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Who needs home keys? And why I hate Mozart......

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Posted on January 3, 2017 at 06:22:54
andy evans
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Anyone for endless resolutions to the home key? Anyone for Mozart? Well, not me. I'm tonic-ed right out. Can't take it any more.

Not after Wagner, Debussy and onwards. tonalities that float, move and grow, just like life floats, moves and grows.

Mozart to me is like going to the corner of the street, looking about and the going back home again. Then visiting the chap across the road, and coming home again. Then....... off again somewhere...... and then coming right back home again. Ugh... give me Bach rather than that - he has longer lines which evolve.

Lately I've been listening to a lot of Janacek operas. Very tonic-free..... liberating... like Giant Steps was in jazz.

Surely I can't be alone in this?

 

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Returning frequently to the 'home key' is very comforting...., posted on January 3, 2017 at 07:15:06
Ivan303
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especially as you grow older. ;-)



 

Ha ha, there are some lovely exceptions though, do try the K 379 G Major Violin Sonata , posted on January 3, 2017 at 08:27:11
jdaniel@jps.net
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I also like the Harp Concerto and Piano Concerto 25 (with Moravec). Lots of harmonic surprises in the Piano Concerto.

Mozart might be better for old age.

 

You're not alone., posted on January 3, 2017 at 08:56:06
D Harvey
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As I get older, I find myself less and less tethered to tonality, period, let alone very traditional "functional" harmony. After a while in my playing days, I remember often feeling like I didn't care if I ever heard another 12 bar blues or rhythm tune ever again.

I recognize that Mozart was great at what he did, but I find most of his music too aristocratic in nature to really appeal to me. The relatively small harmonic vocabulary doesn't help. He lived in a far different world than I do.

dh

 

You are so right......, posted on January 3, 2017 at 09:10:25
andy evans
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......After a while in my playing days, I remember often feeling like I didn't care if I ever heard another 12 bar blues or rhythm tune ever again......"

This is SOOOOOOOOO what I went through.......I burned out of playing standards in my mid 30s and became a performance psychologist instead. I've had a good life since - became a university lecturer, wrote books and now work in a big rock academy.

I still play the bass when the music's interesting. But if I had to hear "Right then......how about Stella anyone.....?" on another pub gig I'd probably throw up.

 

When you get even older you don't even bother to leave home... , posted on January 3, 2017 at 09:12:33
andy evans
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It's just tonic, tonic, tonic...... with a bit of gin tossed in, hopefully.......

 

Here in Califiornia, as of Jan. 1, 2017,..., posted on January 3, 2017 at 09:23:41
Ivan303
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it's toke, toke, toke and never leave home! ;-)



 

There will come a day when you will want a home key [nt], posted on January 3, 2017 at 09:50:22
Amphissa
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.

"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)

 

Sure..., posted on January 3, 2017 at 09:52:08
D Harvey
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...but on every movement of every piece?!?

dh

 

Mozart et al, posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:10:22
Amphissa
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I have never been a Mozart fan -- the only exception being The Magic Flute, which I enjoy for its fantasy story. His music is for me, formulaic, simplistic, tedious, and just plain boring. I recognize that most of the listening world loves Mozart. His music just ain't for me.

Are you averse to the word "atonal" -- defined as "marked by avoidance of traditional musical tonality; especially: organized without reference to key or tonal center" You seem to avoid the term.

Although I can and do enjoy atonal works, I also find that some composers are much more to my liking than others. Because atonality can also be deadly boring for me if it also lacks a sense of lyricism or development or seems to aimlessly go nowhere.

Other than Wagner and Debussy, what composers do you really like that are less tethered to a home key?


"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)

 

The joke had to do with lost keys and also old age [nt], posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:11:37
Amphissa
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.

"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)

 

Wait - isn't that minimalism? [nt] ;-), posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:17:33
Chris from Lafayette
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:-) nt, posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:28:56
Rick W
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nt

 

:-) /n, posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:39:46
Ivan303
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n



 

No - I don't mean atonal, just not tethered to home key, posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:42:07
andy evans
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I'd make an exception of some late Mozart - Jupiter symphony, Gm String Quintet K516 - but it's a toss up between early Mozart and Hello Dolly...

What do I listen to and like? Richard Strauss opera and songs. The key changes right at the start of 4 Last Songs are magical for instance, and Frau Ohne Schatten gets an occasional listen. Janacek operas in general - Katya Kabanova in particular has fascinating key changes, construction, and interaction between orchestra and voices. Wagner of course, and Debussy. Berg, like 3 orchestral pieces and 7 Early Songs. Bartok, 6 Quartets etc. Messiaen organ works like La Nativite du Seigneur. That kind of thing.

