Why do people get Rothko but not Stockhausen?

CHAOTROPIC

on account
It's a stupid premis for a book. People 'get' Rothko cos he's really easy. People don't get Stockhausen because he's really difficult.
I spent the first two pages of this thread completely bemused 'cos I thought people were talking about Rothko _the band_ :confused:
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
It's a stupid premis for a book. People 'get' Rothko cos he's really easy. People don't get Stockhausen because he's really difficult.
Good point...modernist visual arts have very obvious eye appeal, especially the paintings. Modernist architecture is even more mass-appealing in its function-over-form utopian efficiency. There's the aura of luxury about it, now, too, thanks to its commodification.

But modernist composers were not so symbolically efficient. And so they're not conceptually quite as easy for just anybody to appreciate, even though tons and tons of down to earth people did "get" it at the time...
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
It might be more fair to compare Stockhausen to another time-based art. Film?
Yeah, some totally incomprehensible durational video art that goes on for hours and hours with no apparent easy access to its meaning or its reason for existence but that looks quite good. Like my work lol.
Stan Brakhage or like Zhao says Maya Deren maybe, but even those are comparatively 'easy' to understand, just because you don't necessarily look for meaning within seeing, whereas hearing is huge deep chasm if you don't understand it. It's also much more unpleasurable.

I think alot of people don't 'get' Stockhausen because they never heard it live, the whole quadrophonic experience etc made/makes his work much more immersive - and thus 'easier' - when done live rather than sitting down with some fucking four album box set.
 

rouge's foam

a deadly secretion
Stan Brakhage would make a good equivalent. Interesting that at the Tate Modern, Maya Deren's 'Meshes of the Afternoon' and 'Un Chien Andalou' are looping constantly in little partially closed off rooms, and people wander in for a few minutes before moving on. Traditionally such a thing would seem somewhat unthinkable for music (even though music doesn't have clear representational narrative as much as film does) though it would be a great way to introduce people to Stockhausen and co - have a similar Stimmung room, for example, and I think it might be quite popular (given the generally liberal disposition of the Tate Modern and its audience). Stockhausen purists might hate it though, if they believed it was obligatory to sit still in intense concentration for over an hour.

I've always thought 'Meshes of the Afternoon' suffers horribly in the wake of the pejorative clichés of film school student avant-garde efforts. Unstable identities, highly symbolic props, cinematic tricks, narcissism, mysterious lovers, mirrors, angst. But it probably looked great in 1943.

Interesting that unconventional forms are worshipped in films like Memento and Fight Club which appear in the favourite films section of the facebook profiles of half of the people you go to college with (crucially cos there's a storyline basis for them I guess), but Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky etc are relatively unknown outside of the BFI.
 
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josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
I think the reason people don't get either, or anything, ever, is because they are both/all held up as the embodiments of elite human greatness, and the truth is that it isn't about this. "They" should play Stockhausen in bars; then I would respect "them" - you probably wouldn't go everyday, but it would be nice now and then to go to the evil deafening Stockhausen bar.
 
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vimothy

yurp
All this shit has a lot to do with catching it at the right moment. I remember the first time free jazz made sense to me, I was blown away, and couldn't figure out why it hadn't before. Similarly, when I was young I used to go into HMV and stare at the black metal cds, but when I actually bought one (Panzerfaust, IIRC) and listened to it, I was bitterly disappointed. Shitty production, no songs and some weirdly unsettling riffs. Years later, I got into Darkthrone and now I regard them as one of the greatest bands of all time. Or minimal techno, that was just boring -- etc, etc, etc...
 

UFO over easy

online mahjong
Stan Brakhage would make a good equivalent. Interesting that at the Tate Modern, Maya Deren's 'Meshes of the Afternoon' and 'Un Chien Andalou' are looping constantly in little partially closed off rooms, and people wander in for a few minutes before moving on. Traditionally such a thing would seem somewhat unthinkable for music (even though music doesn't have clear representational narrative as much as film does) though it would be a great way to introduce people to Stockhausen and co - have a similar Stimmung room, for example, and I think it might be quite popular (given the generally liberal disposition of the Tate Modern and its audience). Stockhausen purists might hate it though, if they believed it was obligatory to sit still in intense concentration for over an hour.

Interesting that unconventional forms are worshipped in films like Memento and Fight Club which appear in the favourite films section of the facebook profiles of half of the people you go to college with (crucially cos there's a storyline basis for them I guess), but Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky etc are relatively unknown outside of the BFI.

i was on the verge of buying satantango as a birthday present for my dad but in the end decided to go for something less than 7 hours long

i would definitely pop into a satantango room at the bfi though
 

Kate Mossad

New member
I have to say, regardless of it's contents, this is one of the worst edited books I've ever read. Too many sentences make no grammatical sense whatsoever. Poor! Also an index and bibliography would have been nice. No?
Rant over...
 

rouge's foam

a deadly secretion
I have to say, regardless of it's contents, this is one of the worst edited books I've ever read. Too many sentences make no grammatical sense whatsoever. Poor! Also an index and bibliography would have been nice. No?
Rant over...
Exactly, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so. Trouble is, if the book were to have had an index, it would have been at least as long as the preceding material!
 

empty mirror

remember the jackalope
Sorry to barge in here having only read the first half of this thread but I came across this passage in The Rest Is Noise in which the author compares the experience of looking at Kandinsky's Impression III and listening to Schoenberg in a concert hall... in summary he says that if at first the viewer has trouble comprehending the Kandinsky picture, the viewer "can walk on and return to it later, or step back to give it another glance, or lean in for a close look)..." but "At a performance, listeners experience a work collectively, at the same rate and approximately from the same distance. They cannot stop to consider the impications of a half-lovely chord or concealed waltz rhythm. They are a crowd, and crowds tend to align themselves as one mind."

