Tendencies of historical development in Western music

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brassneck, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Edit: Split from "Festival Music" thread

    There are bits of the K608 that are used in the middle movement of Festival Music but again, only just fragmentary. Music students could learn from Mr. Ball with respects to thematic development in neo-classical style from this piece.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2007
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    After some of the modernist turns that people like Stravinsky made in the name of Neoclassicism 30 years before Festival Music, some other term seems appropriate. It's Neoclassicism as Elgar might have done it.
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - now you are on academic grounds ... one question to ask (apart from Eric Ball's commemorative writing of Festival Music) is why composing styles/movements often reverted back to earlier forms and contrapuntal techniques? I realised my own argument about this years ago and it was linked to changes in harmonic base and saturation of counterpuntal technique within that base. These periods of musical change became shorter and shorter throughout history and earlier styles and forms developed new harmonic colours in their resurrections, i.e., reworking former styles in the idiom of the new period. Maybe a discussion on a new thread?
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    [N.B. If you dislike long, rambling, obscure and tangential posts, please look away now...]

    It's retro, innit? Things that looked clapped out 20 years ago now look more promising, simply because they no longer suffer from overexposure.

    The process you describe is a specific instance of how people learn new categories of concepts - the first instance is novel, the second instance less so; eventually taking on each new instance is routine. Then someone can look at the whole set of instances in a different way, and all of the instances form a single instance of a 'higher' concept. Then repeat until sense ceases to be made...
    For example, the number 1, the concept of there being one of something is, I suppose, at its most basic, the realisation that some things exist, and, in the mind, must date back to the very earliest days of awareness. When it was first dimly conceived - back in umpteen hundred million BC - the thought process involved must have represented an enormous conceptual breakthrough, amazingly trivial though it may seem to us.
    Following this, the concept of the number 2 would again have been difficult; the difference between perceiving that things exist, and that a specific number of things exist is a big one.
    But then, 3 is a lot more easy, having mastered 2, and ditto 4 and 5.
    Something interesting happens at this point - humans have a natural concept of 'fiveness', but not a natural concept of 'sixness'; you always break it down into groups of 2 or 3. Scientists have studied reaction times of people counting numbers of objects, and the times shoot up when moving from 5 to 6, after remaining rather similar up until 5.
    So to master the idea of 'sixness', the mind had to reconcile itself to the idea that you can make up numbers by adding together the right groups of smaller numbers, a qualitative difference in concept.

    This is all such basic stuff that it was achieved long before the human mind as we know it came into being. But we can extend the story right up to the present day by looking at how the history of mathematics has dealt with numbers. To set out the layers of concepts briefly -
    i) Things exist - "concept of oneness"
    ii) Multiple things exist - twoness, threeness, fourness, fiveness
    iii) Larger multiple things can be constructed from smaller multiple things - sixness, etc.
    iv) By considering number as an abstract concept, we can conceive of quantities such as negative numbers and zero (ancient Hindus, etc.)
    v) We now have all these numbers as a group of concepts - let us attach a label to the concept of the whole set of these numbers - "integers". This is a clear example of 'moving up a concept level'. We can also attach labels to sets of other kinds of numbers - rational numbers, real numbers.
    vi) By considering the square roots of negative numbers, we can conceive of numbers which can have no literal meaning, but a mathematical use - imaginary and complex numbers (Renaissance). We can now consider the set of all the complex numbers as an idea.
    vii) Making further constructions beyond the usual complex numbers, we can define more general complex numbers in 4 and 8 dimensions ("quaternions" and "octonions"), and indeed in 2^n dimensions, although their usage is pretty limited. (19th/20th centuries). Now we can move up a concept level again, and label all of these dense sets of numbers (leaving aside subsets such as rationals and integers) as "division algebras".

