Any Bach/Beethoven "Equals" In The Here And Now?

It might sound off the wall, but listen to the intro on Metallica’s “Battery.” Tell me it doesn’t sound like Beethoven when the electrics kick in. Cliff Burton contributed an ingenious harmonic sensibility (largely intuitive, I think, but he was the only member of the band with any formal training in theory, so he knew what he was doing) to Metallica’s songwriting that they never got back after he died (“Orion” is another great example).

I believe it - hafta go back to my copy of MoP and give it a listen…

There’s a guy named Mark Kozelek who was in a band called the Red House Painters and is now working as Sun Kil Moon - he has a CD called Ghosts of the Great Highway. Real Neil Young-ish, Americana-alt-country type stuff. Well, he has a couple of tracks where the distortion off the guitar is used as a color wash underneath the sound and it just sounds…dreamy, atmospheric and harmonically rich. There’s a link hereto the Amazon listing, but tracks 3 and 8, where I think this effect is used, don’t really showcase that sound on the samples…but when I think about how distortion can be used as harmonic thickness, I think of those songs and actually Nirvana’s track Territorial Pissings…

Lang Lang is the first name that comes to mind.

I’m a huge fan of the Ramones. I loved the Ramones. I’m old enough to have seen them regularly at CBGBs thirty years ago. But “deep harmonic structures?” None of them could have told you the first thing about harmony. Pushing a guitar and amp into distortion and seeing which harmonics are emphasized by the amp more or less at random isn’t exactly the same as exploring harmonic structures in the way that, say, Stravinsky or Webern or Reich or Wuorinen (to name a few who do, to my mind, really interesting things with harmony) did.

Like I said above, parallel tracks. Pop composers and performers are doing one thing (and sometimes it’s sheer genius, as was the case with the Ramones), and classical composers are doing another thing altogether. And very rarely do the two meet.

Classical music is not dead. It’s alive and well. And pop composers, like Lennon and McCartney, or the Ramones, are not successors to Beethoven or Bach. I suppose one could make an argument that some (Lennon and McCartney, maybe) are successors to, for example, Dowling, or even Schubert, at least as far as his lieder stuff goes, but that’s about it.

What about Trent Reznor or Radiohead? They are, technically, pop, but they are composers.
Reznor’s ‘Ghosts’ is a heck of a thing.

I saw this film at least 30 years ago at the drive in, but one of the sub-plots was the music teacher was insisting that the class listen to Beethoven all the time. They would all fall asleep and groan, or be bored. Then the music teacher was forced to listen to The Ramones because one of the students played it over the school’s PA. He had an epiphany of Pauline proportions, and at the end of the movie, he said to the tall, cadaverous one (Joey?) “You, sir, are truly the Beethovens of today.” to which the Ramone in question mumbled “Thanks, man.”

This was the first time I had heard the Ramones at all, and my aesthetic was firmly rooted in the ELP, Yes, Genesis, Mahavishnu school. I distinctly remember an entire car full of Prog Rock boys simultaneously retching in their mouths at that line because we had spent the entire movie loathing the soundtrack.

I’ve come to have an appreciation of The Ramones, but I wouldn’t say much more than that about them.

Oh, my God, does this ever have ‘Big Can of Worms’ written all over it in letters a dog could read, and on the weekend of Hallowe’en!! I’ll try to post something later, but I make no guarantees until the weekend is over…

Everyone reading this thread ought to check out Nicholas Slonimsky’s “The Lexicon of Musical Invective”, by the way. It is a collection of reviews from Beethoven’s time up to the date of publication, and it is fascinating to see how composers who were at one time trashed by the musical cognoscenti were later held up as examples of how it should sound.

Some excerpts from the Beethoven section -

“Beethoven’s Second Symphony is a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon, that refuses to expire, and though bleeding in the Finale, furiously beets about with its tail erect.” Zeitung fuer die Elegente Welt, Vienna, May 1804

“Beethoven’s compositions more and more assume the character of studied eccentricity. He does not write much now, but most of what he produces is so impenetrably obscure in design and so full of unaccountable and often repulsive harmonies, that he puzzles the critic as much as he perplexes the performer.” The Harmonicon, London, April 1824

“I confess freely that I could never get any enjoyment out of Beethoven’s last works. Yes, I must include among them even the much-admired Ninth Symphony, the fourth movement of which seems to me so ugly, in such bad taste, and in the conception of Schiller’s Ode so cheap that I cannot even now understand how such a genius as Beethoven could write it down. I find in it another corroboration of what I had noticed already in Vienna, that Beethoven was deficient in esthetic imagery and lacked the sense of beauty.” Louis Spohr, Selbstbiographie, Cassel, 1861

So even in his day, and not long after, Beethoven was not universally as highly as we regard him today.

