to create concessions to half-committed listeners -- ie the world was not ready for total serialism (the stuff boulez, stockhausen and babbitt pursued, many believe, into a hole even more alienatory to audiences already wincing)

will the world ever be ready for total serialism (involving rotation of timbres, durations, silence . ) ? will they ever be ready for music as a mathematical and aural amalgam ? as has been noted above, fascinating reading for those who read music but even less mainstream.

so op 42 is flawed and is accessible. the reason other posters express fondness for S. in the 1900-1920 works, 5 pieces, chamber concerto etc.. precisely because he was on the edge of the barely tonal 12-tone system but had not adopted it. Later pieces like orchestral variations would again make concessions to more conventional and flatter less constantly rotating pitches (dumbed down serialism ! ).

Berg's violin conc. ("to an angel") is uniquely 'fixed' i'm told to resolve serialist ideas in a way that devolved them onto a 'normal' pitch arrangement acceptable to 'naive' listeners while still spinning the tone row -- something of a one off. Of course the conventional scales make that piece boring/unlistenable to me sounding like the same old notes whilst making it the only piece of classsical music of mine my friends find listenable.

so this initial period of seralism is fraught with all kinds of compromises, of which i prefer S.

yeah and wuorinen is not total serialism, wolpe an ad hoc prgmatist. I have perfect pitch, which i think you need (or maybe the opposite is true) to hear the angles which are most definitely there in the right listening environment. I fail to see how the populus could ever be expected to get beyond the conventional (pop) note progressions and rhythms. Serialism and derivatives are just too much the opposite. Braxton claims stockhausen and webern will be understood in 100 years time (with possibly himself in that boat too).

Right now, the serialist thing is a 20th c abberation confined to universities, readers of music, solvers of puzzles.

Obligatory swipe at sonic youth:
GB 20th C. did not even attempt to approach this strong strain of particularly american music. Instead their po-faced (or "we're really mocking that stuff, like who cares?" and who really knows which) attempted to take the high intell. ground with music by the likes of oliveros and wolff, people who set out to have fun ! But no, no fun at those sy gigs i'm told.
Of course once again it was stunts like knives in pianos and drone music and conveniently, music where performers were encouraged to be intuituve and take risks with their playing. SY take risks ? Lacking the virtuostic necessities of tackling this other post-serialist strain of american music,
Sonic Youth have no right to call that mutual back-scratching serious ? po-faced publicity stunt anything to do with the great majority of great 20th C. art music. Experimental ? Or riding on the backs of real experimentors ?

i crave the "goodbye sonic youth" album when it is released, an amalgam of real indie artists who can't afford to go slumming in grateful dead one minute, art rock the next, lip-service to a subset of 20thc whilst trying to define or "nail" it the next, all the while having propelled the youth of america into mindless dead-end grunge (their most unforgivable corporate pay-back/ sell-out/ sub-sub-pop faux art cop-out)

Goodbye Sonic Youth the bullshit artists of the '90s and '00s -- they've got it coming, the fans are sick of them as are readers of their last defenders The Wire -- not a completely NZ project then, but in the pipeline -- fitting repost to the lame goodbye 20thC, on their terms ('Kill yr Idols', art as globalised rock music should actually be good art, etc etc)

(sorry Julio, got a bit carried away there)

george gosset (gegoss), Saturday, 25 December 2004 13:25 (sixteen years ago) link

its ok george - but what makes wuorien and babbitt 'particurlarly american music' -- surely this is the wing of music that embraced european ideas, as opposed to the cage-ian school; but even composers like kagel and ligeti questioned whether the total, complete dismantling of harmony was ever a gd idea (and whether electronic music in the concert hall could work). composers such as christian wolff took on amateur performers so i totally get where SY are coming from in tackling composers like that (who are diff from glass, reich, but I'm quite happy they perform both glass and wolff in the sense that I think its worthwhile to move the lines that were drawn by classical listeners). and they took risks, both in the performance of it, in the commitment to this as well as the reception that it would get from the rock audience.

yes I do think of 'serialism' as the total inverse of tonality. and if bach took a while to be understood, so will webern and stockhausen but it is a diff time, there are records and much of this is already understood or listened to, and is extensively written about and discussed, maybe more so than 200 years ago.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 25 December 2004 17:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Well said, Julio.

Salvador Saca (Mr. Xolotl), Sunday, 26 December 2004 15:58 (sixteen years ago) link

The 'total serialism' was spawned in both Darmadst summer schools (Europe) and places like Princeton and Columbia (US).

'particurlarly american music' ? OK, I believe it got more funding and got taken more seriously later into the 20th C in the US academia, during years when it had largely been abandoned by Europeans like Stockhausen ('large scale experiments' of mega/"meta" proportions cf: the much earlier Kontra-Punkte), Boulez (15 year writing block) or Ligetti (intuitively composed/felt expressionism). Later Europeans beat the US people to the punch with electro-acoustic stuff not revolving around the inherent non-repetition strategies so central to Schoenburg->Webern too.