    This is, I'm sure, not the best exposition of this, but I hope it illustrates the principle of how people build on existing concepts to generalise, and the timescales on which concept level changes work.
    I'm sorry I rabbitted on quite so much in a rather tangential way - I simply wanted to offer an equivalence to brassneck's observation and theory that music has to innovate to be fresh. He (or is he a she?), in noting that timescales have tended to become shorter through history, offers a comparison to the process I've outlined. The obvious questions that emerge from this are i) When will / did Western music go up a concept level? and ii) What will / did we find when we went there?
    My personal suspicion is that when all previous music became fair game to composers to such an extent that all rules were thrown out (early 20th century) - then 'art music' did move up a concept level, to thinking about permissible types of music, rather than to thinking about what music would be useful or good.
    The second question is harder to answer - in my opinion, the 'art music' world is still struggling to deal with the difference in concept level between those who supply the music, and most of those who would listen to it. Other musical worlds - for example, the brass band world - have adopted a much more cautious attitude to embracing the output of this change of level, and much of what we play in bands is still firmly rooted in 19th century romanticism.
    On this point, I think the bands have got a good deal of common sense of their side. In the area of music performance, the next level up is mostly of interest to a very small number of people. Yes, it's important to have explored that intellectual ground, but any practical applications are limited to the new light that can be shed on the next level down from a higher vantage point. So, while the works of the John Cages of this world have been interesting, the future belongs more to the Philip Wilbys, those who are willing to innovate slowly without losing the thread connecting them to previous eras.

    Once again, apologies for the lengthy digression. I hope it's of interest to someone!
  5. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You know, I think brassneck was right; this ought to go in a different thread. Not sure what the title ought to be - 'Tendencies of historical development in Western music' sounds more like the title of a thesis than of a tMP thread :oops:
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Dave, isn't it all about fashion and radicalism?

    People want their creations to be used, so they design a new image, then a niche and try to grab attention. The idiom runs out of ideas (gets too complex) and someone else may come along with a new way of looking at things and the whole process of development runs again until it is exhausted. So, what do others do in the meantime? They bring back something that was attention-grabbing before and use that formula using recent innovations (e.g., materials and technology). You only need to look at the quagmire of popular music and fashion to understand the logic of the processes involved (i.e., market and sales driven ... both artists and the general public suffer here!).

    Where do we find any fresh development in music nowadays? Novelty and abstract ideas only have a very limited audience in most musical circles. The only field I have found innovation is in electronica music. It has not yet reached saturation point in terms of colour and texture and it may eventually bring classical composition more & more under it's umbrella in time to come.
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Yes, definitely, in the medium term.
    In the short term, we're stuck in the current fad.
    In the long term, when you examine the patterns of successive waves of fashion and radicalism - this is what I outlined above. Or attempted to, anyway. I don't know how much sense I made.
    What it looks like depends very much on how far away you look at it from, it seems to me.

    The great difficulty with innovation these days is that most obvious idea seams have already been mined to quite a depth. Sound quality is one of the few variables in which reasonable newness is possible without offending the ears of many of the listeners!
    Another idea under development which doesn't necessarily involve 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' is "irrational" time signatures, as used by John Pickard in his piece "Eden". There are more waiting to be explored in the corpus of 20th century music - the preoccupation with innovation led many composers to try to make everything totally fresh, with the result that some intriguing material that bears revisiting exists. The effect of massive shifting tone clusters in Ligeti's 'Atmospheres' is not one that I've heard anywhere else. People seem to have given up on microtonal writing after a rather inadequate exploration - perhaps its time will come again soon? And then the counterpoint of Conlon Nancarrow contains writing that seems unique to me.
    Musical progress is made by evolution, not revolution - I don't think that we can fully comprehend where music is going until all this material has been thoroughly sifted.
  8. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    Consider it done ;)

    interesting discussion by the way... :)
  9. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

    Why should "neo-classicism, as Elgar might have done it" be considered inferior just because it happened 30 years after Stravinsky? Why should Eric Ball be considered rigidly in an historical context? Why can't anyone extend late romanticism anymore in a different direction without going all atonal?
    Isn't this just down to one thing? "pretension"
  10. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    I think you missed the point somewhat...
    Nobody mentioned the word "inferior"
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Thanks for doing the cut-and-pasting, Jan.

    And thanks for pointing out what I was just about to point out - no negative connotation was intended in my description of Ball's version of Neoclassicism.

    The difficulty is that late romanticism morphed fairly seamlessly into atonality. By the time you look in detail at the more involved harmonies of Richard Strauss in his pre-WW1 phase, you're pretty much there. And then, if you try to rewind to this point, you have the same issue composers of the day had - you can't sensibly move forward in the same way people like Strauss and Mahler were doing without changing the underlying assumptions about music as you go from their romantic underpinnings. Schoenberg, in his introduction of serialism, looked like he was creating something totally new, but in fact he was trying to find a musical backdrop that more closely mirrored the work that was being created.