I dabble in songwriting as a hobby, and I really wonder how you could make popular music less rooted in tonality and still have some kind of mass appeal. If you can think of any examples I'd be grateful to know about it.

 

Mozart isn't my favorite composer either, but, certainly, he has his moments, posted on January 3, 2017 at 10:58:01
Chris from Lafayette
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What I really hate is Schnabel's tired old dictum, "Mozart - too easy for children, too difficult for adults." What a crock!

Moreover, the musicians who tend to specialize in Mozart and the late 18th century almost never tend to be interesting either (just IMHO - of course there are a few exceptions).

Nevertheless, if we look at other aspects of the music besides its restricted harmony (and it DOES feel restricted most of the time!), there are indeed some interesting aspects to Mozart's works:
  • Counterpoint (Jupiter Symphony, C-minor Mass, Requiem, etc.)
  • Macro Rhythm (e.g., the C-major String Quintet, with its five-measure groupings at the very beginning)
  • Color (the C-minor Wind Serenade, K. 388 - also the two previous wind Serenades)
  • Chromaticism (I admit this doesn't occur very often, but check out the Rondo in A-minor, K. 511, for piano)
  • Terrific technical challenges for singers (most obviously, Queen of the Night, but other roles too)
There are other interesting elements in Mozart's music, some of which have already been mentioned in other posts. Mozart is one of my wife's favorite composers, and I sometimes quote her the line in Hitchcock's "Vertigo": "Mozart's the boy for you!" ;-)

 

I too have no affinity toward Mozart, posted on January 3, 2017 at 11:20:02
banpuku
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I find Mozart's music to be boring and repetitive. Over the past two years I have strongly migrated toward 20th and 21st century chamber music. Some of my favorites:

Bartok
Shostakovich
Schnittke
Guibadulina

Their music challenges me mentally and keeps my interest. No cyclical rehash of melodies that I hear in Mozart.

 

RE: No - I don't mean atonal, just not tethered to home key, posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:03:13
Amphissa
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Mass appeal? Zappa was hugely popular and his music still sells. He was definitely out there with a lot of his music.

Probably not many achieve mass appeal. But Tin Hat has recorded 6 albums of very eclectic music spanning a lot of styles and they tour quit a lot, so they do have a bit of a following. Try this one:








"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)

 

Wow! Kind of Kurt Weill meets The Simpsons, posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:12:51
andy evans
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...with liberal doses of Klezmer.


 

Ah...my bad. (nt), posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:22:16
D Harvey
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D'oh!
dh

 

RE: Who needs home keys? And why I hate Mozart......, posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:38:45
Ah, c'mon, Andy. True, Mozart used what we now would consider a rigid, formal, and at first glance limited musical language. It's pretty easy to write something that's short and simple but clearly in the style of Mozart.
But Mozart was somehow able to tease out a whole lot of depth and elaborate detail out of that seemingly simple language. And that including wandering very far from the tonic, even if he always returned in the end. Look at the introduction to the Dissonant string quartet, or the late piano concertos, for example.
What Bach did for counterpoint (i.e., expand the concept on a grand scale), Mozart did for modulation.

 

Here's a good one..., posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:44:24
D Harvey
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...though not really "popular". Try the album "Pony Express Record" by the band Shudder to Think. Quite loosely tonal post-punk rock music. One of my favorite rock albums of the 90's. The track Chaka has some nice changes that might tickle your modulation bone.

dh

 

Funny, I feel that Mozart's modulations are only rarely striking, posted on January 3, 2017 at 14:06:27
Chris from Lafayette
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Really, I think he was far outdone in this respect by Schubert, not to mention by composers in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as disparate as Dvorak (beginning of the slow movement of the New World Symphony) and Rachmaninoff (beginning of the slow movement of the Second Piano Concerto). Those are examples of extraordinary modulations IMHO. Mozart, not so much.

I of course agree with you about the slow intro to the "Dissonant" String Quartet, less so about the late piano concertos. In fact, the finale of the D-minor Piano Concerto in particular always grates on me, as Mozart loses his nerve and is unable to resist bringing in that trite little D-major theme at the end. Ugh! If he's going to write a concerto in a minor key, it's better for him to do what he does in the C-minor Concerto and keep his nerve up (in the minor key) through to the end.

 

Well, most of their stuff is not that weird, posted on January 3, 2017 at 14:50:56
Amphissa
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Try this one, which does drift away from the home key in places and threads of atonality creep in. Haunting in a spooky French kind of way. They did a movie soundtrack too, but I forget the title. Most of their music is not weird, it's just uncommon instrumentation and arrangements.






"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)

 

Really cool one in the 3rd mov't of the PC 25. nt, posted on January 3, 2017 at 15:08:51
jdaniel@jps.net
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.

