Friday, August 30, 2019

A Psychologist Wrong on Music (and Perhaps Some More)

A psychologist ... was wrong (I'm repeating myself) ... about what this time? Music, at least.

The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant
TED | 26.IV.2016

13:59 Originality and musical masterpiece are not synonymous.

Bach combined the polyphony of Palestrina with the harmonic range of smaller composers his own day and an overall style feeling for music from Lutheran chorale (think Schütz).

Mozart and Haydn stuck much closer to the prescriptions of Riepel, and when they didn't were followed by Koch, very standard Viennese Classical theoricians, than more original and less masterly composers than Wagenseil or Galuppi.

If Beethoven (who was behind Czerny's redefinition of Sonata form in relation to Riepel and Koch) didn't quite do so, it is because he went back to some of the earlier harmonic, like Riepel and Koch had made exposition part about two tonalities - Tonic Major and its Major Dominant for Major keys, Tonic Minor and its Major relative for Minor keys - but Beethoven went back to ideas of a third inbetween, which was more baroque, like, if second part of Sonata form descended from Major Dominant over Minor Third to Major Tonic, it has first part, aka exposition go up from Major Tonic over Minor Third to Major Dominant : and Beethoven went back to that.

Nor can one say Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven or Bach had any high rate of failures.

Their masterpieces are not rare nuggets on a lot of sand, pick up any minor piece of them, it is also good.

Wagner simply made as much music as the rest, but revised each piece more times.

Also, much of his works are simply longer.

Also, he did double work, since he wrote his own librettos. Beethoven only wrote one opera, Fidelio, to a text by Joseph Sonnleithner.

Mozart wrote more than one opera, often to texts by Schikaneder.

Haydn wrote no opera but two Oratorios, one religious and one secular, to text by Gottfried van Swieten.

Wagner wrote each opera to a text by .... Wagner. So, in sheer mass of productivity, he actually is comparable to the other guys.

Equally, he also doesn't produce obvious failures. Parzifal may fail with me, but not with very many other Wagner fans. Early works less obviously Wagneresque are enjoying a comeback, as with Meistersinger. His weakness is in research into the source material, and Tolkien who liked to read Volsung saga in Icelandic was no fan of the storyline of The Ring. As known, he was insulted when someone compared his own LotR to Wagner.

That chart counts Wagner's compositions in terms of operas. An opera should be counted as several compositions, musically, like arias, recitativos, ariosos, instrumental intermezzos (Cavalleria Rusticana, anyone ...)

A Wagner opera being longer contains more short pieces than a Mozart opera.

15:05 "you need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones"

Music examples don't seem to carry this out.

You have failed to produce even one bad idea from Mozart, Beethoven, Bach or Wagner. Let alone many.

They had ideas that were brilliant and have never been off stage, always being played somewhere, and they had ideas that were less brilliant and can be discovered anew by someone looking into them, as in literature is also the case with Chesterton and the two main Inklings, and nearly with Belloc as well (I'm no fan of his novels).

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