Classical Music

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Proper Gander

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There might already be a thread for this. I had a quick look but I’m not great at that kind of thing.

Occurs to me that given there are so many surprises on Bigfooty - for a forum that is essentially for people who love Australian Football - there might even be people like me who find music to be the most important thing in the entire world. Even better then footy.

I’m a classical musician (retired now - forced retired really following illness) and when I say ‘classical’ it’s kind of stupid because the classical period in music was actually very brief. But when people use the term it generally now refers to everything from the Baroque era to now but excluding ‘pop’ which isn’t very precise.

Anyway, are there any other classical music junkies out there? Hello and all if you exist
 

Proper Gander

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Okay so I’ll go first. And probably second and third and fourth in this incredible and popular thread.

How good was Beethoven? I mean wow. I can’t even get to grips with how someone has that much capacity in one regular, squashy set of cells that make up a human brain.

A guy with a very big composing career with pretty much no bad products at all. I went to a museum once and saw some of his scores and they are virtually unreadable with the amount of cross-outs and so forth, so I’m assuming he had to work pretty hard on perfection.

My big thing later in my career was chamber music. Spent years playing in a String Quartet - an amazingly huge repertoire and some amazing works amongst them. But if you take a guy like Beethoven, he wrote 9 symphonies which given how good they are is a pretty decent effort. But he wrote 15 String Quartets - and if you listen to the last group which are imaginatively referred to as “the late Beethoven String Quartets”, they are pretty much the most incredibly progressive compositions not only of their time but until well into the 20th century. And they are phenomenally beautiful and incredibly moving also. And the guy did it while not super well, and having gone more or less completely deaf which seems to me an impossibly cruel thing to do to a musician.
 

Proper Gander

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Right. So me again.

20th Century music. Love it. Well the good bits anyway. I mean, how good is Bartok? How good is Schoenberg? How good is Messiaen?

Probably one of my favourite orchestral pieces of all time is Stravinsky ballet score to “Petrouchka”. You really feel like you are in some mad Russian marketplace with police and an organ grinder and some dude with a bear
 

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not a junkie like yourself, but have had an appreciation for it since watching 'shine' stoned. that took me to rachmaninoff. long before then i had organ and piano lessons and it's something i'd like to return to but just have no time. i can still read music somewhat.

after discovering rachmaninoff i then went through a stage then of picking up classical on vinyl in thrift shops. you could walk out with an armful of records for $5, this was the time before vinyl's renaissance. i wasn't too fussy about what i grabbed. to this day i still haven't listened to some of what i bought in that time.

favourite pieces are rachmaninoff's piano concerto's, but even more i like his elegie in e flat minor



i'm vaguely aware that most of my likes fall into the 'romantic' era as per your op. not spent enough time exploring baroque or else. i like baroque for its, uh, narrowness in terms of how much musical distance it can cover, what you can do with a limited brief. and then music expands somewhat with the extra octaves added to instruments.

in terms of 20th century music, i've been informed of ludovico einaudi (if he counts) and have heard some renditions of his work which were nice.
 

Toump Ass

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Hate the s**t. Most if it anyway.

I find it all incredibly fascinating though, especially since I read David Byrne's "How Music Works", and then Murakami's "Absolutely on Music". The Murakami book is mind-blowing, it's really just a couple of interviews with the conductor Seiji Ozawa. Anyway even though I'm a qualified wizard I really can't understand how Ozawa can not only control an orchestra but actually break apart in his head all the different parts when he's listening to it, to a level where he can distinguish the individual players? Crazy. I guess it doesn't happen by accident though because the other thing with Ozawa is he's incredibly driven, like how we think of elite sports people except this campaigner is like 200 years old, survived cancer and still wakes up at 4am to study music scores, and he's been doing it since childhood, I mean that level of dedication is just unbelievable to me, I can't even be *ed getting out of bed before 10am no matter how keen I am on whatever it is I happen to be doing. I was also amazed at the physical stress of being a conductor has. But I digress.

I do like the contemporary stuff though: if it's just strings and clarinets and flutes together I start to feel anxious, I feel like I'm the live-in butler for some British family in a rose garden somewhere, * that. I need a little bit something something with all of the oboe's and s**t, like synthesizers or kick drums or some of that steve reich musique concrete stuff, like Different Trains if you know that one.

The only exceptions are this one Ozawa LP I have, but I couldn't even tell you if it was Bach or Beethoven the orchestra are playing and I can't even explain why I like it, I haven't even figured out why I like it myself. I also like this Debussy recording, so I spent ages reading about and listening to other impressionists and I think I'm on the right track, so I'll keep looking, but so far I have listened to over a million versions of his "Baguette Suite" and I can still only find one that I really truly love.

