Sign in to follow this  
MingLoo

"Song" v. work, or piece, etc.

Recommended Posts

Does it bother you when people call a piece of music a "song"? That is, if it's *not* a song -- if it's *not* an aria, or art song, or country song, or pop song, etc. Granted, the pieces in the Suzuki book are "songs" up to but not including the first Minuets. And I can accept that. But why call a symphony or sonata or even an opera a "song?"

I have this odd prejudice that the use of language precisely is an indication of intellectual development. And I will be the first to admit my own use of language is far from perfect. But this bothers me.

Anyone else?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're to funny! My wife has exactly the same feelings. Last week our oboe player referred to a concerto that we are playing as a "song". She is about 25 years old. Certainly doesn't portray much in the way of musical sophistication. At any rate I think I see some reason here-when people download MP3s from places like Amazon, the are referred to as "songs" by the system regardless of content. Since the younger set is especially oriented to MP3s (unlike us oldies that still like CDs and even LPs) I assume that the word "song" is circulating about for all types of music today.

Now-what about those that refer to 3 minute "rock" tracks as "artworks"-I won't tell ya how I fell about that-

Cheers

Fritz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Language is constantly evolving, we're told. Truth is, it's DEvolving. As peoples' attention spans become more birdlike in order to survive in an ever more superficial existence, precision in language use becomes lost; quick and dirty communication is the norm. We no longer have time for in-depth perusal of information; newspapers are dying, sound bites provide the data used to make major decisions, and the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

I don't care. From what I can see, it belongs there anyway. We get the level of civilisation we deserve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>> the world is going to hell in a handbasket

I think this was written on one of the inside walls of one of the pyramids, along with:

Young people are all spoiled, self-centered and disrespectful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does it bother you when people call a piece of music a "song"? That is, if it's *not* a song -- if it's *not* an aria, or art song, or country song, or pop song, etc. Granted, the pieces in the Suzuki book are "songs" up to but not including the first Minuets. And I can accept that. But why call a symphony or sonata or even an opera a "song?"

I have this odd prejudice that the use of language precisely is an indication of intellectual development. And I will be the first to admit my own use of language is far from perfect. But this bothers me.

Anyone else?

I think it's a sweet and novel idea to call a concerto or symphony or caprice, a song.

I wasn't brought up with this, but if it looks like you mean "song", in a higher sense, then it may be nice to use sparingly. People who interpret it as pop song etc, maybe that's their problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest erich_zann

I agree that it is kinda sweet when someone calls a section of a piece by something that they have personalized themselves, like "this is the part that reminds me of trees", or "the stormy part", etc.....

or when fiddlers call jigs and reels 'tunes'.

But when addressing a musical piece formally, it should be caprice, sonata, movement so and so of whatever.

So, maybe it's okay to informally label a piece from personal experience or in an artistic manner ?

E.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest C3F3

It seems to me that the word "song" refers to a simple melody, usually with lyrics. In my opinion it doesn't seem to match up with the more sophisticated pieces of classical music.

Of course, we're just dealing with opinions here. The word in question is so general that its usage can be left to personal taste.

I would say, though, that intellectual development can to a certain degree be judged by language development. The more advanced a culture is, the more advanced its language must be in order to communicate efficiently and effectively, since human cooperation is a necessary element of a successful civilization. I blame modern texting and such for the largest contribution to communicative deterioration, both in writing and speech. dont u agree?? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does it bother you when people call a piece of music a "song"? That is, if it's *not* a song -- if it's *not* an aria, or art song, or country song, or pop song, etc. Granted, the pieces in the Suzuki book are "songs" up to but not including the first Minuets. And I can accept that. But why call a symphony or sonata or even an opera a "song?"

I have this odd prejudice that the use of language precisely is an indication of intellectual development. And I will be the first to admit my own use of language is far from perfect. But this bothers me.

Anyone else?

+++++++++++++++++

I thought the word "song" was originated from " you should make the violin sing"

" Sing a song " is a natural phrase. Few would say "sing this "piece" with your cello."

It implies that you can play the cello as if you can make the cello sing.

Very often my violin teacher asked me on my lessons " Why can you make your violin sing a little?"

( Sorry, teacher I did not do practice last night, smart student like me could not answer that question) :)

PS. More than one occasion that the word "songs" bother some people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's nice that no one on Maestronet wrote that they were offended by my remarks, or responded to accuse me of snobbishness, which is frequently the case elsewhere.

