Why the lack of love for Bartok?

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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#41
I don’t feel compelled to pull apart works that I don’t resonate with generally (I usually allow natural attrition to play out) but the General’s comments on dissonance without resolve really strikes a chord (apologies). Perhaps there is some essential emptiness there.

I do find music dominated with darkness and angst to be an understandable reflection of the world facing European composers at the beginning of the 20th century. Social discord, the struggle of the revolution, a world of great dark social repression always on the very edge of war would make any artist finding a sense of lifting spiritual resolve in writing in the burden of that dark night of the soul an extraordinary challenge.

But I do listen also to less accessible, darker and more intense and even discordant music at occasional times but for whatever reason Bartok isn’t music that I am often drawn to return to now. I do find I feel boxed in by it so maybe that is exactly the outcome of the General’s dissonance without resolve.

Adopting a musical language that was atonal -- a word telling us only what the music is not -- Bartók found the freedom to compose with his own unique logic while integrating his abiding interest in Hungarian and Romanian folk music.

This is not the emperor's new clothes. 'Dissonance without resolve' is very real to our ears and intentional from Bartók’s pen.

Dare I say we who seek resolution out of dissonance are Men of the West. (Sounds like Tolkien.)

One the one hand the chords, harmonies and phrases developed over centuries of the Western musical tradition set listeners expectations for melody, completion, and release.

On the other, it does not seem like a choice we make but rather a natural need or seeking. Do you choose to like Bartók? Or do you, can you, hear 'through' tradition without it feeling like a rupture? It's hard for me.

Bartók’s modernist approach emphasizes motoric irregular rhythms, counterpoint, accents and stresses with lots of dynamic contrast. These operate inside dissonant nucleic themes that offer little sense of journey, destination or narrative.

The meaning of many of his works always seems just around the corner, just out of reach.
A final 'breathing out', an exhale never happens.

Nonetheless, for those willing to explore, many/some of B's works offer wonder, obvious genius, and a celebration of the sheer physicality of sound. Going into him I say there is no corner. I kinda put myself aside for the moment and find Bartók offers a blend of the sophisticated and the primeval. But not everyday.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#42
Yeah it is utter garbage. I think Miles had smoked too much crack by that album. Hate it.
Whatever he smoked, I'll have some of it. Or maybe that's the joy of music like Bitches Brew, or Led Zep, or Black Sabbath, or Gong, or...well, you get my meaning, in that we can all enjoy the fruits of these guys' chemical excursions in the safety of our drug free listening rooms.
 
Likes: Al M.

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#43
I do get the aversion to music that apppears complex for it's own sake that often has no resolution. Tension/no release. Maybe this is the composer toying w the listener, torturing himself. Maybe this is just reflective of life, the journey, and not the destination.

However without knowing much about musicology, there's so much to enjoy in the combination of small-scale traditional/folk motifs woven into the bigger symphonic dissonant themes.

And if you're like me, coming to Bartok from the music it, and Stravinsky, and late 60s free jazz Coltrane, directly influenced ie King Crimson, Magma, you can feel the direct connection.

Golden Age prog and experimental jazz/fusion would not be what it was without Bartok. He's the Daddy.
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#44
Whatever he smoked, I'll have some of it. Or maybe that's the joy of music like Bitches Brew, or Led Zep, or Black Sabbath, or Gong, or...well, you get my meaning, in that we can all enjoy the fruits of these guys' chemical excursions in the safety of our drug free listening rooms.
There are countless albums of self-indulgent experimental drivel that are passed off as generational masterpieces or works of pure genius - this is one of them imho. Nothing clever or remotely genius in that conglomeration of crud. Imho Ymmv.

But I would be interested to hear from the protagonists of this album what specifically they believe is interesting or genius about it so I can gain some fresh insight.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#45
Bill, pretty much all of Miles' 70s output sharply divides opinion. The reason I believe it works is it's bridgehead to rock and the music of today. Thru producer Teo Macero's hugely innovative brutal editing/tape splicing work, he patched music from endless jams into a coherent whole. I can fully understand you might laugh at the word coherent here LOL. But if you want to experience really challenging, spiky, dissonant Miles, head to live album At Fillmore.

