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Why does early music suck? (Read 2258 times)

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Why does early music suck?
« on: January 08, 2016, 12:39:35 AM »
Why does early music suck? Does it suck? Or are there hidden gems out there? If so, please share!

Offline mjames

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #1 on: January 08, 2016, 12:54:02 AM »
You mean like paleolithic music?

Offline outin

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #2 on: January 08, 2016, 06:08:50 AM »
Why does early music suck? Does it suck? Or are there hidden gems out there? If so, please share!

How early?

Offline irrational

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #3 on: January 08, 2016, 09:29:14 AM »
Do you mean Rennaisance music(Byrd, Monteverdi, Palestrina)? Or Medieval(von Bingen)?
Assuming you are of course talking about western music and its development into classical music.

Musical ideas took some years to develop as well as establishment of new instruments allowing wider ranges of notes and sounds. Also, I would guess the fact that those who could write down music were closely aligned to religion so the music likely serves a specific purpose and had a specific kind of feel to it that may not appeal to most.

Middle Baroque has some really excellent music. Jean Lully, Marin Marais etc.

That said, a LOT of the amazing music is based on folk music which does qualify as early music, doesn't it?

What do you mean by "suck"? Boring rhythms? Simple melodies? Slow tempos? Not conforming to your current musical appreciation?
I don't know music history, so I don't know about the development of Melodic monophonic music and Harmonic polyphonic music and how it relates to periods in music. But polyphony was certainly around in medieval music and would have been interesting.

Personally I don't really like listening to religious vocal music as a fair amount of the commonly recorded older music seems to be, but that does not make it bad music.
I can not listen to pre-17th century music a lot at a time as I get bored, but I will also not listen to Gorecki or Glass much for the same reason.

The richness and complexity of late classical and early romantic seems to be the sweet spot for most people, purposefully evoking a whole range of emotional responses. Even then not all people liked the music of some composers pushing the boundaries of what can be done with music.

I think your question can open a long and interesting debate on why music at a time is what it is. The influence of normal life on musicians. What music was for. What it had to be to make a living etc. Perhaps someone more versed in history can say something about making a living as musician and trying to come up with new and wonderful music to stand out (classical+) vs creating music as part of normal day to day chores (Baroque and earlier?)?

Offline quantum

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #4 on: January 08, 2016, 09:34:25 AM »
Can you elaborate about what you think sucks about the music.  Are we just talking personal taste, or is there something more specific you are referring to?

What do you mean by early music?  Any date ranges in mind?
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline jimroof

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #5 on: January 08, 2016, 02:26:41 PM »
Why does early music suck? Does it suck? Or are there hidden gems out there? If so, please share!

Because it wakes you up?
Chopin Ballades
Chopin Scherzos 2 and 3
Mephisto Waltz 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto 3
Schumann Concerto Am
Ginastera Piano Sonata
L'isle Joyeuse
Feux d'Artifice
Prokofiev Sonata Dm

Offline visitor

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016, 02:47:22 PM »
this stuff is old. super rad. origins back to 6th century or so i believe. i love listening to and watching this stuff.


Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #7 on: January 08, 2016, 08:43:25 PM »
my favorite medieval Chanson...  this is one they played for us in music history it is a French song about Robin Hood and Maid Marion



why does medieval keyboard music suck?  because the keyboard was more of a basso continuo type thing and not the far more complex contrapuntal instrument it became in the Baroque era.  

they still used Pythagorean tuning which meant retuning for each new key--this put serious limitations on composition in general...I really can't imagine how difficult that must have been... early music is just .... different.   Medieval and Renaissance music history is a real pregnant dog of a class,  too. You think it sounds bad? try reading it in it's original notation.  ??? :)

Offline marijnhartkamp210999

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #8 on: January 08, 2016, 10:17:03 PM »
Well, first ask yourself the question about why you think it "sucks" (which is a term I would advice you to always avoid whilst talking about classical music, except for music by those 19th century composers like Carl Reinecke, Julius Röntgen, Emil von Sauer, you get the idea right?) so much, which, in this case, of course means that it sucks for you. It might perfectly well be that someone else really enjoys this music more than much of the more known classical music, but I digress.

