Edgar Beach sent:
>Is it fair for me to assume that the majority of serious
>(for lack of another word) music lovers also cannot tolerate much of
>todays disharmonic stuff? Again this is an assumption and not a fact.
Why is it necessary to make such an assumption? (BTW, most of "today's"
music is far less disharmonic than it used to be. 12-tone music, except
in shorter passages, is hard to come by.) What is far more important is
that listeners ENJOY serious music, of whatever kind. I find that it
is often extremely difficult for some to accept that others' tastes could
possibly be different from theirs: There must be something WRONG with
I have watched audiences of 100 or more at the San Francisco Contemporary
Music Players listen in rapt attention and cheer highly atonal works,
so I know many enjoy such stuff. I enjoy a fair share, but not all,
of such stuff.
Why? It's better to ask, "How." For me, a majority of the time, it's a
strong intellectual satisfaction in hearing a presentation of "ideas,"
of all kinds, laid out in a perceptable form, usually with a degree of
variety and contrast. Endless dissonance without variety drives me up
In a minority of occassions with "atonal" music, my reaction is romantic:
I "feel" with the music and have "heartfelt" emotions to go with the
experience. The Berg Violin Concerto is a classic example of this for
me, but there are a fair number of others.
The majority of the time I'm dissatisfied with new music, atonal OR
tonal: Let's face it, the majority of music is mediocre-- most composers
are not Beethovens. You shouldn't confuse the rampant mediocrity of
atonal music with its mode of expression-- although atonality, since it
can be intellectually justified on paper, provides a far better cover
than a retrograde tonal composition would.
I do feel--with respect to my particular bias, which I have learned never
to ASSUME others share--that writing a truly beautiful, harmonized melody
nowadays is more difficult to bring off than an entire atonal symphony.
Where are the truly great melodies of the last 50 years in serious music?
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