So, when you mix equal parts In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, On The Corner and Pangaea/Agharta, you have the blueprint for much of the serious music scene today.

I love Bitches Brew and it's dissonant jarring genius, as I love the dissonant jarring Bartok that presaged and influenced it.
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#46
Bill, pretty much all of Miles' 70s output sharply divides opinion. The reason I believe it works is it's bridgehead to rock and the music of today. Thru producer Teo Macero's hugely innovative brutal editing/tape splicing work, he patched music from endless jams into a coherent whole. I can fully understand you might laugh at the word coherent here LOL. But if you want to experience really challenging, spiky, dissonant Miles, head to live album At Fillmore.

So, when you mix equal parts In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, On The Corner and Pangaea/Agharta, you have the blueprint for much of the serious music scene today.

I love Bitches Brew and it's dissonant jarring genius, as I love the dissonant jarring Bartok that presaged and influenced it.
In a Silent Way is decent I agree. I simply don’t buy that these aforementioned pieces provided the foundation of music today. I think that is the twaddle that some jazz critics like to propagate.
 

the sound of Tao

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Jul 18, 2014
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#47
Adopting a musical language that was atonal -- a word telling us only what the music is not -- Bartók found the freedom to compose with his own unique logic while integrating his abiding interest in Hungarian and Romanian folk music.

This is not the emperor's new clothes. 'Dissonance without resolve' is very real to our ears and intentional from Bartók’s pen.

Dare I say we who seek resolution out of dissonance are Men of the West. (Sounds like Tolkien.)

One the one hand the chords, harmonies and phrases developed over centuries of the Western musical tradition set listeners expectations for melody, completion, and release.

On the other, it does not seem like a choice we make but rather a natural need or seeking. Do you choose to like Bartók? Or do you, can you, hear 'through' tradition without it feeling like a rupture? It's hard for me.

Bartók’s modernist approach emphasizes motoric irregular rhythms, counterpoint, accents and stresses with lots of dynamic contrast. These operate inside dissonant nucleic themes that offer little sense of journey, destination or narrative.

The meaning of many of his works always seems just around the corner, just out of reach.
A final 'breathing out', an exhale never happens.

Nonetheless, for those willing to explore, many/some of B's works offer wonder, obvious genius, and a celebration of the sheer physicality of sound. Going into him I say there is no corner. I kinda put myself aside for the moment and find Bartók offers a blend of the sophisticated and the primeval. But not everyday.
Thank you Tim, thoughtful, illuminating and as always beautifully written.

I also think you’ve nailed exactly what it is that doesn’t resonate for me in atonal music and why I felt so boxed in by it. There is ultimately no tonic in it. It is stuck in phase and so it is out of sync with not just we poor men of the west but with absolutely everywhere and everything. So as chaos always gives birth to order and day follows night, as breathing in leads to breathing out and all life gives way to death, the transition into every opposite brings the essential wholeness to everything.

Music is totally about healing, the experience of becoming whole. In this the tonic then is in everything.

Nothing exists in stasis not even nothing. I understand completely how the modernists could see no way out of the emptiness of those dark times but the energy it takes to stay there in the absolute dark is utterly exhausting. Everything ultimately resolves so that it can then let go and dissolve back into the chaos again. There is only change and that is ofcourse just the tao of things ;)
 
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Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#48
Speaking of healing and a spiritual oasis, don’t mind if I take a little interlude:

147F4ABF-A6E7-4C08-8AEA-A12CACFA4EA8.jpeg
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#49
In a Silent Way is decent I agree. I simply don’t buy that these aforementioned pieces provided the foundation of music today. I think that is the twaddle that some jazz critics like to propagate.
Bill, arguing about music is like trying to solve Brexit. Kinda pointless, and w no ground rules. I hear the influence of Silent Way and On The Corner in so much modern music. Indeed I believe this stuff is classical music by any definition.

