Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Welcome to BZPower!

Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. The process is easy and you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account to make it even faster. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
  • Show off your creations, stories, art, music, and movies and play member and staff-run games
  • Enter contests to win free LEGO sets and other prizes, and vote to decide the winners
  • Participate in raffles, including exclusive raffles for new members, and win free LEGO sets
  • Send private messages to other members
  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!


Music Since the Twentieth Century

Posted by Sumiki , in Writing, Rants, Not Essays!, Music Feb 11 2014 · 130 views

After my opinions on Mozart and much of the Classical era, I got to thinking about modern classical music, which in this sense means any music written after 1900. I have ... mixed feelings, shall we say.
Time for another music history lesson.
By the turn of the century, late Romanticism was beginning to die out. Gustav Mahler was writing symphonies of epic proportions, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy were defining a musical style dubbed "Impressionism" - though Debussy hated the term - and Alexander Scriabin was writing increasingly mystical music based on his own egomaniacal philosophy. These folks, and figures like them, were continuously evolving the musical language that had existed more or less continuously from about 1600, when the Baroque era started. Romanticism was fracturing, and there were sub-groups of composers who sought their own styles, and composers who simply struck out on their own path.
As time went by, harmony was extended, and by 1900 the usage of chromatic harmony - a technique whereby harmonies are derived from both pitches within the scale of the music you're working in and from without - was everywhere. In many composer's eyes, these kinds of rich, expanded tonal structures would go on indefinitely, with composers adding to the additions that had been accrued over the years.
Other composers thought that there simply was no place to go, that traditional tonality had reached its breaking point, and new rules had to be developed. Scriabin, who started out writing very Chopinesque music, evolved his own brand of harmony derived from fourths, altered dominant chords, and a few stunning examples of bitonality in some of his late preludes. Igor Stravinsky embraced rhythmic drive (and bitonality as well) in The Rite of Spring, which was so groundbreaking that the first performance was marred by a riot in the Parisian audience.
Most lasting was the music of the so-called Second Viennese School, headed up by Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg's first few opuses show the influence of Mahler and is filled with intense chromaticism - so intense that even those early works - far and away his most accessible pieces - were met with incomprehension at their first performances. Undaunted, Schoenberg veered into extreme atonality, writing pieces such as Pierrot Lunaire. Pierrot made waves not just with its atonality, but for its unique ensemble (known henceforth as the Pierrot Ensemble) and with its half-speaking, half-singing writing for voice.
But Schoenberg, for all of his cacophonous music, realized that this kind of free dissonance and atonality - something that composers such as Charles Ives and Leo Ornstein had experimented with - needed some sort of structure to hold it together, just as tonality had held music together before him. To make a long, diagram-necessitating story short, he came up with something called the 12-tone technique, whereby every note was sounded equally through the use of tone rows, which were essentially randomized chromatic scales.

Schoenberg's two major pupils, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, took Schoenberg's techniques and personalized them. Webern idolized Schoenberg and often moved just so he could be near him, and took the 12-tone technique and honed it to a disjointed science. Webern was known for writing exceptionally short pieces, and his piano music is characterized by its brevity, sparseness, and unholy dissonance. He died at the end of World War II after a trigger-happy American soldier saw his cigar and mistook him for an enemy soldier ... but strange composer deaths are a story for another time.
Despite the fact that his music was aesthetically terrible, Webern became one of the most important modern composers, for the avant-garde for most of the rest of the century followed his lead to some extent. The 12-tone technique was applied to other areas of music - instruments, dynamics, note lengths - to derive an incredibly strict kind of "total serialism," where the composer writes a few rows and the music more or less writes itself.
Alban Berg, on the other hand, experimented with making Schoenberg's ideas accessible. He wrote a masterpiece of a Violin Concerto and an opera, Wozzeck, which half-succeeded in this endeavor. He's considered the easiest atonal composer to listen to. His middle-ground approach makes him an oddball figure on both sides of the fence.

But back to Webern, whose techniques had a significant impact. Pierre Boulez took Webern's usage of serial composition to every extreme imaginable, writing music where every imaginable aspect is controlled by rows - pitch, velocity, register, etc. While Boulez has always composed this kind of music, even he realized that total serialization leaves no room for creativity.
The Greek composer Iannis Xenakis took off in a different direction. A mathematician and an architect, Xenakis was one of the first composers who took to "Musique Concrete" techniques - sound collages of recorded tape. Aside from his solo percussion pieces, his music is frankly ridiculous, as he wrote music based on mathematical formulas. Similar approaches were taken by Karlheinz Stockhausen, a controversial and influential figure in the sphere of electronic music, and who once wrote a string quartet where every instrument is lifted on a separate helicopter.

