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Contemporary Piano Music


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#16 sam93

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 11:32

It depends what you define as "contemporary". I like some contemporary music from film soundtracks and new-age piano albums, but if it means all those highly dissonant/atonal and experimental trends that began at the start of the 20th century then no, I don't.


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#17 mel2

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:08

I asked my teacher yesterday how she felt about contemporary music. As a performer/recording artist she said that it was difficult to 'sell' modern pieces as part of a programme if she was being engaged for a concert. It was possible to include a shortish one but in the main, promoters want a programme that will pull in an audience or sell CDs. I guess it depends on the audience, the venue, and many other things.
She's keen to showcase Hans Gal; I'm not familiar with his compositions but I believe he's from 1940-something so perhaps not what this thread is about.
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#18 Invidia

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 13:06

I think this comes back to the previous mention of patronage. We probably underestimate its influence across the art world both past and present. I find that right now there is a pretty strict division between A: performing/recording artists who play some modern pieces, and B: full-blown experimental scenes. Personally I see myself somewhere in the middle which is great as an amateur but I'd be stuffed if I had dreams of going professional!
 
It is possible to make a career within Group B though. One of my teachers at university did!

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#19 Clovis

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 14:11

 

Personally I see myself somewhere in the middle which is great as an amateur but I'd be stuffed if I had dreams of going professional!
 
 

 

Where do you get to perform your music, Invidia (and anyone else)? And who is the audience?

 

This is where I've found exams, festivals and masterclasses particularly valuable. I'm basically paying people to listen to me – but at least they can't walk out because they don't like the music. I've only managed a couple of performances where my audience has not been captive, and had some pretty strong reactions. Mostly, but not all, were very positive. One audience member repeatedly harangued me during the interval because he didn't think Boulez constituted music. I received a huge thumbs up from someone else who overheard the conversation.


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#20 Nine and a Half Fingers

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 15:54

I have just listened to the 2nd and 3rd Piano Sonatas by Pierre Boulez (I now need a calming cup of tea :( ).

 

They were composed in the 40s and 50s. I honestly found them incomprehensible. They may well be structurally coherent (by which I mean that I assume they are Sonatas - I am not well-acquainted enough with theory to know one way or the other) but they actually sounded like the many piano meanderings I produce when I'm in a bad mood. A much later piece call Incises (2001) I found more approachable though still a struggle. I tried Prelude and Blues by Nancarrow - I thought this was really impressive writing. One of his Studies for Player Piano (11) was also good. Harrison Birtwistle I found interesting - more soundscape than anything else though this is no bad thing. There is no accounting for taste I suppose - I imagine some people don't get on with the fugue from Op. 106

 

Would I really like to listen to this music more than once or twice? No.


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#21 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 20:56

I have likened listening to "difficult" art music akin to picking up a random copy of JAMS and trying to understand the finer details of Rankin–Selberg integrals or de Rham cohomology – while I may be able to get a very vague idea what the papers are on about, they are firmly aimed at fellow academics in the know and with a much better knowledge of the syntax, grammar, idioms, canon and jargon associated at that level. 

 

I'm not going to pretend that I can identify rhythmic, melodic, harmonic or larger structures based on the Fibonacci sequence/golden ratio, molecular orbitals in chemical bonding, prime numbers, abstruse time signatures, tuning schemes or rhythms borrowed from some barely known community on the other side of the earth. I simply don't have the basic tools for doing so.  I have to assume that some brainy and talented bods can and are better placed than me critique the ingenuity of the composer, just as there are mathematicians who can make sense of your bog standard Acta Numerica paper.

 

I tend to find myself applauding the technical expertise of the musicians (who somehow managed to count n-tuplets in 23/32 time while their neighbour played in 1239/3426 time tuned alternating ±5 cents out while using every know extended in the book (and then some)) rather than the composer, because I would be using primary school numeracy to try to understand Fields Medal-level maths.


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#22 corenfa

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 22:07

I had to study some of the really modern stuff when I was a music undergraduate. It's music, sure enough, it used the same symbols and notation as we expect, but I hate it. Some people really liked it and some I think pretended to like it to look intellectual. I don't care, as nobody needs to prove to me whether they like something or not, but I don't want to go anywhere near it.

