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parallaxicality
2010-Mar-27, 04:49 PM
I just discovered something a few minutes ago that blew my mind. Pachelbel's Canon, a piece of music that I had assumed had been part of human culture for centuries, was lost until 1919 and only widely embraced after 1970. It really is astounding how quickly that piece has become a musical touchstone. It suddenly occurred to me that this is how folk traditions start. It takes remarkably little time for a song to become a folk tune. I was singing Yellow Submarine in the playground long before I knew that the Beatles wrote it. My aunt, who I'd always assumed was musically literate, was shocked to learn that Blowin in the Wind was not centuries old.

It's a curious thing: for all of classical music's associations with academic analysis and high culture, there are certain pieces that have become, essentially, folk tunes. Tunes like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, For Elise, Moonlight Sonata, Ode to Joy. Those pieces you could hum the first few bars to and absolutely anyone else would be able to follow on. Is there something special about those tunes that connects them into our cultural bloodstream? Or is it simply random chance that selects those we will embrace?

tdvance
2010-Mar-27, 05:32 PM
I think if people like the tune, it gets repeated. Mozart wrote lots of tunes that got repeated. Salieri, however....well, at least according to the movie Amadeus, which was partially accurate (but exaggerated Mozart's goof-off-ness--he was a goof-off, but to a lesser degree than portrayed).

Cougar
2010-Mar-27, 05:46 PM
It takes remarkably little time for a song to become a folk tune... Blowin in the Wind....

Yeah, that was practically immediate. But not random, in that it still has to be artful. In this case, simple, yet artful. And maybe not random but "lucky" to happen to make a unique fit with some common mood of the population at the time...


It's a curious thing: for all of classical music's associations with academic analysis and high culture, there are certain pieces that have become, essentially, folk tunes.... Is there something special about those tunes that connects them into our cultural bloodstream? Or is it simply random chance that selects those we will embrace?

I'd say there has to be something special about the tunes. :) As people listen to all the 'entrants' through the centuries, the most musically interesting would float to the top, I'd think. Plus it may have something to do with the background music in some old cartoons. :neutral:

Gillianren
2010-Mar-27, 05:47 PM
Amadeus was marginally accurate, it is better to say. Certainly it got the men's relationship wrong.

I think certain melodies resonate for people. It only becomes true folk music when people start changing it, though--it's not a good folk song without dozens of variants.

PraedSt
2010-Mar-27, 06:39 PM
Years ago, I read a study where some researchers claimed it was all about the maths. They'd written a software program that could predict the popularity of a tune. Apparently there are melodic rules in your brain. Follow these rules and you get a hit song.

If I remember correctly, this study was (wisely) only done on "Western" music. Indian classical music is still baffling.

grapes
2010-Mar-27, 08:01 PM
I can't believe you mentioned Yellow Submarine in a "classical music" thread, and not the William Tell Overture. :)

kleindoofy
2010-Mar-27, 08:38 PM
... Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, For Elise, Moonlight Sonata, Ode to Joy. ... Or is it simply random chance that selects those we will embrace?
Not to mention Bach's so-called Air on a G String (that has nothing to do with strippers) (YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOVwokQnV4M) / YouTube video of much more Baroque authentic version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlT8yeEYbMs)) and a few others.


Years ago, I read a study where some researchers claimed it was all about the maths. They'd written a software program that could predict the popularity of a tune. ...
The story goes that Edward Elgar made a bet with a friend that he could compose a piece that everybody would be whistling upon leaving the first performance. He won the bet. It was the main melody from Pomp and Circumstance March, No. 1. (YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moL4MkJ-aLk), jump to timecode 1'51" and ignore the background noises). I'm pretty sure everybody reading this knows it and can sing along with the melody.

PraedSt
2010-Mar-27, 08:58 PM
It was the main melody from Pomp and Circumstance March, No. 1. (YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moL4MkJ-aLk), jump to timecode 1'51" and ignore the background noises). I'm pretty sure everybody reading this knows it and can sing along with the melody.Jump? Not on on your life. The whole piece is superb. :)

kleindoofy
2010-Mar-27, 09:07 PM
Jump? Not on on your life. The whole piece is superb. :)
Yes, of course, listening to the whole thing is mush better, especially when the London crowd sings along. I just thought that most people wouldn't recognize the first two minutes of the piece.

