In music, modernism is a philosophical and aesthetic stance underlying the period of change and development in musical language that occurred around the turn of the 20th century, a period of diverse reactions in challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, innovations that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music, and changes in aesthetic worldviews in close relation to the larger identifiable period of modernism in the arts of the time. The operative word most associated with it is “innovation”. Its leading feature is a “linguistic plurality”, which is to say that no one music genre ever assumed a dominant position.
The modernist music refers to music written European tradition (or classical music), drawn roughly between 1910 and 1975.It was preceded by the music of Romanticism and post – Romanticism, and succeeded by the contemporary classical music. The exact moment in which modernism ended and contemporary music began, is still a matter of debate among experts. Sometimes modernist music is equated with twentieth-century music, although the latter covers a chronological time instead of an aesthetic period. Modernist music is based on the philosophical and aesthetic values ofModernism, whose main principle is the break with tradition and permanent innovation. Due to this it is closely linked to the avant-garde. Unlike previous periods, virtually all composers of this period participated in several different musical movements, either simultaneously or in stages.
Examples include the celebration of Arnold Schoenberg’s rejection of tonality in chromatic post-tonal and twelve-tone works and Igor Stravinsky’s move away from metrical rhythm.
Musicologist Carl Dahlhaus describes modernism as:
an obvious point of historical discontinuity… The “breakthrough” of Mahler, Strauss, and Debussy implies a profound historical transformation… If we were to search for a name to convey the breakaway mood of the 1890s (a mood symbolized musically by the opening bars of Strauss’s Don Juan) but without imposing a fictitious unity of style on the age, we could do worse than revert to Hermann Bahr’s term “modernism” and speak of a stylistically open-ended “modernist music” extending (with some latitude) from 1890 to the beginnings of our own twentieth-century modern music in 1910.
Eero Tarasti defines musical modernism directly in terms of “the dissolution of the traditional tonality and transformation of the very foundations of tonal language, searching for new models in atonalism, polytonalism or other forms of altered tonality”, which took place around the turn of the century.
Daniel Albright proposes a definition of musical modernism as, “a testing of the limits of aesthetic construction” and presents the following modernist techniques or styles:
The name of modernism is given to a series of movements based on the concept that, being the 20th century a time of fundamental social and technological changes, art should adopt and develop these principles as an aesthetic foundation. Modernism takes the progressive spirit of the late nineteenth century and its attachment to the rigor of technological progress, so it takes it off the norms and formalisms of the art of the time and tradition. In this way the main characteristic of modernism is the plurality of language, understanding that no particular musical language assumed a dominant position.
Technically speaking, musical modernism has three main characteristics that distinguish it from previous periods:
The expansion or abandonment of tonality.
The use of extended techniques.
The incorporation of sounds and novel sounds in the composition.
Main techniques, styles and movements
The Futurism was one of the early avant – garde movements in Europe in the twentieth century. This artistic movement was founded in Italy by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who wrote the Futurist Manifesto, and published it on February 20, 1909 in the newspaper Le Figaro in Paris.
This movement sought a break with the artistic traditions of the past and the conventional signs of the history of art. He tried to praise contemporary life, this by means of two main themes: the machine and the movement. Futurism resorted to any means of expression; plastic arts, architecture, poetry, advertising, fashion, film and music; in order to build again the profile of the world.
The first futuristic works in the field of music began in 1910, the same year in which the Manifesto of Futurist musicians was signed. The main Futurist composers were the Italians Francesco Balilla Pratella and Luigi Russolo. Russolo conceives in this manifesto the art of the noises of 1913, as a consequence of the studies previously carried out by Pratella. The “noise music” was later incorporated into the performances, as background music or as a kind of score or guide for the movements of the performers, also invented a noise machine called Intonarumorior “noise toner”, which was harshly criticized in his time. Among his most significant works highlights Los Relámpagos de 1910.