    However, the music that bands play branched off even before Strauss; Wagner is generally as adventurous as composers up until Vinter were prepared to be. Which, I repeat in case I'm misunderstood, is not a bad thing. A degree of conservatism in musical taste coupled with a willingness to change slowly has served bands well during a period in which much art music has entirely lost its popular audience. It might sometimes be frustrating to those within the movement who would like to see more 'modern' techniques applied to band writing, but it has been an evolutionarily sound technique.
  12. horn1

    horn1 Member

    It's quite interesting to talk to musicians who perform exclusively in the orchestral world about new music. I think in bands we sometimes take the amount of new music available for granted and don't always realise how unusual this can be in the orchestral world. I have a friend who's an orchestral cellist and runs an amature symphony orchestra and she is always amazed when I talk about new test piece commissions and commissions for other non-contesting purposes. Music for her concerts has to be hired as the cost of buying music is prohibitively expensive, this limits the repertoire that can be chosen which, in practise, means that much new music is unavailable or not 'worth' the cost. This is one of the reasons I have always felt that the brass band movement/genre is so healthy is that it is forward thinking (or moving) in that music is regularly breaking boundaries. Admittedly it hasn't carried on the work of composers from the serialist, atonal or minimalist schools (with the exception of Wingates work with Michael Nyman) but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However much I find Schoenberg an interesting intellectual concept (or alternatively a nightmare of schenkerian (sp??) analysis!!) I wouldn't particularly want to play music of that type within a band setting.
  13. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Here in the US, it's not just the cost of purchase - many orchestral works are available from the publishers only on a rental basis - you have to rent the parts and score and then return them after an authorized number of performances. The pages are often serialized so that if copies are discovered they will know which group had control of them at the time they were copied. The same thing is often done with stage plays, Broadway-type shows, etc.
  14. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Interesting debate and discussion going on here, especially that on neo-classicism, Stravinsky and branching of developments in brass band and western classical music.

    !) A couple of things to consider, composers did not (and only recently have)labelled their own work in one period or another, musicologists did by define certain attributes by using terms that had previously been associated with the art movement (significantly these art periods were defined well before music, possibly until the late 20th century). Music borders in terms of period definition are fluid, composers overlap and some composers outut was found popular or recorded well after their death. Who would imagine that the ideas Charles Ives utilised in his 1890s work would ultimately be used and adapted in the 1950s by other composers like Virgil Thomson and in the very early John Cage.

    2) Stravinsky, a neo-classicist, a critic of serial methodology and composition through the majority of his life eventually experimented with the serial technique towards the end of his life.

    3) Expansion of the romantic period music overflowed into early 20th century styles as already mentioned. The development of complex harmony by, for example the impressionist Debussy and his co-composers, the influence of Boulanger on successful generations of multi-country composers and the different schools, such as the great Schoenberg, Webern, Alban Berg Viennese School....throw in Darmstadt school as well. There were those who did however attempt to follow the old romantic style and these were composers like Elgar, Vaughn Williams, Holst etc (in England) who were clearly NOT neo-classicists but Nationalist composers, as Shostakovich was in the Soviet Union. Holst etc used English folk tunes, collected by themselves or by people like Cecil Sharp (early ethnomusicologist following the activities or folk gathering composers like Kodaly and Bartok in Eastern Europe). Shoshtakovich used folk tunes from his area of the world, as did American composers and many others. Another romantic period characteristic was the huge forces that were used in compositions, think Mahler, Bruckner, extensions of instrumentation instigated by Wagner. There came a point where the orchestra could not have anymore instruments added to it before it became ridiculous. In addition, the Symphonic form (specifically the sonata form) which had developed throughout the "Classical" and "romantic" had been extended so far that symphonies were becoming longer and longer and therefore something needed to be changed.

    The poster who said that periods are getting shorter is absolutely right. The main reason for that in the 20th century is possibly the expansion of technology, in particular the radio and television. The world becoming in essence a smaller place, music transcending national borders and reaching more people i.e the Americanisation of Britain following WWII was highly significant in taking over the social importance of bands in general public situations i.e on the bandstand and were seen as better because they played dance music, a function that brass bands in the 19th century once perfromed.

    C) The extension and changes that quite frankly are absent in bands are due to contests and the characteristics that defined these events. I won't bore you with a socio-history of banding and its music because you can read that in books by Herbert and Russell. Nevertheless, lack of instrumental flexibility due to the centralisation of the contest as the life blood of the movement has meant that there are restrictions on the evolution of brass band music, something that was not a factor in the orchestral development, nor in the development of the wind orchestra repertoire (in America admittedly) during the 20th century, nor indeed the rapid growth of jazz either, from small group to big group to small group, due again to socio-historical factors as well as musical. Would bebop have developed in the 40s if there wasn't a big depression before it, the depression meaning big band leader could not affordthe number of players (mixed with musical curiousity of messers Parker, Gillespie and Davis). They did not have to stick to one instrumentation.