Anyway I could rabbit on forever so I'll cut it here, lemme know if you want me to derail this thread with an essay on how social structures effect cultural interpretations of music, and how this manifests in my distaste for that Bach person.

tl;dr Hi PG! Love you!!!!!
 

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Only place for it is in movies to help set the atmosphere of a scene.
In this one manipulated to a different speed.
 

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Only place for it is in movies to help set the atmosphere of a scene.
In this one manipulated to a different speed.

In my next life I’d love to be a really good sound engineer - like be a part of the making of a movie or a great tv series where you can put together the sounds that go with the script, the environment. And build something where the music becomes an essential part of the story. * only knows how you become that guy, but I would love to be that guy
 

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Hate the s**t. Most if it anyway.

I find it all incredibly fascinating though, especially since I read David Byrne's "How Music Works", and then Murakami's "Absolutely on Music". The Murakami book is mind-blowing, it's really just a couple of interviews with the conductor Seiji Ozawa. Anyway even though I'm a qualified wizard I really can't understand how Ozawa can not only control an orchestra but actually break apart in his head all the different parts when he's listening to it, to a level where he can distinguish the individual players? Crazy. I guess it doesn't happen by accident though because the other thing with Ozawa is he's incredibly driven, like how we think of elite sports people except this campaigner is like 200 years old, survived cancer and still wakes up at 4am to study music scores, and he's been doing it since childhood, I mean that level of dedication is just unbelievable to me, I can't even be f’ed getting out of bed before 10am no matter how keen I am on whatever it is I happen to be doing. I was also amazed at the physical stress of being a conductor has. But I digress.

I do like the contemporary stuff though: if it's just strings and clarinets and flutes together I start to feel anxious, I feel like I'm the live-in butler for some British family in a rose garden somewhere, fu** that. I need a little bit something something with all of the oboe's and s**t, like synthesizers or kick drums or some of that steve reich musique concrete stuff, like Different Trains if you know that one.

The only exceptions are this one Ozawa LP I have, but I couldn't even tell you if it was Bach or Beethoven the orchestra are playing and I can't even explain why I like it, I haven't even figured out why I like it myself. I also like this Debussy recording, so I spent ages reading about and listening to other impressionists and I think I'm on the right track, so I'll keep looking, but so far I have listened to over a million versions of his "Baguette Suite" and I can still only find one that I really truly love.

Anyway I could rabbit on forever so I'll cut it here, lemme know if you want me to derail this thread with an essay on how social structures effect cultural interpretations of music, and how this manifests in my distaste for that Bach person.

tl;dr Hi PG! Love you!!!!!
De-rail away Toump. I suspect this thread isn’t being closely monitored so you can probably do your worst.

also I have no idea how conductors do what they do, even some of the s**t ones. Even reading an orchestral score is a massive mind * - dozens of lines simultaneously. I’m more the sleep until 10AM minimum and figure it out later type
 

Proper Gander

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not a junkie like yourself, but have had an appreciation for it since watching 'shine' stoned. that took me to rachmaninoff. long before then i had organ and piano lessons and it's something i'd like to return to but just have no time. i can still read music somewhat.

after discovering rachmaninoff i then went through a stage then of picking up classical on vinyl in thrift shops. you could walk out with an armful of records for $5, this was the time before vinyl's renaissance. i wasn't too fussy about what i grabbed. to this day i still haven't listened to some of what i bought in that time.

favourite pieces are rachmaninoff's piano concerto's, but even more i like his elegie in e flat minor



i'm vaguely aware that most of my likes fall into the 'romantic' era as per your op. not spent enough time exploring baroque or else. i like baroque for its, uh, narrowness in terms of how much musical distance it can cover, what you can do with a limited brief. and then music expands somewhat with the extra octaves added to instruments.

in terms of 20th century music, i've been informed of ludovico einaudi (if he counts) and have heard some renditions of his work which were nice.

Nothing wrong with the romantic era, mate. Its strange because Rachmaninov 3 was the big, famous piano work that was broadly known but the movie Shine was I think the first time I had heard Rach 2. Which was worth the ticket price right there. And yeah the elegie in e flat minor is beautiful
 

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Okay so I’ll go first. And probably second and third and fourth in this incredible and popular thread.

How good was Beethoven? I mean wow. I can’t even get to grips with how someone has that much capacity in one regular, squashy set of cells that make up a human brain.