Americans like Powell, Wuorinen and Martino all picked up Pullitzers '60s-'90s in the US, where this academic and highly mathematically organised musical old-boys curiosity was still supported by universities and 'private trust' patrons.

But This post's dear to my heart really mainly because i just want to hit sonic youth again for the blow-hard art-bores i think they are.
Where is their critique of the non-intuitive school in the US ? It is often claimed that 20th c music went into two camps, the freedom of cage vs. the rigour of babbitt. I'm not making this up. The two schools view is, if somewhat simplistic, still conventional wisdom.

So, where are sonic youth getting off trying to do their so-so-cool kiss-off-my-ass act applying it to the efforts of many composers but ignoring just as many, many of these composers in their own back yard? It really makes the GB20thC double CD look like another publicity stunt. It's fun ? It's serious ? Isn't that a red herring ?Are they really just committed to what they can actually perform ? Are they unaware of this other school, even whilst happily name-dropping c. taylor (who famously said he wanted to play "boulez yeah, but funky") ?
Isn't it just plain obvious that they haven't got the chops to pull off yeah plainly 'particurlarly american music' ? If not, wtf is GB20thC ? OK so they can only play their own 'special' guitars. Fine.

My point is that Sonic Youth just aren't qualified to produce what purports to be a summarily critical and/or faithful 20th c album. The title implies a reasonably exhaustive approach yet they conveniently ignore parts (half) of the considerable canon that does exist which would simply be beyond both their 'special' virtuosity (and possibly the attention spans of some of their fans).
(I do not mean to be a snobbish wanker here. Rather, again and again, it's Sonic Youth and their 'special' status that strikes me as snobbery, inverse snobbery perhaps, but it always seems they get so much critical slack. I admire many of their skittish art stunts, but I'm sick of them simply assuming some high ground, sick of all the pussy-footing that passes for comment on SY 2004).

Who the F*** do "The Gordons" think they are ? Continuous grandiose stuff like this which comes across like the wisdom passed down from burnt out dead-heads whose parents might be able to remember some NYC 'happenings'? And who are they to allign themselves with a mere faction of the 20thC canon and yet pass their double album off as something named and thus implicitly so comprehensive ?Well who are they to allign/ crash these other composers' parties anyway ? WHo's making up the rules ? NYC ? Conneticut ? New Jersey ?

Well ? Could someone please defend these cool NYC cats ? Whatever will they try and pull next ? Am i the only person who thinks this about GB20thC in this way ?

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 16:01 (sixteen years ago) link

(oops I did kind of reduce it all to 'two camps' even though there are many more things to it)

I'd like to think DY will do a sequel to GB20thC -- with a full on DVD production.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 21:27 (sixteen years ago) link

The title implies a reasonably exhaustive approach

No it doesn't, not at all. It's not "20th Century Music: An overview". The first word is "Goodbye", which is a familiar, friendly term; they're saying goodbye to the things which they thought were interesting about the 20th C. It seems like a personal, rather than an academic, look.

So. I think you have a fundamental misreading of the project.

Schoenberg is all right, but he's no Webern. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a zillion copies of Webern string quartets etc. Verklaerte Nacht is kinda boring and fussy, but Pierrot is terrific, and the tiny piano pieces are great.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 23:51 (sixteen years ago) link

The title implies a reasonably exhaustive approach

No it doesn't, not at all. It's not "20th Century Music: An overview". The first word is "Goodbye", which is a familiar, friendly term; they're saying goodbye to the things which they thought were interesting about the 20th C. It seems like a personal, rather than an academic, look.

This strikes me as a narrow, 'special' and almost inside view of what is merely the title and presumed mission statement of the whole project afterall. But Jeez (as we say in NZ), an overview .. ? How much more exhastive a title could they choose ? Well that's what i thik, and Julio is right, a gb20thc part 2 covering the other stuff, that would be fair. But in 2004 wouldn't it just be a little too non-compliant for consumption.

It's tone, the tone of the title, which is downright regal. Mr Gordon might have been a convincing rapper/ man-about-town with that "master-dik" song, but that very funny convincing OTM critique of new rap and dance qua Ciccone Youth was fifteen years ago when the Gordons were still convincingly youthfully talented. The kiss-my-ass/ 'kill yr idols [if you can do better]', their essentially combatative or at least 'punk' stance was amusing and refreshing, esp. as early warning/response to the then emerging 'rap-better-than-you' tone if not posedown. However, no-one could deny it was one of their typically 'punk tough' stance art events,.. both critique, joke and successful musical 'special side project'. That was then, but I do not believe that the "we're cooler than you/ still cool/ inscutable" stance was or is a stance the band would willingly wish to be caught conveniently closetting.

