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Bombast

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Posted on April 26, 2012 at 09:28:11
Mike Porper
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Posts: 1084
Location: Chicago
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Is Dwight Eisenhower still president of the United States of America? Hmm...let me check. Nope. I've checked, and it's actually the Year of Our Lord 2012, common era.

Cell phones, internet, 13 year-olds with tongue piercings, and flabby 50-year women with bright, fiberglass-blonde hair and leg tattoos. Definitely not 1955. Definitely.

Yup. It's 2012, confirmed. So, why are we still talking about "bombast"? Bombast? Bombast? You mean the thundering Rap/Techno thumping of the car next to me? That bombast? Or, the heavy metal/post-punk/rock band playing in some 100,000 seat outdoor stadium with enough loudness to blast a rocket straight into deep space? Is that what you're talking about? Pop/rock/whatever, in general?

Bombast? What, in classical music? You're kidding, right? Oh - oh - oh - I see. Any forte for full orchestra [known as a "tutti"], any expression of emotion; anything with power or feeling at all, is bombast. Great music shouldn't have any of that. All music should sound like an imitation Chopin nocturne...taken down a notch or two. All nocturne - all the time.

Guys - come on. Get real. We live in an age of hearing-damage music, playing with inconceivable intensity. And, in the Classical world, HIP threatens to revise all classical music ever written [even if it was written yesterday]. They play Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven as if they really were playing the most insane speed-metal ever created. Insane attacca; extreme tempi. HIP Mozart sounds like some paranoid schizophrenic on a killing spree in HIP hands. So, with all of that going on, how can you seriously talk about "bombast"?

Music should have feeling. Lot's of it. All of it. Not just one shade of nocturne-pianissimo droning, but the whole range of human emotion. You can see why today's young people mostly hate classical music. In the rare instances that they're exposed to it, they get some wimpy old fart's idea of "zero-bombast" boring twaddle.

I say that the word "bombast" should be stricken forever from any musical discussion. It should be forbidden. And, anyone trying to insert the notion into a discussion of music should be immediately and harshly corrected. Talking about "bombast" in classical music's like spitting on the sidewalk and saying that it's raining. Just not true.

I realize that I'm sounding angry here. I won't apologize for it. I don't intend to offend anyone, but, I just can't stifle how I feel about the particular issue.

 

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HIP?, posted on April 26, 2012 at 12:10:57
Frihed89
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Posts: 13764
Location: Copenhagen
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Based on my limited experience, knowingly with HIP, I have to disagree. A friend recommended Lisa Batiashvili, Echoes of Time. She said it was HIP.

I thought it was just beautiful, tremendous emotion. But then I think the same of some of the lyrical music of Metallica and Pearl Jam.
Observe, before you think. Think before you open your yap. Act on the basis of experience.

 

Sober reflection would have dulled your points, which IMHO are right on! [nt] ;-), posted on April 26, 2012 at 17:12:10
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Lisa may be many things, but she's not a HIPster, posted on April 26, 2012 at 17:15:54
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There are a couple of babe violinists who are stricken with the HIP malaise (Janine, Alina), but J-Fi and Lisa are shining examples of artists who dare to stand up to the HIP onslaught! ;-)

 

What's the problem? I'm sure the classical guys used the very same word to describe..., posted on April 26, 2012 at 18:05:59
genungo
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Posts: 3086
Location: Rocky Mountains
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... whatever they felt was "bombastic". Maybe Brahms and Tchaikovsky considered some of the music from the previous era to be "bombastic" too ? Would that surprise you or tick you off ?

 

RE: Sober reflection would have dulled your points, which IMHO are right on! [nt] ;-), posted on April 26, 2012 at 18:47:37
genungo
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Even though the word "bombast" was more often used to describe "inflated" speech or language, it seems that in modern usage the meaning has changed slightly. It's now a tag for anything in "art" that is characterized by poofiness...

 

Not sure I get your point - are you referring to hair poofiness? [nt], posted on April 26, 2012 at 22:57:15
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RE: Lisa may be many things, but she's not a HIPster, posted on April 27, 2012 at 03:04:18
Frihed89
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Posts: 13764
Location: Copenhagen
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Reassuring. I probably wouldn't know the HIP malaise, if I heard it, though.
Observe, before you think. Think before you open your yap. Act on the basis of experience.