A guy with a very big composing career with pretty much no bad products at all. I went to a museum once and saw some of his scores and they are virtually unreadable with the amount of cross-outs and so forth, so I’m assuming he had to work pretty hard on perfection.

My big thing later in my career was chamber music. Spent years playing in a String Quartet - an amazingly huge repertoire and some amazing works amongst them. But if you take a guy like Beethoven, he wrote 9 symphonies which given how good they are is a pretty decent effort. But he wrote 15 String Quartets - and if you listen to the last group which are imaginatively referred to as “the late Beethoven String Quartets”, they are pretty much the most incredibly progressive compositions not only of their time but until well into the 20th century. And they are phenomenally beautiful and incredibly moving also. And the guy did it while not super well, and having gone more or less completely deaf which seems to me an impossibly cruel thing to do to a musician.

Yep. From memory one of those quarters had a mere 7 movements too. So he took Sonata form - all four movements of it - and said, "nah".

I don't have a "proper" sequential understanding, but know the broad strokes of history reasonably well. Have listened to a mountain of material between Bach and Liszt. Some composers like Mahler I still haven't delved into properly. If I had to name one personal favourite piece - it's Mozart's 23rd Piano Concerto, 2nd movement. There's a great book of Mozart's letters written in this lifetime, and you can measure the point where he stopped asking his father for musical advice. Child prodigy to adult genius.

It's fascinating too to remember that just like music evolved and changed quickly in the 20th century, it did earlier too. The music of 1760 is very different from that of 1800. You had "new" instruments like the flute being introduced and Mozart said "yep I'll show you how to integrate that" and knocked out the amazing K.299.

So yes, include me in the list.
 

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I love symphonic prog especially the old Genesis stuff.

But I do love some classical,very calming when driving so I put on ABC FM alot,I'm a drummer but I love it.
 

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I love symphonic prog especially the old Genesis stuff.

But I do love some classical,very calming when driving so I put on ABC FM alot,I'm a drummer but I love it.

A drummer who is a prog rock man! Are you a Bill Bruford fan?
 

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De-rail away Toump.
Ok great, thank you! So then:

Most people believe that music appreciation, ie: what is "good" or "bad" is simply a matter of taste. According to many musicologists, behavioural scientists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and most importantly, me... this is bullshit. Total bullshit.

Trained musicians (obviously) are more sensitive to pitch and dissonance than lay listeners. This is a fact. Studies suggest that people who haven't studied music will hear unusual chords as dissonant when they're introduced to them, and as harmonious only over time and exposure. Isn't that interesting? (Humour me).

All of this is obviously really pertinent with classical music, because it's so much more harmonically complex that other music. Also, as you get older, your ability to learn how to separate different pitches degrades, so it makes sense that if you're not exposed to a lot of classical music, not only are you not going to understand it when you hear it (ie: it will sound dissonant/unpleasant), but your ability to learn how to hear it as harmonious escapes you (sadly).

And unlike other forms of music you don't have another element to hook you and introduce you to all the lovely harmonies, things like textures, beats, rhymes, lyrics etc. that other music has.

In a globalised world, people do get exposure to classical music, inevitably, mostly as it carries film scores, but that's a very limited type of exposure because your brain isn't really concentrating on the chord progressions because you're wondering what Will Smith is going to do next.

So the question I ask myself, that I'm trying very hard to answer, is this one: "Does Bach suck, or can I just not hear what Bach he is doing?"

I think that's why I like Debussy I think; it feels like it's a bit more about mood and imagery rather than story-telling if that makes sense, so it's just a bit more digestible.

Anyway I'll slink away now :D :D :D
 

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Ok great, thank you! So then:

Most people believe that music appreciation, ie: what is "good" or "bad" is simply a matter of taste. According to many musicologists, behavioural scientists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and most importantly, me... this is bullshit. Total bullshit.

Trained musicians (obviously) are more sensitive to pitch and dissonance than lay listeners. This is a fact. Studies suggest that people who haven't studied music will hear unusual chords as dissonant when they're introduced to them, and as harmonious only over time and exposure. Isn't that interesting? (Humour me).

All of this is obviously really pertinent with classical music, because it's so much more harmonically complex that other music. Also, as you get older, your ability to learn how to separate different pitches degrades, so it makes sense that if you're not exposed to a lot of classical music, not only are you not going to understand it when you hear it (ie: it will sound dissonant/unpleasant), but your ability to learn how to hear it as harmonious escapes you (sadly).

And unlike other forms of music you don't have another element to hook you and introduce you to all the lovely harmonies, things like textures, beats, rhymes, lyrics etc. that other music has.