Did some band member suggest this was the title ? Casuistry, your angle on the implications of the title seems to fly in the face of the tradition of SY project titles, which have never seemed sincere in the merely one-dimmensional black and white way you suggest. Isn't "goodbye" at least possibly read as shrugging-off gesture in this context ?

Strikingly, this band of all bands would have had to be have been aware of the dismissive ambiguity of the title.. surely they thought it could be interpreted that way ? With their history of wordplay i simply can't believe it wasn't considered.

Casuistry, please, what makes you so convinced of such a view of the title ? A title that meant un-ambiguously simply leaves the band suddenly naive looking ? Or is that really a sincere change of channel, from the "cool things" ?
Where did you hear or read or get told of this break with SY tradition, a double-lp with such a personal intent and none of the faux mean-spiritedness (or "punk"competetiveness, if you like). Could you point me in the direction of some public-domain interview, press statement or other corroborative band explanation of the title, the "goodbye" and "overview" in particular.

It's a small point, but since it's your dismissal of what are essentially a series of questions i feel it fair to raise re: such a willfully arrogant band (recent example "Mariah /Doyle cream", an unpleasant and thoroughly embarassingly disingenuous cheap shot), yeah, excuse me for not jumping to band-friendly easy conclusions with SY, a band too PR-versed/ always in the news not to be aware of those words as at least partly 'shrug' ?

Smug, shrug, schmrug, .. that's SY to me. Please re-convert me Casuistry ! I used to be such an admirer of their work before the wtf formula really began to feel like too many schmrugs too far.

Yeah, help me please Casuistry,

(1)what do you think of SY approaching the school they've ignored, working with the serious post-serialist and of course American artists ? howabout SY + string quaartet + piano ? Couldn't they respond to 20th c music in a maybe stylistic, compositional or even re-mix way (like Ciccone Youth) ? Why make something the size of at least a standard double-lp and ignore it the options that made the band such naughty fub in the first place ?


(2) The other thing which keeps bugging me is the constant down-playing of Mr Gordon's "youthful" experiences of all sorts of music, presumably accompanied by the musings and educated opinions of his father, the ,uh Music Professor ? Someone tell me this ain't true, please. It's just too good to be true ! (I read it somewhere, but please someone who can be bothered please correct me if i'm wrong).

(Julio, promise to return to Schoenburg et. al. and the for-me fascinating (i call them) post-serialist 'canon')

george gosset (gegoss), Wednesday, 29 December 2004 17:29 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah, Music Professor. So how could the Gordons not have been aware of 20thc academia post-serialist musics that if not dominated at least competed with the cage-free school ? How can old youthful "Thurst'in for more", this musical super-geek-brain apparently endlessly consuming new music via his giant record collection be unaware of all the musical developements of the 20thc almost automatically via both upbringing (".. lot's of music around the house .."?) and born out in his appetite for the new as evidenced by that grandiose record collection enshrined presumably in part only on the Washing Machine cover?

Ok, 200 Sun Ra records, that's anthropological, fetishistic, unique special interest, (is passionate a possibility ?) .. i suppose .. or is it R&D for making sophisticated sounding space-cadet music ?
But that's ignoring the Black Saints i see in the corner,.. Thurston likes free jazz so he must have been aware of the influence of Stockhausen and Webern on the whole of the Chicago school (of intelligent mainly black mainly jazz music that is). Someone aware of free jazz is usually all too painfully aware of the complimentary "un-funky 20thc" someone like Braxton refers too when he recounts being snubbed by Boulez at IRCAM (which also happened to Taylor).

eg Schoenburg's solo piano music influenced the young Braxton, supposedly changed his life. So what does the (internet) sy track "Anthony Braxton Kiss My Trad Ass" mean ? uh, critique ?

This is a band uncritically saying goodbye to music they feel an affinity towards, yes Casuistry ? They're nice to other people now are they ? They aren't young lion-type cats no more huh bro ?

C'mon, this is a band trying to place itself in musical history, allign itself with various conveniently and carefully selected sympathetic composers. SY want to bow out on the up, at least "recognised" as part of some composer crew since they won't be remembered as the youthful mind-changers and liberators of the likes of Funkadelic, the Stones, the Stooges, the Dead, like so many bands that did change youthful minds on a mass scale.
OK, allign, no, BUY a vanity double CD (= triple lp !) and set youselves aside all (nah, can't do that) the composers of the "great American tradition" (Ives anyone ?) and in 50 years someone might be confused enough to see the Gordons as genuine musical pedigree.

