Serial Music for Brass Band

James McFadyen said:
There are many great pieces of serialism music, Lauradoll, may I suggest some Webern for your pupils, especially his short works. I love weberns play on colour and atmosphere!

Especially his short works? He only really wrote small compact pieces! I think you can fit his whole lifes music onto 3 cds!

James McFadyen said:
Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (by Kristof Penderski) is a fabulous piece! The score is almost impossible to read if you've never seen this kind of notaion before, go to ur uni library and get the score! The piece is filled from start to finish of disaterous sounds, the true impact of this disaster is evident in his composition, a real eye-opener for anyone new to serialism!!!

Unforuantly, the piece was never written about Hiroshima. He mearly sold out when the piece wasn't getting much plays, named it after a disaster and managed to get the piece famous! I think any piece written as a reflection to, a memorial of, should be far more discretly titled. There is a danger of trying to sell your music (perhaps promote would be a better word?) on the back of this kind of disaster.

Cracking piece though.

James McFadyen said:
Although you may need to stick on Britten's amazing 'Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra' just to reminde you of how tonal music can be so fun - even young kids get glued to the speakers for the full 17mins, even if just to hear the powerfull finale!

Good plan. Prefer DJ Ludwig van B myself.
 

Straightmute

Active Member
Brian Bowen said:
[ I haven't seen and can't remember hearing "Grimethorpe Aria" but I'd not be surprised if Harrison Birtwistle used serial techniques there.

I doubt it very much. Birtwistle's music of that pre-Orpheus period is based around a tonal centre (usually E) around which he constructs harmonies comprising unisons, octaves and perfect intervals distorted by semitone alteration. He enjoys repetition and octaves too much to really embrace serial practice!

James McFadyen wrote:

There are a lot of composers on here at Uni, and as you and I know very well, there is no Uni in the land where you can escape from the Serial System?

Serialism is probably taught in most universities in the same way that composers are taught to write Bach chorales: it is a practice we consider to be valuable in developing a composer's technique. Most Universities will recognise that whilst serial practice was highly influential in shaping the music of the middle and later 20th century, it now seems to have been a 'stage we had to pass through' rather than an end in itself, as Schoenberg had intended. Total serialism was a dream: there are very, very few successful total serial works which ever saw the light of day; most composers who went down that road, whilst they may have found it a valuable formative experience, did not pursue it in the long term.

Most of the young composers I work with are much more interested in 'postmodern' composition and I hear more work which has been influenced by Steve Reich and Philip Glass than I do work influenced by Schoenberg. So here's one where escape is possible!

Why should we be trying to resurrect a compositional practice which was at its most prevalent between say 1920-1968 today??? I'd far sooner hear next year's Open testpiece composed by John Adams or Steve Martland!

D
 

James McFadyen

New Member
I think the post-world war 2 serialism is the most 'modern' serialism and where most of the real guts of it started to form.

Minamalism is quite a big thing now and I love it!!! Give me any John Adams or Philip Glass CD any day of the week!

Straightmute - very true about serialism being a 'passage' to go through in your compositional learning curve!!! Any composer oblivious to the serialst composition techniques will simply miss-understand what music has been about for the past 100 years or so. And as we know, knowing our musical history is a very important part to realising and achieveing our own unique compositional voice.

If it were up to me, I know say bring back the tonal language as the main stay. Although I'm not all fond of the purely diatonic tonal writing which sounds very traditional in character, but I do think we need to get back on track onto what music is more known as - being tuneful and pleasant to the ear, I'm all for understanding and being able to write using the serialist way (through the use of pitch classes) but if you can't write a singable tune that people can remember for decades, then it kinda fights against the philiosophies of music, which to different cultures means something very different.

I have even attempted to invent a new system of music - of course, got absolutely nowhere, as yet, mainly because I don't think we need a new system, I do think we need a new understanding of how to harness more out of the current systems; Tonal, Modal, Atonal, etc.

For me, modal works best, it give me freedom of harmonic choice and colouration while still sounding pleasant to the ear and adhearing to a more tonal framework without being constrained by the traditional rules of pure tonal, which are being smeared as every decade passes.

This is a good time to talk about serialism, since we owe our debt to Wagner, for his famous 'Tristan Chord' set things in motion! and with 'Tristan Encounters' in the area's, it makes our discussion of serialism that much more real and enthalling.
 

Lauradoll

Active Member
Helen V said:
Ok, so call me completely thick but what is serial music? I was under the impression it might be to do with tv soaps or something... :?

I know, i know, i'm thick! Anyone got a layman's explanation?


