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pianist, composer, conductor and musicologist

Season 2. July 2011 - June 2012. Number: 4, October 2011
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Recent trends in music composition
More or less recent trends in music composition seem to turn into an obsolescence one long lasting quest of all great composers of all times: the need for structural integrity in a musical composition. From Bach to Boulez, the structural integrity in a piece of music was always considered to be the first requirement for a consistent and interesting musical composition. Read some search results on the topic...
Is "spectralism" a new music?
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I suspect the trends of "minimalism" and "spectralism" in music composition have a profound and real motivation: laziness!
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Spectrumgstring.jpgimage from Wikimedia
Spectrum is not a structure.
Modern music perception researches showed that we are most sensitive to musical elements in the following decreasing order:
  1. Rhythm
  2. Melody
  3. Harmony, orchestration, "sound color" (spectrum)
That is proof enough for saying that a valid composition can only be build on structural bases. We can easily recognize a well-known melody no matter if it is performed by a large orchestra or a "beeper". Even more, sometimes we can recognize a melody when only its rhythm is performed. Some composers claim that there is structure in spectrum. Of course "sound color" is important but a sound spectrum does not conform to structural specifications. To be a structure an entity must have well defined properties.
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minimalistArt.jpgimage from Wikimedia
Minimalism in music stands for "debility".
Even though Minimalism in visual art can be of real aesthetic value and enjoyable, in music this trend stand for another name of "minimal-intelligence".
If a composer thinks that by composing a simple motive and repeating it "verbatim" countless of times and making some time-shifting in various parts in a pathetic aim of creating "structures".. good for him, that will obviously permit him to be very productive. However, instead of listening to the piece I would rather prefer to listen to the "theme" alone and if I am being told the "procedure" that will be used during the course of the composition, I can save myself time. The composition end there for me.
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The real art and craft of a composer can only be witnessed by reading the score.
When the composer writes down the music he/she doesn't write a set of instructions for the performer. There is much more to it. A written score is the expression of an idea. A concept, a whole, complex structure is presented to the performer. The point is to "render" that idea. Of course first it must be understand in a very complex way then it should be interpreted. There are "right" and "wrong" ways to do it. Among the right understandings there are personal variations also. By relegating the act of writing to a lesser importance level some (trendy) composers are actually unveiling their true way: the lack of an idea to transmit and their laziness to elaborate it therefore.
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Some interesting search results:

RealTime Arts - Magazine -  issue 61 - Celebration and renewal

At the core of the ensemble is a dedication to bringing out new material. A continual mission has been providing a platform, an outlet, for the aspirations of numerous young composers. This entails embracing risk in programming—the potential for failure is high but so too are the potential rewards, and some of these have been astounding.

Since 1995 Sydney-based Ensemble Offspring have been performing and commissioning new musical works. These new works are often presented in themed concerts alongside pieces written up to 80 years ago, highlighting some of the broad themes in recent music. Partch’s Bastards, for example, took up instrument building and alternative tunings, and other projects have centred on movements such as Parisian Spectralism and Polish Sonorism. This contextualising has an enriching effect, both in bringing out recent currents and ideas, and fostering new interpretative pathways within individual works. Offspring writer-in-residence Rachel Campbell talked to artistic director Damien Ricketson about the ensemble’s work.

Thoughts on Spectralism and (Bonus) My Love/Hate Relationship with Computers | Jacob Sudol

Jacob Sudol has written music for domestic and international performances by many prestigious ensembles and performers including the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Contemporary Keyboard Society, Canadian pianist Xenia Pestova, Taiwanese pianist and composer Chen-Hui Jen, Brazilian percussionist Fernando Rocha, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble in collaboration with the McGill Digital Composition Studio.  He also frequently performs his own works for instruments and electronics in diverse settings such as the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the International Computer Music Conference, the University of California San Diego, the wulf in Los Angeles, the MATA Festival, and the Issue Project Room in New York City.