Pity that they were musical pedigree when they were in fact musically youthfully inspiring. Wonder when O'Rourke is gonna get sick of re-playing all the old xpressway favourites one too many time and move on ? How could he not be bored with his current gig given his youthful tragectory, or has he spent his ideas now ? Retire as producer/ boy-genius ?
Or was O'Rourke the Mr Fix-it, the Van Dyke Parks of the SY story, bought in by the record company, who've already tossed SY some money, headline status over the top of darling Nirvana at their height in a wretched tour video, the newly discovered Butch Vig, vanity-parallel labels (despite the supposed and much vaunted 'artistic freedom' of the DGC deal, Thust'in was harping on about the difficulties of working for 'major labels' in the NME as early as 1992),.. seemingly endlessly allowed this band to live this dream out .. why ?

Yeah, like all those numerous bands touring the world re-playing the old favourites ? Like the Beach Boys ? Is this what O'Rourke wants to do ?

(sorry Julio, i just wish this band got the same critical ride that other bands have, .. and where are the fans in this, still putting up with the same old/alt. chords, permutated into ever decreasing Coltrane-esque circles ? and where is all the digital, improv and production acumen of O'Rourke ? why has this band so stoically stuck to their guns and resisted the seductive new timbres they could use in their music but don't, timbres that might even attract youthful listeners ?)

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 30 December 2004 20:05 (sixteen years ago) link

You are taking Sonic Youth far more seriously than they take themselves. Well done.

What's so hard to understand? SY doesn't have the chops to play Babbitt. While I'm sure Moore is aware of serialism, etc., it doesn't seem like the vein of 20th C. music that appeals to him, that he's been involved with. (I'm not much of an SY fan, much less a historian of their work, so all I know is Moore's involvement with Branca back in the day, which doesn't seem terribly in the vein of serialists etc.)

But I can easily imagine them simply wanting to play some of this music, music which they had an affinity for and which they were capable of performing. And perhaps they wanted to set themselves up as part of the Fluxux/minimalist/Cagean music tradition, but so what? I don't think Yoko Ono would have rejected their attempts.

More likely is that they wanted to introduce their fans to this music, and they wanted to try performing it, and they wanted to celebrate the passing of the 20th Century. None of these seem like unlikely sentiments, unless you are determined to make SY fit into a one-dimensional trajectory of intentions.

But more important than all this: I liked the album. It wasn't earth-shatteringly great, but I liked it well enough. I'm glad they did it.

Casuistry (Chris P), Thursday, 30 December 2004 21:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Haven't heard the SY track in question - afraid I lost their plot years ago - but I have to give it up to them(along with a few others) for including elements in their sound that gave me a way in to modern orchestral music.

Soukesian, Thursday, 30 December 2004 21:53 (sixteen years ago) link

I have to accept SY as more of a deadhead continuum thing. Sister was apparently an album with non-mean-spirited title, (cf:Goo for instance). GB20thC, i dunno, i see your point, composers they feel an affinity towards. The composers embraced here are real composers for life whereas SY and esp. "the Gordons" have seemed over much of their down&grim punk guitar-purist(-luddite)career like poseurs for life.
Thurstin's remarks about meeting Xenakis with DJ Spooky (as recounted in The Wire some years ago) seem to me to highlight the attitudes of both the serialious and even some of the maverick composers on one hand and a stubbornness from the SY camp just as strongly held on the other.

Research via the standard-band middle-bio "Confusion is Next" : Thurstin's father George Moore died in 1976, apparently an unpublished composer himself, so Thurston would have known his father until he was 18. It seems mean-spirited to speculate whether George Moore himself was part of one fiercely-held side of the two competing schools, post-serialist or free-cage.

I have other "issues" with SY and the Gordons in particular, mostly to do with the entropic corner-painting of their limited repertoire /range and the public posturing. It's like watching a band getting steadily more boring, widening their appeal by dumbing down their sound. " ..ivory tower[s] .. throw-away lines .. often return ..", .. Roxy Music, apparently an early fave of Thurston's, disbanded as their sound became something else.
Thurston's own throw-away lines, so often saying as much about his place in the overall scene as anything else, like the Xenakis remarks, and the "goodbye" and "overview" of the title .. i dunno, O'Rourke can do musique-concrete, the "Whitey" had both humour and evident studio wizardry in spades, .. i think this band could have done GB20thC(AE) a lot better. How about GB20thC: (A-E) ?

george gosset (gegoss), Friday, 31 December 2004 05:58 (sixteen years ago) link

I was gonna say
"dud" like it was a joke but
then I read Geir's post

which makes me now want
to crank up some Arnold S.
and get crunk WITH GUNZZZ

PS Julio hurry up and join the site dammit, did you get the invite, love matt.

Haibun (Begs2Differ), Friday, 31 December 2004 06:02 (sixteen years ago) link

(George, you realize that "an overview" is what I said their title was not, right?)

