Steve Schwartz puzzles me with
>I'm sorry, but I find great tunes in music since World War II, but it's
>not necessarily hummable tunes. On the other hand, Beethoven doesn't
>have many hummable tunes in his symphonic works, either. For that matter,
>neither does Tchaikovsky. Try singing the theme *after* the introduction
>to the first piano concerto.
Accusing Tchaikovsky of not writing many hummable tunes is like chiding
Wagner for having too few Vallkyries. How many Valkyries does Elliot
Carter have? All we need is one Valkyrie of a melody from time to time
to carry us to Valhalla.
Yes, there is great melodic writing since WW2, but hummable tunes are
proportionally rarer than in previous eras.
There is nothing wrong with a hummable tune, even in today's music, if
you care about your audience. True, you don't have to care to make great
art, but many great artists have cared and do care. The more successful
artists have something that grabs listeners immediately, and goads them
into relistening to find the deeper substance. Tunes are one of the
currently neglected ways to do this. If Bartok can do it in Concerto
for Orchestra, why can't some of today's hotshots do it more?
Tunes may be out of fashion now, but they'll come back because they're
a challenge to do well.
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