Russolo was the antecedent of concrete music, a sonorous language in which any sound was used, whether it was produced by nature or by technique (guttural technique, were words or an inarticulate language).
Crisis of tonality and atonalism
The first antecedents of the European music without a tonal center are in Franz Liszt with its Bagatella without tonality of 1885, period that already spoke of a “crisis of tonality”. This crisis was generated from the increasingly frequent use of ambiguous chords, less probable harmonic inflections, and the most unusual melodic and rhythmic inflections possible within tonal music. The distinction between the exceptional and the normal became more and more blurred, and as a result, there was a concomitant loosening of the syntactic links through which the tones and harmonies had been related to each other. The connections between the harmoniesthey were uncertain, the relationships and their consequences became so tenuous that they barely worked at all. At most, the probabilities of the tonal system had become too dark; in the worst case, they were approaching a uniformity that provided few guidelines for composition or listening. In the early twentieth century composers such as Claude Debussy, Aleksandr Skriabin, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Carl Ruggles, Igor Stravinski and Edgar Varèse, wrote music that has been described, totally or partially, as atonal. Aleksandr SkriabinHe made a particular style of impressionism and atonality, basing works such as Mysterium, Poema del éxtasis or Prometheus: the poem of fire in a chord by quarters and tritones called ” mystical chord “, far removed from the usual triad chords formed by intervals of third.
The first phase of atonalism (ancestor of dodecaphonism), known as “free atonality” or “free chromatism”, implied a conscious attempt to avoid traditional diatonic harmony. The most important works of this period are the opera Wozzeck (1917-1922) by Alban Berg and Pierrot Lunaire (1912) by Arnold Schönberg. The first period of freely atonal pieces of Schoenberg (from 1908 to 1923), often have as an integrating element to an interval cell that, in addition to the expansion can be transformed into a row of tones, and in which the individual notes can “function as fundamental elements, to allow the superposition of the states of a basic cell or the interconnection of two or more basic cells”. Other composers in the United States such as Charles Ives, Henry Cowell and later George Antheil, produced shocking music for the audience of the time for their disdain of musical conventions. They frequently combined popular music with agglutination or polytonality, extreme dissonances, and a rhythmic complexity that is apparently unenforceable. Charles Seeger enunciated the concept of dissonant counterpoint, a technique used by Carl Ruggles, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, and others.
Primitivism was a movement of the arts that sought to rescue the most archaic folklore of certain regions with modern or modernist language. Similar to nationalism in its eagerness to rescue the local, primitivism also incorporated irregular metrics and accents, a greater use of percussion and other timbres, modal scales, and polytonal and atonal harmony. Within the music the two giants of this movement were the Russian Igor Stravinsky and the Hungarian Bela Bartok, although the work of both far surpasses the denomination “primitivist”.
The first of Stravinsky’s major stylistic periods (excluding some earlier minor works) was inaugurated by the three ballets he composed for Diaghilev. These ballets have several shared characteristics: they are made to be played by extremely large orchestras; the themes and plot motifs are based on Russian folklore; and they carry the Rimski-Kórsakov brand both in their development and in their instrumentation. The first of the ballets, The Firebird (1910), is notable for its unusual introduction (trios of low strings) and sweep of the orchestration. Petrushka (1911), is also scored distinctly and is the first of Stravinsky’s ballets to use Russian folk mythology. But it is in the third ballet, The Consecration of Spring (1913), which is generally considered the apotheosis of Stravinsky’s “Primitive Russian Period”. Here, the composer uses the brutality of pagan Russia, reflecting these feelings in the aggressive interpretation, polytonic harmony and abrupt rhythms that appear throughout the work. There are several famous passages in this work, but two are of particular note: the first theme based on the bassoon sounds with the notes at the limit of their registration, almost out of range; and the rhythmically irregular attack (using the typical resource of the Russian Stravinskian period of taking a short rhythmic cell and moving its accentuation) of two overlapping chords using only the heel of the arch for thestrings and making more evident the permanently changing reorganization of the initial motif, doubling with the chords the chords that are accentuated each time. Consecration is generally considered not only the most important work of primitivism or Stravinsky, but of the entire twentieth century, both for its break with tradition, and for its influence throughout the world.