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 31 December 2004 09:21 (sixteen years ago) link

>> The title implies a reasonably exhaustive approach
No it doesn't, not at all. It's not "20th Century Music: An overview".
So. I think you have a fundamental misreading of the project.

oops, i misread your post at least. Still, i wish SY could make one of their rockers sound like Roxys meticulously produced/ phased"Out of the Blue".
and the title suggestion "Goodbye Sonic Youth",.. i dunno, they make me so mad, i cannot not take them seriously.

anyway, i wanna hear the Momus material. SY don't play here very often. Could Momus be persuaded to make the short hop from NYC to NZ the next time he's there please ?

in the mean time, i just dug up a 1945 recording of Pierrot Lunaire fathfully restored by CBS in brittle mono to listen to. With Steuermann (piano), Stiedry-Wagner (voice) et. al. i don't know where this was recorded and i could do better possibly in the sense that a later version might be easier to listen to with some late 20thC production. Nice English block poetry to follow though and German sprechstimme that's easier on the ear and easier to follow than actual singing (and will ignore the inclination to critique Gordon sprechstimme).

george gosset (gegoss), Friday, 31 December 2004 11:20 (sixteen years ago) link

I should talk abt sy more re: 'arthur doyle/mariah' etc (I took GB20thC in roughly the same way as casuistry) (its a dbl LP) but I haven't heard much from them in a while. I always found it interesting that they 'dumbed down', got more ppl involved and then recorded gb20thc -- did they ever really dumb down or just do what they always wanted?

I didn't say they should do serialist stuff on gb20thc -- they should do what they like, I'm all for an uk garage covers lp next (sonic nurse was pretty dull on the one listen I gave it but maybe its like a fine wine or something).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 31 December 2004 12:37 (sixteen years ago) link

did they ever really dumb down or just do what they always wanted?
yeah, my take seems permanently nagatively skewed.

But here goes:
(1) Take the stark contrast between DN and (post DGC) Goo and Dirty.
(2) The David Geffen Company did supposedly give Neil Young one of those cool-artist type 'complete artistic freedom' (or as was reported a "you do just what you want, Big Neil") contracts in the early '80s, him being so idiosyncratic etc. etc. Then after the bizarre (actually really great, imho) Trans and Reactor albums, Young was sued by DGC for producing albums rumoured too "difficult" to market or on some such technicality, a $28million law suit that apparently Geffen himself later regretted, preumably when Young became even more marketable.
(3) Thurton qua talent scout/ advisor/ "whatever" (rumoured payback for suggesting "sign Nirvana" to DGC), a role, however informal, within DGC. However, the Pat Metheny "noise album" Zero Tolerance for Silence (which comes with Thurston's hype-up mini-review on the throw-away shrinkwrap) was an album the company allegedly originally tried to farm out on a subsidiary before biting the bullet and putting it on DGC
(as told to me sometime ago -- and i actually bought the Pat Metheny CD based on the hype/mini-review on the shrink wrap, and i still have the little sticker with Thurston's hyperbole, saving it esp. since the Metheny album seemed like a bad joke and a crock, esp. compared to Metheny's Song X album, a really great album and cut-out bin gem that of course didn't sell well for DGC either).
(4) The emergence of SY Records, Smells Like, Ecstatic Peace !, but esp. SYR as a seemingly desperate outlet for a creatively claustraphobic band, SYR of which GB20thC was released on and which i'm NOT saying is a dumbed down effort.

All of the above leads me to humbly guess in my humble opinion that SY can't just do what they always wanted, well at least not on their major label account. Goo and Dirty suggest to me that they possibly never could. Daydream Nation is so much more intricate and complicated harmonically and structurally, certainly not sounding like a conventional rock record. Inaccessible to many a cross-over Goo fan i'm sure yet a real work of art of a level to which many listeners believe SY have been unable to rise ever since. Maybe instead of double-CD Delux editions of Dirty, they should re-release their best album, Daydream Nation Redux, with back-in-fascion PiL/ Albatross production sound ?

george gosset (gegoss), Friday, 31 December 2004 15:32 (sixteen years ago) link

oh, Song X has Metheny plus Ornette, Denado & Jack on drums and Charlie, whereas Zero Tolerance For Silence is Metheny solo.

I also think Dirty(which had one vinyl only track) was a prototype for Use Your Illusion, a DGC coup, a double double albums at vinyl death-knell time crossover to CD time so obv. collectible to the larger grunge die-hard fans (fans that's be too pissed off with cd or vinyl only tracks however). The sequencing of avant material vs. grungey hits on the vinyl Dirty also seems an obvious accessibility trade-off.

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 3 January 2005 04:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Schoenburg(S) Pierrot Lunaire recordings are intriguing as are all S. recordings for another reason.

