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If I had manners... - Corrosive Shame
Therapy for Life
kneeshooter
kneeshooter
If I had manners...
Greetings from Sunny London, where the air is thick with traffic noise, and instead of an alarm clock you have the piercing sirens of the emergency services on their way to collect ne'er do wells - or douse them in water so the sickly smell of their burning flesh doesn't put the honest commuter off his breakfast.

Last night quondam and I travelled down to see the Lord of the Rings Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a thought provoking piece on a number of levels, and had me considering music, the playstation generation, bubbles and how to commit murder quietly and quickly.

First up the music. It was tremendous, though the very talented soloist really struggled making the pop songs sound interesting. Her technical quality somehow dampened down the more raw voices on the orginal recordings - especially the case with Gollum's Song (one of my favourites). Lots of top choral action (a growing soft spot for me) and string instruments (playing a chord on my heart strings). There was also a nod to my more contemporary tastes, and the Uruk clashing noise (you'll know it if you know it) is made by a roving percussionist hitting a metal sheet while wearing a boxing glove (or that's what it looked like).

I did start thinking of the credibility of such music - and how this "movie soundtrack" has become a "symphony" - something that I always associate with central european men with wigs. Would Mozart be writing for George Lucas these days? Are movie scores the operetta of the 21st century? Answers on a postcard.

The hall itself had a huge projection screen over the orchestra. On this was beamed a "powerpoint" showing the rough position of the music in the narrative using John Howe's drawings. I'm not sure what I made of it. To some extent it felt like the director had decided that the (mixed age) audience needed something to watch as well as they listened, and that the orchestra itself wouldn't hold their attention - which I felt rather patronising and unnecessary; but then it was nice to be reminded of how the music did itself tell a story. On balance I'd rather have done without it - or at least had a "slide show" of stills rather than the zooming and panning of images that seemed half way to a pop-video.

Finally bubbles. Whether I'm in the cinema, theatre, or listening to music I tend to try and erect a personal forcefield and do pretty well in keeping the rest of reality at arms length. This is why I don't like to talk in the cinema, theatre, Royal Albert Hall or even when I'm watching TV (though differentiate between watching and background noise). So, I don't want you bursting my bubble with noisy sweet wrappers (two people immediately in front with their eclairs); conversation (two people immediately to the left) or mobile phone (somewhere behind and to the right). Just get a grip!

However I was myself apparently "breathing too loudly through my nose" (quondam) and I'll save a special rant for users of flash...

Just say no!

Dear user of camera inside hall:
  • The programme says "No cameras"

  • Your flash will not reach the stage - it will only illuminate the heads of the people in front of you

  • Your picture will be crap

  • Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you should.
I suppose I'd better do some work now.
19 lies or Lie to me
Comments
duranorak From: duranorak Date: September 24th, 2004 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
My, what a gorgeous writeup.

Would Mozart be writing for George Lucas these days?
Mum and Dad and I frequently hold this conversation as we flick past Classic FM TV and see a seemingly endless parade of orchestras playing themes from Star Wars/LotR/Braveheart etc.
However. Is Philip Glass writing for George Lucas? What about John Adams? Birtwistle? No. They're not, however, as populist - or popular - as Mozart was in his day. So the question really is whether, because Mozart's operas were as popular as today's film scores, we should draw a parallel between the two for that reason, or whether we should respect the (massive) difference in the type of work and continue to link Mozart with modern operatic composers and instead compare film scores with, say, the pieces Offenbach used to write for the short ballets which covered the changes of scenery in 19th century plays and operas...

Are movie scores the operetta of the 21st century?
No. Musicals are the operetta of the 21st century. :)

*ahem* Sorry. Got carried away there. You put questions in your post, silly boy. ~s~

E.
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kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I half-hoped and half-feared you'd answer... suspecting you'd spot the inaccuracies in my pre-GCSE understanding of terminology :-)

The populist argument was the core of my point - I see (though not through any great study - more repeated viewings of Amadeus) Mozart as a popular composer. I think the nature of the context is more important than the nature of the content.

Of course you can apply this to almost every form of "art", though the others that come to mind are "architecture" (where people get very emotional) and "literature". The latter of course neatly takes us back to Tolkein and his quest to write/reproduce an Epic in the 1940s.
duranorak From: duranorak Date: September 24th, 2004 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
inaccuracies in my pre-GCSE understanding of terminology
Only in that Mozart didn't write operetta. :) It sounded like that's what you were saying, anyway.

