Contemporary Classical? (more dissonant)

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Bassline1414, Aug 26, 2002.

  1. Hello,
    I'll be the first to admit that I am not at all a fan of classical music, but today in music theory, our teacher played a selection from "Rite of Spring" by Stravinsky and I really liked it. It was much more dissonant than most of the classical I had heard and it kind of reminded me of late '60s jazz fusion for some reason. Any other suggestions?
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Shostakovich is a contemporary of Stravinsky's and composes in the same idiom. He's atonal without being unlistenable.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    '60s Jazz Fusion?
    OK... ;)

    In any event, I sorta agree; some Modern Classical sounds like '60s Free Jazz(ie Avant Garde/New Thing) or vice versa.

    Check out Charles Ives-
    A Symphony: New England & Holidays
    a)Washington's Birthday
    b)Decoration Day
    c)The 4th Of July
    d)Thanksgiving & Forefathers' Day

    "The Gong on the Hook & Ladder or Fireman's Parade on Main Street"


    Ives was fascinated with marching bands & how 'out of tune' they sounded...some of Ives' work sounds like TWO 'out of tune' marching bands playing together. ;)

    I would also recommend checking out some of the '60s Free Jazz stuff-
    John Coltrane's Ascension
    Sam Rivers' Crystals
    The Baden-Baden Free Jazz Orchestra's Gettin' To Know Y'all
    ...also, Anthony Braxton's Dortchmund Concert(a 4-tet of Brax, George Lewis, Barry Altschul, & Dave Holland).
  4. The minute I saw your name I knew you were going to rip me for that. ;) Maybe it's just the dissonance, but when I heard it that's what it reminded me of!
    Thanks for the suggestions!
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, the thing that characterises the "Rite of Spring" is not really dissonance - but rather its unique use of rhythms. It puts incredible emphasis on unusual rhythms and in many way there isn't anything else like that in the Classical world (maybe not even in Stravinsly's other compositions) and that was Stravinsky's point - most of this music is concerned with melody and harmony - atonality etc. But not rhythm.

    So in the finale, the time signature changes almost every bar and in other parts Stravinsly devises unique ways of subdivising bars.

    I would say the only composer who has addressed this is Olivier Messiaen and I would recommend his "Turangalila Symphonie" - it is long and takes a few listen to get into, but to me it is the only thing that approaches the "Rite" for intensity and rhythmic innovation.

    If you want a brief sample - make sure you try movement 5 "Joy in the blood of the stars" - incredible intensity - go to a classical record shop and ask them to put this on - I'm sure you will be stunned!
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I think this is wrong on all counts - firstly Stravinsky was born nearly 30 years before Shostakovich, left Russia to work in Paris and then moved to the US - while Shostakovich stayed in Russia throughout WWII. Stravinsky's most famous works were all written well before Shostakovich composed anything - they were never direct contemporaries and while Soviet Russia derided Stravinsky, Shostakovich stayed and tried to come to terms with it.

    Basically though, they are extremeley different composers and their works couldn't be more dissimilar! Shostakovich's most famous works are very long, slow and "epic" with a sense of huge sadness at what happened to the Russian people - they can be incredibly depressing ! As Shostakovich lived with the deaths of WWII and the opression of Stalin's regime.

    Also - while Shostakovich of course experimented with dissonance, he was not an "atonal" composer as such and used key centres to emphasise emotion - using tonality to bring huge cadences after long periods of time.

    Whereas - Stravinsky's most famous works are meant for the Ballet - as entertainments - they do have their darker sides , but nothing like Shostakovich. And if Shostakovich had been anything like Stravinsky he would most certainly have been sent to a prison camp by Stalin's functionaries. :(
  7. Béla Bartók (1881-1945) has composed some nice pieces as well.
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    shostakovitch and Stravinsky are still very 'classical'.

    Everyone should try Schoenberg,Webern, Varese, Messiaen, Lighetti (great inspiration of mine), Bussotti, Stockhausen.