Most of us would experience Stockhausen privately on a recording, so I am not sure this applies, yet I thought it may throw some light on the discussion.
 

monobass

New member
This is a very interesting area I've been thinking about a lot. So many 'sad' songs are written in predominantly major chords - very surprising really. I'm not sure if it's the lyrical content that tips them that way, or whether it's an ambivalence about harmonies that goes deeper than the major=happy, minor=sad dichotomy.
Michel Chion kind of describes something similar in his book on film sound Audio:Vision - what he calls Anempathetic Effects

On the other hand, music can also exhibit conspicuous indifference
to the situation, by progressing in a steady, undaunted,
and ineluctable manner: the scene takes place against this very
backdrop of "indifference." This juxtaposition of scene with
indifferent music has the effect not of freezing emotion but rather
of intensifying it, by inscribing it on a cosmic background. I call
this second kind of music anempathetic (with the privative a-). The
anempathetic impulse in the cinema produces those countless
musical bits from player pianos, celestas, music boxes, and dance
bands, whose studied frivolity and naivete reinforce the individual
emotion of the character and of the spectator, even as the
music pretends not to notice them.

To be sure, this effect of cosmic indifference was already present
in many operas, when emotional pitch was so high that it
froze characters into inaction, provoking a sort of psychotic
regression. Hence the famous operatic convention of madness,
with the dumb little music that a character repeats while rocking
back and forth, . . . But on the screen the anempathetic effect has
taken on such prominence that we have reason to consider it to be
intimately related to cinema's essence—its mechanical nature.
The comparison of Stockhausen with experimental cinema would have been a lot more interesting to me. People are so much more willing to accept dissonance and subversion in a gestalt form like film.

I've met a lot more people who have sat through Tarkovsky films or Un Chien Andalou that have probably never even heard more than 2 minutes of Stockhausen.

I'm struggling here because I know a fair bit about film theory.. sound for film particularly... but not really the equivalent in music (despite being a musician).
But is there an equivalent in music of the Kuleshov effect? Something that can bind together seemingly disparate fragments into a coherent whole and make them palatable and even revolutionary? Hang on, maybe that is Hip Hop. Goodnight.
 

matt.poacher

Wild Horses
Hi - this is my first post in here.

I've been reading Stubbs' book and have similar thoughts to many in here. To me the book feels a little like a rough draft (and not just because of the frequent mistakes and errors, which to be honest are pretty inexcusable). Stubbs clearly has the knowledge to write a long book about 20th century music, and why and where it's creation and reception diverged from modern art - but this isn't it. It's too short, too glossed and there isn't nearly enough about the psychological and physical reception of art and music. Instead you've got a series of capsule reviews of entire decades which show an obvious wealth of knowledge and passion but end up sounding reductive and bland. I wonder if it'll be used as a pitch for a longer book?

And I agree - it desperately needs an index and bibliography. And a proof reader with more than no eyes.
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
But is there an equivalent in music of the Kuleshov effect? Something that can bind together seemingly disparate fragments into a coherent whole and make them palatable and even revolutionary? Hang on, maybe that is Hip Hop. Goodnight.
That's such a great point to make, I've been thinking about it all week.
 

wonk_vitesse

radio eros
I'd like to read this book but reading the criticisms here i'm not sure. This issue has been around a while. Look at any arts TV show and you'll find the same problem whereby serious music is not addressed. I suppose TV isn't really the right medium for Stockhausen.

Comparing the two artists you could argue that Rothko is supremely ambient, it superficially demands little whereas Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Mahler, Wagner, Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven all demand a certain length of concentration. Classical concerts, as has been discussed, are rituals alien to many of the public. I don't think it matters whether it's Tallis or Thomas Ades.

Stockhausen's influence on contemporary music ? it matters not, his was just the most widely known electronische musik available, it relates little to those making beats of the future other than being electronic material.
 
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rouge's foam

a deadly secretion
Stockhausen's influence on contemporary music ? it matters not, his was just the most widely know electronische musik available, it relates little to those making beats of the future other than being electronic material.
A good point. I've always toyed with the same feeling about Kraftwerk - are they so 'influential' simply because they were among the first and subsequently most famous producers of a synthesiser-based pop, or is it the particular usages and musical patterns they explored on those synthesisers that give them a real importance? A mix of the two, maybe.
 

er.ik

New member
Why people get Rothko but not Stockhausen? I think Stockhausen himself would have said that it is due to our visual society, where (almost) everything is experienced through the eye. I mean, that's pretty much why he made music, to open up peoples ears, so to say.
I don't know whether dear old Stockhausen was right in his assumption that the human ear is underdeveloped, and that listening to his kind of music would eventually help us understand the mysteries and wonders of sound, but I honestly doubt it.
As I see it, Stockhausen's influence on music is not so much based on his music, but on his thoughts about music and creation.
I mean, does Can, Miles or even early Kraftwerk sound the least like Stockhausen? I think not, but I don't doubt that Stockhausen nevertheless was a huge influence on them, from a process-of-creation point of view.
 
L

LoraHup

Guest
Why do people get Rothko but not Stockha

I admit when I wrote that piece that the title was inflammatory, but the premise was more along the lines of what you noted, "why do people so strongly cling to things contrary to logic".

I recieved more than expected mail from Republicans or former Republicans who agreed at least in part with portions of what I said, but I was taken back by several emails suggesting I was a member of Al Quaeda, an American hater, and in one mail it suggested that I be placed in a "tater sack" and have the life beat out of me.

However this has inspired me to further search for reasons why our intellectual and civic standards have so declined. I am curious as to when the shift of teaching kids what to think instead of how to think occured.
 
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