I'll give you a copy of my GSCE class notes at band tomorra. If my year 10 can get it (????) anyone can.


Oops I forgot I'm not there tomorra.... (rubbing it in...)
 

Accidental

Supporting Member
I may sound a bit thick here, but isn't this all just a bit pretentious? Surely if music sounds good and people enjoy playing/listening to it, it doesn't matter how it got written? :?

dons the asbestos suit ready to be shot down in flames...
 

Lauradoll

Active Member
James McFadyen said:
There are many great pieces of serialism music, Lauradoll, may I suggest some Webern for your pupils, especially his short works.

Thanks James, I've been teaching for 3 years now!
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Accidental said:
I may sound a bit thick here, but isn't this all just a bit pretentious? Surely if music sounds good and people enjoy playing/listening to it, it doesn't matter how it got written? :?

dons the asbestos suit ready to be shot down in flames...

I kinda agree! However, one cannot think like that, the problem being is that different cultures demand different things: commonsence would say only write music people are gonna like to hear, but some people actually do like serial music and that kind of music communicates a different message to them.

You must remember the whole serialism thing sprung from the fact the tonal languague had (and still has) limited communicative resourses! The odd thing about serlism is that it's very mathematical and 'planned out' but the capabilities of it are far more reaching than the tonal system.

It would be great if we could write anything we wanted at any given time, but we are not permitted to do so, in any system. one cannot be attached to a key sig in seralism, this is one of the major drawbacks or advantages, depending on ur perspective.

One has to be open minded about matter of atonalism, but again it's down to your historical knowlage of music, which is imperative for any musician!

Tonality is coming back gradually, but, for the main, Brass Band works will remain as a 'light music' medium for a while yet, and I think it should stay in as light music, that's what gives Brass Band music it's individual charachter, although I still have the urge to write a little bit of serialism for BB just to experement!

Lauradoll, didn't mean to tell a school teacher what to do! :lol: Sorry. Everyone knows how brilliant school teachers are! :wink: :wink:
 

Accidental

Supporting Member
James McFadyen said:
One has to be open minded about matter of atonalism, but again it's down to your historical knowlage of music, which is imperative for any musician!
Why is it imperative? I personally enjoy history and theory and do feel its helped me as a player, but I know plenty of excellent musicians (most of them better than me!) who don't know anything except how to read the dots.
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Accidental said:
but I know plenty of excellent musicians (most of them better than me!) who don't know anything except how to read the dots.

Especially Jazz musicians! :wink:

I think one must remember the target audience the music is to be fired at. My own investigations conclude that many many people dislike serialism and dub it as 'plinky plonky music'. I kinda back this but my professional instinct pull me the other way.

The battle between artisic licence and commerce/commercialism is a battle that composers face everytime they compose. Should one only be artisitc but reach only a small audience and therfore doesn't make any money doing what he does, or should he be totally commercial and make loads of money but not be respected as a serious composer - I don't think any composer wants to be put in any one catagory. Finding the platform between these extremeties is the best solution, I think.
 

Morghoven

Member
James McFadyen said:
You must remember the whole serialism thing sprung from the fact the tonal languague had (and still has) limited communicative resourses! The odd thing about serlism is that it's very mathematical and 'planned out' but the capabilities of it are far more reaching than the tonal system.

I don't think we are really in a position to state with any confidence that serialism has more far-reaching capabilities than the tonal system - not that I'm really sure what that statement means anyway. That aside: If major and minor keys as we know and love 'em die out in favour of serialism, and we're still using serialism in 300 years time, then I'll get back to you....

It would be great if we could write anything we wanted at any given time, but we are not permitted to do so, in any system. one cannot be attached to a key sig in seralism, this is one of the major drawbacks or advantages, depending on ur perspective.

Yes, if we stick in one given system, then we have to abide by those rules; that's what systems are for. But who's to say that we can't change system as and when we feel like it, or even use more than one simultaneously? It was good enough for Stravinsky!

Dave
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Cetainly, it was good enough for Stravinsky!!

IMHO, serialism won't overtake tonality for the main part.

Serialism definetl has more far-reaching concepts and variations that the tonal system - that's why it was invented in the first place, to rid of the bounderies and limited resourses of the tonal system, composers, at that time were needing a new palette for expression.

I'm not a big serialist fan but as a composer, or indeed as a musician we have to bow down to it as probably the most insightful vision of music of all time, bar none! I don't think anyone (in thier right mind :) ) would disgree with me there! ;)

I certainly hope the academics get back to what most people would call music, bring back the romantisim and impressionist days, Id say! Although keep Minamalism (probably the only 20th Century style I'd keep!)

:)
 

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