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The Chasm and Symphony X: The Neoclassical Spectrum

Discussion in 'General Metal Discussion' started by anonymousnick2001, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Planetary Eulogy

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    Actually, there are enduring similarities in technique and structure between European folk traditions (particularly instrumental folk) and the classical tradition. During the medieval and Renaissance eras, there essentially was no difference at all between the music of court and church and the music of the peasant fairs. The differences that entered later were largely cosmetic, and a result, not of fundamentally different music or concept, but of court composers having more instruments and players at their disposal.

    The 'high culture/low culture' dichotomy didn't emerge during the productive centuries of classical music, rather, it developed out of the social millieu of the first 3 decades of the 20th century. This era saw the bourgeoisie finally emerge as the dominant force. The social insecurity of the bourgeoisie manifested itself in the attempt to create a false sense of seperation from the working classes, thus the invention of the 'high culture/low culture' split (contrast this with the previous centuries where classical composers demonstrated a deep and abiding respect for and a willingness to borrow wholesale from the folk traditions of Europe).

    The element which unites all classical music in all eras has been and remains the heroic ethos, the struggle to create meaning and thus transcend the human condition (that is, a condition where meaninglessness and death are the fundamental realities).

    You argued that The Chasm's work is harmonically less developed than any era of classical composing, when, in fact, it is MORE developed than that of Baroque or even most Classical era compositions.

    Note that I said "some" not all, but it was quite common, PARTICULARLY in the Baroque and Classical eras, to repeat a theme throughout a piece and then introduce change not by altering the theme itself, but by alternating instruments, dynamics or key. The landscape around the theme is altered rather than the theme itself. Burzum's work is not in this style, and tends to follow more the pattern of an evolutionary development of a theme (or series of themes, as is the case in pieces like "Det som engang var") rather than using the theme itself to anchor movement around the theme (i.e. reflecting more or less the tradition of incidental music).

    1. I've already addressed the question of "stage tricks" elsewhere. It's not pejorative.

    2. This is a reality that has been internalized by everyone working primarily in recorded media, just as screen actors have internalized the less flambouyant style the film requires by watching the performance of other screen actors over the last 60-70 years.

    I never said their weren't, but these are among the most common.

    The melodic content of the music of most eras is also quite simple, extremely complex melody lines was a conceit primarily of the Baroque era and of a handful of Romantic composers who were instrumental virtuosos first and composers second. The climactic moments of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 are driven by a "ridiculously basic" melody line, and therein lies its power.

    Rock riffs are blues riffs. Burzum's riffs are certainly not out of the blues tradition.

    There is plenty of attention payed to harmonic construction, Varg merely keeps harmonies simple and open in the manner of the medieval music he is trying to evoke.
     
  2. anonymousnick2001

    anonymousnick2001 World's Greatest Vocalist

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    Yes, excellently stated.

    If your rigid definition of "neoclassical" is limited to Stravinsky or the guys in the Second Viennese school, then yes, the Chasm are far off. I think
    I stated that I'm going with a more liberal definition of the term here, which signifies to "a complete reinterpretation in the way classical music is presented through different instrumentation and the dynamic approach only attainable through metal aesthetics."

    Agreed.

    I agree with this also, however, I must point out that the same could be said for any folk song as well. It can be argued that "Turkey in the Straw" is a work of art tantamount to Beethoven's 5th due to the differing levels of purpose and origin, as well as composition and inherent nature of performance and development. One represents the raw essence of natural humanism, culture, and spontaniety. The other a rigid expression of human achievement within structural boundary and context. Both equal in different ways.

    I'm implying that a song by The Chasm can be considered a work of art on par with a symphony for many reasons, even if it is judged as a folk song. What distinction I'm drawing is that I think the The Chasm (and even Symphony X, who have been cleverly omitted from discussion due to their "populist" tendencies) are more than simply folk music, worthy of the clout given to classical works by what Erik referred to as the "common definition."

    Of course metal is not classical music. It never will be. Some of us just want something with the same feel as rock with the sophistication of classical. A compromise? Sure. Why listen to Metallica when Slayer play thrash better? I mean, what's the point? It's not like the bands sound any different, right?