I cross-posted this everywhere. General conclusion: the more educated the subscribers, the more they want students to use the correct term of art, and the less "cute" they think it is. I guess the most "snobbish" forum is rec.music.early on USENET. This forum is frequented by a lot of eminent musicologists who write in musicology-speak, which is hard for me to understand sometimes.

Likewise, there is a listserv, the AMS: American Musicological Society which has about the most snobbish folks I have ever seen. If you join, you cannot post with html and you must have a professional signature block. The later is also required on OrchestraList.

My point here is that "snobbishness" is relative. Here's an example of academic "musicology-speak" from rec.music.early:

Margo Schulter:

Please let me comment that while you are addressing 20th-century music, your post to rec.music.early seems to me not inapposite, because many of the same issues arise when the theory of late 17th-19th century major/minor tonality is applied to medieval, Renaissance, and Manneristic music.

When 13th-14th century music is analyzed in this fashion, the predictable

consequence is major misunderstanding. Unfamiliarity with medieval theory and practice can produce what I might term highly curious conclusions from even the most elect. Thus Hindemith, analyzing a secular composition of Machaut, concludes that there is little contrast in the levels of vertical or harmonic tension -- taking the later "triad" as the lowest level of tension. From either a 14th-century or 21st-century perspective, of course, what Hindemith takes as the lowest level of tension is actually a mildly unstable _quinta fissa_ or "split fifth" sonority with an outer fifth plus two thirds, with the latter intervals calling for eventual resolution.

The standard of rich stability, analogous to the later triad, is what might

be termed the complete _trine_ with outer octave, lower fifth, and upper

fourth. Similarly, a sonority with a major sixth above the lowest note,

often combined with the major third and/or tenth above this note, plays a

role in directed cadences which Margaret Hasselman has compared to V-I or V7-I in major/minor tonalty.

Similarly, one later 20th-century book on the history of tonality rather

surrealistically includes an analysis of a motet by Petrus de Cruce which

describes how the composer "avoids the third" at stable cadence points --

a bit like describing how Bach, similarly, "avoids the seventh" in his

closing sonorities. While this passage may have been written as something of a humorous demonstration of how well -- or poorly -- 18th-century tonality fits the analysis of an outstanding 13th-century composer, as I recall the author did not, at least in this portion of his

discussion, attempt a more period-appropriate analysis.

However, recent authors such as Hasselman, Richard Crocker, and Sarah

Fuller have done precisely this, articulating the short-range and

long-range events that shape forms and expectations in these centuries.

With Renaissance and Manneristic styles, the consequence of an

18th-century analysis may be a more subtle distortion, but also a

consequential one, of the actual organizing principles and nuances

of the style. In all these styles, the role of thirds and sixths as

the richest stable intervals, and common rules and assumptions such

as the exclusion from serious counterpoint of parallel fifths or

octaves, produce some notable resembles: but the differences are also

quite significant. The fluidity of 16th-century and indeed early

17th-century music, informed by a continued use of medieval two-voice

progressions such a major third expanding to a fifth in the new

context of a smooth concourse of tertian sonorities, makes possible

effects which would be uncharacteristic in a typical 18th-century

tonal style.

Being quite ignorant as to Thomson's scheme, what I might comment on

is the influence of medieval and Renaissance/Manneristic music on

20th-century developments.

One development with medieval affinities which was so recognized in the

early 20th century might be termed quartal or quintal harmony: the

revival of styles where fifths and/or fourths are the preferred stable

concords. Thus one early 20th-century handbook on "modern harmony"

actually described medieval organum as an "impressionistic" technique!

Debussy, Bartók, and Hindemith are among composers exploring in this

direction -- as well as some styles of jazz, for example. One might see

this quartal/quintal trend both as a deliberate allusion to medieval

technique, and more generally as a movement to go in some direction

other than that of the conventional tertian harmony prevalent in the

19th century.

A related development, in two-voice counterpoint as well as multi-voice

settings, is the use of a variety of intervals and vertical sonorities,

rather like the pluralistic interval structures or "partitions" favored

in the 13th century, although 20th-century pluralism has its own

techniques and does not necessarily sound "neo-medieval." Bartók, for

example, often typifies this line of development.

Yet another tendency is a move toward "layered" styles where, although

vertical sonorities are important, the free development of melodic

lines has greater weight than in many tertian 19th-century styles.

Still another related aspect is the use of "probabilistic" techniques

in both 13th-century and 20th-century polyphony, where some events

are more probable than others, but few seem "wrong" or excluded.

