Tick Tock Bang
August 17, 2002 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Tick Tock Bang (script) (from CBC's Ideas) (from 1999) is an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes. A survey of Noise as Music from Schoenberg to Glass to Kraftwerk to Industrial and Techno. Noise Art is here to stay.
posted by vacapinta (9 comments total)
I just skimmed the transcript, and this guy clearly has no clue about modern "classical" music. He calls the notes in Shoenberg's Three Pieces "musically unrelated" and calls the piece "disordered sound" and "noise." If he knew anything about the post-tonal composers (not atonal please) he would know that the composition techniques used by these composers is at least as rigorous, and often more so than the techniques used by tonal composers. Jeez, hasn't he even heard of serialism?.

Pieces by composers of alieatory music (aka chance music) like Cage or Riley might arguably contain elements of "noise." But that is one rather small subset of modern music. Modern music sounds like noise to most people for the same reason that rock'n'roll sounds like noise to our grandparents--it is unfamiliar
posted by boltman at 3:53 PM on August 17, 2002

Thanks, boltman. The producers here were practically asleep. One thing, though. The Three Pieces for Piano by Schoenberg are not serially composed. They are rather prior to his 'invention' of twelve-tone composition. The 3 pieces are actually, pan-tonal (Schoenberg's own term). His attempt with composition in this vein was to eliminate the heirarchic pitch distribution-essentially making the notes 'musically unrelated'. Also, Riley was a minimalist, not so much interested in aleatory.
But the sensationalizing of Stravinksy's Rite Of Spring as riot-inducing is quite misleading. The music (as a danceless suite) won critical and popular acclaim. The ballet was scandalous in nature. My basic issue with this production is the thesis, essentially claiming that modern music/art composed in a new and unfamiliar 'language' (ie 'noise') is built upon a fascination with the machine. "Metrical regularity has become the hallmark of art in the mechanical age". So uninformed it hurts. Try on Xenakis' computer music (La Legende de E'er) and try to support that idea. Humbug. I hate this sort of thing. All it does is implicate that artists working with forms that aren't immediately familiar are perverts, writing sexualized (for what else can human appropriation of metrical regularity imply?) peaens to machines.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 4:36 PM on August 17, 2002

Unfortunately the bulk of this music is unlistenable. Milton Babbit, for God's sake? Art school fodder. Drug music for bad drugs. Music for communists.

I prefer tonality, or composers who are able to turn puritanical chromaticism and serialism into something beautiful and their own, like Gyorgy Ligeti or Stravinsky for that matter, who is mischaracterized in this context.

If you want noise, just come stay in my apartment for a few days. With the adjacent elevated subway, the amplified hispanic street evangelist, the slow fade in/fade out from passing cars booming rap, the nearby city bus hub, the occasional gunshot; it's a grand symphony of cacophony and 'chance' that an extremely overrated hack like John Cage could never think to dream up. When I pay to go to a concert hall or buy a cd, I do not want chance. I want Bach.
posted by evanizer at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2002

for the same reason that rock'n'roll sounds like noise to our grandparents--it is unfamiliar

Actually, rock sounds like noise to me because I grew out of it. Just as I grew out of kiddie tunes at an earlier stage.
posted by HTuttle at 5:02 PM on August 17, 2002

Listening now - IDEAS is a fantastic program.
posted by stevengarrity at 5:22 PM on August 17, 2002

Also, Riley was a minimalist, not so much interested in aleatory

Perhaps, but his most famous piece, "In C" is essentially aleotory in structure.
posted by boltman at 6:59 PM on August 17, 2002

and evanizer, while much of Cage's music can be difficult to listen to, it is often an utterly facinating experience to perform Cage pieces generally demand a great deal of creativity from the performer, since the performer essentially becomes co-composer. I have performed pieces by both Bach and Cage and while the experiences are totally different, I have found both have helped me to grow as both a musician and a music listener. I would never go out and buy a John Cage CD either, but that doesn't mean that his music is worthless.

also, Milton Babbit rules. This is one of my favorite "classical" albums of all time. The first piece in particular is stunning: nearly completely serialized and yet effusive enough to be mistaken for jazz. Check it out.
posted by boltman at 10:39 PM on August 17, 2002

I agree with Boltman.

A lot of Cage's music could be described as 'noise' or even 'ambient'.. but why the h*ll is Glass in his list? Philip Glass might be a little experimental, but his pieces are truly classical music, whether they are a little repetitive or not. His symphonies are not totally alien compared to those produced by Beethoven, whereas Beethoven would have a hard job understanding what Cage's work is about.

Glass's 'Three Songs', 'Symphony #2', or 'Violin Concerto' clearly demonstrate that while Glass is avant-garde, he still writes classical music in the way it has been for ages.
posted by wackybrit at 4:58 AM on August 18, 2002

Well, to paraphrase Woody Allen's joke in Annie Hall,

--This music is just noise!
--Yes, and the portions are so small...

The commentary so far has been edifying. Thank you.
posted by y2karl at 7:49 AM on August 18, 2002

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