    Excellent post, Int. The notion of comparing metal works to classical ones with the aspiration that the genre will one day be considered "serious music" is hardly a foolish one. Metal is the modern classical. Hardly of the same stature, but, I mean, what was the last innovation in classical music in the past 20 years?

    Agreed wholeheartedly. And well put!

    I'd liken much of Burzum's work to tone poems rather than full-fledged symphonic works. Also, to shoot holes in the sonata/rondo theory, there are such things as rhapsodies and fantasias, works with far less stringent structure. Ballets as well. Would you argue that Copland or Tchaikovsky were any less classical for adopting narrative structures with little traditional recapitulation?

    An interesting postulation that I used to substantiate the distinction bewtween hard rock and heavy metal at one point.

    He already mentioned that it wasn't in a disparaging sense, although I can't ssy I totally agree, anyway. For the record, he didn't mean it as the whole of classical music.

    Yes, I must also question how deliberate the "classical" influence in much of black metal really is. I love reading about how Sodom or Sepultura's first album was a masterpiece in "evoking the raw essence in blackness in man" and the bands were most liekly just being Satanic for the fun of it, more akin to Maiden than to having any real wright behind the decisions. Just a thought.

    For the record, Varg is certainly more deliberate, and more purposefully black metal than Morbid Visions (a thrash-death album in my book).
     
  3. Erik

    Erik New Metal Member

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    duh duh DAH duh duh DAH duh duh DAH duh duh DAH duh DAH DAAAH duh duh DAH duh duh DAH duh duh this is... HUAH! WAR!
     
  4. the alumnus

    the alumnus Member

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    do you honestly believe that the average listener of a bach performance will notice such "overt signifiers" as retrograde inversions and modulations through closely related keys? i would argue that such devices are much more subtle that changing the volume of a piece or adding layers of instruments.
     
  5. the alumnus

    the alumnus Member

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    i must correct you here.

    there was certainly a large distinction between the secular and sacred music of the medieval and renaissance eras. to begin, sarcred music was acapella. in the early medieval era it was unaccompanied plainchant, which later evolved into organum (which lead to the baroke basso continuo). to contrast, peasant music was sung in the vernacular (as opposed to the latin of church music) and accompanied by and instrument, most likely the lute. the renaissance era introduced many of the compositional techniques that gave rise to the classical music of bach and mozart. fux's species counterpoint was written to teach the student how to write church music in the style of palestrina, the renaissance master. folk music was an entirely different tradition than that of the the court composers. classical music inherited a tradition that is rooted ultimately in sacred music of europe.

    i would argue that classical music is united by the tradition which created it. a clear line can be drawn from guido d'arezzo to schonberg. for further reading on the subject i recommend http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/epochs.html

    i would like to hear some examples to demonstrate that it was common "to repeat a theme throughout a piece and then introduce change not by altering the theme itself, but by alternating instruments, dynamics or key". the most esteemed composer of the baroque era, j.s. bach, made highly inventive use of all forms of variation; retrograde motion, inversion, retrograde inversion, rythmic alteration, etc.

    here you defeat yourself, "riffs" in their nature come from the blues tradition. i believe that's where the term originates. see:
    Main Entry: 1riff
    Pronunciation: 'rif
    Function: noun
    Etymology: probably by shortening & alteration from refrain
    1 : an ostinato phrase (as in jazz) typically supporting a solo improvisation; also : a piece based on such a phrase
    [/QUOTE]
     
  6. Planetary Eulogy

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    Medieval sacred music borrowed heavily from the folk reportoire, including the use of polyphony and counterpoint which originally arose in the secular folk tradition.

    And frankly, the claim that medieval sacred music was unaccompanied is simply false. Accompanied festival pieces were common, using the same instrumentation as both the peasant folk traditions and the minstrel tradition which catered to the gentry and the aristocracy. The Ludus Danielis (The Play of Daniel) is a good example of this from 13th century France (it was a precursor to modern opera). At this point, there simply was no differentiating between sacred and secular or folk traditions and "high art" composing. Most composers worked in both traditions (and, despite what you've been told, there is a great deal of vernacular sacred music from this era).

    It is worth noting that, through the Renaissance, folk tunes continued to provide the core for many compositions both sacred and secular. This continued to be true even in the early Baroque era (and lasted clear through to the end of the Baroque period in Scotland and Ireland).