As Ludmila Ulehla has written, such styles involve "the control of

dissonance" in fashions other than that of major/minor tonality.

Neomodality has often been noted as an important trend in 20th-century

music, ranging from the Renaissance-flavored settings of Ralph Vaughan

Williams to the folk-related styles of Bartók, Stravinsky's

arrangements of Gesualdo, and jazz performances of Miles Davis. Such

styles might involve a quartal/quintal technique or a tertian one --

or possibly, as in Debussy and some progressive jazz settings, the

use of more complex sonorities built out of stacked thirds or other

intervals.

An interesting essay might be written about the uses of medieval style

in contemporary composition and criticism. Thus one commentator writing in 1938 or so drew a parallel between the styles of Perotin and Schoenberg as likewise "indifferent" to aural beauty; while Steve Reich has cited Perotin as one germinal source for modern "minimalist" styles. While I might ask whether a monumental composition by Perotin such as _Viderunt omnes_ can really be called "minimalist" in any usual sense, nevertheless it is clear that Reich's appreciation focuses on such traits as an admirable economy in making simple melodic themes and ideas the basis for an extended piece of music.

To conclude this curious note, I would add that as one recent

journal article pointed out, those of us who urge that medieval

theory is invaluable in understanding medieval music should not

argue that such theoretical knowledge makes analysis simple or

uncontroversial: there is still a need to interpret and flesh

out, whether one is reading a treatise or describing the style

of a 13th-century conductus or motet. Similarly, a thorough

familiarity with 20th-century theory does not solve the problem

of analyzing the subtle techniques of Debussy or Bartók, for

example -- but it can afford a more auspicious starting point

for such an endeavor.

Also, a better understanding of medieval or 20th-century

technique need not exclude comparisons to 18th-19th century

harmony, but can actually facilitate more meaningful and

satisfying comparisons, as in the writings of Crocker,

Hasselman, and Fuller on 14th-century vertical forms of

organization and listener expectations which reveal

phenomena distinct from but analogous to those of

major/minor tonality.

Most appreciatively,

Margo Schulter

mschul...@calweb.com

From: Theory Notes

If you're interested in this admittedly very minor topic, here are the other sites with the thread. Interesting how very different the responses are:

Maestronet (here)

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=320570

Violin Forum

http://www.violins.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?t=887

USENET - rec.music.makers.bowed-strings & rec.music.early

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.m...a57bd280ff0e5f#

Amazon Top Reviewers Community

http://tinyurl.com/yapvne8

String_Teacher_Support

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/strin...rt/message/3193

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was also thinking, what does it matter? When they hear the concerto or whatever, they will soon enough be able to decide for themselves if they really mean to call it a song or not. If they know what it is, and still call it a song, then again, it's not like they don't know what they're talking about. I mean, of course, if someone plays a whole caprice on the violin and does all the work to learn and practice it, and then calls it a song, then I respect his/her opinion.

But indeed, if you live with this, I agree it's not easy to get used to it the whole time. Only in a casual, or humorous way. You can't hear the whole when your students keep caling it a song!

I hope to look at the other forums when i have some time. I'm interested to see how they react!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>> I was also thinking, what does it matter?

FWIW (perhaps not much), IMO it matters because it is a "tell" or an indication of the speaker's level of understanding of musicology, performance practice, general knowledge, the literature of their instrument, intelligence level. It matters because language matters.

I was sitting in the office with one of my violin teachers and a young woman burst into the room, saying she would play "her song" at her lesson. I think it was a Mozart concerto. He looked at me and rolled his eyes.

She indicated, by her language, that she was a child.

My logic, such as it is, is this: if you're going to be in a profession, you should honor the people in that profession by using the terms of art correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest erich_zann
>> I was also thinking, what does it matter?

FWIW (perhaps not much), IMO it matters because it is a "tell" or an indication of the speaker's level of understanding of musicology, performance practice, general knowledge, the literature of their instrument, intelligence level. It matters because language matters.

I was sitting in the office with one of my violin teachers and a young woman burst into the room, saying she would play "her song" at her lesson. I think it was a Mozart concerto. He looked at me and rolled his eyes.

She indicated, by her language, that she was a child.

My logic, such as it is, is this: if you're going to be in a profession, you should honor the people in that profession by using the terms of art correctly.

But what if you're not in the 'profession' ?

I'll bet that there are countless "unschooled" fiddlers and players out there that could play circles around most.

