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  #21  
Old 09-25-2015, 10:51 PM
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It appears to be a different Gorgias anyway.
Handel wrote an opera about the Macabees?
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  #22  
Old 09-25-2015, 10:57 PM
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An oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus. The main difference is that oratorios are not generally dramatic presentations, though the musical forms are the same (arias, recitative, choruses and ensembles).
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  #23  
Old 09-26-2015, 12:57 AM
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Put simply, the ability to distinguish musical tones from one another. Also, the ability to sing in tune (not necessarily with a pretty voice), the ability to sing by ear (copy a tune), the ability to play by ear if one has facility with an instrument, on up to the ability to write music from ear (dictation) and sight-sing (for the musically literate). In other words, there are various ways to measure it depending on how much training the person has.
Ah I wondered when you mentioned a correlation between taste and ability. Many abilities are partially dependant on control over one's body, yet taste only requires a working set of the appropriate sensory organs. Beyond that taste is a mental thing. So I wanted to know how you defined "ability". I sometimes wonder how many people with physical skills confuse appreciation for difficulty in creation with the aesthetic qualities of the end result.
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  #24  
Old 09-26-2015, 10:39 AM
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I sometimes wonder how many people with physical skills confuse appreciation for difficulty in creation with the aesthetic qualities of the end result.
I think you just described Liszt fans.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:20 PM
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I think you just described Liszt fans.
Some of them anyway. I think the others are fans of his chin. Or possibly his nose.
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  #26  
Old 09-26-2015, 05:45 PM
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Some of them anyway. I think the others are fans of his chin. Or possibly his nose.
So true. My first piano teacher had a picture of him on her wall. She never recommended that I actually play any Liszt, but she often talked about how handsome he was. I also have a gay friend who is very much into Liszt. In fact, Liszt and Chopin were close when they lived in Paris, but Chopin never liked his music.
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  #27  
Old 09-26-2015, 11:02 PM
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Ah I wondered when you mentioned a correlation between taste and ability. Many abilities are partially dependant on control over one's body, yet taste only requires a working set of the appropriate sensory organs. Beyond that taste is a mental thing. So I wanted to know how you defined "ability". I sometimes wonder how many people with physical skills confuse appreciation for difficulty in creation with the aesthetic qualities of the end result.
Back to this. I think I might have made this point already in fewer words, but virtuosity is certainly a highly prized aspect of musical performance, especially in academia, but also elsewhere. There is, for example, a dedicated hardcore fanbase for rock guitar virtuosi, and drummers, and singers, and rappers for that matter (who dispense with tonality, which is the element of music that most interests me, though I don't think it's entirely separate from rhythm).

There have been some great debates in the history of music over the relative importance of virtuosity in music. Liszt was the target of one such debate, waged primarily by Clara Schumann, who was herself a greater virtuoso than her famous composer husband ever was. (He permanently injured himself at some point in his career in an attempt to strengthen his 4th fingers.) She and her allies argued that Liszt represented a disturbing trend in popular (now classical) musical performance where virtuosity was prized above aesthetic artistry.

I recently translated a letter that Friedrich Kalkbrenner (pianist-composer) wrote to Chopin after having attended one of Chopin's rare concerts. It was not published until 1996. Kalkbrenner had more than a generation on Chopin, the latter of whom performed Kalkbrenner's music in his early teens if not earlier.

When Chopin arrived in Paris, Kalkbrenner offered to teach him for 3 years to make him a complete master of his talent. Chopin, perhaps awed in the presence of celebrity, thought this was a great idea. His whole family, along with his old composition teacher from university, unleashed a wave of caution upon him in a series of letters, insisting that, even if Kalkbrenner had something to teach him (which they doubted) he could surely impart his wisdom in less than 3 years. So Chopin turned him down, and of course, he remains famous, while only music historians and aficionados have ever heard of Kalkbrenner.

At the time of this letter, Liszt and another famous pianist-composer named Sigismund Thalberg were seen as the best pianists in Europe. Chopin was in a class of his own, though. He didn't perform often in public, not even once a year, while Liszt and Thalberg made a living performing all over Europe. But Chopin had been heard by the elite few, and was admired by all. Thalberg only criticized him for not playing loudly enough.

Kalkbrenner makes a pun on "execution". His principal meaning is technical execution, or virtuosity.

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Originally Posted by Kalkbrenner
Dear Chopin

I cannot resist the desire to express to you all the pleasure you gave me yesterday. I needed to reconcile myself with the Piano that I no longer loved the day before, after having heard a so-called Concerto of Beethoven, distorted such that the poor author was forced to turn over in his grave from indignation and rage. Persevere, dear friend, in this suave and delicious manner that will always be preferred by people of good taste to all this Robespierrism of execution.

