Towards A New And Integrated Language: A Rejection Of Post Modernism

1284 words - 5 pages

The term post-modernism has gradually become popular with music commentaries since the phrase was first coined in the early mid 1960's. It was adopted as a way of explaning the rise of so called 'populist' music in the era of the avant garde. The history of the term can be traced to the upsurge in parodying the past in art and architecture and was thought to be a new aesthetic which would eventually replace modernism. In music, this apparently new aesthetic was first represented by composers like Rochberg who were disaffected with serialism and a so called allienation between the composer and the audience by modernist music. They turned their backs on the thinking of the time and came up with a music which was based on quotions mainly from the Classical and Baroque periods. There were other composers who had similar feelings about the need for a new language. The American composer Terry Reily also believed that it was time for a change. He and composers like him became strongly influenced by the repetitive sounds in African music and other repetitive and tonal composers like Stravinsky. This led to the desire to reduce music down to its minimal elements. Other composers looked to their religious faith to draw on inspiration and found that the tonal traditions of their church could be the solution to end the what they felt was the cul-de-sac of atonality. Recent trends have used populist music which is generally considered to be outside of the usual sphere(eg Jazz, Pop, etc). After careful consideration, I am still left with two great difficulties as to the nature and validity of post-modernism; what does post-modernism actually stands for in terms of conrete musical language and is it really a new movement? In my opinion, it is impossible to build a totally new language out of the relics of the past. This is because music is not composed in a vacuum. Its distinctive and unique sound is achieved as a result of the historical, sociological, pyschological and philosophical environment of the composer and society at that time. Individual elements of music written outside our time must be considered in its own particular context and when it is taken outside this context it looses its purpose and meaning. It then becomes a sentimental or nostalgic gesture deprived of any sense or direction. The excacting composers of the Baroque and Classical period were very concerned that every single note was accounted for in their musical language; that every chord and rhythm made its mark in the overall musical structure. Therefore I can not see how fragments of this language can be extracted out of context and then reconstructed anew. It is the re-assembly which causes me question the validity of this process because I am unable to see what is the context in which the old language and the new voice can be joined together. However, Jameson has tried to justify the use of quotation as such;

"An important area for the musician to consider is the notion of...

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