Other outstanding pieces of this style include: The Nightingale (1914), Renard (1916), History of a soldier (1918), and The weddings (1923), instrumented for the original combination of four pianos and percussion, with vocal participation. In these works the musician took to the limit the inheritance of the Russian nationalist school until practically exhausting it.
Bartók was a Hungarian musician who stood out as a composer, pianist and folk music researcher from Eastern Europe (especially from the Balkans). Bartók was one of the founders of ethnomusicology, based on the relationships that unite ethnology and musicology. From his research he developed a very personal and innovative style.
Microtonalism is music that uses microtones (musical intervals less than a semitone). The American musician Charles Ives defined the microtones in a humorous way as “the notes between the keys of the piano”. Experimenting with the violin in 1895, the Mexican Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) distinguishes sixteen distinctly different sounds between the G and A releases emitted by the fourth violin string. He called these microtonal distinctions Sonido 13and he wrote about the theory of music and the physics of music. He invented a simple numerical notation to represent the musical scales on the basis of any division of the octave, such as thirds, quarters, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, and so on (he even wrote, most of the time, for fourths, eighths and combined sixteenths, the notation is intended to represent any imaginable subdivision). He invented new musical instruments, and others adapted them to produce micro-ranges. He composed a large amount of microtonal music and recorded 30 of his compositions. In the 1910s and 1920s, quarter-tone and other subdivisions of the octave received the attention of other composers such as Charles Ives,Alois Haba (1/4 and 1/6 tone), Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1/4, 1/6, 1/12 and non-octabable scales), Ferruccio Busoni (who did some unsuccessful experiments in the adaptation of a piano of thirds of tone), Mildred Couper and Harry Partch. Erwin Schulhoff gave compositional lessons with quarter-tone at the Prague Conservatory. Notable microtonal composers or researchers from the 1940s and 1950s included Adriaan Fokker (31 equal tones per octave), and Groven Eivind. The microtonal music never had much acceptance and was considered in future almost exclusively by the musicians ofVanguardia.
Second Viennese School, dodecafonismo and serialism
Arnold Schoenberg is one of the most significant figures in twentieth-century music. His early works belong to the late Romantic style, influenced by Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler, but in the end he abandoned the tonal composition system to write atonal music. Over time, he developed the technique of dodecaphonism, proposing it in 1923 to replace the traditional tonal organization.
His students Anton Webern and Alban Berg also developed and deepened the use of the twelve-tone system, and stood out for the use of such a technique under their own rules. The three are known, familiarly, as La Trinidad Schoenberg, or the Second Viennese School. This name was created to highlight that this New Music had the same innovative effect as the First Vienna School of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
Dodecafonismo was a form of atonal music, with a technique of composition in which the 12 notes of the chromatic scale are treated as equivalent, that is, subject to an ordered relation that (unlike the major-minor system of the tonality) does not establish hierarchy between the notes. What the founder of twelve-tone music, Schönberg, did was to forbid by statute to use one note more than another: the twelve-tone melody must carry the 12 notes on the chromatic scale. It is written following the principle that all twelve semitones or notes are of equal importance. The internal relationship is established from the use of a series composed of the twelve notes. The composer decides the order in which they appear with the condition that they do not repeat any until the end.
The serialism represents a step forward dodecaphonism, and was created by which a pupil of Schoenberg, Webern: an order is established not only for the succession of different heights, but for the succession of different durations (the ” figures “, such as the quarter note, eighth note, etc.) and the succession of the dynamics (sound intensity levels), as well as for articulation. All these series are repeated during the course of a work. The technique has been called integral serialism to distinguish it from the limited serialism of dodecaphonism. Ironically, after years of unpopularity, Webern’s pointillist style – in which individual sounds are carefully placed in the work so that each one matters – became the norm in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s, and was very influential among postwar composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Igor Stravinsky.
