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Thread: Musical illiteracy. Help needed.

  1. #1 Musical illiteracy. Help needed. 
    j
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    I am musically illiterate. I am a highly verbal person who has always found more interest in lyrics than the music behind them. I can find contextual and syntactical correlations between Lysistrata and any the lyrics to any country & western song you could name [please do not get sidetracked on that challenge], but I can barely distinquish between Beethoven and Bach.

    Can you suggest three works integral to a full appreciation of music of 'western' civilization, ideally with a brief indication of its importance? Imagine these are recommendations for a Norton Anthology.

    This is not a xenophobic post; I just want to start from the cultures with which I am most familiar.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Please ignore Bach. He was early and only good at the primitive old and monotonous polyphonic music.

    But to answer your request---if I am indeed able---I would need to have a better idea of what you want it for. Is it that you want to learn to appreciate classical Western music? Or is it that you just want the names of some composers that can represent or stand for our classic music heritage? Why are you interested in it at all?

    What good are four names when there are many types of classical music each with its own great composers. Opera and oratorios, ballet music, sympohonies, contatas, band music, waltzes, comic opera, operettas, etc.

    charles, http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com


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  4. #3 I thought everyone liked Bach ... 
    j
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    First, asking for just a few works:
    I don't expect any one person to take full responsibility for my education; I thought asking each interested person to recommend three works was a reasonable request.

    Why? Two reason; one is that I am tired of being a musical illiterate; I dislike ignorance and ashamed of my own.

    The other is that right now I could use some intellectually stimulating and emotionaly satisfying music of good quality in my life. Normally, I would bury myself in my Norton's, but I am too busy to read. Enough of my time is engaged in mindless physical work that could be used for expanding my knowledge of music.
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    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    It makes sense to me. When I was your age, I was such a rebel that I hated popular music. My grandmother was a very cultured woman so I decided I would try to find out what people saw in classical music. I started with band music, then waltzes and then light opera like Gilbert and Sullivan. From there I learned to love grand opera and spread my interest into oratorios, conchertos and symphonies.

    Right now I am having to live alone and as a result, I listen to more music than I did in all the last years when my wife was alive. When I listen to it, I have the same feeling I felt when I was in the Vaticant and saw that huge and immensely beautiful structure from the inside. I felt proud of being apart of a once great civilization and proud of being a human being, even. I appreciate beauty. Abstract art offends me.

    But I had fun in Mexico once. We were entertained by a group of Sonoran real estate moguls who entertained us hoping we would fund their motion picture studio plans. Every one of them sang Mexican rancheros with beautifully trained voices. I loved it. I just came from North central Florida where I stayed a month and was in the midst of cakun music.

    One of my favorite pieces of music is by Mosart. It is his opera, the Magic Flute.

    I also love ballet. I have been a long time away from any big city and, as a result, I feel starved. I crave seeing a ballet or an opera again. There is magic in being right there where it is performed.

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  6. #5  
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    I do know, and love, the Magic Flute. And, being very verbal, I adore G&S, and even I can sense that the music is probably as witty as some of the lyrics.
    My taste in ballet in hopelessly conventional; I actually enjoy Swan Lake.
    And I am tortured by the Nutcracker; live performances are shortened and sanitized for the children in the audience [it really isn't a pretty little story], and taped full performances are bastardized by sharp cuts, 'interesting' camera angles, and ['oh, the horror'] close-ups. [Please explain to me why I want to see Barishnykov's face in a gran jete?]

    I am not offended by abstract art, but I am often bored by it. Only the best can create without a framework to force the imagination. Even the very good are self-indulgent and self-referential.

    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    When I was your age, I was such a rebel that I hated popular music.
    [Howl of frustration!
    See comments in Logic and Logic Fallacies: assumptions
    When you were my age, your grandmother was probably deaf as a post.]
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  7. #6  
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    I like to list my favourites in order of era. My favourite eras tend to be in order:
    Current (with such subsets as Minimalism/Pulse, Theatrical, avante garde, neo-romantic and odd concoctions of all three.)

    20th Century (including Early minimalism, Neo Classical, Serialist, Free Atonal, Musica Concrete and various other oddities - and a few neo-romantics such as Ratuavaara in his middle to late period)

    Romantic (From very late practitioners such as Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler etc... to Middle period such as Brahms, or earlier such as Dvorak and even way back to Schubert/Schumann)

    Classical Era has Beethoven and Haydn, not to mention Mozart and such names. Personally I find the extreme balance of the Classical era music quite interesting especially when it starts pushing the boundaries of standard harmonic writing with Beethoven. Mozart I will take, Haydn gets old fast.

    Rococco is basically Classical form and harmonic rules with Baroque ornamentation

    Baroque music can range from mundane to surprizingly interesting. The Polyphonic multi-layered thing is something that many people find uninteresting as there is no "Chords" as such, only "Voice-leading". However there are many composers of this era, Bach being one of them, which are able to compose some hauntingly complicated and difficult music, Certainly, from a trumpeters perspective, the Trumpet music of Bach, weather it be in Concerto (such as The 2nd Brandenburg Concerto ) or even his Oratorios such as The Magnificat (both previous titles are links to videos).

    Actually looking through Youtube there seems to be an abundance of stuff on there now. Some favourites of mine include:


    Gustav Mahler - Symphony 8 "Symphony of A Thousand" (Late Romantic)

    Benjamin Britten - War Requiem (Mid 20th Century)

    Steve Reich - Eight Lines (Minimalism)

    Ludwik van Beethoven - Symphony 7 (Need I say which era... :P )
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  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman The One Who Knows's Avatar
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    I would suggest:

    Steve Reich (minimalist)

    Steve Kimock (improv guitar)

    JFJO (post modern jazz)

    MOE. (rock n roll)
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