Modern

This marks for many, the end of music as we know it!! It’s the stuff that if played in public, people might turn around and tell you to turn that rubbish off. It’s the time where we questioned what music really is. What’s the difference between music and noise? Where is the point that music changes from music to just a big din? It’s a difficult one and is also something paralleled in the rock world.

I guess the start may be somewhere around Wagner. His romantic style was SO romantic that we were beginning to lose a sense of key. He introduced so much chromaticsm (out of key notes) that it became very difficult to always know whether the music was actually in a key!! Wagner was a big operatic romantic.

Soon, a new movement stepped in. The wonderful Stravinsky with his use of Russian folk tunes (as in Romantic) but also the sheer violence of his ‘Rite of Spring’ which actually had the audience in uproar; ending in a punch up. More about this in the posts later!!

It was violent, ugly, and the sheer aggression portrayed in this music was almost prehistoric in nature. It has the power to move people as well as disgust them. However, once you start to learn the principles behind its composition and how it was put together, you realise that he hadn’t lost his marbles. There was a real logic and reason for what he was doing.

Following this descriptive and colourful music, there were also experiments in mathematical music and the use of ‘foreign’ scales plus the invention of the serial technique which takes us further into the realms of what is acceptable as music.

For many people, this is a difficult era of music to listen to.

Modern composers like Steve Reich and Frank Zappa managed to popularise modern orchestral music  through different routes and musical ideas started to cross over between the rock world and the orchestral world.

You will see some rock bands such as The Human League using what are known as minimalist techniques, taken directly from Steve Reich and Frank Zappa taking rock based ideas into the orchestral world in his transcriptions and orchestral pieces.

It can be fascinating but in order to appreciate this music, you need more of an understanding into what is actually going on. Headphones are ideal, because the wife probably won’t appreciate a lot of the sounds emanating from your hi fi!!

I’m open to any music and will always give things at least one listen. As far as my tastes go, I have my favourites, but they all come from different eras and for different reasons. It is necessary to keep a very open mind when listening to some modern music and not judge until you know and perhaps understand more of what is actually going on rather than listen out for a lovely tune!! You will probably be very disappointed if you are listening for lovely tunes most of the time in fact and will tend to move over to modern rock which may well be much more acceptable to you than modern orchestral. More later.

For a start, try ‘The Rite of Spring’ by Stravinsky. It’s just 30 minutes of terror. Listen for the rhythms and don’t feel too guilty. Don’t forget, it started a punch up in the concert hall and Ravel (a great composer) stood up and announced it a masterpiece!!!!

In the review section you can find reviews of interesting albums in this genre.

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