The neoclassicism in music refers to the movement of the twentieth century that took up a common practice of tradition in terms of harmony, melody, form, timbres and rhythms, but mixed with great atonal dissonances and syncopated rhythms, as a starting point for to compose music. Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Sergéi Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich and Béla Bartók are the most important composers usually mentioned in this style, but also the prolific Darius Milhaud and his contemporaries Francis Poulenc and Arthur Honegger (The Six).
Neoclassicism was born at the same time as the general return to rational models in the arts, in response to the First World War. Smaller, scarcer, more ordered were the tendencies conceived in response to the emotional saturation that many felt had pushed people into the trenches. Considering that economic problems favored smaller groups, the search to do “more with less” consequently became an obligatory practice. History of the soldier of Stravinski is for this reason a seed of neoclassical piece, as it happens also in the concert The oaks of Dumbarton, in his Symphony for wind instruments or in the Symphony in. Stravinsky’s neoclassical culmination is his opera The Progress of the Libertine (“Rake’s Progress”), with a libretto by the well-known modernist poet WH Auden.
Neoclassicism found an interested audience in the US; Nadia Boulanger’s school promulgated musical ideas based on the understanding of Stravinski’s music. Among his students are neoclassical musicians such as Elliott Carter (in his early days), Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Darius Milhaud, Astor Piazzolla and Virgil Thomson.
The most audible feature of neoclassicism are melodies that use the third as a fixed interval, and chromatically add dissonant notes to the ostinato, harmonic blocks and free mixture of polyrhythms. Neoclassicism gained great acceptance from the audience quickly, and was internalized by those opposed to atonalism as true modern music.
Electronic and concrete music
Technological advances in the 20th century allowed composers to use electronic media to produce sounds. In France the concrete school music that produced existing sounds in the world was developed. It is called concrete because according to Pierre Schaeffer, its inventor, he said that it is produced by concrete objects and not by the abstract ones that traditional musical instruments would be. The first one that had those means was Edgar Varese, who presented Poème électronique in the Philips pavilion of the Brussels Exhibition in 1958. In 1951, Schaeffer, together with Pierre Henry, they created the Concrete Music Research Group in Paris. Soon it attracted great interest, and among those who came were different significant composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraque, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgar Varese, Iannis Xenakis, Michel Philippot and Arthur Honegger.
Random music and radical avant-garde
While modernism itself is avant-garde music, the avant-garde within it refers to the most radical and controversial movements, where the concept of music reaches its limits -if it no longer exceeds them- using elements such as noise, recordings, sense of humor, chance, improvisation, theater, absurdity, ridicule, or surprise. Within the genres generally located within this radical current is random music, live electronic music, musical theater, ritual music, composition of processes, musical happening, or intuitive music, among many others. Among the most transcendental composers who ventured into these adventures is John Cage in America andKarlheinz Stockhausen in Europe.
Random music or radical avant-garde music is a musical composition technique based on the use of elements not regulated by established guidelines and in which it acquires a preponderant role, it is improvisation based on unstructured sequences. Such improvising traits can be fixed in the creation of the author or in the development of the interpretation itself. It is frequent, therefore, the composition of random pieces in which the performer determines the final structure of the work, by rearranging each of the sections of the same, or even through the simultaneous interpretation of several of them.
The most outstanding modalities in which random creation is proposed in contemporary music are the mobile form, which imposes diverse interpretative solutions of comparable rank; the variable form, in which improvisation predominates; and the so-called work in progress, which constitutes the maximum degree of chance in the execution of the piece. In all of them classical instruments are usually incorporated, with special attention to the piano, and electronic means of execution such as synthesizers, distorters and recorded tapes.
