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Thursday, May 01, 2003
  i just love your.... bren! says:
...and you find pop music more moving than classical...? Do you feel that the two can or should be compared?
Peter says:
probably not but how much fun would we have if we couldn't set up false dichotomies?
i just love your.... bren! says:
This is fun? :-) The point you make about rhythmic complexity versus melodic is telling. Do you feel that pop music springs more from the bass/drums rhythmic underpinning of jazz music than it does from the relatively harmonically conventional classical vernacular?
i just love your.... bren! says:
If this were the case, it is interesting that jazz music, in the process of deconstructing itself, notably in the free jazz era, disdained a regular drum beat, or one single time signature - the hallmark of popular music.
Peter says:
i don't think modern pop music 'comes' from jazz - they're both offshoots of the however-old 'vernacular' music tradition, ie folk musics. it's a parallel history to classical music.
i just love your.... bren! says:
Pop music as the modern folk.
Peter says:
not meaning 'folk' as in beardy types playing fiddles, just 'of the people'
Peter says:
the terminology is all fucked up tho - say 'pop' and people think britney and no further
i just love your.... bren! says:
I like what you're saying. And music for 'the people' is at the root of all music, but at the same time, continually, the people are detached from music by conventions of artistic/class tase.
i just love your.... bren! says:
Which brings me back to expectations, and what you were saying about how our responses to music are conditioned.
Peter says:
(yeah - that's phil point about how we listen to classical music like we read shakespeare, ie divorced from its original social context)
Peter says:
but anyway, obviously our responses are condidtioned!
i just love your.... bren! says:
("even our conditioning has been conditioned")
i just love your.... bren! says:
Is classical music more complex than popular music? Is it not the case that classical composers follow convention, be it in harmony or counterpoint or orchestration, to a far greater extent than do contemporary pop musicians? (how easy it is to generalise about 400 years or so of cultural history!)
i just love your.... bren! says:
(someone give me a degree!)
Peter says:
hahaha generalisation is as essential as false dichotomy !
Peter says:
i don't know anything about music on a technical level so i can't comment. i just don't buy the 'more complex = more emotional' line for a second. what i never got round to saying to phil was that, the reason pop music excites and resonates for me so much, is the way it uses UNIVERSAL experiences and feelings. hence the most banal cliche can have an emotional impact, which is derived from the fact
Peter says:
that you know there are a million others listening and feeling the same thing. in this way pop's relation to emotion is grounded in its POPularity and universality, whereas classical music priviliges the individual's response...
Peter says:
is this bollocks?
i just love your.... bren! says:
Since its earliest days, pop music, and more broadly speaking, 20th century pop culture's appeal has been that it claims to be the voice of a generation. Be it Hendrix's undressing of the Star spangled banner, or Nirvana's Smells like teen spirit, these are moments that compell because of their anthemic quality. However, it almost goes without saying that popular music has (developed?) the
i just love your.... bren! says:
potential to address itself internally. Punk is as much a response to convention and drab conformity as it is a violent attack on its own generation.
i just love your.... bren! says:
So in ascribing universality to pop music, it's worth also noting its ability to spark confrontation and weird sub-genres of confusion. Our ways of listening to classical music and popular music are no doubt conditioned. But what composers are surely to some extent grappling with is the interplay of compositional convention, listener expectation, and innovation. This for me is crucial to the
i just love your.... bren! says:
argument about complexity versus emotional response. For me it is the challenge that the composer makes to your [conditioned] listener's reponse to their music that the emotional 'value' of a piece derives from. Just strangling a cute kitten is simple, but too simple to evoke a considered emotional response; but the death of a woman who, in the course of a verse, you have come to love, might be
i just love your.... bren! says:
more poignant. We expect popular music to make us happy, to feed us simple but satisfying harmony. When it does this, but also confuses it with pain and loss, that is when it is at its most powerful. 
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