Chicago Classical Review ; dal niente closes season with memorable program of modern French music

Dal niente’s concert was an exhilarating crash course in so-called Spectralism, the music of a later generation of French composers besotted by the colors and timbres inherent in specific instruments and the way those colors blend in ensemble works. The pieces, written between 1975 and 2006, included composers Tristan Murail and Gerard Grisey, pioneers in the field; and younger composers Philippe Hurel, Philippe Leroux and Fabien Levy. Two works--Hurel’s  Tombeau in memoriam Gerard Grisey  and Leroux’s  Un lieu   verdoyant—Hommage a Gerard Grisey --were tributes to Grisey, who died in 1998 at age 52.  Grisey’s monumental  Partiels,  written in 1975 for 18 instruments, closed the concert.

RealTime Arts - Magazine -  issue 61 - Celebration and renewal

Over the years, as Minimalism has become more style than concept, the term has become something of a conservative war-cry. In this concert we hope to recapture the bold experimental aesthetic that underpins the music’s origins. This is music stripped to its bare essentials, mechanical patterns repeated again and again. It will either irritate the hell out of people or induce a wonderful hypnotic state of listening. Philip Glass has authorised us to perform these works usually reserved for his own ensemble. We find ourselves in the curious position of being the first band outside the Philip Glass Ensemble to perform works such as Music In Fifths.

Spectralism Explores Physiology | Arts | The Harvard Crimson

Emily Dolan, Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania, describes Spectralism as a renaissance. “[Spectral music] is the rebirth of musical aesthetics—the return of music to human perception and sensation,” says Dolan, who was a panelist for “Sensations of Tone.” Held in the exhibition space of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments on October 27 and 28, this event showcased the movement of Spectralism, which uses the spectrum of sound to influence musical compositions. Covering an array of topics from the history of Spectralism to its various components, “Sensations of Tone” also featured vocalist Jane Sheldon and the Firebird Ensemble. The musicians performed pieces by prominent Spectralists.

Reference for Contemporary classical music - Search.com

Composers often obtain unusual sounds or instrumental timbres through the use of non-traditional (or unconventional) instrumental techniques. Examples of extended techniques include bowing under the bridge of a string instrument, using key clicks on a wind instrument, blowing into a wind instrument without a mouthpiece, or inserting object on top of the strings of a piano. Composers’ use of extended techniques is not specific to contemporary music (for instance, Berlioz’s use of  col legno  in his  Symphonie Fantastique  is an extended technique) and it transcends compositional schools and styles.

New Music reBlog: Principles of Spectralism

Grisey's emphasis on spectralism being a form of thought rather than a system of composition would seem like a relatively new concept for the 20th and 21st centuries. Much of the recently composed music stems from Schoenberg's system and undergoes other systematic modifications, and to have a composer reject any system in order to "rediscover the hierarchy," has a certain originality to it. However, it is not new and Grisey acknowledges this, but the main focus and inspiration for the spectral movement is to extend time in all directions and experiment with psycho-acoustics. This attitude also brings the audience back into the picture because the extended form of this type of writing has a transparency about it that allows the listener to follow closely and hear the intentions of the composer.

cd cover
CD: "Shadowy Arcade" Piano Solo Improvisations
My solo piano improvisations "Shadowy Arcade". The complete CD can be auditioned here...
image from Wikimedia
I recently published Structure and Spectra, you can read it here...
image from Wikimedia
I created inventor-musicae.com which is a blog dedicated to music and musicology, please connect, write,comment and share if you like.

W. A. Mozart Fantasia in D min K.397  ~ W. A. Mozart Piano Concerto n.21 KV467

Mehmet Okonsar is a pianist-composer-conductor and musicologist. Besides his international concert carrier he is a prolific writer.  He is the founder of the first classical music-musicology dedicated blog site: "inventor-musicae" as well as the first classical-music video portal : http://www.classicalvideos.net. Mehmet Okonsar's official site: http://www.okonsar.com
Inspiration By Tzvi Freeman
The Jewish sages called it da'at--roughly translated as "knowledge" or "consciousness". Knowledge usually means knowledge about things outside of oneself. But this da'at is the knowledge of the one who is knowing. The "I."
Nothing is more frightening than this knowledge [read more...]
Committee Rules:
    (1) Never arrive on time, or you will be stamped a beginner.
    (2) Don't say anything until the meeting is half over; this stamps you as being wise.
    (3) Be as vague as possible; this prevents irritating the others.
    (4) When in doubt, suggest that a subcommittee be appointed.
    (5) Be the first to move for adjournment; this will make you popular -- it's what everyone is waiting for.

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