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  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by BWV
    gestures/phrases
    I've seen 'gestures' before, referring to Schoenberg and his acolyte's work. What does it mean exactly? Please edumacate me...

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  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    I've seen 'gestures' before, referring to Schoenberg and his acolyte's work. What does it mean exactly? Please edumacate me...
    Well... to me it is relatively free term... and being used very widely and sometimes differently depending on context.

    To me the easiest way to interprete it is the same as gesture means in common life: some expressive element (usually realtively simple on the level of sign) with identifiable (not necessarily verbalized) meaning.
    I think using term in musicology is relatively new and connected with late 20th centeryclassical composition mostly with an aim to get away from tradional thinking in phrases/motives... to more abstract and schematic elements.
    Partly it is also connected with increasing importance of non-pitch-related elements in musical language

    i recently saw quite huge book dedicated totally to musical gesture only... as I said it is quite open area and every musicilogist is free to offer his\her own interpretation

  4. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    ...I think using term in musicology is relatively new and connected with late 20th century classical composition mostly with an aim to get away from traditional thinking in phrases/motives... to more abstract and schematic elements.
    Partly it is also connected with increasing importance of non-pitch-related elements in musical language...
    Thanks. I understand the parts I didn't quote. As to what I boldfaced: Can you be specific---w/examples if possible---about WHICH 'abstract and schematic elements'? Abstract and schematic elements, without defining them and giving examples, is too vague. Schematic in what sense? Pitch sets use as a 'scheme'? Form?

    'Non-pitch elements'. Does that mean micro-tones? Or just elements relating to things other than pitch: dynamics; rhythm, etc?

    Help me understand. Thanks!...

  5. #29

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    Yes, gesture roughly is equivalent to phrase, but does not have the associated tonal baggage

    here the gestures are short - sometimes just 2 notes/chords the three staves help visualize this. Despite the rhythms and quarter-tones, BF writes very memorable singable (at least in my head) lines


  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Thanks. I understand the parts I didn't quote. As to what I boldfaced: Can you be specific---w/examples if possible---about WHICH 'abstract and schematic elements'? Abstract and schematic elements, without defining them and giving examples, is too vague. Schematic in what sense? Pitch sets use as a 'scheme'? Form?

    'Non-pitch elements'. Does that mean micro-tones? Or just elements relating to things other than pitch: dynamics; rhythm, etc?

    Help me understand. Thanks!...
    Well... most European music - even medieval music - has language which is fundamentally built on relations of pitches. And it does not really matter if it is medieval modality or functional tonality or dodecaphonic music.. they are different in morphology (if we use liguistic term) but they all have pitch relations as a basis of their semantics

    I will explain:
    - in classical functional tonality everything is built around suspension/resolution, various grades of it. And in 18-19 century it reaches the compexity that allows to express the most subtle and complex meanings - Bach's pieces are almost theological treatesies, Mozart's music is more explantive on human nature than any Freud could ever dream, and 19th century symphony become an equivalen of a novel in music.
    And all this is built on realtions of pitches as a ground. Of course there are other elements of language: instrumentation and timbre, genre references (often underestimated) and so on.
    But they are all secodary, supportive.

    In brief: it is very important that each note has particular pitch

    - if we take modal music we will see that basically it is all about pitch relation too... just the laws of pitch realtions are different than in functional tonality. The tension and release are determined by pther realationships (intervalic (like smaller interval has more tension - which is not necessarily so in functional tonality), linear motivic relations are crucial (the consequence of notes can be most important for creating tension/release), metric/rhythmic patterns (metric realtions intensity or rhthmic repetitivness may become very important in establishing the tonic).

    But still: in most cases it is all bout particualr pitches, you cannot change them

    3) same concerns many modern conception - even very sophisticated and advanced. To me dodecaphony still operates with same pitch-related idioms just trying to re-organize them. Schoenberg sounds to me 'distoreted' Brahms))
    Berg is essentially within functional tonality.
    Inly Webern really tried to benefite from new system totaly from zero point. But still I find that he is totally within the forms of European tradition of music (which is great for me).