Micropolyphony and sound masses
In the words of David Cope, micropolifonía is about “a simultaneity of different lines, rhythms and timbres”. The technique was developed by György Ligeti, who explained it this way: “The complex polyphony of the individual voices is framed in a harmonic- musical flow, in which the harmonies do not change suddenly, but they change into others; a discernible interlude combination is gradually becoming blurred, and from this cloudiness it is possible to feel that a new intervalic combination is taking shape ». «The micropolifonía resembles the clusters, but it differs from them in its use of lines that are more dynamic than static ». The first example of micropolifonía in the work of Ligeti takes place in the second movement of its orchestral composition Apparitions. They are also pioneers in the application of this technique their next work for orchestra Atmosphères and the first movement of his Requiem, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, mixed choir and symphonic orchestra. This last work reached great popularity because it was part of the soundtrack of the film of Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey
The technique of micropolifonía is easier to apply with larger groupings or polyphonic musical instruments such as piano. Although the Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes creates “micro-polyphony of unparalleled complexity”. Many of Ligeti’s piano pieces are examples of micropolifonía applied to rhythmic schemes derived from the complex ” minimalism ” of Steve Reich and the music of the pygmies.
Intrinsically related to the micropolifonía is the mass of sound or sound mass that is a musical texture whose composition, in contrast with other more traditional textures, “minimizes the importance of individual musical heights to prefer the texture, timbre and dynamics as main trainers of gesture and impact ».
This technique was developed starting from the clusters used by the musical modernism and later extended to orchestral writing towards the end of the 1950s and 60s. The sound mass “blurs the boundary between sound and noise “. A texture can be arranged in such a way that “it is very close to the status of a merged set of timbres of a single object, for example the beautiful chord Northern lights, in a very interesting distribution of heights, produces a fused sound that rests on a roll saucer suspended. ”
Several composers of the sixties began to explore what we now call minimalism. The more specific definition of minimalism refers to the mastery of the processes in music where the fragments are superimposed on one another, often repeated, to produce the whole sound frame. Early examples include En do (by Terry Riley) and Tamborileando (by Steve Reich). The first of these works made Riley considered by many the father of minimalism; is a piece formed by compressed melodic cells, that each performer in a set plays at his own tempo. The minimalist wave of composers – Terry Riley, Philip Glass,Steve Reich, La Monte Young, John Adams and Michael Nyman, to name the most important ones-wished to make music accessible to ordinary listeners, expressing specific and concrete questions of dramatic and musical form, without hiding them under technique, but rather making them explicit, returning to the major and minor triads of tonal music, but without using the traditional harmonic functionality.
A key difference between minimalism and previous music is the use of different cells “out of phase”, to the liking of the interpreters; compare this with the overture to Das Rheingold of Richard Wagner, where despite the use of triads of cells, each part is controlled by the same impulse and moving at the same speed.
Minimalist music is controversial for traditional listeners. Its critics find it too repetitive and empty, while its proponents argue that fixed elements that are often permanent produce greater interest in small changes. In any case, minimalism has inspired and influenced many composers usually not labeled as minimalist (such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti). Composers such as Arvo Pärt, John Tavener and Henryk Górecki, whose Symphony No. 3 was the best selling classic album in the nineties, they found great success in what has been called “happy minimalism” in works of profound religious meaning.
Influences of jazz
From the beginning of the century African-American music and jazz greatly influenced composers inside and outside the United States. Within the American country, Charles Ives and above all George Gershwin. However, African-American composers more linked to jazz also ventured into works that were in an unclear boundary between both musics. Composers such as Will Marion Cook, Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington had an undisputed influence on the learned music of the United States. Some of the most important works from the beginning of the century that combined elements of the language of jazzwith classic styles were Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, Children’s Corner by Claude Debussy, the piano concertos in D and Sol of Maurice Ravel, the Ragtime for instruments of Stravinsky, or the Suite for Piano 1922 by Paul Hindemith, among many others.