In a globalised world, people do get exposure to classical music, inevitably, mostly as it carries film scores, but that's a very limited type of exposure because your brain isn't really concentrating on the chord progressions because you're wondering what Will Smith is going to do next.

So the question I ask myself, that I'm trying very hard to answer, is this one: "Does Bach suck, or can I just not hear what Bach he is doing?"

I think that's why I like Debussy I think; it feels like it's a bit more about mood and imagery rather than story-telling if that makes sense, so it's just a bit more digestible.

Anyway I'll slink away now :D :D :D
I think all of this is true. Well that is to say the occasional bits where I delude myself that I follow what you are saying. This is why I love all of your posts. They always go somewhere off into a surrealist vision which generously permits readers like me to impose a structure that suits my bias and I can feel comfortable.

Anyway the bit about training and exposure making different music sound different depending on the listener is spot on. It’s why I can sit silent and enthralled through 50 minutes of the Verdi requiem or through 40 minutes of Janacek Intimate Letters quartet while countless others would snooze or wander off to check the bar fridge during the first, and switch off the second because they think they are listening to an en masse cat strangling.

And early childhood exposure is key before you set yourself in a pattern that tells you to categorise certain harmonies into good, bad, interesting or tedious.

Probably a tangent here but this is why Bela Bartok wrote Mikrokosmos specifically as studies for young pianists. They are frequently atonal, easy to play early while progressively becoming more complex as the player improves, and fun to belt the crap out of some major 7ths left hand while tinkling away at some slightly abstract pissed peasant dance with the right hand. Anyways, the end result is designed to expand horizons before you hook into the tram track of Mozart sounding pretty for a little while (at least for the duration of the commercial break) and Paul McCartney being fun to sing along with. All piano teachers should bring out the Bartok for bored 5 year olds alongside your well-tempered clavier stuff so that later in life you can sit through Death and Transfiguration without pissing off your near side concert hall neighbours by constantly scratching at your psoriasis.

As for the Bach conundrum my guess is that it’s the second.
 

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Anyway the bit about training and exposure making different music sound different depending on the listener is spot on.
Fascinating, isn't it? (I think so). Especially when we start looking outside of Western music.

I went and saw this dude named Ustad Saami once, he's the last person on earth who performs this type of religious music from Pakistan outlawed centuries ago, and it uses a 49-note musical scale. Fourty nine!!! That's at least double the notes Beethoven used, more even!!!!! Anyway I figured it would sound a little disconcerting and it was, but I could almost feel my brain unravel it while I was listening to it, and I really loved it by the end.

I couldn't help but think afterwards, what people thought of it, how does eastern classical music translate to people who never heard it? I guess anything microtonal makes sense for people who are trained musicians a little more than others, because of sensitivity to pitch, but even in a globalised world I wonder if this just sounds like rubbish to people, like some kind of ethnic background noise, kinda like how classical music it's mostly just wallpaper to me. It's a shame, isn't it.

I have lots of Bartok in my house, I'll have to give it a whirl one day, maybe that's the best place to start for a philistine like me :)
 

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Fascinating, isn't it? (I think so). Especially when we start looking outside of Western music.

I went and saw this dude named Ustad Saami once, he's the last person on earth who performs this type of religious music from Pakistan outlawed centuries ago, and it uses a 49-note musical scale. Fourty nine!!! That's at least double the notes Beethoven used, more even!!!!! Anyway I figured it would sound a little disconcerting and it was, but I could almost feel my brain unravel it while I was listening to it, and I really loved it by the end.

I couldn't help but think afterwards, what people thought of it, whether it was noise, how does eastern classical music translate to people who never heard it? I guess anything microtonal makes sense for people who are trained musicians a little more than others, because of sensitivity to pitch, but even in a globalised world I wonder if this just sounds like rubbish to people, like some kind of ethnic background noise, kinda like how classical music it's mostly just wallpaper to me. It's a shame, isn't it.

I have lots of Bartok in my house, I'll have to give it a whirl one day, maybe that's the best place to start for a philistine like me :)
My parents had ABC classic FM (or whatever it was called back then) on literally dawn to bedtime when I was growing up, other than when we ritually watched ABC TV regardless of the content. We occasionally branched out to SBS earnest subtitled things with a reputation as ‘seminal films’. Not a bad life really but I had some superb teenage tantrums when I was the only kid in the class who hadn’t seen 21 Jump Street because we were silently appreciating Waiting For Godot in Japanese.

