Objectivists board room

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by joe bloggs, May 28, 2015.
  1. amirm
    Indeed we would go nuts since every surface in our surroundings causes it (delayed sound combined with the direct). This is also why many reflections are turned out just the same and not heard as "echos." What seems to be a copy of the original (direct sound) is mostly discarded (if it is close enough to timbre of the original).
  2. RRod
    Party foul: adding in wall of text after initial post :p

    The B's went a long way to making their works relevant by making their works bada$$. Even through a midi-synth Bach sounds good, so while of course interpretive art is best with an interpreter, we can't overemphasize the role of the performer too much over the role of the composer (pila405 said as much above and I agree with him).

    I think we need to separate the instrumentation of HIP versus its other benefits. I'm perfectly fine hearing Mozart on a pianoforte rather than a fortepiano. But, having now been exposed to the work of the Robert Levins of the world, I am NOT OK with performers today continuing to eschew the improvisational aspects of the music, regardless of the instrument. It really adds some juice to the mix, and at this point ignoring it is just laziness. This is what HIP has given us, not oboes that sound more shawm-y.

    Technical approach has a large effect on the emotional impact. Just a tad more or tad less vibrato from the strings can make all the difference. So too can a perfectly executed bit of improvised ornamentation. Such decisions are entirely possible on modern instruments; performers just have to be willing to consider them. So one should in fact be thankul for HIP's effect on emotional impact. Would Heifetz have been able to express *less* with a wider variety of technical and improvizational devices? If there was a swing too far to the 'right' with HIP initially, I think the centrization is happening now and it's a good thing.
    Brahmsian and pila405 like this.
  3. RRod
    I think we see the tensions between two related but fundamentally different questions:
    1) Had Bach lived to be 300, what would he think of modern standard performances of his older works?
    2) If we transported modern standard performers back 300 years, what would Bach think of them?

    Gould's Mozart is reason for him to have been shot; Gould's Bach is reason for the bullet to have been rubber.
  4. bigshot
    I actually don't care to be completely honest. Dead composers don't make music. Living musicians do. (set up line for the obvious joke there)

    I work with artists for a living. The way artists create is a process, not a destination. When art stops evolving, it gets shipped off to a museum and becomes a dead object... much like a frog in a jar of formaldehyde. Living art is a part of society. It evolves with the people it serves and reflects modern sensibilities. I might have a historical interest in seeing the Mona Lisa. I'd say, "Hey, look at that! The world's most famous painting. I bet it's worth a lot of money!" But artistically, I would probably be more excited to see an insanely creative 25 year old drawing on a placemat in a coffee shop. Spontaneity is a laser beam from the soul. It's hard for any 300 year old object to be spontaneous. Music has an advantage over painting and sculpture because it requires a living person to bring it to life. Notes are just marks on paper until someone performs them. It's the same with acting. I don't go to see Olivier in Hamlet to see Shakespeare. I know how it ends already! I go to see the great actor and find out what he is bringing to the table. Likewise, I don't go to a classical concert to hear Beethoven. I go to hear what the conductor or soloist brings to it.

    Early on when I was just getting interested in classical music, I aspired to have the one perfect recording of each work. I read my Penguin Guide and dutifully bought only five stars and rosettes. Then one day I picked up some used CDs on the cheap that were rated as "just average", and I found that there were ideas in those "average" recordings that illuminated some aspects of the works that the rosettes missed completely. I also got a couple of recordings that were rated as bombs, and even though they might not be the best example of that particular work, the experiment was fascinating and taught me something. Failures in art are as important as successes. Marcel Duchamp is known for his R Mutt, and I have absolutely no connection to that piece because it's like shooting fish in a barrel. No creative risk to it, just the risk of being punched in the nose. But the idea behind his failed experiment Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors is fascinating to me. Experiments that don't work are as important as experiments that do, because it isn't an experiment unless there is a possibility of failure.

    Today, the performances I value are the ones that are unique creatively. Show me something I haven't seen. Play something I haven't heard. To hell with "historical accuracy" or "tradition". The whole idea of an established "performance practice" makes me bristle. As Pablo Picasso said, "The chief enemy of art is good taste."

    I'll have to pull out my Gould Mozart and listen to them again.
  5. RRod
    Keeping this as short as I can:

    1) Living *composers* are also making music; should their expectations for the peformances of their works not have the utmost consideration?
    2) When LvB 7 is on the programme, I expect to hear LvB 7, not a symphony with an Adagio 2nd movement. HIP helped to change customs that I for one feel were explicitly counter to the expressive intentions of the composer/piece.
    3) Recordings of dead conductors are hardly spontaneous at this point, but we still like them.
    4) Your Picasso quote is curious, because I have often heard HIP detractors claim that they found the performances in bad taste. They want prim and proper Bach, not anything with rough edges.
    5) My reference to 'standard performers' wasn't to HIP, but to the generic big-band orchestral sound HIP sought to question.
    6) Gould's Mozart certainly is unique and creative, I'll grant that.