(though not through any great study - more repeated viewings of Amadeus)
[insert very long, very passionate, swearing-filled rant about how AMAZINGLY BAD that film is] Mind you, I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for Amadeus...
Christ, though, how could you stand to watch the thing more than once?

I see Mozart as a popular composer. I think the nature of the context is more important than the nature of the content.
He was a popular composer. I assume we are just talking about opera here (because the context is the closest) - and in that respect the music he was writing was popular, but mostly because it was accompanying stories that particularly resonated with people at the time. I suppose you could say the same for film scores - but that wasn't what you asked, you asked would Mozart be writing for George Lucas, and I still think the answer is no. Are Mozart's operas in terms of context comparable to classically written film scores of today? Yes. Particularly in view of the fact that it's only really in the last ten years that whole film scores have become as popular as they are, and that's like what used to happen with particular composers of opera - for a while they'd get the combination of music and subject matter absolutely right. I think that's what's happened here.

'Why?' is an entirely different question, and one I've still not managed to answer...

I'm not sure how one would apply the same thing to architecture - but then, I know very little about it. Care to elaborate?

"literature". The latter of course neatly takes us back to Tolkein and his quest to write/reproduce an Epic in the 1940s.
Well, yes, and he managed it rather well - pages and pages of unreadable descriptive prose so thick you almost entirely lose track of what the plot is.
Oh, wait, that wasn't your point, was it? ~grin~

E.
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kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
operetta

I was thinking in a more general sense - rather than just picking on Mozart.

Amadeus

Well, we watched it at school, and I've watched the DVD... I like the look of it, some of the actors and obviously the music. Those two things help me forgive the rest of it. Oh, and Peter Shaffer of the play is a friend's uncle or something so there's some loyalty value.

Context/content

I see where you're coming from now. You're (quite fairly and reasonably) applying a literal interpretation to a question I raised - where as to me it was the more general question that was more interesting.

So, and this is a question from someone who doesn't listen to modern opera as a rule - where is modern classical music at, how has it evolved and where is it going?

Architecture

There seems to be continual tension and competition between those who want to fill our cities with reproduction Georgian/Victorian designs rather than be at all creative with modern works.

The point was about yearning for some romantic historical ideal, and being obsessed with looking backwards, putting art (of all kinds) on a pedestal and considering it inviolate, rather than being brave enough to look forward. In these senses history forgets the mistakes and the mediocre.
duranorak From: duranorak Date: September 24th, 2004 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking in a more general sense - rather than just picking on Mozart.
Yes, but 'operetta' is a very specific style of composition - Jacques Offenbach and Johann Strauss are the best known composers thereof - and what Mozart, Richard Strauss, Verdi, Rossini, Benjamin Britten (etc etc etc) wrote, though popular, was still opera, from a different background and written with different intentions. Um, you can compare opera against operetta but you can't really bolt them together to compare against something *else*. If you see what I mean.

I like the look of it, some of the actors and obviously the music.
Look : Yes, it's very pretty. If you ignore the howling goon in the Dulux Dog wig in the centre of it all. Actors : Yes, they're very good. If you ignore the howling goon in the Dulux Dog wig in the centre of it all. Music : That's my mum that is. :)

whereas to me it was the more general question that was more interesting.
Yes, I got that halfway through my last comment, but I was too carried away to stop. ~grin~ Sorry.

where is modern classical music at, how has it evolved and where is it going?
Crikey. Um. It's hard to know where to start. I've mentioned really the best-known names of modern classical music already - John Adams, Harrison Birtwistle, Philip Glass, and of course the infamous John Cage. My problem is that I've heard very little of it myself - especially in terms of opera - because most of my classical music education has come through my parents, and they hate the late 20th century composers. I should be able to tell you much more at the end of this term of college...

What I do know is that as classical music (especially opera, but not only opera) became more and more about the performers - beginning with conductors, who used to be afforded much more awe and respect than any instrumentalists or singers, and moving on through the stellar instumentalists (Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, James Galway) to the hugely populist singers (and players) of today - the music became more and more minimalist and understated. I'm not necessarily stating that there's a correlation, it's just the way it's happened.

So these days most of what you'll hear if you listen to, say, Classic FM is C19th-and-before classical music being performed by the huge stars of today. (Or film scores. :) Because the minimalist direction modern classical music has taken over the last, say, 40 years, has made it very - to use a word I loathe and despise - inaccessible.

