Re: speech, modelling, whither poesie?

Subject: Re: speech, modelling, whither poesie?
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 16:46:17 EDT

At 07:52 05/06/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I agree. I wasn't saying I held his view as well. I like a lot of the
>"academic" computer musicians... Roads, Dodge, etc.

Actually there were some lost idea threads here. My reaction was based on a
contemporary classical CD binge I had recently. Some of it was thrilling,
some of it seemed like pointless note twiddling for the sake of it - all
theory, no purpose.

This was really just to underscore the Gogins suggestion that it's not
really a genre issue. Every genre is maybe 90% uninspired imitation and 10%
inspiration. It only becomes an issue when a genre claims to be pitching a
flag on the summit of the creative high ground. That's something unique to
contemporary classical, and I don't think I'm the only one who wonders
whether the claims can really be justified *just because*.

Lill played a Barber sonata where you could hear clearly the wheels going
round inside the composer's mind. 'We've done *that* so now we need to do
some of *this* and look - here's a fugue!... and... here comes the
recapitulation and ending. Everyone clap. Thankyou.' It was very
professionally done, but there didn't seem to be any motivation beyond
manipulating themes - because, dammit, isn't that what composition is?

Indeed these days it's more likely to be some post-Cageian
recontextualising. But you can't write a novel without a good premise, and
the musical equivalent of being good at crossword puzzles - and some
composers do seem to be very good at musical crossword puzzles indeed -
doesn't seem to be enough to produce interesting pieces.

>I do see what he is saying though. At least with academic computer music,
>95% of the composers are mathematicians, electrical engineers, computer
>scientists, or something similar. Sometimes (sometimes), the music
>reflects their backgrounds a little too much for some (some) people.

I find a lot of Wergo/Empreintes stuff more interesting than hardcore
Stocky, Boulez, Babbit and the rest of that Cold War musical totalitarianism.

Some of the former even has a sense of humour. Which is generally a
terrible thing for modern music to admit. ;)

There is something vaguely offensive about the idea that if you don't like
it and don't get why it's great, it's your fault for being ignorant. And
conversely that if the ignorant like it, it can't possibly be any use to

But whether it's offensive or not is a side issue, because more tellingly,
*it's obviously not true.* I have musically interested, but not musically
literate, friends who are perfectly capable of appreciating some supposedly
difficult contemporary classical pieces without having the faintest
understanding of what the piece is about, how it was put together or what
it's supposed to be doing.

In fact as a rule I find reactions to pieces, both for and against, tend to
be surprisingly reliable.


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