S. often complained that conductors ignored the strict metronome-tight timing instructions in the score,eg, so for instance i have slow and fast versions of both chamber concertos, saw Boulex conduct #1 fast,.. etc.
With Boulez i thought, this is really quite fast, but then it'd have been a beloved gem of the whole avant audience in attendance that night, so i figured they'd have been bored with it slower, but i figured the main reason was it maybe makes Boulez look slicker,
but in modern times,
mainly because it's not unfolding in concert for the first time as would've only been the only possible to hear when conceived, but instead unfolding for an audience of converts. (ie it's not both weird and unknown material, a double wammy)

For an audience bored by the same old chords these pieces were i assume conceived as orchestral real-time dramas or events, so some non-boring repetition, slower re-fold of thematic materials etc. simply becomes neccesary, goes the reasoning.

As goes my explanantion for the appeal of Webern over Schoenburg in the recording/ cd age. OK, with Webern no flab, but you still inevitably/eventually know the pieces, making it (i dunno) your favourite musical consumable ?
The S. is going to get over-familiar using the same resoning, hence my advice, cut to different parts or movements if you can non-sequentially, to keep S. interesting.

As for Pierrot Lunaire, there's an extra catch, as S. prescribes even (the) gaps between the movements, in the case of Pierrot Lunaire to be of different irregular durations, for cynical further dramatic effect. I've read that not all recordings have stuck to the rules on that front either (orchetral union regulations too perhaps).

A significant musical trick in itself, that i presume S. invented.

(as is "dead-air", a clichéd don't-do from music radio, something i like to use on my student radio show for surprise/ contrast/ "juxtaposition in the age of juxtaposition"... Dead air, imho of lower statistical consequence for a student radio station than for a meat-head generic rock/dance non-talk radio station, but still generally a big no-no).

(disclaimer: NOT a gratuitous self-serving advertisement for my student radio show, often more addled-sounding ranting detail specific to the particular music often of disproportionate length to said music itself, but quite probably dead-air if you did try to tune in, so don't bother)

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:12 (sixteen years ago) link

I never took Sonic Youth to be anything more than an "edgy" rock band, and I usually just ignore everything they do outside of their main studio releases (a habit I've learned from experience.)

Hurting (Hurting), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:32 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah -- musically edgy -- so how do they afford that lifestyle (cf: all the other alt. bands that peaked 15-20 years ago) ? it's not as if they've kept inventing,.. more the reverse,.. which runs counter to the normal run of alt bands in terms of quality, style, real 'edge'

Schoenburg allegedly had to work for hollywood upon escaping germany -- presmably work he would not wish to acknowledge with his name -- and he even taught john cage, but pronounced him an 'inventor' -- how much (unacknowledged) work did SY do for DGC, the definitive new-money californan hollywood crossover co. ?

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 3 January 2005 08:47 (sixteen years ago) link

re: sy -- being on geffen seemed to allow them the capital that wz necessary to set up these labels so that they could release music that could not be released on geffen? geffen helped them to do what they wanted. that sounds like a gd deal to me.

I don't see how 'getting to know' webern is an arg for schoenberg.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 3 January 2005 12:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't see how 'getting to know' webern is an arg for schoenberg.
just my experience of both for twenty years -- i cannot listen to W. as much as S. (in a slightly mathematical scale*time way) -- i've got bored more quickly with webern even though i can remember most of both composers stuff, so it's still really overall scale (ie timbral layers, the panoramic layers big orchestras provide) and compositional style (even if 12 tone attempts to avoid such)

personally i think S. had the better hooks, W. a certain discipline and almost exhaustively rigid way, a guy not worth argung with as he'd just go on and on and be correct in his little 12-tone "did you hear this vignette" way, one of those musicologist types that has to have the things the right way, observe a discipline or pioneer a new one, like academics try to do -- well that's how he sounds to me,.. very quaint and cunning, but S. is all the while devising ways to confine his obvious prolific melodic talent and avoid the "heard it too often" syndrome that we all experience and so devising his compression system for all his licks and hooks to be merged into (that the young acadenic protege has designs on of course). Again julio, just my perverse imagination with yet more probably bogus explanations, but that's what i think right now.

Actually i think what i said about 'getting to know' in the other post was self-explanatory julio, even if it includes silly grammar.

as for SY & Geffen, well we had to wait almost a decade for this SYR stuff, which may have been a periodic contract renewal with a different artistic freedom clause (more akin to jazz labels that where musos seem to have dates sometimes all over the place). Would Geffen allow sy to run a parallel label if it was going to compete with it's own SY outout ? Doubt it. To me that leaves that SY in a no-mans land with DGC cheques for the stoner-metal and SYR possibly paid out of own money & points money for Nirvana and even perhaps Use Your Illusion ?
i mean who knows, but it does guarentee DGC will not allow anything melding rock with avant to happen unless it's on DGC, kinda voiding out SYR. Why would DGC risk missing a killer crossover like DV69 ? This hypothesis admittedly confines SYR to a ghetto of sorts, improv, low percentage free-20thc, whatever, as long as it doesn't hit DGC negatively. OK perhaps there's a kick-back provision for a run-away hit on SYR.

