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The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth? (Read 510 times)

Offline chipia

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The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
« on: April 23, 2021, 10:58:40 AM »
Hi,

I would like to introduce you to an exciting experiment that I discovered.

It's about the Dutch composer Alexander Comitas. He wanted to test whether the modern atonal art music, which is usually promoted nowadays, can be distinguished from banging random keys on the piano.

For this purpose he "composed" a piece called "Bubbles" by letting his young children, who had no musical education, play random notes on the keyboard. In the end, the children only divided the notes among the instruments. However, the composer did not tell anyone how the piece was made.

And indeed: Alexander Comitas received a grant of 3000 for this composition! The jury, which consisted of a composer, a musicologist and a conductor, found the piece to be of high quality and even better than the previous (mostly tonal) compositions by Comitas.

You can take a closer look at the story under the following links:


https://aristos.org/aris-13/bubblesetc.htm



And here the composition Bubbles:



What do you think about this? I find the experiment very exciting, as it confirms exactly what I had been thinking for a long time: Most modern classical music can hardly be distinguished from random notes.
I have seriously studied the composition methods of modern composers like Boulez and Xenakis, but came to the conclusion: No matter how "structured" these compositions seem on paper, they are irrelevant for the listener, since these structures are simply not audible.

However, instead of criticizing these compositions constructively, advocates of atonal music are amazed at the "complex" and "innovative" structures of the compositions - even if they do not exist, as the Bubbles experiment shows.


I think that such pranks should be performed more often so that it becomes clear that the avantgarde mentality is causing damage to modern classical music and hindering the development of new music that actually shows musical understanding.

What do you think?

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #1 on: April 23, 2021, 04:51:18 PM »
Just because a piece is written in complex modern style, doesn't in and of itself mean that it is Not music... Schoenberg bemoaned that (finally) he thought that the obsession with cracking the codes (analysis) of his pieces got in the way of Hearing the music.
In all styles there are good and bad pieces.. It is up to the listener to determine the worth of any particular piece.  Making grand statements can serve as comic relief, but offers little insight into the particulars - upon which characterize whether a piece works for one's ear or not.
Admittedly, there is an abundance of the emperor's new clothes in the 20th century, but the search for meaning can be a very tricky path for a composer.
Picasso said he spent his lifetime trying to get back to "painting like a child."
And just because children extemporized This piece that is mentioned, doesn't mean that there isn't some form - in the way of rhythmical and motivic phrasing - to be observed in the written transcription.  It isn't Just "random."
Perhaps a fitting end to this reply is a selection from Ferneyhough - a modern composer,
 - but one must get through the first 33 seconds - to get it.:)


Coda: Here's a piece written in the 21st century - modern style. Is this hard to grasp?
https://soundcloud.com/gregoriox88/string-quartet-1-mov-1-revis-fnl-l-yes
4'33"

Offline lelle

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #2 on: April 23, 2021, 09:25:15 PM »
I knew it! It has finally been proven  ;D

In all seriousness, though, I am not a fan of this type of contemporary music. But if some people find it stimulating and an enhancement to their life, either in making it or listening to it, the more power to them. The music is meant for them, not me. No music is more or less valid than any other, in my opinion.

Since I like listening to more structured music where there is a melody, even if that melody can even be discordant or ugly sometimes, I would prefer if more contemporary music was written in that vein. But in the meantime, I got plenty of great music from the past, and great music created by non-classical musicians (i.e. bands) to listen to.

Offline ranjit

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #3 on: April 23, 2021, 10:03:41 PM »
I actually like the second one, Jaggedly Floating. Even though the process was random, it's surprising that it has a direction, and I would say there is a melody in the part I mention, at least I can follow it. It's a bit hard to convey over text, but try to hear the melody and follow it. There is repetition and fragmentary development, in the sense of having an idea and then repeating it in slightly different ways. Also, the swells seem quite naturally placed. It actually feels surprisingly coherent. Try it.

Maybe his kids were atonal child prodigies ;D

Offline ranjit

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #4 on: April 23, 2021, 10:27:44 PM »

This is awesome haha. What is the background? I can't seem to find information about this track online. What's the name of the piece?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #5 on: April 24, 2021, 02:09:05 AM »
It is a nice experiment but to my ears the piece written by his children and edited a little by himself sounds like random notes. Some "new" music can also sort of sound random too but the overall musical picture is still there, or you get some kind of emotional response to it. When you listen to random notes it just sounds like a confused mess and you often don't feel any other emotions but question marks in your head.

There is painted art which costs millions of dollars but anyone could do it or just looks like someone flung paint off from a rooftop aiming it at the canvas. If you want really craziness it is all in the art world ahha!
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline klavieronin

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #6 on: April 24, 2021, 03:21:39 AM »
To me it sounded pretty much like what it was. I wonder if the adjudicators were informed of the complete process when they awarded him the "commission in retrospect". In a way it is an interesting idea and obviously took a lot of work. Perhaps that is what he was awarded for. In any case, it seems more like conceptual art than music to me. Nothing wrong with that, but I have no desire to hear it again.

I do think though that a lot of really interesting contemporary music can sound random to many people simple because they are unfamiliar with the style. Take this piece for example. I heard this live in Paris years ago and I was blown away. Many people I have played it for were far less impressed, to say the least.


Offline lelle

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #7 on: April 26, 2021, 04:33:04 PM »
That sort of stuff just makes me uncomfortable and annoyed  ;D What is it about it that blows you away? I mean that with all due respect, as I think all types of music are equally valid. I just don't get why someone likes this.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: The "Bubbles" Experiment - What is contemporary music worth?
«Reply #8 on: May 06, 2021, 12:18:35 AM »
That sort of stuff just makes me uncomfortable and annoyed  ;D What is it about it that blows you away? I mean that with all due respect, as I think all types of music are equally valid. I just don't get why someone likes this.

Sorry for the late reply. It's possible that if the title of this work wasn't "Professor Bad Trip" I might be less impressed. But what I like so much about it is that it perfectly captures what I imagine a bad trip would be like. It's colourful, chaotic, full of dread, and when I listen to it it evokes all kinds of images and feelings. If you listen properly it takes you on a real journey, though to be honest, I don't think you get quite the same effect listening to a recording compared to seeing it performed live.