    Generally what dodecaphonic composers did was trying to abstract motive as much as possible from harmonic and even modal texture (the job that Beethoven conciously began to do and otheres continued in 19th century).. and as a result they come to the point when they conciously try to separate motive from any familiar realtions (vertical harmony/linear modal even though they used some kind of modes for organozations - they were formal not musically recognizeable).
    But the fact that they consiously tried does not mean they managed to do iin result.

    I this is when firstly the idea of gesture may come up: you have motive without harmonic or modaly fundametal basis. You have motive which does not refer to any non-sounding at the moment but meant to be there harmonic background (any clasical motive works because there is harmony meant behind it which we subconciously or conciously hear in our mind being grown up in this tradition).

    But here they try to make a motive all independent. And what is left then?
    It becomes like a skyline without landscape. There shows the idea of gesture (maybe not yet verbaliazed at the moment).
    A gesture as some line drawn in the air, meaningful but illusive. I tis here, and it is gone.

    (Before that music was much more about architecture (integrity of plan and construction), now it becomes more about scluptural lines.
    By the way i associate jazz solos with a sort of realtime molding/sculpting process... and this is also becasue the form is often fixed already - all you can do is mold motive, curves, reliefs).

    I think though the real problems began when guys like Xenakis or Luiggi Nono came up... they do not have motives as elements... they do not have harmonic realtions.

    And often they begin to ignore pitch as a fundamental element... I think Nono's Prometheus is the classic example where you feel that it does not matter which pitch the sounds have...
    other characteristics become important (timber, intensity, dynamics, lengg/shortness and so on so on).

    In brief if you play higher or lower sound instead it will not serisouly change the meaning of music.
    But if you play loud instead soft or short instead long .. this may ruin everything.

    As BWV said to avoid misleading conceptions they began to a term gesture instead of a phrase...

    I think another important moment is the general philosophy of that all: European music misc was always connected with idea of speech and for hundreds of years it was just a servant of poetry and even when in baroque times music became totally independent and self-sufficiet art - capable to express anything and even more than other arts.
    It still kept through the years the references with rhetorics, speech, literature.

    I think implementing 'gesture' as an element was also about shifting from literature references to more visual ones.
    In some sense it is an equivalent of abstract visual art in music..
    (I do not think abstract art is possible at all.. but I am speaking about process of going away from depicting objects in painting in 20th centurey. To some degree the idea gesture illustrates the same process in music (music is not abstract art by nature as many say): phrase in classical tradition is too clear and too referential for new music, gesture gives more space, more freedom..

    ....or more illusion of freedom)

  7. #31
    Thanks a bunch!

    I, being largely an autodidact, will need to live with these explanations a while to absorb---and crack a dictionary. (I'm pretty sure 'dodecaphony' means 12-tone).

    The most meaningful piece of your exposition for me is that these composers set out to hew to Schoenberg's tenets (rules?) but didn't always succeed. But if it WORKS---and SOUNDS good a thing does succeed. Rules were made to be broken, the wag said.

    So 'gestures' and the over-reliance on them by 20th and post-20th-Century classical composers---as you tell it---almost seems a kind of desperation. Maybe Schoenberg was short-sighted, in that he didn't foretell the limitations of his systems---as is evidenced by his acolytes and other modern composers 'copping out'---getting around the limits of the rules with these gestures?

    Bartok never embraced atonality; a contemporary composer who taught at CCNY when I was there, David Del Tredici, opted for tonality---and took the slams of jealous critics who write very boring books (and have very boring fights among themselves using $5 words).

    For myself I will continue to study, just to expand the palette---but still believe if one 'hears' a thing AND has knowledge (so it doesn't come out of thin air w/no tradition and evolution) USE IT! It's good. Period. I have a little saying re making art: Keep the door open, but keep a broom near it. You can always sweep the crap out in the morning. But DO let things in. And let the eggheads fight---far away from you and your work---and put what you like---from WHATEVER source---in a funnel. Then let the muse in and don't stop her (him?) from flowing. It'll come out interesting---at the least...