In the second half of the twentieth century came the movement called Third Stream, literally Third Stream, applied to a style of making music in the 50s and 60s intended to offer a way of development that integrated the techniques of both jazz and classical music. The term Third Stream was coined by composer and soloist of horn, Gunther Schuller, in the late 50s, to describe the music they were developing some artists trying to establish a bridgebetween European disciplines and musical forms and the spirit and technique of jazz. To this end, Schuller founded a “Third Stream Department” at the New England Conservatory. In a broad sense, the third current is part of a general process of abolition of musical barriers between different kinds of music. 6 The origin of the style is usually fixed in the evolution generated from the postulates of Cool and West Coast jazz, which places many other musicians on the border between the two. The trombonist and cellist David Baker, the pianist Ran Blake, or the saxophonist and arranger Bob Graettinger, were some of the musicians most involved in the search for a true third stream, although in the environment of this style have moved a significant number of musicians of weight in history Jazz: Modern Jazz Quartet, Gil Evans, Don Ellis, Bill Russo, George Russell, without needing to go to much more obvious mergers, such as Jacques Loussier’s arrangements on Bach’s music.
Since the arrival of sound films at the beginning of the 1930s, music played a crucial role in industry and the art of cinema. Many of the great composers of the decade, such as the Russians Prokofiev and Shostakovic, also ventured into this area. However, certain composers who devoted almost exclusively to work through the cinema attract attention. Although the musicalization of feature films during the 1940s was lagging decades behind technical innovations in the field of concert music, the 1950s saw the rise of music for modernist cinema. The director Elia Kazan was open to the idea of jazz influences and dissonant works and worked with Alex North, whose score ofA Streetcar Named Desire (1951) combines dissonance with elements of blues and jazz. Kazan also approached Leonard Bernstein to music On the Waterfront (1954) and the result was reminiscent of the early works of Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky, with their “jazz based on harmonies and exciting additive rhythms”. A year later, Leonard Rosenman, inspired by Arnold Schoenberg, experimented with atonality in his ratings of East of Eden (1955) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). In his ten years of collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmannhe experimented with ideas in Vertigo (1958), Psychosis (1960) and Los pájaros (1963). The use of non-diegetic jazz music was another modern innovation, such as the musicalization of jazz star Duke Ellington to the work of Otto Preminger Anatomy of a Murder (1959).
Cultural studies professor Andrew Goodwin writes that “given the confusion of the terms, the identification of postmodern texts has ranged across an extraordinarily divergent, and incoherent profusion of textual instances… Secondly, there are debates within popular music about pastiche and authenticity. ‘Modernism’ means something quite different within each of these two fields… This confusion is obvious in an early formative attempt to understand rock music in postmodern terms”. Goodwin argues that instances of modernism in popular music are generally not cited because “it undermines the postmodern thesis of cultural fusion, in its explicit effort to preserve a bourgeois notion of Art in opposition to mainstream, ‘commercial’ rock and pop”.
Modernism in popular music had been named as early as the late 1950s when burgeoning Los Angeles rock and roll radio station KRLA started dubbing their air space “Modern Radio/Los Angeles”. Author Domenic Priore believes that: “the concept of Modernism was bound up in the very construction of the Greater Los Angeles area, at a time when the city was just beginning to come into its own as an international, cultural center”. Some examples which soon followed include the elaborately arranged “River Deep – Mountain High” by Ike & Tina Turner (1966) and “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (1966). Desiring “a taste of Modern, avant-garde R&B” for the latter’s recording, group member and song co-writer Brian Wilson considered the music “advanced rhythm and blues”, but received criticism from his bandmates, who derided the track for being “too Modern” during its making.
Art rock and progressive rock artists such as the Velvet Underground, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, and Hatfield and the North would later exhibit modernist aspirations, although Goodwin posits that progressive rock should be considered “anathema” to postmodernism.
Source from Wikipedia