Then again, I like Varese, Stockhausen, Stravinsky, and I'm not the world's greatest Mozart fan.

Bitches Brew is pure mood music. If you're never in the mood, it's not for you. Me, I'm rarely in the mood for Mozart. 20th century classical music suits my introspective tendency to gloom spiked w irony and sarcasm.

Re modern art which might be a good comparison, I could look at Pollock all day, yet pass on Rothko. I know people who are really emotional w the latter. How to explain?
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#50
Yeah forget debating Bitches and Bartok, I am back to my oasis o_O

B273855B-6F09-433E-AF77-77A200895F88.jpeg
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#51
As long as you don't actually mean Oasis, Bill? I mean, "What's The Story" w that?
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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#52
Thank you Tim, thoughtful, illuminating and as always beautifully written.

I also think you’ve nailed exactly what it is that doesn’t resonate for me in atonal music and why I felt so boxed in by it. There is ultimately no tonic in it. It is stuck in phase and so it is out of sync with not just we poor men of the west but with absolutely everywhere and everything. So as chaos always gives birth to order and day follows night, as breathing in leads to breathing out and all life gives way to death, the transition into every opposite brings the essential wholeness to everything.

Music is totally about healing, the experience of becoming whole. In this the tonic then is in everything.
My reaction to music is different. For me music is not about healing, it is about *excitement* of the mind.

Whenever I hear Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, what I follow is not so much the emotional narrative "from darkness to light" (if this often ascribed simplistic narrative is even correct), but I am just excited about the incredible quality and power of the musical proceedings, the uncanny forging of compelling musical flow across stark, constant contrasts of forms of motion (the last movement is sheer unbelievable when it comes to that).

Likewise, great modern classical music *excites* me with its musical proceedings, which become the more exciting the more I understand them.

And it is not even necessarily about emotion vs. intellect. For example, the last movement of Mahler's 7th Symphony could be superficially heard as just another triumphant ending. The casual listener might sense at the end that there is something wrong, but might move on nonetheless. But that is entirely misreading the emotion of the music. It is a false triumphalism, which has clear inflection points as to where the superficially perceived triumphant emotion goes horribly wrong, and intentionally so. Yet only when you follow the musical proceedings closely and follow these inflection points will you *understand* the *emotion*. By the way, in this respect Shostakovich has learned a lot from Mahler; the proceedings in the finales of his Fifth and Eigth, for example, can be in part directly traced back to what Mahler did in that finale of his Seventh and elsewhere.

Nothing exists in stasis not even nothing. I understand completely how the modernists could see no way out of the emptiness of those dark times but the energy it takes to stay there in the absolute dark is utterly exhausting. Everything ultimately resolves so that it can then let go and dissolve back into the chaos again. There is only change and that is ofcourse just the tao of things ;)
Again, I don't hear it that way. I just love the *musical* tension that keeps me in its grip and excites me, and don't ascribe a lot of emotional meaning to unresolved tensions. In fact, many modern composers view their music as "absolute", that is, just as music in itself, and don't identify with a listening ethos that tries to fit their music into older concepts of tension and resolution.
 

Audiophile Bill

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#53
Oh dear
68FA09EF-D6C2-47B2-B0B2-CBAB1E906B4A.jpeg
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
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#54
Oh dear good?
Or oh dear bad?
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#55

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#57
Give the guy a break LOL. He's still recovering from finding the offending disc.
 

Audiophile Bill

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#58
Feb 8, 2011
24,312
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Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#60
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Bartók)

"The concerto is notorious for its difficulty. András Schiff said, "For the piano player, it's a finger-breaking piece. [It] is probably the single most difficult piece that I have ever played, and I usually end up with a keyboard covered by blood." Stephen Kovacevich also declared that it was the most technically demanding piece he had ever played and that he nearly paralyzed his hands while preparing the piece."

Ouch!
 

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