So, as I said before: why do you think this music sucks, and did you really dive into it thoroughly enough to make this decision for you? With a lot of music, the case is that one needs more than just one listening session to get a feeling for the piece and it may very well be that one will start to enjoy a certain piece after several listening sessions. With another lot of music, the case is that it is to complex for one to enjoy it. Whatever the case, find out for yourself why you think this music doesn't please you and then, if you have found the answer to that question, you will be able to have a serious discussion with other people about it.

Please, don't take this as an offense. I mean, you might have already come up with the reasons, but then, you should definitely post them here so others can help you out more. Because if I would say I don't like this music either, it can still very well be so that my reasons for it are very different from yours.

As for me, I personally like a lot of music from the 1400's to the 1600's since the art of counterpoint really began to develop in this period (and I happen to be extremely fond of contrapuntal music). If I would have to give you some suggestions, I would definitely recommend the music of Palestrina, Byrd, Gibbons, Sweelinck, Despréz and Von Bingen.

BW,
Marijn

Offline zpianist

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #9 on: January 09, 2016, 07:14:40 AM »
Knowing you, I'm going to ask these questions:
Are you for real?
Are you trolling?

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #10 on: January 09, 2016, 07:54:25 AM »
Well, first ask yourself the question about why you think it "sucks" (which is a term I would advice you to always avoid whilst talking about classical music, except for music by those 19th century composers like Carl Reinecke, Julius Röntgen, Emil von Sauer, you get the idea right?)

Hmmm, you pick on 3 of the great romantic piano concerto composers. Rather devalues the rest of your post unless this was an attemp at humour.

Thal
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Offline marijnhartkamp210999

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #11 on: January 09, 2016, 02:48:28 PM »
Hmmm, you pick on 3 of the great romantic piano concerto composers. Rather devalues the rest of your post unless this was an attemp at humour.

Well, I'm sorry but it is simply my opinion. Now, it happens to be so that I have a general dislike of classical music between 1830 and 1880 or so, with the exceptions for a few such as Brahms, some Mendelssohn and some Grieg. I happen to think that in this (roughly) fifty years the destruction of the musical experience got to it's completion, that is, a destruction that began some fifty years before that again.

I'm talking here about the period which, as I said before, began around the 1780's where the involvement of people with music in itself became increasingly limited. Let me give you an example. In Bach's time the idea of performing music slowly came to live. Before that, music was written for several other purposes, none of which included performing it to please an audience. Music was written for teaching purposes or (and mostly) religious purposes. When the idea of performing music for an audience as a way of amusement came to live, people became less and less interested with the music itself. The reason they were so excited to go to the concert hall to listen to a new piece by this or that composer, was not because they were so excited how to piece would sound - although this of course also played a role - but rather the whole experience of the concert hall itself. The dimmed lights, the performer (which in that time usually also was the composer) coming on the stage and actually playing the piece that he himself had written. At least that's my opinion.

I think that you have those performers which want to show there audience what they can do with their instrument and show a direct link between them and their instrument - in our time, these would be performers such as Lang Lang or Evgeny Kissin - and those performers which want to show a direct link between them and the piece they are playing. And they are not playing the piece because it was written for a piano, but because it links to them and it reaches for something deeper inside themselves which makes them feel these links. That's also why I think it is completely appropriate to make transcriptions of music which was originally written for other instruments, although it turns out less effective a lot of times.

I happen to be one of those performers of the last category, and to be honest with you, this is exactly the reason why I don't like this period generally, keep in mind "generally", there are a few exceptions. And to be even more honest with you, I don't think anything more of the before mentioned composers as people who weren't concerned with writing beautiful music, but with writting music which would allow them to show their technical abilities. And trust me, I have read many books and have done a lot of research before I concluded this for myself.

BW,
Marijn

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #12 on: January 09, 2016, 04:15:31 PM »
Marijn, Thal himself tends to "devalue" (to say the least) any music that doesn't fit (stylistically) into that 50 year window that you mention "1830 -1880"… and even within that window, he is very picky..  watch out for his potty humor, which should be forthcoming..
Cheers!
Theme
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Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #13 on: January 09, 2016, 04:56:01 PM »
Now, it happens to be so that I have a general dislike of classical music between 1830 and 1880 or so, with the exceptions for a few such as Brahms, some Mendelssohn and some Grieg. 

Well, the 3 composers you mention were hardly at the cutting edge of the romantic movement, so it seems the romantics are not for you. I doubt if Henselt, Thalberg, Liszt or Alkan could change your stance, but it might be worth a try.

The real destruction of music happened in the 20th Century.

