Archive for July, 2013

12 tones to say awesome

Monday, July 8th, 2013

For years I’ve been fascinated by the 12 tone and atonal music of composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky (among others) yet often struggled to explain to others what I see in it! The structures are so different and, to most ears, difficult. I admit that they’re difficult to me, but that was part of what fascinated me at first. Where music formerly had been so rigid, here was music that to some extent defied that term. Later in life, that love of the difficult led to a deep appreciation for the more avant garde Jazz compositions of Charles Mingus and Charlie Bird. I also found a lot to enjoy in some of the more extreme forms of progressive rock and metal (The Mars Volta, Opeth, Yes, Gentle Giant and so on).

It’s always a pleasure to find others who share my interest, but I rarely expect others to like the sort of music that I listen too – indeed, I often have to be in a particular mood to listen to it myself! Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, it’s so hard to define why I like it, that I’d largely given up trying to explain it to people – often it’s just frustrating to be told it sounds awful! (And, yes, sometimes it does, but that’s kind of the point – why should sound be a nice cliche?) Today, a friend shared a video with me which is just awesome in its explanation of how twelve-tone music is important and how it can be understood more clearly in the context of music we are already familiar with. It’s long, but if you can stick with it, it’s worth it. She links in scientific concepts, math and randomness with funny reflections on meaning and copyright, and the effect is just wonderful! It’s also beautifully animated and pretty funny – who can fail to love a laser-bat?

The pattern singing at the end is just magical – well, at least to me, but then, I already like this stuff…so your mileage may vary!