    Some you will like, some you will hate, but they all brought very important concepts, most of them have been used later in jazz and movie soundtracks.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I already suggested Messiaen - for Stockhausen, I would recommend "Gesang der Junglinge" as a good introduction.

    I mean, I could list a load of atonal composers (like Schonberg, Berg, Webern etc) , but basically the original post seems to really be asking about things like "The Rite of Spring" ? To me, this is not characteristic of dissonant or atonal music..... so maybe we could do with some clarification?
  10. Sorry to bump this one after so long...
    Anywho, I've found that the harmony in "The Rite of Spring" is a lot different and less traditional than most classical I've heard and there is some dissonance. But like you said, there is a lot of rhythm changes and I like that as well. I'm just getting into classical and I really like Stravinsky's work (I got Firebird/Rite of Spring on cd) as opposed to Bach or a lot of the earlier composers that I've heard.
  11. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    brahm's "hungarian dance #4."

    when it hits the atonal part, with odd extensions, i just try hard not to giggle. it reminds me of the theme song to gremlins! :D
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    A lot of Russian Composers were influenced by Stravinsky in some aspects, but nobody really did anything like the Rite Of Spring - Stravinsky Wrote : "Very little immediate tradition lies behind the (Rite), however, and no theory. I had only my ear to help me; I heard and I wrote what I heard. I am the vessel through which Le Sacre passed."

    Some of his earlier works though are similar to Rimsky-Korsakov and you might also like to try Scriabin and Khatachurian. Prokofiev was also a contemporary and his use of folk tales and melodies was similar to what Stravinsky was doing in the Firebird and Petrushka. His symphonies also explore complex rhythms and dissonance. His piano concertos are more melodic and "Romeo and Juliet" - his famous ballet score has some great music. All the pieces mentioned so far by Stravinksy started out life as ballet scores - for the dancer Nijinsky, who didn't understand the Rite at all - he said to Stravinksy "I'll count to 40 while you play and we will see where we come out" !" ;)
  13. Interesting...
    does anyone know anything about John Cage? I've heard both really good things and really bad things about him.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - his music is interesting "in theory", but there's none of it I would want to listen to more than once! ;)

    So like a lot of Stockhausen's music has interesting theoretical ideas - transcribing the big bang!! ;) And some of it is actually worth listening to - like "Gesang der Junglinge" or "Stimmung".....
  15. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    If your are into minimalism then listening to Cage would be almost essential, but the average person would most likely not like it.

    I also believe Cage was one of the early composers to use tape loops, and electronic instruments. "The Mix" written in 1954 (I think), is a hallmark electronic composition.

    He also did alot of work based on music going in and out of phase with itself.

    One of my favorite modern composers who is seldom mentioned is James Macmillan. If you haven't heard it check out his Cello Concertos on "The World's Ransoming". He is still alive and composing.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was at the Proms last night (Promenade Concerts at Royal Albert Hall) and was reminded of another composer who is strongly influenced by Stravinsky - that is : Alberto Ginaestaera, who is a Argentinian composer. He has used serialism and micro-tonality in his compositions; but his "Estancia" was written as a half-hour ballet like the Rite of Spring and has a great emphasis on Rhythm.

    So it is a like Stravinksy but with a South American flavour, as a lot of the rhythms are based on Argentinian dances like the Malambo.

    Very exciting stuff anyway - like the Rite of Spring.
  17. FractalUniverse

    FractalUniverse Guest

    Jan 26, 2002
    Valparaíso, Chile
    debussy???? i heard something really dissonant from what he compossed.... a little creepy but i was really impressed...
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Debussy does some interesting things with harmony, but I wouldn't call most of his music "dissonant" - although his "La Mer" is one of the great orchestral showpieces up there with "The Rite of Spring" well worth checking out!!
  19. Yes! "La Mer" by Debussy...we just listened to him in theory class yesterday...I love the little Asian pentatonic parts. Does anyone know about the Jewish composer named Broch? I've heard some interesting things about him.
  20. Yeah, Ginastera! I keep forgetting to go some of his stuff down at the record store. I like Pampeana #3: Impetuosamente.