Re: art music/pop music

Subject: Re: art music/pop music
From: Kevin Austin (
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 10:11:56 EDT

Another point raised here is that for folk / popular music, there is
no 'urtext'. There are regional (and even family) differences in

When music was passed on as an aural tradition, small variations
appeared, and if the community was (relatively) isolated local
variations could go 'unchecked'.

A closer-to-home version of this is found in the Transit / CBC
collection "100 ans de musique traditionnelle quebecoise", notably in
the first 4 CDs (1900 - 1960). Phrase and metric 'irregularity' (the
addition of extra beats (in order to breath), and extra "measures"
are not uncommon in traditional quebecois music, but in my
experience, the type and place of this rhythmic variation varied
between groups. (One finds similar variants in "cowboy music"
(Folkways and Library of Congress recordings), and in zydeco.

At 9:10 AM -0400 5/18/04, Eliot Handelman wrote:
>Kevin Austin wrote:
>>Comparing popular and art musics, the popular music was simpler in
>>terms of melodic structure (diatonic / chromatic, and notably
>>phrase length in dance music), and harmony,
>Not necessarily so -- the essener collection of german folksongs --
>mostly pre 16th C -- is filled with typically irregular phrase
>lengths, which I'd guess to be due both to textual influence and a
>preference for that kind of unevenness.

I wonder at what point in history these were transcribed, and with
what degree of accuracy. Noting Bartok and Kodaly's collections of
east-central european folk musics, the original cylinder recordings
were used for transcription, and Bartok's transcriptions were
meticulous in terms of pitch variants, ornamentation and
metric/rhythmic elements.

Which leads back to the original question of the impact of (folk)
popular music, with the possibility of tracing elements of this in
Stravinsky (les Noces), Vaughan Williams, Bartok, Copland, and as one
turns further east (or west), there is a large repertoire of 'chinese
orchestra' music based upon popular melodies, traditional melodies
being a staple of that repertoire.

And, IMV, the impact of ea (in the broadest sense) is present in all
of these. The capturing and crystallization of sound changed the
dynamic of what music "is". The 'music' moved from being "the
performance of the piece" to some form of "object" -- much as the
'writing down' of Beowulf or Le Cid created an 'ur' version against
which others could be compared.

>>Many art music composers feel there is not enough 'depth' to pop
>>music to integrate it fully into their style / idiom / language.
>But also there are strong social demarcations involved, the
>formality and expectation of the "art music" scene, the fear of
>looking foolish, the desire to fit in, the need to be taken
>"seriously," etc.

IMV, these may the concerns of the sociologist, as gender in music is
of (great) interest to those in gender studies (for example),

>And these borders are sometimes politically enforced. Despite all
>the talk of postmodernism, consider the relation of the EA concert
>techno concerts. I personally don't experience these distinctions as
>pertaiining to 'depth' but rather to 'territory.'

I expect that a political sociologist may also see the world in terms
of territoriality, but someone working in machine intelligence may
experience this in terms of the depth of the algorithms that drive
the creation (and results?) of the works. One may wish to consider
that George Lewis' programs are 'deep' rather than territorial.



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