Do classical musicians get better or worse?

Is there bad music (/ art)?

  • "There are two kinds of music, the good, and the bad."

    This quote is attributed to Louis Armstrong (usually with the addition: "I play the good kind"). Gioachino Rossini is also said to have said something similar.

    I've wanted to open this thread for a long time; At the moment, this parallel thread has ultimately given me the necessary incentive to do this: What do you mean by "classical music"?

    It tries to discuss how "classical" can be distinguished from non-"classical" or "serious" from "(only) entertaining" music. One view, often at least implied, seems to be that this distinction is a qualitative one:

    Capella-Wolfgang wrote:

    I listened to the two pieces with great interest and would immediately classify them as classical music, apart from the introductory chirping of birds on "01 The Golden Dawn". I imagine the Berliner Symphoniker giving their summer concert on the Waldbühne. First I hear the twittering of birds in the trees, then the conductor lifts the baton and it sounds "01 The Golden Dawn". Polite applause ... But whether the work is so good that the Vienna Philharmonic or the orchestra from the Cottbus State Theater will want to play it in the near future is the question.

    This is just a stepping stone - the relevant discussion on the definition of "classical" music should of course be continued in the relevant thread.

    I could add a series of quotes with value judgments here (my favorite composer, Arnold Schönberg, also liked tons of them), but since a corresponding mindset seems to be almost universal, I would rather offer my own mustard as a spread here to stimulate discussion.

    For a long time I thought similarly: "Music that I don't like must be bad." But then I started to wonder what I actually meant by "bad".

    First I tried to find unifying characteristics: I found music bad when it was "boring", "predictable", "not subtle enough", "aiming at the lowest common denominator" etc. And why did I call such music bad? With the purpose of being able to describe them as "not worth hearing" in conversations.

    When I describe music as "not worth listening to", I always mean: "for me not worth listening to. "Trying to explain to my sister why Nickelback's music is horrific and why she should listen to something better instead, were in any case fruitless.

    And the argument with the "lowest common denominator" actually shoots itself in the foot: by definition, such music appeals to an incredible number of people. If so many people like it, how can it be bad?

    A common sarcastic answer is: "Exactly - millions of blowflies can't be wrong!" A qualifying mindset seems to postulate: "One cannot infer quality from popularity."

    But if popularity is not an indication of quality ... then what? What other criterion can be objectified, free from arbitrariness and personal preferences? The argument against popularity as a quality feature seems to be roughly as follows: "Then I would have to accept Helene Fischer's music as" good "."

    I don't like Helene's music either - but what can I get by calling it "bad"? At least not that millions of their fans stop listening to their music with pleasure. In any case, I believe that my mindset was a circular argument: "I call music bad when I don't like it."

    After all, what is the purpose of music, including that of so-called "serious" music? Well, at least to provide the creative (if not the listener) with enjoyment (which of course does not necessarily have to be synonymous with "joy" or other positive emotions). And what Arnold Schönberg for me is Helene Fischer to others.

    how do you see it?
  • ... nowadays I see it like you do.

    The moment someone consciously puts sound events in a desired order, they are already making more music than I have ever made.

    As a result, I cannot judge the quality based on experience. So I'm very careful with that.

    Let's put it this way: Music where I notice straight away that it was created exclusively to earn money with it, I rate it lower than music where I primarily recognize something like authenticity.

    Whether I like the music or not, I don't think so, if I rate it at all - at least that's what I hope - out of it.

    But I don't usually rate music.

    Sounds evasive, but it describes my current attitude.

    Oh, I see it similarly with other arts, but I can rely on experience to a limited extent: Representative art can have something in common with one of my other passions: I've been creatively involved in jewelry design and associated modeling for 10 years.

    By the way: If a painter says his framed, pure gray canvas is art, I, at best a draftsman, have problems with that.
    ... all people become brothers.
    ... We need 2 come 2gether, come 2gether as one.
  • @Melione

    In fact, you have already stated correctly: Whether music is perceived as "good" or "bad" is a very personal matter. For my part, I would never claim a form of music or a piece is bad. I can only say that I like something or not. And personally I can't do anything with Helene Fischer or Vanessa Mai, for example (not even with Eros Ramazzotti ). I can't say why that is so. It's just not my thing - but I can say that for sure.

    VG

    Rosewood
  • As an addendum - by the way, I didn't want to have said that in my opinion less popular music is worse than popular. As long as a piece of music enriches someone's life, I think it's good.

    (Why I don't consistently say that a piece of music that "annoys a person" is automatically bad, I still have to fathom ...)
  • Melione wrote:

    (Why I don't consistently say that a piece of music that "annoys a person" is automatically bad, I still have to fathom ...)
    Perhaps because you are giving your opinion to the general public at that moment. This is about as unfair as my generalization of what should be understood by "U" music.

    Actually, the simple answer to the initial question is: No!

