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Post-modern Classicism

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Post-modern Classicism

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Postmodern Classical music is a musical style. This type of music contains characteristics of postmodern art—that is, art after modernism (see Modernism in Music). It favors eclecticism in musical form and musical genre, and often combines characteristics from different genres, or employs jump-cut sectionalization (such as blocks). It tends towards traditional harmonic practice while at the same time employing colorful orchestration and generally traditional serious forms. These forms usually include all the sonata-based forms such as symphony, as well as traditional choral forms in which language and the poetic is placed as the most important aspect of musical lyricism.


The postmodern classical musical style

While post-modern music comprised a change in the fundamental idea of what music is topically concerned with, present day classicists apply many of the lessons learned from the realism presented in art of nineteenth century romanticism to combine expressive works which generally "tell a story" in modern, contemporary terms. Thus, a contemporary classicist takes great delight in basing his music on extramusical art such as literature, poetry, the visual arts and cinema.

Postmodern classical techniques and their application

Just as the periods of Mozart and Stravinsky saw an interest in building upon common practice harmonic and contrapuntal techniques, so postmodern classicism seeks to enfold everything from ethnomusicology to tonal serialism to layered orchestrations and pop/world rhythms. Any techniques associated with the eclecticism of modern music worldwide is subject to use within this style, including the most arcane and traditional. Elements from world music and even so-called popular music have also provided techniques and means of expressions within new eclectic styles.

The emergence of postmodern eclectic styles

It was inevitable with the ingrown cynicism of much intellectual and emotionally sterile academic music of the second half of the twentieth century, that there would come a time when "popular music" eventually found as much if not more seriousness than so-called "serious" music. This is an outgrowth of the academic fascination with the way music looks upon the page, rather than what it sounds like. Arnold Schoenberg makes plain his own stance regarding the visual nature of western musical tradition when he spent quite a long time after the composition of the Gurrelieder avoiding music composition altogether, devoting himself to painting instead. It is little wonder the atonalists pride themselves more upon grace of line and oddness of tone in general, rather than plumbing the soul of nature for musical sounds as yet undiscovered. Thus the long arm of tradition remains long after many of these upstarts had their say, ivory tower and all. While much good has come out of the experiments of the atonalists and serialists, it is the artist steeped in the maintaining of a rich, western music tradition which will contribute to the eventual hope of the art's advancement. One of the most notable uses of modernistic experimentation has been to create a music so detached from common mores of communication, that it has been found useful in expressing such ideals as insanity, detachment, self-absoption and abject cynicism.

A precursur to postmodern classicism would be found in the third stream style of music of the 1970's and 80's, with such popular artists as Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and the band Pink Floyd.

Composers cited as important to postmodern classical music


Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakov
Ottorino Respighi
Charles Ives
Bela Bartok
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
Charlie Parker
John Adams
Steve Reich
George Rochberg
John Kenneth Graham


The Beatles
The Who
Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Pink Floyd
Frank Zappa
Brian Eno
Jefferson Starship
Widespread Panic
Grateful Dead

See also

Home | Up | Les Six | Minimalism | Neoclassicism | New Weird America | Punk | Second Viennese School | African American music | Anarcho-rockers | Baroque music | Galante music | Grunge music | Heavy metal music | Impressionist music | Neoclassicism | Neoromanticism | New Weird America | Post-modern Classicism | Postminimalism | Postmodern music | Psychobilly | Punkabilly | Raggare | Rock and roll | Rocker | Sonorism | Spectral music | Surrealism | Totalism

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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