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Old 01-21-2017, 10:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Overture: Trolheart's Classical Music Journal

Classical music tends to get a bad rap, especially among the younger generations often, but the truth is that without it our music today would either not exist at all, or would be very much different. Classical music laid the building blocks for everything from jazz to rock and everything in between, and there's probably no musician anywhere who does not owe something to the likes of Beethoven, Holst, Chopin, Berlioz and a host of other composers who blazed a trail from the fifteenth century and popularised not only music as a genre, but as a public spectacle, holding the first real concerts and getting people talking about music among themselves. Classical music often survived on the patronage of kings and lords, which could be a double-edged sword: you would certainly have access to anything you needed but at the same time you might very well be under tremendous pressure to, for instance, come up with a special piece to celebrate the birthday, coronation or other event important to the monarch, or to mark a great victory, anniversary etc. And there was no way you could disappoint the king!

But classical music gave us some timeless, amazing melodies that have stayed as fresh and accessible to we in the twenty-first century as they were when they were written. Of course, with the rise of so many different and varying genres in music, classical often gets overlooked, and that's one of the reasons why I'm beginning yet another journal. My own appreciation of, and knowledge of classical music is quite limited, and in this journal I hope to share with you what I know of it, and learn more as I go along. Don't expect album reviews – that would be pointless – but I will be going as deeply as I can into the life and works of the great composers – and some of the less great, or at least, less well known – as well perhaps as those who play their music today. I hope to gain a better appreciation of this often forgotten art form this way, and in the process perhaps educate a few of you on the way, or rekindle an interest in classical music.

After all, no matter what genre you follow, there's no escaping the very concrete fact that, as the title of this journal asserts, every rock or pop star you've ever heard has built his on her career by essentially standing on the shoulders of these giants. All of which will be explored in

Part of

A

PRODUCTION
I'm under no illusions here that this will be anywhere near as successful (shut up, Batty!) or indeed popular (I said, shut up!) as my other journals; after all, I'm going to be talking about dead guys here, most of the time. It's not like you can run out and purchase the latest Beethoven or Facebook about how great Delius is. You won't find these guys in the charts, or likely on Last.FM or Pitchfork. But if you can put your doubts and your prejudices aside and just listen, you will find music that is moving, beautiful, powerful and stirring. There's no question that a lot of classical can be boring: there are no words (unless you're listening to opera, and insofar as I can, I won't be: I don't like opera) and the pieces are often quite long, but I will be trying to direct you towards the better stuff in classical, and there's a hell of a lot of that.



This journal will also encompass the History of Classic Music, rather like and at the same time completely unlike my History of Prog journal. In that journal, it’s possible for me to describe a timeline and fill it in with important albums and artistes as it develops. This isn’t something I can do with classical, as there were few if any notable “albums” in the genre, given that for much of its heyday music was not even recordable, and for a very long time the only way to even hear classical music was to attend concerts. So instead I’ll be concentrating on the various periods in the genre, the major figures in those, and giving you an idea of important compositions relative to each.

Also unlike my History of Prog journal, I will not be sticking rigidly to the history timeline, but will divert from it regularly to take in artists and pieces I like, talk about composers and even those soloist and players regarded in the field today, and basically talk as much as I can in as varied a way as I can manage about the whole genre. It will probably be incredibly boring for a lot of you, and I understand that, but for those who want to either get into classical music or share their love of it in a forum where, let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of outward discussion about it, this journal may provide a small service and a place to talk about classical music outside of the perhaps somewhat constricting confines of the classical sub-forum.

Anyway, let's start off with this:

Osmosis? Have you finally lost what remains of your mind, Trollheart? What the fuck has science got to do with classical music? Well, let's not get into that, but what I'm pointing out here, in my usual oblique way, is that no matter what age you are, assuming you are old enough to be reading this, ie old enough to be a member of this forum, and even if you hate classical music, there is a one hundred percent chance that you have heard at least one piece of classical. Whether it's been through the telly, the movies, on an ad, mashed up or sampled by some pop or rock artist, the process of osmosis means, in this case, that you have absorbed possibly more classical music than you even realise.