It's not as simple as "It's not got a tune" though, as I don't like Einaudi either and that's got "a tune". But fair play to him- he gets the money in. I actually know someone who went to an Einaudi live concert and had an epiphany that made him realise he didn't like it all that much!
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#23 Invidia

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 18:32

Clovis- I also play in festivals and masterclasses, and less regularly in casual piano groups. The audience in the first two depends who is there on the day, for the piano groups I have known some of the other members for a few years now. I haven't had anyone walk out yet but I once had a tired festival adjudicator ask me "so what is it about this kind of music that you enjoy" (I played Karen Tanaka's Techno Etudes- much more accessible than Boulez!)
 
Ligneo Fistula- I understand the comparison between "difficult" art music and academic math articles. Some contemporary styles are heavily intellectual and most people are not going to understand them (not insulting anyone's intelligence- there are some I don't understand too!)
I completely disagree with the inclusion of World Music in your comparison, but that's a different topic entirely. Acquiring the "basic tools" to understand the music of another culture is no different to acquiring the tools to understand Western classical music. 

 

corenfa- Personally I just like playing with different sounds. It's why I like certain Liszt pieces, Debussy, late Scriabin- and it extends to contemporary styles like prepared piano and spectral music.

I dislike music that has too many rules- whether Baroque fugues or Darnstadt serialism.


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#24 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 20:00

 

Ligneo Fistula- I understand the comparison between "difficult" art music and academic math articles. Some contemporary styles are heavily intellectual and most people are not going to understand them (not insulting anyone's intelligence- there are some I don't understand too!)
I completely disagree with the inclusion of World Music in your comparison, but that's a different topic entirely. Acquiring the "basic tools" to understand the music of another culture is no different to acquiring the tools to understand Western classical music.

 

Hi Invidia.  I think you - quite understandably - may have misunderstood what I was trying (very poorly) to say.  In my personal experience, I have come across pieces of music that are based on or borrowed from other cultures that are just as abstruse and inpenetrable for me as stuff by Xenakis and others based on statistical mechanics and higher mathematics.  And there is no reason not to seek to understand one more or less than the other.  I hope that clarifies.
 


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#25 corenfa

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 20:45

...

 

corenfa- Personally I just like playing with different sounds. It's why I like certain Liszt pieces, Debussy, late Scriabin- and it extends to contemporary styles like prepared piano and spectral music.

I dislike music that has too many rules- whether Baroque fugues or Darnstadt serialism.

 

 

Interesting! I find it difficult to play things that are just sound-washes and don't have a melody. I don't find it difficult to listen to some of them, but I just can't get past the lack of melody to actually learn anything like that. If I liked the sound of something enough I'd want to learn it, but I haven't so far heard anything like that. 

 

As for rules- it's the very presence of them I find interesting. That's why I like some Bach fugues (not all), because he's has managed to do something interesting even with all the rules. 


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#26 Invidia

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:25

Ligneo Fistula- Yes there has been a misunderstanding. Entirely my fault as I was trying to respond to a few posts at once and now I read it back I made my point very poorly. I was not trying to invalidate your personal experience. I'd have probably made my point clearer had I shared my own experience:
 
One of my favourite 20th c. composers is Takemitsu. In my student days I took a minor course in East Asian music to try and understand him better. We studied the history of music in China/Korea/Japan. We studied different forms of notation. We had guest musicians talking to us about their instruments. I left that course with a basic grasp of various traditions in those three countries, but none the wiser about Takemitsu. To understand Takemitsu I'd have been better off sticking with regular musicology. So I just wanted to make the distinction between a) pieces of music based on/borrowed from other cultures (which I believe are the ones you are referring to, and I think we both agree are highly academic in nature) and b) the actual cultural traditions themselves (which I think we both agree anyone could get a basic grasp of if they were interested).  
 
 
corenfa- I prefer forms that are less-restricted e.g. the Etude. Composers have adapted the word 'study' to mean a variety of different things yet all of these meanings still constitute an Etude. Debussy is the best example from the 20th century- most of them are in the nature of a traditional study, but they are also experimental (a different type of 'study'). 

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#27 bevpiano

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 21:58

I love Takemitsu and regularly play 3 of his pieces. I have also recently enjoyed pieces by John McLeod, Cecilia McDowall and Einojuhani Rautavarra.
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