    D) Contests, again are responsible for the underlying problems of slow evolution of repertoire. Contests were by definition entertainment events, playing transcriptions of opera and symphonic collections for people who could not afford the real thing. Contest and concert repertoire were similar if not interchangable, clearly it is not the case today, the contest being deemed ground for development of "serious" music and the concert, in the words of sociologist Bourdieu, be left to "inculcate" the conservative repertoire that is commonly taken for granted as representing what audiences want.

    E) At the end of the day a cross cultural comparison between periods in bands and orchestra is unrealistic. Looking at bands and the society or social background together can highlight why changes have or have not occurred. There are certainly significant moments, like Labour and Love by Fletcher and Life Divine by Jenkins (choral composers) and original programmatic music of the 1910s, Vinter later with the addition of percussion (it says something that it took so long to add more percussion to test pieces) and the chromatic cluster chords of Gregson in Connotations etc. Look at the reaction to Fireworks in 1975 by bands and conductors and then the test piece for the next Open in 1976 was an old test piece...a pattern that has continued to this day (Prague controversy!!).

    Sorry about the rather big response but want to get it out of the way in one lump!!
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Hey Richard, I wondered when you were going to drop in on this one! It was good to speak to you at Whit Friday.

    I'll try to keep this as brief as possible, in the interests of not turning this thread into a series of novels...

    This ties in rather nicely with my suggestion that art music moved "up a concept level" in the early 20th century. Navel-gazing can be a characteristic of finding a new perspective.

    A case of "he doth protest too much", perhaps? My suspicion is that he felt a temptation to try serialism all along, but resisted because somebody else thought of it first.

    By the time serialism began to spread, in the 1920s, both Elgar and Holst were into middle age, and their greatest popularity was some way behind them. Debussy died in 1918. Vaughan Williams I have always thought of as a musical outpost; something of an anomaly who continued writing in his own straight development from the style of his youth into his old age, despite the styles that others were writing in around him.

    Mostly because he was forcibly held on the straight and narrow by the Soviet authorities. I always find this case interesting - Shostakovich's tension with the regime he worked under produced some of the most memorable works of the mid 20th century. Had they left him to become just another "bourgeois formalist", I seriously doubt that he would have written anything either quite so good or quite so accessible.

    Now you, I suspect, in contrast to me, feel that the slow speed of evolution of band repertoire relative to art music repertoire is a problem (please correct me if I'm wrong!). I don't quite buy the proposition that contesting has forced the musical style of banding to ossify. So the instrumentation is fixed, and the total length of most new pieces must be 15-20 mins? But many composers work well against hard constraints like these, and I don't find it a coincidence that a large majority of the musical developments that bands have embraced over the last 50 years have been introduced through pieces specifically written for contests.

    For me, this is a separate issue, and one that is a real problem. Bandspeople are taking on new forms of musical expression, but failing to pass them on to their audiences, even in extremely watered-down form.

    I'm trying to think when I last played a serious original piece for band in a concert. It's been quite a while. We ran out 'Jazz' at a concert ahead of the 2001 areas, but surely we must have played something else out since then? Surely?!

    This represents a real failing on our part - if we won't even trust our audiences with 'Golden Oldies', but instead ply them non-stop with sugary musical lollipops pumped full of E numbers, then what hope do we have of bridging the distance between current contest and concert repertoire?
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I agree. The fact that the rate at which boundaries are broken is kept artificially low when compared to art music is not a bad thing, when considered in a banding context - it means that there is some serious insulation against the "Emperor's New Clothes" tendency which art music can suffer from.
  17. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Hello again Dave my friend.