You promised me to come share our dinner before departing for the countryside; would you like it to be this Sunday?

Yours truly
=Fréd. Kalkbrenner

***

Cher Chopin

Je ne puis resister au desir de vous exprimer tout le plaisir que vous m'avez fait éprouver hier. J'avais besoin de me reconcillier [sic] avec le Piano, que je n'aimais plus depuis la veille, après avoir entendu un soit disant Concerto de Beethoven, tellement dénaturé, que le pauvre auteur a dû se retourner dans la tombe d'indignation et de colère. Persévérez, cher ami, dans cette manière suave et délicieuse qui sera toujours préférée par les gens de bon goût à tout ce Robespierrisme d'exécution.

Vous m'avez promis de venir partager notre diner avant le départ pour la campagne, voulez vous que ce soit Dimanche?

Tout à vous de cœur
= Fréd: Kalkbrenner

52 Fb: Poissonnière
Le 27 Avril 1841

R: S: V: P:
Chopin was himself a virtuoso of the highest order. He understood the piano like no one else. Instead of looking for ways to strengthen his 4th fingers, he wrote music that took the weakness of the 4th finger into account. Every finger's unique characteristics were taken into account.

He was also a master of counterpoint, and as his aforementioned university prof said, he approached music as a language of emotions.

Not long after Chopin and Liszt met in Paris, Liszt underwent a period of self-recrimination for not having taken composition seriously enough. He did not want to be merely a pianist. He believed that he only needed to work harder at composition to be successful as a composer, so he set about doing that and eventually eked out a moderately successful career as a composer, though his transcriptions of other composers' works (often orchestral and voice works) were generally better known in his lifetime and long thereafter.

Not long before Chopin died in 1849, Liszt quit playing in public. In 1851, he was ordained as a priest. Few of his elite contemporary musicians ever appreciated his compositions, and his works had to be revived in the 20th century. Academics and amateurs love reviving old forgotten composers. Even the likes of Kalkbrenner and Thalberg can be found on YouTube these days. But Liszt is considered equally important as Chopin these days, and the executioners in particular are drawn to his music as a means of expressing their own virtuosity.
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  #28  
Old 10-16-2015, 05:19 PM
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Chopin was himself a virtuoso of the highest order. He understood the piano like no one else. Instead of looking for ways to strengthen his 4th fingers, he wrote music that took the weakness of the 4th finger into account. Every finger's unique characteristics were taken into account.
I know the appreciation of music is colored by human experience, but shouldn't its creation ignore human limitations (at least in theory)? After all, one could in theory build a mechanical pair of hands (with any number of fingers, or have a series of hammers covering every key) to play an arbitrary piano piece. Do any major works use more than one piano?
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Old 10-16-2015, 10:33 PM
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I know the appreciation of music is colored by human experience, but shouldn't its creation ignore human limitations (at least in theory)?
No, because then it's too difficult, perhaps even impossible to perform. In academic music, idiomatic writing is prized and non-idiomatic writing is seen as a flaw in the composer's skills. You should know how to write for the instrument you are composing for or no one will play your music. I believe horn players dislike Schumann because he once composed a note that the instrument is incapable of playing. (I think it was horn. I can't recall for sure.)

Things get a little bit different with electronic music. How different depends on who's writing and who's listening.

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After all, one could in theory build a mechanical pair of hands (with any number of fingers, or have a series of hammers covering every key) to play an arbitrary piano piece. Do any major works use more than one piano?
Some do, though Chopin wrote very little music for 4 hands, and I don't think he ever published any of it. He preferred to compose with his fingers and write it down later; he was very much out of his element when writing for anything he couldn't play himself, including two pianos parts at once (though he could of course play each separately).

I am personally not fond of trying to play Beethoven because he was not a very idiomatic piano composer. It's often said that his piano works are something like orchestral reductions, but his sonatas and concertos remain staples of the average pianist's repertoire. Many composers are worse than Beethoven in that regard. The absolute worst is when you have to play actual orchestral reductions on piano; often they're arranged by mediocre pianists with no regard for what can and cannot be done.
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  #30  
Old 10-17-2015, 04:06 PM
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A computer will have a very hard time being able to recognize 'impossible' music, unless we severely restrict the set under consideration. I had in mind some basic regression techniques and some simple metric using fourier anlysis to tell the harmonance or dissonance at a specific point in time or along a so-called 'spine' (with one being perfect harmony and negative one being perfectly dissonant. The average variation could be computed for each spine, and the average variation. Applying weights, you could even recombine them to analyze a piece as a whole. But I have no idea where to insert the 'realism test', nor do I know how to make it. It sounds like it would probably need a many layered exlert system, which would require a deep knowledge of the field, and I don't have that.