P. D. Q. Bach - Beethoven’s 5th.

Beethoven was never universally revered. And that 4th movement of the 9th has divided musicologists from ever, and which hasn’t changed. So your quotes don’t really indicate your point. Besides, if you read encyclopedic entries on him from editions within the last 100 years, you’ll see a toning down of reverence rather than the other way around, although I suspect that has a lot to do with evolution of prose guidelines in (pseudo-)academic works.

The question could be asked . . . and variously answered . . . about any art form. Who is today’s Michelangelo or Rodin? Who is today’s Rembrandt or Van Gogh? Who is today’s Shakespeare or Ibsen? Who is today’s Byron or Whitman?

Art forms evolve, and the measure of greatness evolves as well. We cannot judge the present by the standards of the past. And the standards of the present are too new to have any validity.

Who is today’s Tom Sawyer?

SORRY, panache45!!!:):slight_smile:

I just couldn’t resist!


I think this is at the heart of it. But **Saintly Loser **- while I agree with your basic point - the deep harmonic structures of classical music are far more intentionally and intricately wrought, but a cloud of harmonic distortion coming out of an amp, regardless of how it was created, is no less…valid…as a form of harmonic richness. Jackson Pollack flung paint and folks still argue that their kid could do it but by now most critics agree that there is an artistic statement happening…

And **Le Ministre **- too funny; I didn’t recall that, but I sure get your first post now…

I will sneak in here and give my plug for Henryk Gorecki, who is an absolutely magnificent symphonic composer. Listen to his Miserere - it is stunning and every time I listen to it, it moves me.

The cloud of harmonic distortion coming out of an amp is indeed a form of harmonic richness, and perfectly valid as such. But it can only be judged on its own terms. It’s a mistake, I think, to judge pop by the same standards by which we judge classical music. Or jazz. As I said above, I think the Ramones were fantastic. Absolute genius. They wedded '60s pop of the Phil Spector variety to New York’s punk scene in an absolutely unique way.

That said, it’s not the same thing that classical (modern classical) composers are doing. I think there’s a tendency, sometimes, to say of our musical heros that they are just as great, just as complex, etc., as someone from some other, purportedly more respected genre. And that does them a disservice. Joey and Johnny could never do what Ligeti did. But then can you imagine Ligeti on the stage at 3:00 AM at CBGB’s blasting out 90-second tunes about glue-sniffing and sedation to a pogoing crowd? Nope. Like I said, parallel tracks, and not comparable. The comparison doesn’t do either genre justice.

I mean, probably my favorite accoustic guitarist is Mississippi John Hurt. He had little, if any, grasp of musical theory. His technical ability was limited. And yet he was a genius. His playing moves me more than that of just about any other guitarist I can think of. And yet, to compare him to, say, David Starobin, would demean both of them. We don’t expect Starobin to be able to deliver the emotional gut punch in three or four minutes that Hurt could. And we wouldn’t expect Hurt to be able to work through a rhythmically and harmonically complex, technically extremely difficult, composition. Apples and oranges. One is not less than the other.

All good - no arguments. There are completely different criteria used when processing classical, technique-based ways to deliver music goodness vs. from-the-gut emotional wallop via music. Kinda makes it hard to compare anything. And yet it all moves us. Cool.

Riker played the sax. Occasionally they show some '40’s Big Band style stuff. Data sang something from Irving Berlin at Riker/Troi’s wedding.

I don’t recall if they ever showed what Tom Paris listened to, but with his fixation on speed (fast cars, fast spaceships), he might prefer something more “manic” than classical.

Do you think Big Band music might be remembered 400 years from now?

Sorry, DtC. I now see Duke Ellington in your reply. :smack:

Did he straddle the fence between Jazz and BB? Is BB a subset of jazz?

(I am musically uneducated.)

[minor nit]

Riker’s a 'boner
(i.e., plays trombone, not sax…)

[/minor nit]

Thanks for the correction. :smack:

I’d say big band music is a subset of jazz (maybe with more pop in it than, say, bop).

So yes, Ellington straddled that particular fence. Some would say that he also straddled, in his later years, the fence between classical and jazz, with his Sacred Concerts. I had the pleasure, some years ago, of seeing some of this music performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York, along with other modern classical music, including some of Lucas Foss’ work. Mr. Foss himself played piano for his piece (if I remember right, it was Time Cycle).

Ok, thanks. For some reason, I assumed Big Band and Jazz were classified as more discrete than similar styles.