 

RE: Funny, I feel that Mozart's modulations are only rarely striking, posted on January 3, 2017 at 16:04:54
Travis
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Yeah, Mahler was a lot more inventive with key changes.

What's your point?

I prefer Haydn but maybe that's just me.




"If people don't want to come, nothing will stop them" - Sol Hurok

 

RE: " it's a toss up between early Mozart and Hello Dolly...", posted on January 3, 2017 at 17:37:22
Ivan303
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"Ouch!"





 

Ooooooh ..., posted on January 3, 2017 at 19:05:56
Only January 3, and you've already lost the straight path and wandered into a dark wood.

 

Was responding to a point in the previous post - did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? [nt], posted on January 3, 2017 at 19:25:54
Chris from Lafayette
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As you know, I'm never far from the dark woods! [nt] ;-), posted on January 4, 2017 at 00:08:33
Chris from Lafayette
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RE: Oh, you thought I was awake. nt, posted on January 4, 2017 at 07:46:58
Travis
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.
"If people don't want to come, nothing will stop them" - Sol Hurok

 

I guess I've now been disabused of that notion [nt] ;-), posted on January 4, 2017 at 08:59:54
Chris from Lafayette
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RE: I'm not into disabusing. nt, posted on January 4, 2017 at 12:13:06
Travis
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.
"If people don't want to come, nothing will stop them" - Sol Hurok

 

RE: Who needs home keys? And why I hate Mozart......, posted on January 4, 2017 at 12:44:47
bald2
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Our 21st century sensibilities certainly make it difficult to enjoy some music out of context. After all, Mozart was writing for a vastly different audience than today's, without as much formal education or exposure to music. We may not appreciate that we listen to music with post- Stravinsky, post-12 tone and post- rock and roll (etc...) ears. Perhaps someone else has posted something to this effect here; I haven't read all of the posts in this thread. It seems to me that we might re-frame the subject a bit and seek ways to appreciate music more for it's expressive qualities than it's technical limitations. To whit, I offer Stravinsky's love of Gesualdo...

This being said, I don't know of any music that speaks to the heart as directly as "Deh Vieni Non Tardar" from Figaro, as profoundly as the inner movements of the G minor viola quintet, or as poignantly as the quartet at the end of the first act of "Cosi Fan Tutte." I, for one, couldn't possibly care less about the technical simplicity of the music. To paraphrase a famous composer, "originality is not what's important, but what is expressed."

Harry

 

And yet, somehow, I've managed to become disabused [nt] ;-), posted on January 4, 2017 at 13:21:54
Chris from Lafayette
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Yes and no....., posted on January 4, 2017 at 15:07:07
andy evans
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I don't buy the idea that we should in any way listen with "historical ears". I believe we appreciate music for what it is or isn't with our 21st century ears and culture.

But I quite see you are deeply moved by Mozart and that's fine, of course. I don't get anything out of listening to his operas, but I do agree that the Gm string quintet is pretty special.

 

Some day try Karajan's mono Cosi, posted on January 5, 2017 at 08:04:32
jdaniel@jps.net
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it's the only Mozart opera that transfixed me from beginning to end. It glows and recording has a very intimate, delicate sound.

 

As punishment:, posted on January 5, 2017 at 14:36:34
Name every modulation, and the new key, in the first movement of K. 595, which starts and ends in B-flat major.

 

Sorry - no can do (no time right now). And besides. . . , posted on January 6, 2017 at 10:07:32
Chris from Lafayette
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. . . it's not the number of modulations, it's the quality. After all, there are modulations, and there are MODULATIONS! ;-)

 

Right, and Mozart's are the LATTER, posted on January 7, 2017 at 15:13:17
To me, Mozart did for modulation what Bach did for counterpoint, Chopin (and later Debussy) for harmony, Beethoven for overall architecture and Stravinsky for polyphony. They all permanently expanded the Western musical tradition.

 

Wow! - so Schubert is chopped liver?, posted on January 7, 2017 at 18:01:49
Chris from Lafayette
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I have to say that's a singular view of music history you have there! ;-)

 

Mozart came first., posted on January 10, 2017 at 14:45:00
And my view of Mozart is not only not singular, but entirely conventional and long-accepted. This, from a brief discussion in the completely non-technical Lives of the Great Composers:

{W]hat always sets Mozart's music apart is its proportion and rightness -- its taste, if you will. That, and an inexhaustible melody joined to an extremely daring harmonic sense. A fully developed harmonic sense, a feeling for modulation, is the infallible mark of the important composer.

[ .... ]

Some of his late piano works, such as the B minor Adagio, have a harmonic texture that actually anticipates Chopin, so varied is the key structure.

 

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