To demonstrate this, I'm now going to show you all some examples where classical has been used and you may not even have known what it was. Obviously, many of you will know these pieces, but it's just to give you an idea of how ubiquitous classical music is and what an influence it has had, and continues to have, on our daily lives, perhaps despite us.

If you've seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey—or indeed, the Simspsons episode Deep Space Homer—you'll have heard this piece of music, composed by Austrian Richard Strauss in 1896, called “Also Spracht Zarathustra” (or “Thus Spake Zarathustra”), or at least the opening fanfare, “Sunrise”.

In the same movie (and Simpsons episode) you'll have heard this waltz by Johann Strauss II (no relation), the classic “The Blue Danube”, composed thirty years earlier, in 1866.


If you're from this side of the pond and have suffered through The X-Factor at any point in your life you'll recognise the theme music here, which is a famous extract from, believe it or not, a cantanta (vocal/choral work) based on the medieval writings Carmina Burana, translated and re-written by German Carl Orff as recently as 1936. The bit you know (and you may also have heard it in John Boorman's movie Excalibur, the “Old Spice” aftershave ad, and various other places) is called “O Fortuna”.


And if, like me, you're a fan of the UK Apprentice, this will be familiar to you as its opening titles. But were you aware this is from a ballet based on Shakespeare's epic love tragedy, Romeo and Juliet? It's called “Montagues and Capulets”, and was penned, also in 1935, by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. It's also called “Dance of the Knights”.


As a metal fan you'll have heard this opening either Diamond Head or Metallica's “Am I evil?” and no doubt other places too. It's from The Planets suite, a work created by Gustav Holst, an English composer, between 1915 and 1916, and is in fact the opening movement of that suite, called “Mars: the Bringer of War.”


Whether you came across it via Oribtal's re-recording of it, or as accompaniment to that climactic scene in Oliver Stone's Platoon, you'll certainly be familiar with Samuel Barber's heartbreaking “Adagio for Strings”, even if you weren't aware that that was what it was called.


and finally, for now, if you've ever watched figure skating, you'll have heard Maurice Ravel's “Bolero”, composed in 1928.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you take recs?
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grindy View Post
Do you take recs?
Possibly, but as I said I'm obviously not reviewing albums. If you have a piece you think I might like, then sure, hit me.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Possibly, but as I said I'm obviously not reviewing albums. If you have a piece you think I might like, then sure, hit me.
Oh sorry, I just kinda skimmed the info.
I'll see whether I can come up with something.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Have you heard Dvořák's 9th?

Here's something for you history-wise: the same guy who came up with the famous formula relating the sides of a right triangle also helped lay the foundations of music theory as we know it.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_tuning

I look forward to reading!
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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And if you really want to get into the mathematics of music, check out microtonal tuning methods.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_intonation
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Old 01-21-2017, 12:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pet_Sounds View Post
Have you heard Dvořák's 9th?

Here's something for you history-wise: the same guy who came up with the famous formula relating the sides of a right triangle also helped lay the foundations of music theory as we know it.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_tuning

I look forward to reading!
From the New World? Yeah, I love that piece.

Thanks, but I think going back five hundred years is far enough!
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Interesting! I'll be following this, I have a resolution to listen to more classical music. I've started modestly with some Beethoven.
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Old 01-23-2017, 05:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'll be looking forward to this. Some good classical discussion has long been lacking on this forum.

Noticing your mention of your distaste for opera in the OP, I thought I might partly remedy that through, paradoxically enough, an album rec.
With the assumption that the vocal style and general lenghtiness of operas is what turns you off the genre, I think you may enjoy the album Stokowski's Wagner (performed by Matthias Bamert with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra). The album should be on Spotify. It consists of Leopold Stokowski's condensed symphonic arrangements of excerpts from three of Wagner's greatest operas. It should at least help you get an appreciation for the musical material, without having to endure vocals that are obviously off-putting to you.
I've been listening to it quite a bit as of recent, and I heartily recommend it. Hope you'll like it if you do take up the recommendation.
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Old 01-23-2017, 07:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Nerd.
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