    Some good reasoning behind the manacle of the regime in the Soviet Union on Shoshtakovich (A composers response to just criticism and the parady of folk music and marches in his works, most noticeably in Symphony 5, though as you say later works were left to his own desires). Agreed Vaughn Williams was an outpost to some regards, and Holst and Elgar, nationalist composers without whom (and some composers like Wallace and (Joseph) Parry that appeared before them) there would not have been the resurrection of English Orchestral Music and in all essence their influence on brass bands was extremely minimial, producing one or two works for brass bands (mainly for the value of the commission or on the persuading skills of Whiteley as Nationals director in the 30s). Comparison of development of classical music and band music as I said in my previous "article" is particularly weak, especially in this instance. Jazz, I relate to again had many people who innovated different styles of music in short spaces of time that produced seminal recordings, one has only to think of Kind of Blue, Love Supreme, in the essence of style change. One looks at Miller (before leaving the world to live in Fiji or somewhere during the WWII) with the smooth sound of sax led big band, Ellington and Basie's different big band styles, Kenton's big band explorations in the Artistry of Rhythm, harmony etc etc, Gillespie (like Davis) innovating bebop small group style into the big band (seminal recordings of the late 1940s, the combinations with Chano Pozo and Cuban/Latino drumming, the jazz sessions with Lalo Schifrin). The revivalist trad jazz in the 70s in Britain, the modern jazz quartet, jazz funk (which led to acid jazz etc), the electronic work of Weather Report and Miles Davis that latter influenced pop artists like Prince. So many strands that diversified from jazz.

    This is all without mentioning the strands that emerged from the Blues...rock and roll, Hard Rock, heavy metal, so many musical genres that have strands upon strands of original material written breaking down borders in unrestricted ways. Most of their (initial) concepts being expression of music, perfection in the music rather than in the production of the music. Contests are the absolute reverse of this process, the music for those concerned is secondary to the actual playing, the drawing of breath when a mistake is made, people listening for the performance that has no clips instead of the performance that is flawed but musically brilliant. This is the fault of contesting. Composers in the orchestral world may work well within defined boundaries of time, like those within the movement, but in that time the musical language used can be simple (minimalist) or complex (lacking bar lines, structure, dynamics etc).

    If a piece was written for a contest and it had no tempo markings, no dynamics, no instruction on time signatures and was only restricted in the key used, would the last 16 bars (if counting in 4/4) full of semiquavers be played slowly and legato or fast and loud?? Since the concepts of playing fast and loud = exciting is the contest piece I suggest the latter would happen. Barring, to my mind Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Resurgam, I reckon there are very few pieces that are written for contests that finish slow and quiet. Why is that?? It's because inculcation of processes and expected results occurs. Players would complain, audiences would complain and the organisers would not ask the composer again if a piece with a slow quiet ending was used in more than one piece every decade!!

    How about a piece that was like the above but individual band representatives were brought to a day with the composer where they had to throw a dice to decide on how fast, loud, style or other characteristic that each movement of a piece had to take?? It would provide some bands with quiet endings, other loud, some fast and quiet, others slow but loud. Variation to an audience who lets face it only listen to their favourite bands anyway!! Variation to conductors to shape a performance, players to learn a piece in a different style to their mates from work or uni. Discussion would appear on what was the best performance of the music rather than the performance of the band (well ok, the performance/music balance would be closer than it is now!!)

    Years ago I would have said that I wholeheartedly believed that the development of art music-esque music within brass bands was a way forward. Now I tend to see that I was extremely naive in thinking that, having looked at music within its social context, music as a social context, the credo of many ethnographers, I see that bands, as a musical culture, need to develop a vairety of ideas in order to survive. One of these is a liberal approach to the addition of instruments (piccolos, french horns etc), the number of players involved...does it really have to stay at 25 brass players and percussionists???? Ord Hume and his contemporaries wanted the extension of percussion in 1901, as it appears in the banding media at that time. More pieces in a language that is different to what is expected, not less!! This will of course never happen since organisers want pieces, or choose pieces, that they think the audience and players want to hear and play, like what "we" assume audiences want in concerts.

    Another thing that is plainly obvious is the isolation of band related contexts (mentioned in previous post and by others), lower section bands should play test pieces in a concert (so should bigger bands). How are audiences going to get beyond the Floral Dance if you only give them the Floral Dance...its a broad problem or affliction of the movement. Contests like Brass in Concert have the right idea, they have contests that ask for new entertaining music that will be played on a regular basis through out the year...more contests like that please...no more set test piece ones.

    In addition, contests like Pontins and Butlins are essentially the most participated events in the banding calendar, why, because they are social events, harping back to the ideals of the "olden days". The National should learn from that since the splitting of the Championship from the other sections is nothing but a financial and rather cynical business making exercise.

