Modern and PostModern Music

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by David_N, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. David_N

    David_N New Friend

    Dec 28, 2005
    At school at the moment we are studying Postmodern music like minimalism and aleatoric music but don't really understand the difference between modern music and post modern music. I can see theres a difference between something like John Adams music and Harrison Birtwistle, but what makes postmodern music post modern and what makes modern music modern ?
  2. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Sort of like the difference between rotting garbage and rotting roadkill - they both stink.
  3. richardbailey

    richardbailey New Friend

    Aug 10, 2006
    Pine Bluff, Arkansas
    I think that understanding the terms is easiest when seeing how they are applied to architecture. Historically, a modern building is comprised of various functional shapes. Post-modern architecture incorporates design elements from earlier stylistic eras (sticking doric columns on the front of a building which is otherwise just a big block of concrete and steel - often seen on banks and museums).
    While aleatoric and minimalist musics did chronologically follow modernism (late 19th and early 20th centuries), hence the "post", I think it would be more correct to label works that mix stylistic and formal elements from various musical eras as "post modern".
    Remember that most of the terms that are used to historically classify western art music (Baroque, Classical, Impressionist, etc.) are derrived from other disciplines (such as art) and applied after the fact.
    As for the previous post, IMHO there isn't a single genre or period in the history of music that hasn't produced both the stinkers and the sublime. To each his/her own.
  4. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    Try Messiaen's "Quartet for the end of time," or Adams "Chairman Dance" from "Nixon in China." You might like the big bandish "De Stijl" of Louis Andriessen. Michael Torke writes some nice chop-busting music. What's that one that has bagpipes? I like that one........"Orkney Sunrise with Wedding"
    Heck, I like Philip Glass. Try the Gavin Bryars piece " Jesus Blood Never Failed Me," you will be surprised. Remember the words of Duke Ellington,"There are only two kinds of music.......Good and Bad."
  5. gus

    gus Pianissimo User

    Nov 10, 2003
    Postmodern is a concept that came to Philoshophy and then was applied to other sciences and arts. Anyway nobody was able to define Postmodernism and Modernism.

    Postmodern supossedly overrules the Modern age (last 3 centuries).-

    They point out that meaning ( Perhaps applied in music to tonality ) is a convention and depends on the individual.-.

  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    I love this quote - the problem I see is how we can all agree on what comes under which title.

    I found myself on the wrong side of many lecturers whilst at university for my views on much of the modern (and postmodern, if we are using these terms) music that we were forced to listen to as part of the course. They were being presented to us as "great" pieces of contemporary music, yet they may only have had one performance and that was basically to an audience of contemporary music buffs.
    My contention was that these composers are only going to be remembered because everything is now recorded. If you are a budding composer, with "unusual" tendencies with regards to tonality, harmony, texture, orchestral forces or anything else you only need to have it performed once and it can be recorded forever. Whether it is a good piece, great piece or just a piece of **** it will always exist. This means that for those contemporary music lovers, they will be able to spend years analysing a piece and then be able to come up with some dubious reasoning as to why it should be termed "great."
    Time is a great **** filter. It is only through painstaking research that many of the symphonies of Haydn are now known. The more popular ones have remained pretty much in the public eye since he wrote them, whilst others had their first performance, bombed and so were laid to rest. Listen to the complete Haydn Symphony cycle (if you have a spare month) and you can soon see why these pieces were forgotten. They are not played in concert halls now, unless people are trying to play obscure works (almost as if to prove the point that even the greatest composers had off days). If our illustrious musicologists had had scores and recordings of these pieces available to them for the past two hundred years I am sure that they would have come up with reasoning as to why they are great - they haven't, so they haven't.
    One of my lecturers was a huge Haydn fan and was trying to convince us that one of the lesser known symphonies was actually one of Haydn's greatest works. His argument was lost on all of us - we couldn't see that what he was saying made anything great, it was just another symphony in a long list that didn't add anything to the genre. Then again, we haven't spent most of our life studying the obscure works in order to prove their greatness.