Anyways - there was one radio thing each week - reruns of some BBC show about “World Music”. As a developing solid citizen I tried very hard to follow to demonstrate my commitment to multiculturalism and diversity, but to this day I can’t enjoy the 30 minutes of Sephardic Jewish wailing, or some ancient Chinese string thingy sliding about with a bizarre gong. And the Inuit hyper panting is beyond me altogether. This must be a cultural exposure thing, because the alternative is to dismiss more than half the people on the planet as stupid or mad.

These days I’ve just come to terms with the fact that it’s very hard to overcome your conditioning and literally dictates how you see and hear the world
 

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My parents had ABC classic FM (or whatever it was called back then) on literally dawn to bedtime when I was growing up, other than when we ritually watched ABC TV regardless of the content. We occasionally branched out to SBS earnest subtitled things with a reputation as ‘seminal films’. Not a bad life really but I had some superb teenage tantrums when I was the only kid in the class who hadn’t seen 21 Jump Street because we were silently appreciating Waiting For Godot in Japanese.

Anyways - there was one radio thing each week - reruns of some BBC show about “World Music”. As a developing solid citizen I tried very hard to follow to demonstrate my commitment to multiculturalism and diversity, but to this day I can’t enjoy the 30 minutes of Sephardic Jewish wailing, or some ancient Chinese string thingy sliding about with a bizarre gong. And the Inuit hyper panting is beyond me altogether. This must be a cultural exposure thing, because the alternative is to dismiss more than half the people on the planet as stupid or mad.

These days I’ve just come to terms with the fact that it’s very hard to overcome your conditioning and literally dictates how you see and hear the world
That's really funny. I'm the total opposite, my parents lived in a cave most of their lives so once we landed here we sucked up as much western culture as we could- Terminator 2, Michael Jordon, MTV, MacDonalds. Probably why I bolted in the opposite direction as soon as I could.

My wife is mad on Classic FM, so my little guy hears a lot of it, and thus I try really hard to balance it out with 12 hour Gamelan pieces and really intense Hasidic wailing as often as possible.

Classic FM is really good though, as I said before, I really like the contemporary stuff, the programming on that station is really good.
 

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That's really funny. I'm the total opposite, my parents lived in a cave most of their lives so once we landed here we sucked up as much western culture as we could- Terminator 2, Michael Jordon, MTV, MacDonalds. Probably why I bolted in the opposite direction as soon as I could.

My wife is mad on Classic FM, so my little guy hears a lot of it, and thus I try really hard to balance it out with 12 hour Gamelan pieces and really intense Hasidic wailing as often as possible.

Classic FM is really good though, as I said before, I really like the contemporary stuff, the programming on that station is really good.
I love the way so many of the announcers speak strangely slowly with weird pauses like

“that was … Schubert … String Quintet … the great … … quintet… … of course ……….by Schubert featuring … of course ……… the Emerson ……quartet and … the great………..Rostropovich………”

No idea why they do that but it makes an interesting contrast to the shock jock trade
 

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That's really funny. I'm the total opposite, my parents lived in a cave most of their lives so once we landed here we sucked up as much western culture as we could- Terminator 2, Michael Jordon, MTV, MacDonalds. Probably why I bolted in the opposite direction as soon as I could.

My wife is mad on Classic FM, so my little guy hears a lot of it, and thus I try really hard to balance it out with 12 hour Gamelan pieces and really intense Hasidic wailing as often as possible.

Classic FM is really good though, as I said before, I really like the contemporary stuff, the programming on that station is really good.
That’s top notch parenting I reckon!

I would sort of like to see the results of some weird experiment where a child is raised from zero to 10 on nothing but Scarlatti harpsichord works, another entirely on Stock Aitken Waterman stuff, another on Frank Zapper etc. and see how it all pans out. Even better would to include some separated at birth twins in there somewhere. I think this would be against about 40 human rights laws though so I’ll stick to just wondering.
 

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My old man is a total classical head, he's seen The Ring at Beyreuth twice. His obsession put me off classical music growing up, you don't take twelve year olds to see The Flying Dutchman ffs.
 

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My old man is a total classical head, he's seen The Ring at Beyreuth twice. His obsession put me off classical music growing up, you don't take twelve year olds to see The Flying Dutchman ffs.
LOL.

I sat next to some old codger at Roger Waters, had his a teen daughter in a BATHORY shirt and an even younger son who was miffed he couldn't read his comic books once the lights went off. Cool dad was gesticulating wildly in the intermission, "Told you! Told you! Best band ever!!!!" totally oblivious to how bored and embarrassed his kids were. Probably ruined Pink Floyd for the poor *ers.

Anyway what do you do, babysitting is expensive, if my guy doesn't want to come to shows when he's 12 * him, he can save his paper round and pay for a nanny himself.
 

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