    I'll reassert that I think if the net effect of HIP has been to broaden the interpretive gamut of orchestras at large, then I can't see how that movement has been counter to creativity.
  6. bigshot
    Living composers can express a preference. They're living and if they don't like a performance, they can punch the conductor in the nose! But once they're dead, all bets are off. The living get to define how the dead are remembered. No fighting it. I'm afraid that's true of all of us once we shed this mortal coil.

    Expressing a personal preference or non-preference is different than claiming that a particular way is the proper way to present a work. Go ahead and say you like or don't like a performance and feel free to explain why it works better expressively or doesn't work at all. Just don't say one is more "accurate" or "proper". If there truly was one proper interpretation, you can record it once and never have to record it again. The only reason for multiple recorded versions of a work is to present a wide range of different approaches. If it's really true that recordings of dead composers' works aren't spontaneous any more, then we don't need any more recordings of them. Time to put it on the shelf next to all the other dead culture. It can gather dust between the exhibits on square dancing and macrame.

    As long as HIP represents itself as just being another approach equal to all the other ones, and we can judge it on its own merits, not some sort of historical yardstick, it's fine. My objection is to claiming that Mozart is only really Mozart when it's played in the HIP manner, and it isn't Mozart when Karajan plays it, That kind of thing cuts the legs off of half of the creativity in a performance and leads to homogeneous music. The only reason that HIP isn't entirely homogeneous is due to the fact that historians can't get their act together and agree on what music used to sound like. Personally, I don't care much how music used to sound. I only care about how it's going to sound. Future tense, not past tense.

    I'll defend the right to make a mistake to the end. I've found that creative mistakes are much better to learn from than creative successes. Every great painting starts from a blank canvas and a totally fresh idea. It often comes on the tails of a big flop too.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  7. Raketen
    hope not repeats, only know the Latry on DG & Latry + Philly NAXOS of these.

    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
    JaeYoon likes this.
  8. Caribou679
    AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita [-]
    The grande dame of French organists, Marie-Claire Alain recorded the complete organ music of Bachnot once, not twice, but three times. This collection is the third recording, made in the late '80s and early '90s, and recorded digitally by Erato. For this version, Alain had access to restored, historic organs, including some that Bach himself would have played. This affected the way she approached the music, trying to choose the right organ to match the work and where it fell chronologically in Bach's career, and choosing the matching technique as well. In an interview with the magazine The Organ, Alain said "This third cycle is also much more musicological in approach, since we know much more now about performance practice in Bach's day and of other composers of his time: different position of the hands on the keyboard, different fingering, accentuation.... Our entire approach has to be rethought in terms of what we have since discovered." This more is a mature version of the master composer's works than her earlier ones, made by an artist well-respected for her dedication to early music performance practice as well as her musicality.

    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
    RRod likes this.
  9. sonitus mirus
    Nothing wrong with a dame working an organ.
  10. bigshot
    The best sounding organ I've ever heard is the one at Cathedral of Our Lady in Los Angeles. Organ technology has come a long way since Bach's time. LA is lucky to have one of the best tricked out organs in the world.

    Years ago, I remember seeing a documentary on PBS about a super organ in New Jersey. They were restoring it from the bottom up. It had pipes that were incredibly large. I wonder if they finished restoring it?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  11. james444 Contributor
  12. RRod
    I'll end my part of this by saying I disagree with the 'dead have no say' mantra, as there is such a thing as a will. Some things get put in the will because the person definitely wants them to happen. Other things get left out of the will because the person knows things will happen due to custom/law. I think for a while there was way too much deliberate ignoring of the former, and not enough interest in the latter. I think HIP shored that up a bit and I'm happy for it. The quote from the organist above I think sums it up well.

    As far as more organ music, if you haven't heard Ligeti's Volumina, give it a shot. If you want a nice recording of the Poulenc concerto, the sound of Latry's disc with Philly/Eschenbach is really good.
    pila405 likes this.
  13. bigshot
  14. Brahmsian
    It's been an interesting read, but also a pointless one in my opinion. I've liked some historically informed performances and haven't liked others. Same holds true of performances in general. Why take a doctrinaire or hard line attitude one way or the other?
  15. Argyris Contributor
    I've never had the experience of hearing an organ live. It's on my bucket list, along with having the opportunity to actually play one. I'm a pianist by training, so I'd be limited to using the keyboards and maybe tapping the pedals occasionally, but it would still be awesome.
    JaeYoon likes this.

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