Thal

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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #14 on: January 09, 2016, 05:03:09 PM »
Marijn, Thal himself tends to "devalue" (to say the least) any music that doesn't fit (stylistically) into that 50 year window that you mention "1830 -1880"… and even within that window, he is very picky.. 

Those years comprise the bulk of my interest, albeit I am a little more relaxed about plinkers than I used to be and i have developed a bit of a crush on Woelfl.

The pre Bach stuff does not really interest me, especially if played on silly little period instruments that sound like a kiddies xylophone class. Much of what i have heard it terribly constrained by form and the feeble power of the weedy keyboards of the time.

Thal
Curator/Director
Concerto Preservation Society

Offline ahinton

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #15 on: January 09, 2016, 05:22:36 PM »
Well, the 3 composers you mention were hardly at the cutting edge of the romantic movement, so it seems the romantics are not for you. I doubt if Henselt, Thalberg, Liszt or Alkan could change your stance, but it might be worth a try.

The real destruction of music happened in the 20th Century.
"Destruction" of what music? I had not noticed that any pre-20th century music was "destroyed" by antying in the 20th century itself - very much the reverse, in fact, since there are now far more performances of pre-020th century music than was the case in 1901!

If Liszt and Alkan don't change the minds of detractors of the Romantic movement, there's no hope for them, I'd say.

Best,

Alistair
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Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #16 on: January 09, 2016, 05:29:53 PM »
Thank you Prof Plinker ;D

Thal
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline marijnhartkamp210999

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #17 on: January 09, 2016, 06:04:07 PM »
Well, the 3 composers you mention were hardly at the cutting edge of the romantic movement, so it seems the romantics are not for you. I doubt if Henselt, Thalberg, Liszt or Alkan could change your stance, but it might be worth a try.

The real destruction of music happened in the 20th Century.

Thal



I know they aren't on the cutting edge, but that doesn't matter for me. It is about their understanding of the art of counterpoint that differs them from other romantic composers for me. Brahms being able to combine standards from the classical period music, counterpoint and romantic elements, fascinates me very much.

BW,
Marijn

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #18 on: January 09, 2016, 10:34:38 PM »
Tbr, I don't think early music "sucks"; I just used that word to get attention.
But actually, I don't like much early music; it sounds confusing to me.
 

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #19 on: January 10, 2016, 02:29:54 PM »
I just used that word to get attention.

 

lol.

Offline outin

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #20 on: January 11, 2016, 05:30:16 AM »

The real destruction of music happened in the 20th Century.

Thal


From destruction comes creation :)

Offline ahinton

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #21 on: January 11, 2016, 12:57:39 PM »
Thank you Prof Plinker
As I've seen no contribution to this thread from a "Prof Plinker" member, it is unclear whom you are thanking or indeed for what, but I would nevertheless like to take this opportunity to correct two typos in my own most recent one here, namely that "antying" should have read "anything" and "pre-020th century" should have read "pre-20th century".

Best,

Alistair
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The Sorabji Archive

Offline brogers70

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #22 on: January 11, 2016, 01:05:20 PM »
Tbr, I don't think early music "sucks"; I just used that word to get attention.
But actually, I don't like much early music; it sounds confusing to me.
 

Don't think of it as the same thing as "classical" music. It's a totally different world from Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Stravinsky, etc. Even quite a different world from Bach.

If you give some examples of the sort of early music you don't like, or if you can be more specific about what sort of early music sound confusing to you, I could try to give a more specific answer, or suggest ways to listen to it that you might find interesting. I love music from before the Baroque; I think of it as almost a completely different art form than common practice period classical music. There's lots of wonderful stuff there.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #23 on: January 11, 2016, 07:28:54 PM »
.

If you give some examples of the sort of early music you don't like, or if you can be more specific about what sort of early music sound confusing to you, I could try to give a more specific answer, or suggest ways to listen to it that you might find interesting. I love music from before the Baroque; I think of it as almost a completely different art form than common practice period classical music. There's lots of wonderful stuff there.

I agree... very well said.


what "early music" are you referring to?

this?  


or
   (a gem btw)

or this guy

ttps://youtu.be/I5fYXDsh_YU   another GEM!


the human voice--the most perfect of all instruments...

here's one on period instruments.... I can see the term "suck" being applied to the instrumentation...  just listen for a second...lol

   



Offline brogers70

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #24 on: January 11, 2016, 10:09:35 PM »
I'm not sure I can change your mind on early music, but here are a few thoughts.

