Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken))

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken))
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 01:14:58 EDT

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz wrote:

>At 06:35 PM 10/2/05 -0700, Eliot Handelman wrote:
>>It was an
>>article of faith with
>>12-toners that if you grew up with 12-tone music, it would be to you
>>what Elvis was to
>>other people, instinctual, basic, a "language" of expression that gets
>>you right there. 80 yrs
>>later or so we still don't see this.
>I am your evidence. I'm that tiny, isolated, musically aboriginal culture
>you haven't discovered yet.
The hypothesis was, "children who are presented with 12-tone music,
rather than 'tonal' music,
will grow up with an intense affinity for 12-tone music, preferring it
to 'tonal' music." We have no
evidence for this at all, despite various people trying. Kids develop
their own preferences
because as Pinker says they're not blank slates. They have genes and

Any issue about who's going to like what and why is complete bull. Music
is complex.
It's not just a bunch of sounds. It's a whole world.
It's not that no one likes 12-tone music. It's just that at one time
12-tone music was going to replace all other music -- remember that? Now
a simplistic way of thinking about music. That's Orwellian.

"any composer who does not feel the NECESSITY of 12-tone music -- he is
USELESS! and I will
FART in HIS DIRECTION!" said Big Boulez. Boy, he scared a lot of people.

"Shucks -- you mean -- no more ELVIS SOUND-ALIKES?"

"Zat is exactly what I mean. and now -- get out!" He thumps him on the
rump with his high boot.

These are associated phenomena of what we may call the last modernism of
contemporary music.
The issue isn't whether the music is any good or not, or whether the
theory adds up (it's hardly a
theory). "Bad-sounding" meant "oh you're not advanced enough" or "you
have to grow up with
it," "this will be the next 100 years of music", etc, whereas the
probability is that anybody who went for
this music found something they liked it in it right away, or they were
intrigued by it,
or they found it unusual, or they wanted to be more advanced than their
friends or parents, or
whatever. They were not drawn in because they understood that's how the
metanarrative went,
and how, in consequence of which, their proclivities were to be disposed.

>Yet like most everyone, I've moved past those dated old dodeadophones of 40
>years ago. What remains instinctual nevertheless is the thrill of sound,
>irrespective of the sounds' theoretical origin. As I said, I was a tiny and
>isolated culture, and you're welcome to study me. :)

Ok, I"ll get out the electrodes.

>But I find this comment...
>>In fact I
>>find that to be a rather
>>orwellian view of music -- get the rat cage on someone and they'll come
>>out whistling "2+2=5".
>...more frightening than you apparently do the idea that someone might
>actually have been able to fall in love with the beauty 12-tone music.

Sorry Dennis, I can't parse your sentence.

I am saying this: :

The notion that you can train people to like 12-tone music is to me

I'm adding: I like some 12-tone music. ACtually, I;ve been getting into
the so-called
"free atonal" music that preceded 12-tone, Sche. op. 16 eg, which I find
more chaotic and
complex than, eg, the violin concerto, though perhaps one day I'll get
into that too.

Do you find these statements incompatible?

-- eliot



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