Let's Have A Partita!

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Location: Cantonment, Florida, United States

Well, uh, hmm...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wha' happen'd?

Both are equally artistically valid, right?

What has happened to art and music? Why on earth do people consider chance composing "music", or mixed media "art"? *(I need to point out here that I am naming mediums that exist within larger concepts, namely Atonality and Avante Garde, these are just particular mediums that annoy me. These just seem to be the ones I hear about most. I could just as easily have named serialism or found art. In fact, the urinal above is found art. Thanks to Ted from thettt.com for pointing this out.) The answer lies in everyone's desire to be special and cutting edge, part of something that is new for the sake of being new. The final frontier in the early part of the twentieth century (or so people thought, anyway) was atonal music. Atonal music, in short, is music that has no tonal center, or "key." There are no chord progressions, no feelings of rest, and consonances and disonances are of equal value. It means that in the world of atonal music, one either can do whatever, meaning that any ability for expressing oneself has gone out the window, or that one has to follow mathematical patterns to such a degree that a calculator would be able to do the same job. The visual art world felt a similar blow with the same types of philosophy in the Avante Garde, essentially a forum where the old dividing walls that showed what a given discipline had to offer were destroyed. The Dada movement, which was self-proclaimed anti-art, typified the move away from tradition. Anything went, such as Marcel Duchamp signing his name to a urinal and hanging it in a gallery or Jackson Pollock tossing cans of paint at a canvas. My main complaint is that all of this was 1. Done for the sake of being new, not better. If someone wants to break a rule for the sake of expressing something that otherwise was inexpressible, that's fine. However, breaking a rule and changing the definitions are two different things. 2. There was little to no respect for what came before. It's ironic that those who started the change (Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Berg, and others) highly respected the former masters such as Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and countless others. In fact, as these 20th century men matured, many of them reverted to "ancient" forms of the Baroque and Classical era. It was the art world in general that latched onto some of their ideas and created inept and half-baked imitations. That seems to be common in every era of art. That being said, I still blame Schoenberg and his utterly unmusical serialism for much of the modern philosophy of music, because even the most "well executed" serialism is novelty at best. 3. It requires little musicianship, and indeed little skill in general. Much of what I hear "serious musicians" doing nowadays is atonal music. The problem is, it is indistinguishable from that which a five year old could produce. People do it because it's easy. It insults the truly genius because they have no room to shine and are quite stunted by this "freedom." How can they say they are genius when the only works that the musical elite will accept are "modern" atonal works? It insults the learned because they are told that we all need to be the same, and that their knowledge is just bigotry toward the ignorant, and that if one were truly enlightened he would become modern and independent. Just like most people have been doing for millenia.


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