An awful lot of early music is religious. You certainly don't have to be Christian to like it (I'm an atheist), but it helps a lot to know the stories and some of the theology and to be willing to engage in a "willing suspension of disbelief" while you listen. It matters because so much of the music is vocal, and because the texts are integral parts of the music.

So here's a ridiculously, outrageously simplified way to think of early music. You start with Ambrosian and Gregorian chants, single melodic lines. Even these can be beautiful (a bunch of sexually repressed monks can put a lot of sublimated passion and longing into a melisma). Eventually musicians wanted to do more than chant so you start getting accompanying voices, initially just in parallel fifths from the original chant. Then, people start getting bolder, looking for separate melodies that will sound good along with the original chant. Then, maybe, melodies that can be sung in canon along with the chant and still all fit together.

At a certain point you end up with a single voice doing the chant (now called the cantus firmus) and the other voices singing elaborate contrapuntal things around the cantus firmus. "Tenor" means "the guy holding on to something" and in this setting, the tenor was the guy holding on to the cantus firmus. Lots of Renaissance and Baroque music has a cantus firmus; Bach used them often, but got them from Lutheran hymn tunes rather than straight from gregorian chant. Eventually folks started writing sacred motets from which the cantus firmus had disappeared, leaving just a contrapuntal, imitative texture, but the cantus firmus held on for a long time.

Another device a bit like the cantus firmus in a way is the basso ostinato, a short figure in the bass that repeats over and over while progressively more complicated and interesting stuff happens in the upper voices. There are lots of examples from early music, but Bach used it commonly to; it's what holds the famous Chaconne for solo violin together.

So here are a few examples of what I think are interesting bits of early music.

This is the section "Deposuit potentes" from the Magnificat section of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers. A couple of things; first you have a vocal cantus firmus surrounded by instrumental counterpoint. There's typical Early music word painting here. The text is "And he set down the mighty from their seat, and lifted up the humble." Along with text on the mighty is a duet by cornetti, very proud and mighty sounding, but fluttering downward at the end; and with the text about the humble there's a much gentler, humbler violin duet accompanying the cantus firmus line.



For excellent word painting of the text, here is a brief sacred symphony by Heinrich Schutz. The text is "I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved to tell him that I languish from love.) Note the intense erotic chromaticism (or chromatic eroticism) at the end on the setting of the words "amore langueo."



For a purely vocal example, here is William Byrd's motet "Ne irascaris," the text begging God to have mercy on the destroyed city of Jerusalem and its people.  A bit Job-like for me, but an excellent depiction of desolation.



Here's a particularly chromatic and modern sounding one. Gesualdo's motet "Quivi sospiri" based on Dante's description of his first sight of the Inferno. Word painting and text setting to the max.

The music is here


and the text from the Inferno here, starting in the 8th stanza http://italian.about.com/library/anthology/dante/blinferno003.htm

To go a bit earlier here is the Ave Maria of Josquin Desprez. It's full of canonic duets, complex rhythms, and some word painting. The shift back to a homophonic texture at the very end on the words "O Mater Dei, memento mei" O mother of God remember me particularly with the upward octave leap in the bass, are pretty moving, if you like this sort of thing.



Earlier still, Dufay's Gloria ad modum tubae just for the fun of the sounds themselves (just the first piece on the recording).



And, just to show something non-vocal, a lute fantasy by John Dowland, basically a theme and variations.



One more, an example of the basso ostinato I mentioned (and some word painting), Monteverdi's Zefiro Torna



So I don't know if any of this will appeal to you, if it doesn't, well, different strokes for different folks. But if the last example doesn't make you want to dance, I don't know what will.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #25 on: January 11, 2016, 11:42:34 PM »
(a bunch of sexually repressed monks can put a lot of sublimated passion and longing into a melisma). .

oh... so that's why Gregorian chant is such great make-out music. lol   all those melismas...some of them go on for pages -- and it's just one word...  hee hee hee... seriously frustrated monks..

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Re: Why does early music suck?
«Reply #26 on: January 12, 2016, 01:18:44 AM »
oh... so that's why Gregorian chant is such great make-out music. lol   all those melismas...some of them go on for pages -- and it's just one word...  hee hee hee... seriously frustrated monks..

lol ;D