• davido
    Posts: 111
    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2018/11/nlm-exclusive-interview-with-early.html

    This is interesting. As noted in the article, it’s on too large of a scale to accuse the composer of mere parody.
    However it still seems artificial somehow, maybe just because “early music” is such a tiny niche world.

    But as an “early music” skeptic, this does seem like the natural end result of the early music movement: composing your own “early music.”
    How’s that for authenticity?
    Thanked by 1JonathanKK
  • stulte
    Posts: 208
    Others have been using the Palestrina-style of composition long before this article came out. Is it "authentic"? What does that even mean?
  • JonathanKKJonathanKK
    Posts: 392
    See also Stéphane Delplace. (Possibly you have encountered THIS fugue before.)
  • davido
    Posts: 111
    I would characterize the Deplace fugue as parody. Deplace is a craftsman who has a thorough understanding of Bach’s musical language, but the piece does an injustice both to the pink panther and to Bach - the essence of the pink panther theme is its jazziness, now lost in the fugue; the essence of the Bach style is its nobility and seriousness, now lost because now all we can think of is a cartoon cat and the hijinks of Clouseau.

    Rotem is doing something different, which is expanding the baroque repertoire.
    That’s what is weird.
  • stulte
    Posts: 208
    Rotem is doing something different, which is expanding the baroque repertoire.
    That’s what is weird.


    How is that weird? Others are doing the same with Renaissance Masses.
  • Often, we are mislead by the term "early music." Obviously Rotem is not composing early music, in the sense that he is 33 years old (at the time of writing; although that allows for a different interpretation of that phrase: he is writing his early music, as opposed to his late music, when he is 70).

    But when we speak of style or language, he is writing in the style of that music, though it is distinctly not in the style of the milieu of composition. But he is also not writing the music now that he would have written had he been alive in the early Baroque.

    If he were to "innovate" within the Baroque now, it would be considered a violation, because he is not influencing the middle Baroque composers. But if he is innovating in the Baroque style, in a way that was not already done way back when, perhaps he can influence modern composers.

    That's the biggest conceptual issue of writing in earlier styles - what constitutes development, and who is willing to attempt it when historically that process has already concluded.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JonathanKKJonathanKK
    Posts: 392
    The point was the first link, which is to his purchasable music. I haven't gotten my hands on any of it yet, but I was struck by the fact that the man has written two books of 30 preludes and fugues for the piano, as well as an Art-of-the-Fugue equivalent in the relative major key: and that is the sort of thing that he composes as a composer.
  • davido
    Posts: 111
    Oh ok, I didn’t look at any of his other music. He definitely has a complete grasp of the baroque musical language, which is something I can’t say of myself about any musical period...
  • davido
    Posts: 111
    it refreshing to see someone write a large scale musical work that is content to remain within a musical tradition and is not doing something strange, radical, or ugly, just to be noticed or “modern.”

    However it seems to me that Rotem is composing museum music, rather than something that interacts with the world he lives in.
    But maybe that just because early music (all classical music really) seems like museum music to me - repertoire that we can appreciate but can’t learn the intended effect of without some study.
  • This is, actually, a fascinating subject. I have always remarked to people who took issue with the age or period of music, or art, or anything else, that if they had not heard it before it was 'new' to them. I think that it is a gross judgment upon our patrimony from the past to label it in such a way as to make it out of place, or have 'museum' status on the basis of its age or place of origin in history. The wondrous thing about great music and art, architecture, and literature is that they are, indeed, fresh throughout history, that they communicate to us and have a moral and intellectual dimension which spans all of human history and every culture. What is our heritage is neither new nor old - it is, simply universal in time and space. The patina of age does not erase inherent virtues, but, rather, enhances them. And, they are always so fresh that we in our time may, if we so choose, create new works in their ageless languages and mediums.

    As to those who might compose in an antique style, their work is without question new and old at the same time. When I was a youth I had absorbed all the Mozart symphonies and those of Beethoven, not to mention the music of Bach. I had absorbed the style and spirit of them to such a degree that I often found myself spontaneously 'composing' in my head original works that were identical in musical language to the works of those who had inspired them. Were these 'compositions' new, or old? Were they genuine, or fake? They most certainly were genuine creations which grew from the seed of the XVIIIth century. The musical language of the XVIIIth century was my language!

    Is the Old Church English of the Ordinariate genuine, even though it was formed some hundreds of years ago. Yes, it is. It is a living and spiritual vehicle for worship which will never be aged. It is for the ages. It is our, everyone's, heritage. While it is 'old' it is also new. It will always be new. And writing new things with it is not aping an aged tongue any more than new writings in Latin are anything other than new, the use of that which has a living and developing continuum throughout the ages.

    Those who complain about Bach, et al., being 'old' should never allow themselves to read Dickens, or Shakespeare, or Thomas Aquinas, or the Gospel according to St John, or visit Mont-St-Michel or the Parthenon, or view the works of da Vinci or van Gogh, etc, etc. - because these are all OLD - and, being OLD, they have nothing to say to us, nor is anyone who composes, writes, paints, or builds in their language any more than a copycat of OLD stuff. (Don't believe it.)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Choirparts
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 627
    "Naturally, such a countercultural but brilliantly successful endeavor is of immense interest to me, and I would think to many NLM readers, since those of us who celebrate or assist at the usus antiquior are promoting a liturgy (and its musical repertoire) that embraces the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, yet remains present among us down into our own times, and is still being enriched with new works of art — be they new churches, new vestments, new furnishings, or new musical compositions in Latin. For us, too, old forms of art are still alive, and that which may seem to some to be “dead” has never ceased to be the living language in which we worship."