    Why is it that banding traditions outside of the UK seem to be growing and evolving and we are particularly slow in taking their ideas and applying them to our movement (both musically and organisationally). Its because we see oursevlves as leaders of the free banding world, a kind of arrogance that has seen the inventors of football being embarrased at international level or being seen as producing teams that have "bulldog" spirit and no style at all (i.e if it wins who blooming cares!!). Wedding bands (Booth looked at these in research) Ghanaian brass bands (Rumbolz studied these) Surinam and Peruvian bands (Boonjazer Flaes studied and wrote on these) play music that is relevant to their audiences in social contexts that are still to this day important to social function. Lower section bands still play in mayor parades, carnivals and fetes....for how long who knows...but they are performing a social function far more relevant than the promotion of art music.

    Sousa, a man of absolute genius in front of a band, composed hundreds of pieces, many of them pretty poo but a load that are exceptional wrote music that was inheritantly simple but challenged and entertained the audience. His approach to presenting repertoire, and it most be said his contemporaries did much the same, was to provide 8-10 pieces on a programme, and then add encores in between certain numbers, or add a piece that was requested by the audience on the night, or contacted composers in the town that they were playing in the following year and ask them for a piece to play or indeed get the local bands in the concert venues to play with them or get a member of the audience to conduct a number of the pieces on stage (even an 11 year old). Where is the originality today?? There isn't any, some bands treat theiur audience with contempt and play the same repertoire over and over, perpetuating a musical canon that is essentially (in style if not identical piece) music played 70 years ago.

    Cross over occurs in every music tradition, Bellowhead (cross of big band and folk music, Herbie Hancock's last album that merged jazz and other styles, classical musicians playing/singing pop. This is another approach to giving variety in one performance but also developing new ideas in terms of repertoire. The line "we are a brass band we don't do line dancing, ceildh or country dances" is the major problem with an inherantly conservative perception on music and a cynical view on anything that isn't brass band-type music.

    My view now, having seen and heard band music from around the world in their social context has opened my eyes to the numerous possibilities of development for band music and the "movement", the sad thing is that most people within the movement, especially some (not all) of those in charge of the movement lack musical perspective to see where it should be going. Perpetuation rather than evolution seems to me to be their keyword, sadly it is also to be ours too!! A Brass band contest (playing Balkan peasant music in Guca in Macedonia) drawing bands from North Greece, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia has thousands of people in attendance on an annual basis, can the same be said of our national contests??

    In some ways we need art music, but in many respects the classical canon in weekly orchestral concerts reflect the same problems that we have i.e playing crowd pleasers so is it wise to follow their model?? Hey...I'm probably wrong...but I doubt it!!
  18. horn1

    horn1 Member

    Definatly! I have to say that nothing winds me up more than playing concerts full of music that 'they'll like'. not that there is anything wrong with playing music that people like but assuming that people are stupid and must only want to hear the floral dance is incredabily condescending. I'd go to way more brass band concerts if I could be sure that I'd hear some interesting music rather than the S.O.S. Even classical concerts tend to rely on the same small repetoire, often ignoring huge chunks of music from particular periods because it's not a crowd pleaser.
    There are bands out there who are doing this but they are sometimes few and far between. I'd be just as happy to see interesting old music (that maybe hasn't seen the light of day for a while) as new commisions breaking boundaries. Surely as musicians we should be trying to push the boundaries in our concert work as much as sometimes happens in contest commissions. If you want to look at interesting new compositions that take inspiration from many different sources and try and push the brass band movement forward you could do well to look at the music of Pete Meechan and Paul Lovatt Cooper. Macbeth (Pete Meechan) the new commission for the Scottish Open has some really different sounds in (and to the consternation of our bass players rock/jazz ish bass riffs! ) and feels refreshingly different from your usual contest piece. Paul Lovatt Cooper has just written a piece for BT that has some really different ideas in (including the use of an air raid siren!) and went down increadibly well with the audience when we recently premiered it in the Isle of Man. More stuff like this and BiC and we might actually manage not to stagnate!
  19. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

    I accept that late romanticism did morph into more atonal stuff, but I find it annoying that noone can now write in the late romantic style without being considered old fashioned. That era is full of crowd pleasers with real depth to them - there must be loads of ways that composers can branch out from that again in different directions, without having to go into serialism, or whatever, which let's face it is an audience-killer.

    I agree with you that bands did split off and go their own way a bit at this time. It is really orchestral music that has most of the problems here, as they are a lto more stuck in the past (by attitude not necessarily material) than we are.

    Anyway the point was I thought you (all) were being a little unfair on Ball for going in this musical direction in 'workmanlike' style, he did a good job for the movement until others took it on, in my opinion. Certainly a better job than more 'experimental' art music composers 1945-70 (generally of the orchestral world), who frankly, produced a lot of music that is not much worth listening to.

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