Maybe you could take the method and only apply it to real world works. Though it's probable that the method wouldn't give any credit for accounting for a finger's weakness. It's conceivable that such a piece might even be at a disadvantage in some cases.

Maybe treat playability like lyrics? A separate analysis (be it qualitative or quantitative), considered with the rest in study, but entirely separate in its application.
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Old 10-18-2015, 07:40 PM
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A computer will have a very hard time being able to recognize 'impossible' music, unless we severely restrict the set under consideration.
I don't see why; it's not difficult to measure or program. And different instruments have different timbres, so instrumentation is significant.

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I had in mind some basic regression techniques and some simple metric using fourier anlysis to tell the harmonance or dissonance at a specific point in time or along a so-called 'spine' (with one being perfect harmony and negative one being perfectly dissonant.
I don't know what Fourier analysis is, but your "spine" is something similar to what I had in mind, though I tend to think of it as the zero line in wavelength graphs. But this happens on several different levels. The frequency of each pitch, the dynamic, the harmonic variation over the course of the piece—even melodic direction/evolution tends to have a similar structure, and all voice direction is significant because counterpoint imposes a complex set of interconnections on the whole. All of these things act together to create something like a balancing act, kind of like keeping a hula hoop going. The further you get from the mean, the more difficult it is to avoid breaking the rules.

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The average variation could be computed for each spine, and the average variation. Applying weights, you could even recombine them to analyze a piece as a whole. But I have no idea where to insert the 'realism test', nor do I know how to make it. It sounds like it would probably need a many layered exlert system, which would require a deep knowledge of the field, and I don't have that.
I gather that Stanford has a pretty decent database on classical and contemporary academic music. I have seen various presentations on a scientific approach to music when they have made their way into popular media, but I haven't seen much in the way of application.

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Maybe you could take the method and only apply it to real world works. Though it's probable that the method wouldn't give any credit for accounting for a finger's weakness.
There are distinctions that can be made about music that won't fit into the model. Even some of the most celebrated musical feats are sort of extra-musical, like canons and fugues, but those do have some inherent musical relevance because repetition itself is musically relevant.

That said, the physical feasibility/ease of music can also be measured to an extent, and that's also something I've put some thought into. Bach and Chopin were the best at writing for keyboard instruments; both introduced some very innovative ways of playing difficult passages easily.

Bach's music comes down to us without his fingerings (we get some of Chopin's suggested fingerings), so you have to either figure it out on your own or have a good piano teacher who can tell you the best way to do it. Sometimes modern editors put in fingering suggestions; these are a mix of good and bad. Lots of pianists have bright ideas about fancy ways to solve tricky bits; some of these ideas are better than others. And to a point, fingering is personal.

I tend to practice Bach from editions without fingering suggestions at all. Most urtext editions lack fingerings because Bach didn't write any and they're trying to represent the music from the sources as accurately as possible. Sometimes certain passages will seem impossible to me until I figure out how it can be done, and once I figure it out, it's easy.
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  #32  
Old 10-19-2015, 01:38 AM
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No, because then it's too difficult, perhaps even impossible to perform.
Plus, music needs to be just familiar enough to the listener, otherwise it will be perceived as "off" or even "ugly". Aside from the sound physics (what is and what isn't a chord/dischord), you've also got rhythm, which can throw people through a loop. Generally speaking, rhythm is probably the most mathematical element of music, however even that isn't simple. There's several types of non-musicality. Amusia (when you can't differentiate between the different pitches) is maybe the best known but arythmicality occurs as well. I should know, I have it to a small extent. Even Michael Jackson's stuff gives me a headache because of the rhythm things going on, my brain just can't process it, Feels like a strobe light, but auditory. Not to even get into the contemporary experimental jazz

[TANGENT] There's a really cool book about music and the different neurological aspects of music - from traumas (being struck by lightning suddenly making someone incredibly musical or non-musical) to sickness (uses of music in Altzheimer's and Dementia treatment). It's called Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

Funnily enough, Wikipedia says that amusia is associated with aphasia (mixing up or forgetting words), and I do get bouts of aphasia as part of my migraine aura. it's VERY frustrating.[/TANGENT]

So, not only would your formula need to write for the instrument(s), it would also need to write so that the human brain could process it and recognize it as music.
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