Where it's going I can't tell you, though, as I said, I should know more soon. I'm very excited about having the resources to go and find out more about more recent composers. On the course I did last year, we sang some John Cage. I've never heard anything stranger, at least that was labelled as 'classical music', in my life.

rather than be at all creative with modern works.
Well, yes. I like a really good modern building as much as the next person, but it's much harder to achieve something modern and beautiful than it is to achieve something traditional and beautiful, because it has to suit its surroundings as well as being beautiful on its own. I don't blame them.
Although, y'know. Gaudi proved that if you get it right enough, it doesn't matter what the hell style it's in. :)

putting art (of all kinds) on a pedestal and considering it inviolate, rather than being brave enough to look forward
Oh, god, don't. This comment's long enough already without starting me talking about that kind of thing...

E.
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kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Opera/operetta
I did warn you I only vaguely know what I'm talking about - but I shall feel smarter next time I have this conversation.

Amadeus
I didn't realise it was your mum... I shall have to go and watch that scene again.

Modern Classical Music
I look forward to you doing all the hard work getting your impressions at some later date then.

Other stuff
I've shut up now. Nothing controversial here. Move along. Move along!
duranorak From: duranorak Date: September 24th, 2004 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I didn't realise it was your mum... I shall have to go and watch that scene again.
Oh no no, she's not in the actual scene - the woman in the film is miming to her. :) They didn't ask permission to use the recording for the film and mum didn't get any money from it - so she sued them. ~grin~ Hence I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Amadeus...

E.
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From: feanelwa Date: September 24th, 2004 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
And Myleene Klass being incapable of miming the piano. *cries*
sixtine From: sixtine Date: September 25th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
"However. Is Philip Glass writing for George Lucas? What about John Adams? Birtwistle? No. They're not, however, as populist - or popular - as Mozart was in his day"

That's a hard argument to draw a conclusion from. Vaughan Williams, Britten? They did it. You can't tell. The populism argument sways it for me. Mozart was forced to do what was commerically viable in order to survive in a small European marketplace. People like Glass can have their music promoted worldwide and still make enough money to have a swimming pool and all mod cons. I reckon he'd be doing whatever made him the most ready cash.
From: feanelwa Date: September 24th, 2004 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a giant rant just like that for people who use flash photography during total solar eclipses. YOU CANNOT ILLUMINATE THE SUN WITH A SMALL LIGHTBULB. Although really it happens because there are a vast number of stupid people that think the flash button begins the casting of a special magic spell to ward off the demons.

Don't tell me Howard Shore is calling what he wrote 'The Lord of the Rings Symphony'. There's a proper one that was written ages ago by somebody called De Meij and every time I try to find it the stupid shop assistant emerges grinning from the stockroom with a copy of the stupid film score. Speech does not consist of a large string of AOL keywords. *thwack*
kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Howard Shore has indeed rejigged the film scores into a symphony structure.

I hadn't heard of the other one - but amazon.com has. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the amount of "music inspired by" but that causes Leonard Nimoy flashbacks.
duranorak From: duranorak Date: September 24th, 2004 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's very inspirational stuff. All that magic and those rolling hills and hills and green hills and rolling hills and hills and things.

Sorry. Sorry. ~s~ Make me go away and do some work, damn it.

E.
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echo_echo From: echo_echo Date: September 24th, 2004 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I did start thinking of the credibility of such music - and how this "movie soundtrack" has become a "symphony" - something that I always associate with central european men with wigs.

I was thinking the very thing the other day. Not that they are operettas...but that the classical music of today is comparable.

Take something like John Williams pieces for The Empire Strikes Back and compare them to Mussorgsky or Rimsky-Korsakov, even Wagner. I think some of them do stand up as classical music of the highest order. To have them as backing to a film is almost sacrelige.
From: ikkleblacktruck Date: September 24th, 2004 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Are there dishonest commuters, then? How does one spot them?
kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Not at all. Every commuter is an honest worker, toiling away for the greater good. At least, the ones on public transport are.

The ones in Suburban Assault Vehicles are another matter.
ruana1 From: ruana1 Date: September 24th, 2004 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, this morning I actually saw someone *leave* the quiet coach in order to use her mobile phone! Wonders never cease.
From: ikkleblacktruck Date: September 24th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know what planet you're on sometimes - nobody works for the greater good, they work to live, and those who claim higher principles are actually working to assuage their own egos and sense of self-righteous importance. :)

PS. There's a dealer in the latest Land Rover Owner International selling real ex-army tracked assault vehicles. I wonder what the MOT would be like?
kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: September 24th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
And people call me a cynic...
(Deleted comment)
From: ikkleblacktruck Date: September 24th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Have you seen...

Hee hee! The only problem is getting live rounds though.
19 lies or Lie to me