Daah, dadadaaah, daaah, daah, ... ;)

peteshimmon
2010-Mar-27, 09:28 PM
Many years ago I was in the habit of scrabbling
for bits of paper to note down the titles of
music off the radio. Such was the case when I
came out of a little trance after canon was
played. A good slow version. Never heard it
before.

Delius was inspired by black American
spirituals heard in Florida. Kalinda is one
I beleive. Much British folk has been saved
by Vaughan Williams and others.

At school 50 years ago we had Singing Together
on the radio with William Appleby. Many
traditional tunes were broadcast. I found a
website celebrating him a few years ago.

I dont know why younsters keep trying to
compose new stuff when there is such an
extensive canon of established material.

Lord Jubjub
2010-Mar-27, 11:00 PM
It must be noted that many of the popular classical tunes are based on actual folk tunes. I have always enjoyed Mozart's 12 variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".:whistle:

Yeah, yeah: "Ah vous dirai-je maman,"

Gotta love the French lyrics:

Ce qui cause mon tourment?
Papa veut que je raisonne,
Comme une grande personne;
Moi, je dis que les bonbons
Valent mieux que la raison.

Ah! Let me tell you, Mother,
What's the cause of my torment?
Papa wants me to reason
Like a grown-up.
Me, I say that candy has
Greater value than reason.

Gillianren
2010-Mar-27, 11:56 PM
Yes, of course, listening to the whole thing is mush better, especially when the London crowd sings along. I just thought that most people wouldn't recognize the first two minutes of the piece.

Daah, dadadaaah, daaah, daah, ... ;)

My junior high school music teacher played clarinet in his college orchestra, which of course meant playing at graduation. I don't know his alma mater, but I know it was very large, to the point where he and the guy he shared a stand with starting trading off and only playing every other time through.

kleindoofy
2010-Mar-28, 12:13 AM
My junior high school music teacher played clarinet in his college orchestra, which of course meant playing at graduation. I don't know his alma mater, but I know it was very large, to the point where he and the guy he shared a stand with starting trading off and only playing every other time through.
You know, really, for me, the high point of my high school graduation ceremony was that it was the first year in five years straight that I didn't have to play that melody non-stop for about an hour.

I had been in the high school band since 8th grade (helping out from junior high in the 8th and 9th) and always had to play at graduation.

My best friend, who was one year behind me, swore he would play way too loud and totally wrong when I was called up to get my diploma. What a shame, he didn't dare - not because of me, I would have loved it - but just in general. :lol:

Trebuchet
2010-Mar-28, 12:28 AM
Pomp & Circumstance -- that brings back a memory. When I was a junior in the high school band, one of the seniors stole the music for Pomp & Circumstance. The band teacher found some random march, which we played veerrrryy slow. It was pretty bad.

One other band memory is playing "Hail to the Chief" for JFK. About a month before he was assassinated.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Mar-28, 09:01 PM
I'd say one criterion is whether you can get a crowd standing in the raid to sing along to it.
Apparently Bach/Gounaud's Ave Maria fits that quite (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHcEFk1i3b4) well. (link is to the performance as part of 24 Hours Bach where the crows sings Gounaud and Bobbi McFerrin sings Bach)

J Riff
2010-Mar-29, 01:06 PM
Leadbelly went around the country, commisioned to try and save what he could find of original american 'folk' music, which at that time was still largely thought to be blues. Both Muddy Waters and JL Hooker released albums with titles alluding to the 'real folk' music. This argument went on into the 60s.
A lot bluegrass and old tunes were, obviously, simplified classical bits and pieces brought over from the olde countries and turned into dance tunes for string bands.
How many great tunes were lost we shall never know, but I bet the majority survived, as everyone played the same tunes back in the day. Even before radio, the same songs made the rounds and the regional differences were what made it so much better than todays formula pop swill.