    Many contemporary composers seem so keen on producing "music" that is "different," "startling," "challenging," or "postmodern, neo-classical, pretentiously titled" (or any other descriptions that they and the critics love to use) that they seem to forget that it is the music that counts, not what you call it.
    Personal opinion time
    Why does Birtwistle get loads of attention?
    Because the critics have decided that he should. His "music" is lost on many people, inlcuding me. I would quite happily term it "noise," I would quite happily term it "unfortunate," but "music" is a word that I would leave well aside.
    There are great pieces of modern music, but you really have to search hard to find them, in much the same way that audiences would have in the past. Ask many music students to name 20 composers from the classical period and many will struggle (no need to do so, please folks) yet ask them to name 20 contemporary ones and many will have no problems. Time has allowed the "not so great" composers to vanish into obscurity (with the occasional one being remembered by certain instrumentalists because they happened to write a concerto/sonata for that instrument), yet the contemporary ones are all here and now - we haven't yet had the chance to forget them.

    Apologies for the lengthy (sometimes ranting) post, this is just a subject that gets under my skin all too easily.

    If someone is reading this in 100 years time (assuming that TM, or it's later incarnations, are still in existence somewhere in the ether) and Birtwistle is a name that can be used alongside the likes of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven - I publicly admit that I was wrong. It might just go to prove the current opinion and future opinion are not always the same.
  7. 40cal

    40cal Forte User

    Dec 13, 2005
    After a long day at the "office" I needed something like that....thanks!:D
  8. ilikethetrumpet

    ilikethetrumpet Pianissimo User

    Sep 10, 2006
    Iowa City, Iowa

    to tack on to this, musicologically speaking: "posts" (post- this/that) is a misnomer because stylistic strains can and do coexist. There was a lot of great music that was performed and written during JS Bach's time period that, for all intents and purposes, strikes our ears as "classical" and very rarely as baroque.

    brass-tacks definition, although clearly under (rather pointless) debate:
    modernism--in music--is an advance in technique beyond tonality or towards a new set of rhythmic variations, or something along those lines. "Post" may be too, but "post" often sets to "deconstruct" something: that is, the piece is a commentary on... itself... in the case of John Adams, much of his music comments on the process of listening.

    ie, you are a listener in a concert hall in a city who is a listener in a concert hall in a city you are a listener in a city in a concert hall: you're to be made much more aware of artificiality in quote unquote pomo music. (to that extent cage may be the first postmodern...for what it's worth, which is, eh. or maybe even ives... these are very american traits.

    fyi, before bashing all of this music, check out some John Adams beyond short ride on a fast machine. the wound dresser/on the transmigration of souls have two of the most beautiful and heartbreaking tpt. solos in them. Gekker plays the first on the major recording, and I assume Smith does the other one. Just breathtaking, and very emotionally affecting. As far as the full orchestra goes, I expect his symphony, naiive and sentimental music, to enter the mainstream rep in the next ten years. He's moved beyond "minimalism," even if the standard Grout n' Grove definition of him is twenty years behind.

    We are in a web forum posting on a board about music that is being posted on in a board on a web forum...
  9. ilikethetrumpet

    ilikethetrumpet Pianissimo User

    Sep 10, 2006
    Iowa City, Iowa
    A Supreme Court judge in the 70s writing about pornography in an obscenity case(can't remember which one):

    "I can't define it but I certainly know it when I see it.":dontknow: :roll:
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    in many cases, it is more politically correct to label art - regardless of the medium to avoid the discussion of having to "like" or "understand" it.
    I was in Madrid a couple of years ago and there are 3 very large museums (Thyssen, Prado and one whose name escapes me) with all sorts of art - much of which was very similar to that which my children produced between the ages of 3 and 5. I guess my kids are post modern (definitely not minimalistic if I think about their allowances.......).
    Ask 10 historians how to define modern and post modern - you'll get 10 definitions. In school, only the definition of your teacher/prof matters(they may let you change their minds-that will be a lot of work though)!

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