    I would point out that any performance of music, in the context of worship or otherwise, is vivifying. That works of an earlier age make up the vast majority of concert programs shows just how living this music is.

    I wonder about “countercultural.” Any music written in an authentic art style (what most would call classical) is, in our time, countercultural. Maybe this is counter- countercultural, in that it imitates period style, as to be not of its own time. This is stylish stuff, to be sure, and I’m all for embracing earlier periods, but not if it becomes, as it does for some, an excuse to exclude all things modern. That is simply philistine.

    I reckon I have written a fair amount of music that some would deem "strange, radical, or ugly," but I have never written anything "just to be noticed." Such broad-stroke characterizations of modern music make me very sad indeed.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,911
    Kudos to Jackson and Richard for their comments that reflect in many ways my own feelings and approach over the years - going all the way back over 60 years to when I was in high school trying to learn and emulate the style of Bruckner's symphonic composing, until Antal Dorati advised me that I would be better off studying the Haydn and Mozart quartets. Although I remained very much a Bruckner disciple, having new worlds opened to me meant everything, especially going back to the Renaissance and early Baroque eras, as well as forward into the mid to late 20th century (and, I suppose, even into the 21st century, since I like to think or delude myself that I am still learning).
  • And -
    I read many years ago that when they were putting a sample of our music on one of the inter-planetary satellites they made a gold-plated recording of Bach for any aliens who might happen to pick up on it. Bach remains the summa musicae. He is not bound by time, space, or culture. The only ones who might be thought to have equaled or bettered Bach would be the late mediaeval and renaissance polyphonists.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,620
    Bach narrowly edged out Beethoven but both placed well behind "traditional". Perhaps the contents says a little about the state of Catholic music in 1977.
  • The ageism of musical criticism seems to be a denial of the fundamental permanence of human nature. While musical language does indeed change, the contents of its expression, maybe emphasizing issues pertinent to the age, remains constant throughout history.

    The contradiction of this is the modernist heresy, is it not?

    Writing in an older language does not preclude the expression of current sentiments, which are no different than those accessible at the time of the language's development.
  • davido
    Posts: 111
    Musical language is intimately tied to the artistic movements and artistic ethos of a given era.
    Organum and chant evoke thatch roofs and chainmail, tapestries and longbows, keeps and illuminated manuscripts. Dvorak and Tchaikovsky evoke papered walls and plush carpets, hoop skirts and tail coats, salons and landscapes. Big band evokes low-backed couches and large wooden radio sets, evening dresses and kakki uniforms, cigarette holders and movie stars.

    We can sample historicities from any past era and find something that speaks to us from each because there are timeless characteristics of the human condition. But outside of the Christian cult, which worships an eternal God, it seems to me odd to create art in a decidedly anachronistic style.
    I would be regarded as odd if I dressed as Robin Hood, Hercule Poirot, or Benny
    Goodman. We can divorce music from its original environment because we have to play it today to make it come to life. I think we miss a lot of what the music was meant to imply because we no longer live in the world of the musics writing.


    However I agree on JS Bach - he was an anomaly even in his own era. His music is not characteristic of the baroque era or of any era. The more you study his output, the more you understand why he is the greatest musical genius of the modern world.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • David,

    What would you say that we should write, in our own time, given what you've said about original environment?
  • davido
    Posts: 111
    saying what “should be written” sounds rather Soviet.
    I think musucal features that mesh with our environment are minimalism, tunefulness, dissonant harmonies, assumetry, and rock or pop style beat/rhythm.
    In orchestral music, I think the music of John Williams fits the era well. His best numbers are melody driven, there are harmonic areas that are post romantic, and he captures an American flavor in the informality and jauntiness of melody and rhythm.

    In church music, a few contemporary compositions spring to mind (obviously rock music and beat are out here).
    1. Buchholz mass of st Francis - melody driven, tuneful. It’s respectful but written with a contemporary sense of melody as tune.
    2. Charles Giffen’s mass in A. Harmonically it’s high church English and influenced by neo-modalism, but there is an asymmetry to the falling melodic figure (it moves around in the measure) that highlights its contemporary composition.
    3. I was going to list Jernbergs mass if st Philip Neri, but upon relistening, I realized that it’s not minimalist or dissonant. So here endeth my examples.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • stulte
    Posts: 208
    But outside of the Christian cult, which worships an eternal God, it seems to me odd to create art in a decidedly anachronistic style.


    That would assume that outside of the context of prayer, music has no ties to something/someone unchanging and eternal. Some of us don't like what's considered "contemporary" and want to use older styles of composition whether it's secular or sacred music.
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 627
    I might suggest that the use of so-called anachronistic styles in modern liturgical composition is largely a response to the functional aspect of church music, rather than its art, per se. Musicians tend not to like the idea of functionalism, but to the extent that modern worship makes specific demands (new texts, new parameters regarding congregational singing, new ideas of liturgical time compared to the older forms, etc.), musicians, and especially composers, must approach new contributions to the liturgical repertoire from a functional point of view. This can be done while maintaining artistic standards, old or new, but never with the goal of anything like pure artistic expression.

    Pure art proves itself in relation to what has come before, but is ultimately the ethos of an individual (sometimes communalized in a "school"). On the contrary, functional art must subject itself to an ethos outside the individual -- a necessary act of humility, in the service of the liturgy. In my opinion, the only thing that ties modern art music to "something/someone unchanging and eternal" is our shared humanity and our more-or-less shared history. Church music, on the other hand, must be tied to the unchanging and eternal character of Christian worship and the faith it expresses. In the greatest composers of church music, the two impulses may struggle, but will never contradict.