Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Tonality's Revenge"

Roger Scruton looks at "the contest between tonality and atonality [that] continued throughout the 20th century" — The Post-Modern Ear. "The first was popular, the second, on the whole, popular only with the elites. But it was the elites who controlled things, and who directed the state subsidies to the music that they preferred – or at least, that they pretended to prefer." He continues:
    It is no longer accepted as proof of a low-brow musical sensibility to wish to reconnect with that the romantic tradition. It is now permissible to like Sibelius and Vaughan Williams, and to believe that they are superior to Stockhausen and Boulez. It is permissible to reject the notion that tonality was made irrelevant by the atonal school, and to recognise that some of the greatest works in the tonal tradition were composed in the middle of the 20th century....

    The idea put about by the Marxist critic Theodor Adorno, that tonality was by then nothing but the exhausted remainder of a dead tradition, was definitely disproven by post-war music. By the 1950s it was atonality and not tonality that was exhausted.

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Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

What someone once said of the proponents of post-bop jazz might also be said of the atonalists: "If you want melody, you're a fascist!"

9:58 PM  

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