(Don't ask.)
I give all these examples to illustrate one point: since Schoenberg, many composers have taken refuge in music that is of theoretical interest, but not traditional musical interest. Say what you want about Schoenberg, Webern, Boulez, and Xenakis, but their music is aesthetically unpleasing. They thought that there was nothing of strict musical interest left to say, and so they found their own paths.

These paths are now showing themselves to be dead ends. The same strict adherence to predefined sets of rules makes much "modern" music as boring and as aesthetically similar to music of the Classical era.
But it's not like all 20th-century composers took to serialism. Alfred Schnittke and György Ligeti were remarkably innovative and wrote significant pieces without adhering to the strict serialism that had gripped much of the classical music cognoscenti. Schnittke likened his departure as getting off an overcrowded train, and Ligeti mercilessly parodied his fellow composers in his Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes.
Other composers, such as Henryk Górecki, Lowell Liebermann, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and John Corigliano have abandoned serialism in favor of a return to late Romanticism, a kind of musical reboot. They all have written music of musical and theoretical interest. Even Krzysztof Penderecki, a noted avant-garde composer who gained fame through his manic pieces for string orchestra (Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia among them), abandoned that style, saying that we "must go back to Mahler and start over."
Suffice it to say that I very much agree with Penderecki.

  • 0

Feb 11 2014 12:49 AM

Just out of curiosity, have you heard any of Ginastera's pieces?

    • 0

I'm quite fond of his Argentinian Dances but haven't heard much beyond them.

    • 1
Feb 11 2014 01:06 AM

His first piano concerto is completely atonal, completely out of control, and definitely worth a listen, especially the fourth movement.


I don't know much of his other works as well; I own only a disk of the above concerto along with a harp concerto and an orchestral suite. But those Dances, though. I've put off learning the third one because maaaaan

    • 0

That piece is going straight to the top of the "atonal works I actually like" list.

    • 0
Rahkshi Guurahk
Feb 12 2014 10:26 PM

I've noticed also that works after about 1915ish and 1930ish in Britain seem to use a much smaller instrumentation.

    • 0

I've noticed also that works after about 1915ish and 1930ish in Britain seem to use a much smaller instrumentation.


That's because of a few factors: one, you've got political turmoil, World War I, things like that. Two, the idea of economy of means in music took hold, partially as a backlash against the massive orchestral productions of late Romanticism. Put them together, and composers decided to write in much tighter styles, for lack of a better term.

    • 0


Posted Image


Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted ImagePosted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image


Posted Image

He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo

"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva

BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex

What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus

I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok

Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker

Sumiki - hat-wearing ladies man. - Black Six

He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist

I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens

I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig

I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk

I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome

Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex

Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz

10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome


Posted Image
Posted Image
Hat Enterprises CEO
Posted Image
Group: Premier Forum Assistants
Posts: 11300-11400
Joined: 4-September 06
Premier: 9-October 06
FM: 20-February 12
FA: 29-August 12
Member No.: 45057
Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
25th All-Time Poster

17th All-Time Premier Poster
4th All-Time PFA Poster

29th Most Profile Views
Cryoshell Album Winner
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
5th Most Commented Blog
3rd Most Viewed Blog
9th Most Entries


Posted Image

Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)


1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/13 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
8/27/13 - 8/5/14 - None
8/12/14 - Another Chro Original
8/19/14 - Kanohi Zatth
8/26/14 - Miniland Hatpile
9/2/14 - S. S. Starfish
9/9/14 - Special - Claude Hairgel
9/16/14 - Green Flame
9/23/14 - Avohkah Tamer
9/30/14 - Special - The Havoc Wreaker
10/7/14 - Fire Snake


Posted Image

Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.




ToM Dracone
-Toa Lhikevikk-
Dirk Strider
Toa Flappy
Lime Paradox
Toa Robert
The X
Dave Strider
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Commander Helios
Popup2: The Camel
~Shadow Kurahk~
~System Of A Down~
Kohrak Kal17
Jackson Lake
Thunder on the Mountain
Ackar's Follower
Bitter Cold
Doc Scratch
Mendicant Bias
Darth Eryzeth
Toa of Vahi
Makuta GigaDon
~Toa Drokonas~
Progenitus Worldsoul
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
Bohrok Kal
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
.: WoLVeRINe :.
Alternate Velika
Schnee 1
Brickeens (again!?)
The Great Forgetter
Thomas the Tank Engine
Jonah Falcon
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
knuckles chaotix
The Bean
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Toa of Dancing
Toa Arzaki
The Oncoming Storm
Lego Obsessionist
Toa of Pumpkin
Teal Armada
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Mr. M
Mylo Xyloto
Lord of Ice
Gamzee Makara
Zarayna: The Quiet Light



Vorex: Keeper of Time


Toa of Smooth Jazz



Dual Matrix

rahkshi guurahk
Click to join!

Recent Comments

0 user(s) viewing

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Posted Image

Posted Image


If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle

so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra

You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.

It's a long story.


Posted Image


Posted Image