out of the ashes

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Music and writing

Some of us like Rock. Others Country--Jazz (Miles Davis! OMG). As many of you know, I prefer Classical. That has nothing to do with my education, or lack of, rather my beloved older brother who influenced me in so many ways, chief among them the importance and sheer beauty of the greatest music written.
I first fell in love with Beethoven, the Pastoral Symphony, in my early twenties. Then, Tchaikovsky. Roch came soon after. Delius, Dvorak, Rimski-Korsakov. Lately Mendelssohn, Grieg, Bruch.
I often ask myself exactly what makes the greatest of the greats' music so timeless. What sets it apart? Certainly I love Sting (his last album sucked, though), Level 42, the B-52's, Little River Band, Gerry Rafferty...but, always back to Roch and the romantic era composers.
A different era, surely. Slower-paced, giving time for reflection. But I keep coming back to the fact that the vast majority of the composers were schooled (probably until their young minds felt fried) in fundamentals. Structure, formal elements, the full capabilities of each instrument--tone, chromatic harmony, dissonance. Possibilities.

Learning by experimentation (music, painting, writing) is fine, if you have a lifetime to devote to studying as you craft. The very best artists came to the fore with a solid background of fundamentals behind them. The annoying, often times boring hours of, "Here's the significance of a composition in A major. Do you understand?"
Here are the rules. Learn them well, then do something marvelous.
Will future generations place Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Lennon and McCartney...into the same pantheon as Bach, Beethoven, and Rochmaninov? I don't know. All I know for certain is there is something higher, more God-like in the classics.

I'm listening to Grieg right now; Symphonic Dance, #2, Opus 64. It will somehow invade my writing. I hope. Maybe tonight I'll relax to Glenn Shorrock. Smiling.

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