 

RE: "Bombast"... , posted on April 27, 2012 at 04:03:00
genungo
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Location: Rocky Mountains
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... was once used as a name for the fluffy or inflated looking cotton garments worn by some back in the renaissance days. By the 18th century, with a twist of the imagination, the word started being used to describe INFLATED (grandiloquent, pretentious, etc...) speech or writing. But when we use extensions of the term here, I'm pretty sure we are trying to describe music characterized by an "inflated" or grandiloquent style. So, "poofy" = inflated or "bombastic"... get it?

 

RE: Bombast, posted on April 27, 2012 at 04:52:14
RC Daniel
Audiophile

Posts: 1709
Location: Brisbane
Joined: November 3, 2002
Time ot move on to neo-classical and more classically driven ambient (no, not new age, please) then. Perhaps (thankfully?) not the technical capability, but loads of subtle, quiet, emotion-laden beauty. Take care though, some (much?) of this music is electronica...

Try A Winged Victory for the Sullen as a starter. Stars of the Lid? The Dead Texan? Actually, these are all SOTL-related. Hmmm, Harold Budd, Borhen and der Club of Gore, Loscil, Marconi Union, Robin Guthrie, some Brian Eno... The Necks?..

Cheers.
“As long as we have any intention to be right… we should be wary. So long as words have the slightest ego attachment, they are dishonest.” Charlotte Joko Beck

 

How can I seriously talk about bombast?, posted on April 27, 2012 at 08:34:12
rbolaw
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Here's how -- Most of what we now call classical music was written, if not before the industrial revolution began, at least before it had it's full effect on all aspects of our culture. And it was a quieter world back then. You could hear the wind rustling the leaves and the birds chirping.

Nowadays, everything has to be louder to be heard over the constant background din of our modern lives, and as you point out, what is considered loud music is probably a lot louder than the loud music of hundreds of years ago.

Also, concert halls are much larger now because the middle class created by the industrial revolution wants to be entertained. Instruments and voices must be louder, or more numerous, to fill that space.

IMO the HIP movement was a reaction to all that and was a wonderful thing -- at first. Alas, IMO the movement soon became too bound up by its own rigid rules and traditions and an academic and pedagogic industry that had to justify its own existence. Ironic, since the original idea was to get past rigid rules and traditions and get closer to the music.

 

Got it - thanks! [nt] ;-), posted on April 27, 2012 at 09:13:27
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Like Romanticism, Bombast is a many splendored thing..., posted on April 27, 2012 at 17:07:35
genungo
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Some of us like to associate bombast with musical romanticism, and it may be true that music from the "romantic era" is bombastic at times. Some of us might not know, however, that there was more than one Romantic era. Arnold Schoenberg announced the era of "New Romanticism" - ("Romanticism is dead. Long live the New Romanticism."). And did you know that Schoenberg - thorough genius that he was - stealthily and without fanfare introduced "New Bombast" as well? Before Schoenberg, it was emotional bombast. Afterwards, intellectual bombast came to the fore.

 

RE: Bombast, posted on May 3, 2012 at 19:01:30
Picklesnapper
Audiophile

Posts: 249
Location: East Coast U.S.
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Question of ignorance: What is this HIP to which you refer? Is it an acronym? Is it a movement, a genre or something similar? I have never heard or read about it before and if I knew what it is I might be able to understand what your wrote about. Until then what you wrote seems to be akin to the rantings of the local village crackpot and nothing more.

 

What is HIP?, posted on May 4, 2012 at 14:53:52
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HIP = Historically Informed Performance. Here's a good discussion of it:

 

Historically Informed Performance, posted on May 4, 2012 at 14:59:37
Mike Porper
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Posts: 1084
Location: Chicago
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It's a movement within classical music that contends to recreate how music was actually played in the time in which it was written.

 

RE: What is HIP?, posted on May 4, 2012 at 15:20:01
Kal Rubinson
Reviewer

Posts: 9711
Joined: June 5, 2002
Here's one version but I prefer Buddy Guy.

Kal

 

I like that kind of HIP a lot better! [nt], posted on May 4, 2012 at 21:48:35
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