Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

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Atmosck
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Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Atmosck » Mon May 18, 2009 3:47 am UTC

I've been reading "The Rest Is Noise," by Alex Ross lately, and listening to a lot of Phillip Glass and Boulez. I'm fascinated with both ends of the spectrum (Phillip Glass being Minimalism, Boulez (Total Serialism) and Schoenberg (12 tone) being the opposite end, Maximalism; if you don't know what i'm talking about, look them up on youtube.), and like them both much more than Romantic, Neo-Classicist, and older music. What do you guys think? I think I like glass more than serialist music, but i find with both of them such that I can't do anything else while I'm listening to them. I find serialist music kind of like listening to poetry in language I don't know: It's beautiful, but lacking an advanced degree in music, it sounds the same, like a few pieces could cover most of what the technique has to offer.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Bingo Little » Mon May 18, 2009 10:52 am UTC

Speaking as a music student, but only up to GCSE, though i should be taking it further next year, I find serialism horrible. It's the 'modern art, look mum, I hit a canvas with this brush!' school of music. Minimalism is good, done well, although some of it ends up sounding like 'hey, it's a ringtone!'.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby 6453893 » Tue May 19, 2009 12:37 pm UTC

Minimalism and Maximalism are both incredible misnomers.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Atmosck » Tue May 19, 2009 4:01 pm UTC

6453893 wrote:Minimalism and Maximalism are both incredible misnomers.


How so?

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Masily box » Tue May 19, 2009 10:28 pm UTC

I'm not familiar with the term "maximalism" referring to the Schoenberg+ school of music. It does strike me as a misnomer (more so than minimalism): what exactly is it trying to maximize?: "Precompositional" constraints? Well, in that regard, it's actually closer to minimalism than common practice music. Complexity? I think you'd be hard pressed to find a suitable definition of complexity that doesn't work just as well for Bach or Stravinsky.

I have to admit to getting pretty annoyed by devoted serialism bashers. You don't enjoy listening to serial pieces? Fine, good for you; you're with the majority. But is it necessary to claim that (solely because you don't like it) it's stupid, meaningless trash that only pretentious people pretend to like? That (especially coupled with the predictable "modern art sucks in general" line) usually just displays that you're not very interested in trying to understand art that's unfamiliar to you.

But, specifics: What pieces are we talking about that you dislike? There are many pieces from the Second Viennese School, like the violin concertos by Schoenberg and Berg, that I think are genuinely accessible even to people who normally prefer Chopin. I can understand why a lot of people dislike a piece like Webern's Variationen (Op. 27), because they seem extremely abstract and devoid of emotional expression. (This actually isn't the case for Webern's work, but that's another argument.) But there are still ways to get into Webern's music... the easiest is to appreciate his mastery of really delicate, gauzy textures. That had a major impact even outside of the serialist school (Alex Ross, I think I remember, draws a strong connection between Webern and the minimalist-y Morton Feldman). Boulez is another composer worth approaching in the same way: if you listen to Le marteau sans maître for its exquisite textures rather than for its serial structure, it's a really enjoyable piece.

A lot of people object: "But that's not the point! You're supposed to listen for the serial rows!" Which I think it completely wrong. A lot of the precompositional planning in a piece by Webern, Boulez, or Carter simply isn't audible, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing in the piece to enjoy. The music theorist David Lewin once remarked that composers, while composing, will think about anything that fires up their creative fancy: for Beethoven it might have been Napoleon, for Schoenberg and Boulez it may have been quasi-mathematical rigorous planning. The point is, we don't really care what was going on in a composer's head when she was composing; we care about what goes on in our heads when we're listening.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby 6453893 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:08 pm UTC

Atmosck wrote:
6453893 wrote:Minimalism and Maximalism are both incredible misnomers.


How so?


Because there is music far more minimal and maximal than the music to which those two genres refer. Between Philip Glass and John Cage (Who wrote the insurmountable apex of minimalist music), you have all of the minimal techno artists like Tolerance, then the minimal industrial artists like Ray Eleway, then all of the Glitch, Lowercase and Hyperminimalists (Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, Pomassl, &c), then the drone artists and finally Lowercase Drone, which is about as close to silence as you can get without legal action from John Cage's estate.

On the maximalism side, Merzbow &c &c &c &c.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby the_stabbage » Wed May 20, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

I like Arvo Part. He's minimal, isn't he?

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:22 am UTC

6453893 wrote:
Atmosck wrote:
6453893 wrote:Minimalism and Maximalism are both incredible misnomers.


How so?


Because there is music far more minimal and maximal than the music to which those two genres refer. Between Philip Glass and John Cage (Who wrote the insurmountable apex of minimalist music), you have all of the minimal techno artists like Tolerance, then the minimal industrial artists like Ray Eleway, then all of the Glitch, Lowercase and Hyperminimalists (Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, Pomassl, &c), then the drone artists and finally Lowercase Drone, which is about as close to silence as you can get without legal action from John Cage's estate.

On the maximalism side, Merzbow &c &c &c &c.


I wouldn't say 4:33 is insurmountable. I'm pretty sure 4:34 would beat it nicely.
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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby mickyj300x » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:05 am UTC

saxmaniac1987 wrote:
6453893 wrote:
Atmosck wrote:
6453893 wrote:Minimalism and Maximalism are both incredible misnomers.


How so?


Because there is music far more minimal and maximal than the music to which those two genres refer. Between Philip Glass and John Cage (Who wrote the insurmountable apex of minimalist music), you have all of the minimal techno artists like Tolerance, then the minimal industrial artists like Ray Eleway, then all of the Glitch, Lowercase and Hyperminimalists (Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, Pomassl, &c), then the drone artists and finally Lowercase Drone, which is about as close to silence as you can get without legal action from John Cage's estate.

On the maximalism side, Merzbow &c &c &c &c.


I wouldn't say 4:33 is insurmountable. I'm pretty sure 4:34 would beat it nicely.


http://instantrimshot.com/

On the topic, i'm quite a fan of Xenakis. Not so much Cage and Stokchausen, but I like the effects he drags out of instruments.

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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Antimatter Spork » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:30 pm UTC

the_stabbage wrote:I like Arvo Part. He's minimal, isn't he?

His early work is modernist (I think he used 12 tone methods, but I'm not entirely sure), his middle period is neo-renaissance, and his most recent music uses a technique that he calls "tintinnabuli" but that many people would describe as minimalistic.

Also who the heck uses the term "maximalist" to describe music of the second viennese school and their followers? I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever seen that used, and I'm a music theory major.
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Re: Minimalism vs Maximalism (Serialism, 12-Tone, Atonal, etc.)

Postby Atmosck » Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:31 am UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:
the_stabbage wrote:I like Arvo Part. He's minimal, isn't he?

His early work is modernist (I think he used 12 tone methods, but I'm not entirely sure), his middle period is neo-renaissance, and his most recent music uses a technique that he calls "tintinnabuli" but that many people would describe as minimalistic.

Also who the heck uses the term "maximalist" to describe music of the second viennese school and their followers? I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever seen that used, and I'm a music theory major.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximalism

I heard it first from my dad, who has a doctorate in composition. (Referring to Carl Ruggles.)


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