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Thanks a bunch!

    I, being largely an autodidact, will need to live with these explanations a while to absorb---and crack a dictionary. (I'm pretty sure 'dodecaphony' means 12-tone).

    The most meaningful piece of your exposition for me is that these composers set out to hew to Schoenberg's tenets (rules?) but didn't always succeed. But if it WORKS---and SOUNDS good a thing does succeed. Rules were made to be broken, the wag said.

    So 'gestures' and the over-reliance on them by 20th and post-20th-Century classical composers---as you tell it---almost seems a kind of desperation. Maybe Schoenberg was short-sighted, in that he didn't foretell the limitations of his systems---as is evidenced by his acolytes and other modern composers 'copping out'---getting around the limits of the rules with these gestures?

    Bartok never embraced atonality; a contemporary composer who taught at CCNY when I was there, David Del Tredici, opted for tonality---and took the slams of jealous critics who write very boring books (and have very boring fights among themselves using $5 words).

    For myself I will continue to study, just to expand the palette---but still believe if one 'hears' a thing AND has knowledge (so it doesn't come out of thin air w/no tradition and evolution) USE IT! It's good. Period. I have a little saying re making art: Keep the door open, but keep a broom near it. You can always sweep the crap out in the morning. But DO let things in. And let the eggheads fight---far away from you and your work---and put what you like---from WHATEVER source---in a funnel. Then let the muse in and don't stop her (him?) from flowing. It'll come out interesting---at the least...
    I find that people who campaign against non-tonal music seem to fall into the same traps
    a) pointy head modernist cabals who oppress people trying to write tonal music
    b) attributing bad faith to composers and performers of modernist music, like its some kind of scam perpetrated on good, wholesome concertgoers
    c) resorting to ad hoc pseudoscience about the 'naturalness' of tonality

    gesture is just phrase, so how can you talk about an 'overreliance on gesture'? Music is built on phrases - no one talks about Beethoven relying too much on phrases

    Schoenberg didnt create rules, he created an influential technique that was used with varying degrees of rigor, although post 1960 or so, only a small number of composers continued to use it rigorously. Carter, Ferneyhough, Lutoslawski, Ligeti, etc did not use serial / 12-tone techniques

    Dodecaphonic typically refers to Schoenberg-style 12-tone music as opposed to 1950s style integral serialism where other factors, like rhythm and dynamics were also treated with similar techniques.

  9. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by BWV
    /gesture is just phrase, so how can you talk about an 'overreliance on gesture'? Music is built on phrases - no one talks about Beethoven relying too much on phrases
    I was just trying to figure it out, thinking out loud, responding to what Jonah wrote. I'd heard 'gesture' before but wasn't sure what it meant, so I asked. I guess what ensued came out wrong. My bad.

    (It should be evident from what I've written on this thread about my limited understanding of these techniques that I don't have enough knowledge to be critical, let alone arrogant).

    Back to the main conversation (and woodshed) now for me...

  10. #34
    Maybe if we posted scores---w/o some egghead breaking them down on youtube, doing the work FOR us---so we can use our ears and the gray matter beneath to discuss and come to our own conclusions?

    And I never intended this to be only about 20th Century classical---I said from the jump that analysis of ANY kind of score, jazz; classical; whatever---would be welcome. It just went there, which is fine. Doesn't have to stay there though...

  11. #35

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    Check this ... it is analyzed from POV of renaissance modality.

    But still can be interesting...

    Unfortunately most of other stuff I see on YouTube is too much 'by the book' and I cannot really take it seriously... and doing it myself is tempting but too difficult technically


  12. #36
    Also, I'd like to ask ALL of us to put things in plainspoken language. Technical terms are technical terms, but that aside can we please tamp down on the $5 words?

    I had to learn to do that teaching children, but it applies IMO across the board, if we want to reach (and not put off) people.

    Thanks...