    VG

    Rosewood
  • Melione wrote:

    ...
    (Why I don't consistently say that a piece of music that "annoys a person" is automatically bad, I still have to fathom ...) ...
    In my opinion, you are doing the right thing: It may be that this one person simply takes his personal displeasure as a purely subjective basis for assessment without further thinking about it. Opinions alone cannot replace a justifiable assessment!
    ... all people become brothers.
    ... We need 2 come 2gether, come 2gether as one.
  • Years ago, the daughter of a long-dead music professor from Dresden (an older, fine lady) asked me to combine her father's handwritten composition (allegedly performed once, but perhaps by students who felt obliged to their professor) with the Capella music printing program To set the score, so to speak, to create a work that you can confidently carry home and to your heart in black and white. But after a few days of work I gave up on the project because the first time it was listened to, it turned out (as suspected at first glance) that the work was terribly bad. There were a few bars with the harmonization of C major, F major, G major - one page further a passage as if it had been copied from Anton Webern, then another 10 bars of Brahms - for such things without meaning or understanding I was mine Lifetime too good. Perhaps the only reason the man got his music professorship at the beginning of the 1950s through a crash course at the workers 'and peasants' faculty was because all the other old professors had lost their positions in the relevant denazification procedures.
    1. Thesis: Bad music is eclecticism of different styles (apart from humorous attempts to write variations of a theme in different contemporary styles - but such attempts are still not really popular among classical music connoisseurs!). Either I compose in the style of Schönberg and try to use these musical means to create something that rises above the material, or, like Max Reger, I orient myself to Bach (with new means) or, ideally, I invent my own style like Prokofiev.

    The problem with asking this thread is that bad music is too little known. It's in the drawers of ambitious music teachers or cantors who would have loved to become composers. When they hear that people like Debussy were initially rejected at the conservatory, they feel confirmed and say to themselves: if the world only knew what I actually achieved - but it misunderstood me! At the moment it is a certain fashion that local composers from past centuries are unearthed in some archives and performed. If you listen to this (for example from the Baroque period), you say to yourself: It sounds somehow like Bach, but not ... There is too little harmonic and rhythmic diversity, too little melodic development without being able to say now : This is bad music!
    2nd thesis: Bad music can hardly be heard because it is dusty in the archives.

    In 1969 I was involved in the (later) Rundfunkjugendchor Wernigerode while filming the GDR TV series "Krupp and Krause". There is a young music teacher (played by Arno Wyzniewski) who sings with his Hugo Distler school choir "A dark cloud came in". That is then branded as petty-bourgeois reactionary, and as a positive alternative, the choir later belts out the song "You have a goal in front of your eyes". I am still grateful to the filming because it introduced me to Hugo Distler and forgot the target song.
    3rd thesis: What is called good or bad music often depends on the ideological point of view.

    Maybe at some point I will propose more theses, but first wait and see whether others jump on this thread at all.
    On your way through the world, you too will always be barked at. Don't listen, go on quietly, quietly accept the blasphemy; because then your envious people will stop yapping by themselves! (Krylov)
  • When I sat over my post, I didn't even notice that many others had already jumped on the bandwagon. Fortunately, the last sentence has already been dealt with.
    On the way through the world you too will always be barked at. Don't listen, go on, quietly accept the blasphemy; because then your envious people will stop yapping by themselves! (Krylov)
  • Difficult and good question. Of course there are experts, musicians, to whom I unfortunately do not belong, who can explain exactly (or mean it ) why one composition is technically better than the other. Or maybe just why a work is good at all. As a pronounced layman, this does not help me with the assessment. I have to rely on my own criteria.

    Ingo Richter wrote:

    Let's put it this way: Music where I notice straight away that it was created exclusively to earn money with it, I rate it lower than music where I primarily recognize something like authenticity.
    That goes in my direction, but at the same time I think of a lot of counterexamples of 'classical' composers who have accepted commissioned work and still have created better music than some others. But maybe I can expand it to the extent that I find out for myself that when composers fall back on musical 'set pieces' that promise good sales on the market from the outset, then it is initially not good music for me.

    On the other hand, nobody can persuade me that composers like Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti, at least the early Verdi, did not pay close attention in their operas to the fact that certain requirements that the audience, i.e. the market, expected, also appeared in the works. The overture has to be structured like this, after that a choir has to come, then then the recitative and first aria etc. This is where this 'damned' mixture of artistic claim and squinting after the success, also monitarian, comes into play.

    'Exclusively' there was certainly nothing. Neither commerce nor art. But what prevailed in the respective work, who will say it?

    tungsten
  • First of all, I can't find anything reprehensible about eclecticism. Eclecticism is the engine that leads to change. Whenever different styles come together, it gets exciting. For example, if a composer went on a study trip to Italy in the past, the result was necessarily eclectic.

    As long as you don't mix up the styles at will, but create your own, well-ordered system from them, there is nothing wrong with eclecticism.
  • Wolfram wrote:

    This is where this 'damned' mixture of artistic demands and squinting for success, including monetary success, comes into play.
    this is now expressed very capitalistically. the desire to please can of course also be viewed positively: one might not only want to "realize oneself", but also want to give something to others. Ideally, you have the "standing" to implement your own taste so convincingly that you pull a certain number of other people away ...
    A little bit of feeling for what is called "effect" certainly can't hurt.

    Wolfram wrote:

    Of course there are experts, musicians, to whom I unfortunately do not belong, who can explain (or mean it) exactly why one composition is technically better than the other. Or maybe just why a work is good at all.
    Now there is no such thing as this abstract "good", but very different contexts ... why is a Michael Jackson song better than one by Modern Talking? whether one can apply the same criteria that distinguish a Mozart from Wagenseil? For me, what is good is what fulfills the function on the one hand - possibly in a sophisticated, original way, and on the other hand brings that little something extra that gives the "connoisseur (s) only satisfaction" (Mozart).

    Hudebux wrote:

    Unfortunately, music can also carry a political message or an ideological stance. Horst Wessel Lied? Ten little negroes? Nazi rock?
    whether there is a correlation between musical quality and "good" message is a controversial question.
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