Julio, this is all speculation because there is no transperancy here, no real insight into what corporate compromises are being made and where. Who pays for what. But not many indie cult bands could have afforded to make it 20 years, losing half their fanbase when changing labels and temporarily influencing youthful minds to seemingly tune in and drop out all over again (as presented on "The Year That Punk Broke"), to tell your parents "punk U" and spazz out. Those days are over and the older fans were not impressed. Do they still play Xpressway Skull ? Do they play old faithful hits from their early period ? Aren't they like the greatful dead.

Whatever happened, the DGC deals must have been interesting deals. Look at what happened to Neil Young trying to be artistic. Hasn't the record industry just got more stingey than ever with this MP3 thing ? Cutting costs and downsizing. Of course Geffen exited the company he'd used other peoples' money to set up for aroun $US1Billion, just ten years after creating the company that still bears his name (of course). What's your angle on what i said about Neil Young and artistic freedom, julio. How did SY know they were gonna be around long enough to pull off the SYR thing, however lame ?

When you see a painting on the wall & you buy it you know how much the atist and how much the dealer makes. But this is still the record industry. It's a Geffen experiment like the similarly art-cred named "Asylum" all over again. Geffen has carried Joni Mitchell through most of his career even if he sold DGC some time ago. Maybe he just likes the Gordons in an informal way for some of their ideas back in the day of nu-metal like Nirvana and G&R.

Kim Gordon asks something like "are you gonna save us girls from corporate male/white oppression" to Chuck D on the first DGC album, right in the middle of the projected hit single, to which Chuck, from the band that did the Clash thing, a deal actually pricing down their albums for their public, mumbles answers ambiguous some yeah right as though he's a session token-token black in the wrong studio or maybe enjoys the inference that black men aren't any better but thinks to admit loudly would be counter-productive etc. or maybe he doesn't like the record company contra deal or didn't know he was being set 'up by' SY in the best example of "bad sampling" or recording (a tribute i suppose), .. but who knows.

Not knowing is fun until the quality starts wobbling from side to side, from DGC to SYR in this case, with plenty missing inbetween.
If you wanna take this to another thread julio fine, and i'll breakdown all sy songs musically to show the patterns, how the rot set in, how a certain carefully defined subset of real assonance and dissonance has been used template style for most of the DGC period. A real big subset (yeah, it's really just 10%) of the interesting extended tonal music of both S, W and even of the easy-going Berg.

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 3 January 2005 14:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Isn't the first (hopefully not the final word on) SY book "Confusion is Next" a light read ? Seems unfair to some of their fans to me. Certainly there's more info missing from the book than is their, and what's there is the old artists discuss their work fake on-the-spot reporting. That book could have cleared up lot's this stuff.

As far as the band is concerned (and maybe some of the fans they target that i've met) the book does one thing right, alligning the sludge/ wtf angle with groop mindsets. I mean, what a great book title.

(promise to return with more Schoenburg material soon, but it desrves fresh listens i realise in some cases i've neglected 'cause it's on vinyl)

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 6 January 2005 01:33 (sixteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
charles rosen mini-bk cleared so many of my queries on him, and now I can ignore the odd factual mistake i made upthread.

to add to paul's '03 post I tracked down another perf (as tribute) of pierrot lunaire -- zorn's wonderful 'chimeras' disc -- there are slight variances (11 not 12), perc, organ, the vocals are screechy, not so speech-like and there is, wait for this...a. bluddy. WIND add that manic energy he usually brings to his (ugh) "projects".

How many tributes actually work in referencing and at the same time divorcing themselves from the orig and STANDING on their own right (has there been a thread about this)? 'cause this is one.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 30 August 2005 21:39 (fifteen years ago) link

five years pass...

you never kept your promise, george gosset!

j., Friday, 17 June 2011 09:07 (ten years ago) link

Worst thing to happen to music. Ever. Even worse than rap.

― Geir Hongro

eight years pass...

First few minutes of this are just astounding

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 23 January 2020 21:49 (one year ago) link

Serialism: Playing all the wrong notes, but not necessarily in the wrong order

Dr X O'Skeleton, Saturday, 25 January 2020 14:30 (one year ago) link

Dodecaphony was still some ways in the offing when he put the finishing touches on his Gurre-Lieder.