    Of course there is a chronological/developmental tie, but this is a product of a shared ideological tradition. It's a history of a development of technique around a core set of ideals.

    It is quite common, in early Baroque music generally, and also in later choral music (Handel used the technique frequently, trading off a theme through voice parts).

    The term developed out of the Romantic tradition of improvisational chamber music, and made its way from there into the lexicon of jazz, which borrowed heavily from that tradition. "Blues" riffs are characterized by their tonality, not by the fact that they are riffs.
     
  7. Planetary Eulogy

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    More subtle yes, but still much easier to detect in a live setting than altering the theme itself. And maybe it's just years of performing choral music, but I ALWAYS here modulations, even when they are slight.
     
  8. kmik

    kmik Member

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    And that must be the reason all classical music fans also like The Chasm, right? It doesn't matter how much you talk here about musical theory, it is obvious that all metal bands combined aren't even close to hold a candle to any classical composer
     
  9. Planetary Eulogy

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    All classical music fans don't even like Beethoven, does that mean he's not a Classical composer?
     
  10. kmik

    kmik Member

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    You don't have to be really smart to realize that Beethoven gets so much respect and is so popular even 200 years later and that The Chasm is an obscure metal band for a reason.
     
  11. anonymousnick2001

    anonymousnick2001 World's Greatest Vocalist

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    True, but they're certainly closer than anyone else. Which is an achievement in itself.

    Not the reason you stated above, though.
     
  12. Barking Pumpkin

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    A lot of classical composers weren't popular when they were alive. The big Bach for example. That doesn't mean they weren't good. I don't know The Chasm, though. Just pointing something out.
     
  13. the alumnus

    the alumnus Member

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    the official music of the medieval church, plainsong, was unaccompanied. until later eras. http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/g_plainchant.html
    the problem with your thesis that " there simply was no differentiating between sacred and secular or folk traditions" is that it is impossible to prove what the folk traditions of 13th century europe were. they by and large weren't written down. i'd also like to see evidence that most composers worked in both traditions in this era.

    i'm not sure why its worth noting. the correlation seems to be indirect.

    what core ideals unify all the folk and professional musicians and composers of europe from 800-1800?

    yes, but not with the exclusion of other forms of variation. hence the term "theme and variation", not "theme and reiteration".
    i am unaware of any tradition of improvisational chamber music. do you have any evidence for this? by the romantic era, the improvisation of the baroque era was largely gone.
     
  14. the alumnus

    the alumnus Member

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    musicians tend to detect musical changes moreso than non-musicians, since they are trained to know what to look for.
     
  15. CountSorion

    CountSorion New Metal Member

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    With this logic The Beatles would be the pinnacle of all music... I do not know much about Beethoven's life but I'd guess that he was comparably in the mainstream while the Chasm on the other hand are comparably further from it. Why? The situation for music has most definitely changed lately as it is largely a commercial product today designed to entertain the masses, at least in the mainstream. If Beethoven would suddenly appear today, he would likely be obscure too.
     
  16. no country for old wainds

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    Arguments like "the masses aren't going to look back in hundred years and respect The Chasm" are always full of flaws due to the masses being unable to think at a level much higher than that of chimpanzee, not to mention the fact that The Chasm's music is an extreme reaction against society and thus written in a way that's intrinsically inaccessible to the masses.
     
  17. anonymousnick2001

    anonymousnick2001 World's Greatest Vocalist

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    The argument is flawed because no one knows what people are going to be like a hundred years from now. How is it guaranteed that metal won't reach a state of popular acceptance?
     
  18. Death Aflame

    Death Aflame voice of dissent

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    I see classical similarities in alot of metal, whether its composition or instrumentation as Nick has stated. Sure, its obviously going to be alot simpler than Mozart and the ilk, but you have to respect different genres of music for different reasons.
     
  19. kmik

    kmik Member

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    It's not about the masses, it's about music scholars, who would probably laugh at you if you let them listen to The Chasm claiming its classical.
     
  20. kmik

    kmik Member

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    The Beatles are popular for the same reason Britney Spears is, more or less. The masses like it but scholars/experts (whatever, I hate the word) don't, and if they do just for entertainment purposes
     

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