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Old 04-04-2009, 02:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Atonal Music vs the World

When ever people hear me mention that word "atonal", they start drawing a blank of confusion. I'm starting out in music at school and atonal music seems oddly different from the other classical types of music, and it's hard for me to hear it.

So I'm wondering if you guys consider: Pierrot lunaire and 5 Pieces for Orchestra Opus 16, both composed by Schoenberg, as atonal pieces of music? I'm defining atonal as having no sense of a tonal centre or key.
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Old 04-09-2009, 05:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The word atonal was originated by critics and used in the pejorative sense. It has now fallen into common usage.

As far as the two pieces you mention, of course they are not "tonal".
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I enjoy some of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. I think Schoenberg sort of originated the "twelve-tone" method and taught it in his school to students like Berg and Webern. The term eventually evolved into "atonal" music. I really don't know much about atonal music, and haven't listened to a lot of it.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by da_musicnOOb View Post
When ever people hear me mention that word "atonal", they start drawing a blank of confusion. I'm starting out in music at school and atonal music seems oddly different from the other classical types of music, and it's hard for me to hear it.

So I'm wondering if you guys consider: Pierrot lunaire and 5 Pieces for Orchestra Opus 16, both composed by Schoenberg, as atonal pieces of music? I'm defining atonal as having no sense of a tonal centre or key.
I find atonal music great for sleeping. Usually quite Melody oriented with little distractions from the main theme. No tonal center of key though is referring to the 12 tone system where notes are assighned number values in created scales. There is no key signature, therefore making it hardder to learn but with a wider range of possibilities.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When I was forced to learn about Schoenberg and othe "atonal" composers it drove me nuts. As a trained instrumentalist, the removal of a tonal center is the removal of what defines music to me. I love Wagner, and Stravinsky...the way they wrote was inspiring...tricking you contsantly with turns and twist.

Music is like a good joke...a quick change that is unexpected but makes sense can be VERY enjoyable....but if there is nothing but random words with no coherency then all meaning is lost...

And the fact that Cage "wrote" a "piece" about sitting at a piano for a certain interval of time is ridiculous....sorry...this is one topic I get frustrated with....

maybe should have avoided responding...I'm not normally negative....
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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And the fact that Cage "wrote" a "piece" about sitting at a piano for a certain interval of time is ridiculous....sorry...this is one topic I get frustrated with....
I'm usually pretty big into the musical avant garde, but I agree with you there. I watched a video of Cage's 4'33 on Youtube and couldn't believe what I saw. The idea seems really silly to me.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The idea behind 4'33 wasn't what you are thinking.

Cage wanted to try and determine exactly what music was, so he took music, and started taking elements away until he reasoned it was no longer music.

In the end, he concluded that the only thing that was ABSOLUTELY needed across all forms of music was structure, so therefore anything with structure of sound could be considered music, including silence.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The idea behind 4'33 wasn't what you are thinking.

Cage wanted to try and determine exactly what music was, so he took music, and started taking elements away until he reasoned it was no longer music.

In the end, he concluded that the only thing that was ABSOLUTELY needed across all forms of music was structure, so therefore anything with structure of sound could be considered music, including silence.
I understand it as an intellectual exercise, but come on, 4'33 is just sitting around silently. I would not agree that this is music.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I heard Cage talking about silence on a video and something he said struck me and I thought about what he meant and came to a conclusion.

He'd said, in effect, that in today's world silence has become the sound of traffic, or other technological ambiance that we've become accustomed to.

It seems to me that he means total silence is so rare that it has ceased being something that is the absence of sound, and become almost a new experience of sound in and of itself. He'd also said that, to him, music speaks to you with motive.

I think that's what he's trying to express in 4'33. He views silence as music and he's trying to speak to the audience through it.

It's an odd way to make a point, and certainly there are raised eyebrows, but I don't see the whole thing as extraordinary in any regard.
It's a conceptual way to make a point. That's it.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:54 AM   #10 (permalink)
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From an aesthetic point of view it isn't music, I agree. But from a technical standpoint it is music and its also an important technical exercise and conceptual point that needed to be made.
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