And I will also bet that they don't call their musical pieces by their proper terms. (and on top of that, they probably don't even care........).

My logic, (as applied to this topic), is : if you're going to be a snob, let your intentions be known ! Let it be known that you are completely unaccepting of others unless they do what you want them to do ! Stand up and say it proudly, "I am a complete musical snob"..."You Must Conform, You Must Conform..."

You were doing well until you posted a reply from another forum in this thread...........

E.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You were doing well until you posted a reply from another forum in this thread...........

What reply? From what forum? You mean Margo Schulter's remarks? Not a "reply," not from another forum, and used with permission.

Do you not see where it says "From: Theory Notes?" (see link)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you should judge a person's intellect by their use or non-use of a word in any situation. The young woman who burst in, seemingly full of enthusiasm, should be applauded for that very enthusiasm. It's the responsibility of teachers to fan those flames, and teach the students not only how to perform on their instrument, but proper terminology. If that professor was disdainful of his student, where should the blame fall? Is her intellect lacking or does his teaching fall short? If she had learned a Mozart concerto then surely she had some degree of talent and hopefully with encouragement she would attain even greater success and perhaps proper terms would begin to manifest.

Just thoughts..........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does it bother you when people call a piece of music a "song"? That is, if it's *not* a song....

Yes. As a fiddler playing Irish instrumental music, I often tell people that I play tunes, not songs. And I recently went to a concert by a swing band where every song was introduced by the words: "The next tune that we will play is...."

I have this odd prejudice that the use of language precisely is an indication of intellectual development.

Me, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think you should judge a person's intellect by their use or non-use of a word in any situation.

This is a good point. There are many intelligent people who do not, among their talents have a good sense or ear for language and would not have picked up on this nuance. Some people, on the other hand are so intelligent that they find it dificult to abide by norms or seemingly senseless rules put on them by all the idiots who inhabit the planet.

I must admit that when someone does use the term song to refer to a 'tune' or 'work' or 'piece' written for instrumental performance, I do immediately get the impression of a lack of sophistication or education in the area or music. But in our attempts to be civilized and polite social creatures, these impulses, if we get them should be kept to ourselves. If it is a friend, family member, or student gently whom you think should know better, inform them of what is considered the correct terminology in a private moment and go on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And how shall we describe one of those pieces of music titled "Song Without Words?"

So much else to be concerned about!

I understand completely what you are saying in this thread, but sometimes you want a simple description to someone who knows no better. You don't want to cause their eyes to glaze over.

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While a persons' use of words can indicate their level of knowledge on a particular topic (music in this case), the words and terminology - and even general knowledge - are actually indicators of how effectively that person was taught. This is because it is the responsibility of role models (eg teachers, parents) in that persons' life to ensure the person developes appropriate communication skills. My own music teachers would correct me if I got the terminology wrong, calling a Symphony a Song would have been just as bad as calling an appoggiatura an acciaccatura, or saying Symphony form instead of Sonata form.

One of the problems is that no-one makes it known that this behaviour is unnaccepteble.. therefore it becomes acceptible and eventually normal. If you see this as a problem you should correct it, but not complain about it. I have this odd predjudice against complaining....

BTW, Mingloo, the article by Margo Schulter you posted is incredibly fascinating...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO, the best thing that anyone can do for themselves is learn how to use their own language. This is the basis of all thought and the underlying requirement for any kind of excellence, academic or professional.

On another forum, this was the subject line:

"Anyone ever heared of a Yurea Violins on ebay?"

There are two glaring errors: the past tense of "hear" is not "heared" but "heard." If you're going to say violins, plural (more than one), then you should not say "of a Yureau.."

Another contributor in that forum refuses to put a space after a comma and two spaces after a period. It's equivalent to picking your nose in public (i.e., annoying, unpleasant and distracting).

I don't care what anyone says; the cold fact of life is that language is an indication of how well read the person is and how intelligent they are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And if you are going to use a singular antecedent, you ought to use a singular pronoun:

"language is an indication of how well read the person is and how intelligent they are."

:)

One more thing deserves comment:

"But it should not be surprising that the Bell Curve is accurate."

Racism swings both ways, and it is always ugly. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest erich_zann
I don't care what anyone says; the cold fact of life is that language is an indication of how well read the person is and how intelligent they are. But it should not be surprising that the Bell Curve is accurate.

Another fact of life is that judgmental people are just plain annoying.

E.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.