Best time in history to be a classical music listener

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Missing points, looking for rules, making judgements...

I do not believe I am missing the point, Jane, since I do not believe in the incredible qualities of "taste" but rather of our brain capacity to realise what is good or bad based on some points of reference ("rules" may be called in the conservatories).

We agree that the melody, form, orchestration etc. constitute the elements of the identity of the composition. The difference is that you claim that there are no rules to determine whether the melody or the orchestration or the form of the work in question is good, because there are no rules and the only way to determine a good melody from a bad one is through experience, comparison etc. Fair enough, so far. However, how can you explain the judgement of a novice in music (not even in Classical Music), when, listening to a Mozart's work hails "what a beautiful melody", "what a wonderful work"? What does he have as a comparison or related experience?

So, now we go back to the properties of the score of the work which is the passport of the actual composition to come to life through performances. Based on what you claim, someone who can read and analyse the score cannot identify whether this score is a great one or not. If this is the case, then, it means that the work practically has no identity except a name. However, all the musicians I know express immediately their views by reading a score, pointing the advantages, deficiancies etc. of it. And they do that because there are some points of reference about when a melody is good, how an orchestration works, whether the form allows the narrative of the work to advance smoothly and many more.

So going to the rules: Almost all the First Movements of instrumental Music in the Classical era and onwards is based on the Sonata Form. Does this form have any rules? Something about an Introduction, two themes key-related, a development section, the recapitulation of the two themes (back in the main key of the work) and a Coda. Based on these "rules" (unless you have another term), one can identify if the development is weak, short, less inspired or well-advanced, well-integrated, whether the modulations are fine (there is something called the Art of modulation), whether the coda is inspired enough to become a second chance for another shorter but brilliant development (see Beethoven). Likewise, a good orchestration is not a matter of comparing or having experience only. It is studied extensively in the conservatories and among experts and can be pursued. Likewise, the melody.

My point is that through relevant information, by listening carefully, by sharing views with musicians etc., one can identify what a work of music is and what it represents in terms of its value. His/her own judgement about how great or bad he/she finds it and how much he/she might "like" it or anything in between is his/her personal quest irrelevant of the real value of the work, which, however, should be taken into consideration in the process of any judgement.

Parla

 

Anesthetic

Parla, if it is fair enough to determine a good melody from bad thru experience, then it should be fair to have disagreements, since experience differs.

Orchestration in and of itself is not a definitive criterion of good or bad. As we discussed earlier, an orchestral arrangement may not have a high value.

I believe you can name works without sonata form that have high value, and works with the form that have low value. So this is also not a definitive criterion.

If one believes a work is good but does not like it, so be it. But it may be fair to ask how convinced and sincere that belief is.

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

Based on what you claim, someone who can read and analyse the score cannot identify whether this score is a great one or not.

Not at all. You have evidently misunderstood my argument. Of course, you can tell whether a piece of music is good from the score. But not through "rules".

I notice you are now backing off from your original claim. I do hope this isn't going to be another "language" problem. You said there were rules. Well, what are they? That is the crux of the matter. My view is that there aren't rules, but there are still judgements based on expertise and experience. 

If you can't provide a rule, perhaps you ought to retract your claim altogether.

Awakening.

Tjh, how can one determine a good melody from a bad one only throu experience, if there is no point of reference ("rules"), on which grounds and how safe or valid this statement can be?

The orchestration and the Sonata Form were referred as examples of some very important aspects of a composition that are determined as good or bad on the basis of the rules that define their function. In this respect, I mentioned the basic rules of the Sonata Form, where one can notice how the two themes are well related, how the development section is elaborated in relation to the themes, the way the coda is treated (in some cases brilliant composers like Beethoven used it as a chance for a second development) and so on.

I never implied that the works in Sonata Form have by definition a better value than those who are not written in this form. The definitive criterion is not the type of form but how well the composer used this form following (or even developing further) the rules of the form. In Haydn's (Forte)Piano Sonata in A flat major (an early but very remarquable for its innovative concept and ideas work), the composer uses in a brief transition the relative minor (f minor) during the exposition but before the development, while for the slow movement does not opt for the most reasonable dominant (E flat) or the relative minor or even the parallel key (a flat minor) but for the subdominant (D flat major)! The result is a most original, uniquely beautiful slow movement with new ideas well incorporated in the form and the narrative of the work despite the density in the harmony and the complexity in the unfolding of the movement through amazing modulations in order to reach at the end this unique for the Classical period key.

It is not surprising, however, if a listener, although he/she identifies all these great features of the composition, does not "like" it because of its complexity of writing, for example. He/she can be sincere and convinced till further listening and exposure to the work.

Parla

Second reading.

I have the conviction that you misread my (long) post, Jane.

In my post #45, responding to tjh, I somehow provide some answers to you...once more.

I never back off from my original position. If the Sonata Form has specific rules to be identified and evaluated (I've mentioned them already in two posts), like the use of variations form or the rondo or the fugue etc., what else do you need?

Parla

 

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

What else do you need?

Parla

A rule. You haven't stated one yet. Write one out in full, so we can see what you are talking about. If they exist, it must be possible to articulate one.

Simply describing the

Simply describing the technical aspects of a piece isn't a rule! It's just a description!

FRamework

If the point of reference is exemplified by, say, the content of the Haydn Sonata, it may lead to two undesirable outcomes: Too specific such that one can only speak about this work, or too general - anyone could write a sonata with the formula you described.

Schoolboy Errors

I think I know the source of parla's confusion, tjh: he is mistaking the "rules" you use to learn and teach in a music college etc, with the very different approach you take when you judge a work of art.

I was remembering the little bit of compositional training I had. It is highly "rule" based. You must start with the tonic major. Your first phrase must be 4 bars long etc. Your first modulation must be to the relative minor etc. Over time, the rules become more complex and also more relaxed.

If, say, you are "doing" a fugue, you learn many rules. First entry in this key; second entry a sixth above etc.........

The purpose of these "rules" is principally pedagogic. They help students learn and help teachers assess. That must be why Parla keeps going on about rules. But no-one in their right mind would take these out of the conservatoire and try and use them to judge Beethoven or Schubert. Real art transcends any stated "rules". Once you set up a rule, you have to accept that the next generation of artists will break them. That is partly what I meant be "uncodifiable". You have to face the work of art on your own and make up your own mind. You cannot consult a manual to tell you what to feel or think. You have to use your experience to make a judgement - and this judgement cannot be reduced to a ticklist of rules.

Also, these "rules" were not rules for the composers who apparently used them. They are just basic principles which future musicologists found when they analysed the works - common elements etc. You can't judge a work by its adherence to them, the way you might judge a chess player if they made a false move. You have to take the piece as it is and judge it on its own merits.

Passed by but not...

Only at face value it could be called a description, Jane. Actually, I do not describe but only mention certain parts of the brilliant use of a Piano Sonata and a Sonata form movement, pinpointing how within the relevant rules, Haydn can excell without even breaking them!

Parla

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