Unless you weren't replying to mfktz, in which case, I approve.

pomenitul, Saturday, 25 January 2020 14:35 (one year ago) link

... it's a reference to a Morecambe & Wise sketch which featured Andre Previn which, like, 99.9% of the UK population at the time watched.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Saturday, 25 January 2020 14:56 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

some good george gosset material in this thread, RIP.

julio desouza too, where's that guy these days?

unknown or illegal user (doo rag), Saturday, 8 May 2021 09:07 (one month ago) link

I believe he is posting as xyzzz?

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 8 May 2021 13:15 (one month ago) link

I never really knew what george was talking about, or why Sonic Youth came up on a Schoenberg thread, but if the point was that Thurston Moore is a pseud because he didn't play Wuorinen and Babbitt, that is definitely an important opinion that needs to be heard.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 8 May 2021 13:25 (one month ago) link

Schoenberg one of the all-time greatest, though.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 8 May 2021 13:26 (one month ago) link

serialism is certainly fortunate

Not sure what I meant by this. Maybe something like 'in retrospect, serialism writ large has yielded more interesting results than its integral variant (à la Boulez, et al.)'? In which case, I haven't really changed my mind on that front. (Tbf I was considerably more ESL-ish in my teens.)

I still think Berg > Webern > Schoenberg, but it's much closer now.

pomenitul, Saturday, 8 May 2021 13:36 (one month ago) link

Old ILX was wild.

Personally offended and sickened that these wretched poseurs sonic toof didn’t cover philomel in their supposedly definitive history of 20th Century music. PS Rap sux.

Van Halen dot Senate dot flashlight (Boring, Maryland), Saturday, 8 May 2021 15:38 (one month ago) link

lapsed indie kids protest too much

schoenberg > berg > webern for me. berg's oeuvre probably more consistently excellent but he didn't write pierrot lunaire or a survivor form warsaw and as great as his operas are i prefer moses und aron. webern's whole miniature thing gets on my nerves somehow though i admit the 2nd movement of the piano variations slaps hard

Left, Saturday, 8 May 2021 17:14 (one month ago) link

Moses and Aron needs way more love. Surprised that the Met did it once.

Van Halen dot Senate dot flashlight (Boring, Maryland), Saturday, 8 May 2021 18:47 (one month ago) link

too late to ask george what he meant now unfortunately

didn't he ramble

unknown or illegal user (doo rag), Saturday, 8 May 2021 22:40 (one month ago) link

i think some connection to that album of 20th cent composers stuff they did, i dunno

unknown or illegal user (doo rag), Saturday, 8 May 2021 22:48 (one month ago) link

You know what's really good, though, is the third string quartet.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 8 May 2021 22:53 (one month ago) link

three weeks pass...

been listening schoenberg as pop

I don’t know from 12 tone or theory in the slightest but this guy has so many damn tunes its incredible, in every phase of his career

piano suite and serenade for strings I’ve seen dismissed as dry academic experiments but they’re both hooky as hell, and potentially danceable

3rd quartet grabbed me first with that riff but all the others are great too, no 2 especially moving me atm. string trio is pretty intense even by his standards though i think that’s sort of the point (probably the intense emotionality of his work bothers some people more than the “atonality” or whatever?)

this all comes from an utterly superficial overview of his music instead of the kind of hardcore intellectual investment you’re supposed to need to appreciate him at all. which I’m sure would be very rewarding in many ways. but I feel like I’ve been lied to about this by the classical gatekeepers. no one told me about the tunes man

Left, Friday, 4 June 2021 20:34 (two weeks ago) link

^^^ gets it.

pomenitul, Friday, 4 June 2021 20:39 (two weeks ago) link

No, you should not need heavy intellectual investment to appreciate his work imo - he himself had very little formal training and was mostly self-taught. He was an Expressionist and a Romantic. (Analysis can certainly help but it is not and should not be the only way his work can be approached.)

To Kandinsky, he wrote (from Ross, The Rest Is Noise):

Art belongs to the unconscious! One must express oneself! Express oneself directly! Not one’s taste, or one’s upbringing, or one’s intelligence, knowledge or skill. 

To Busoni (from Auner, Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries):

It is impossible for a person to have only one sensation at a time. One has thousands simultaneously. And these thousands can no more readily be added together than an apple and a pear. They go their own ways. And this variegation, this multifariousness, this illogicality which our senses demonstrate, the illogicality presented by their interactions, set forth by some mounting rush of blood, by some reactions of the senses or
the nerves, this I should like to have in my music.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 5 June 2021 00:50 (two weeks ago) link

Don't get me wrong, he (despite his lack of formal training) became a famous theorist and teacher (and then professor) as well and there is a lot going on formally - but he would have definitely been happy with people appreciating his music in a visceral, immediate way.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Saturday, 5 June 2021 01:00 (two weeks ago) link

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