Modern vs Contemporary

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carlos
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Modern vs Contemporary

Postby carlos » 04 Mar 2015 05:54

Hi all,

I noticed some time ago that CPDL follows a rather unique categorization system for the musical periods of the 20th century:
  • Early 20th Century (c.1890-1930)
  • Modern (c.1930-present)
Other sources, including Wikipedia, use a slightly different system:
  • Modern (c.1890–1930)
  • Post-Modern (c.1930-1975)
  • Contemporary (c.1975-present)
Still another possibility also commonly used is:
  • Modern (c.1890–1935)
  • Contemporary (c.1935-present)

My question is: should CPDL adopt one of these standards in order to avoid confusion with the term "Modern"?

vaarky
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby vaarky » 04 Mar 2015 17:50

I don't feel strongly on the subject, but I like the idea of the triple granularity in:
Modern (c.1890–1930)
Post-Modern (c.1930-1975)
Contemporary (c.1975-present)

I wonder if music history will keep Contemporary as the term a hundred years from now when there is a post-Contemporary category or two...

uptoncp
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby uptoncp » 08 Mar 2015 19:49

I prefer the definite chronological statement of "Early 20th Century", but do agree that the time period currently labelled "modern" could beneficially be divided. Maybe "Mid 20th Century" for the second, then "Contemporary" - with that last being retained in perpetuity, and new "Early 21st Century" and so on being created if CPDL continues on a similar structure long enough to need them.

Cdalitz
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby Cdalitz » 19 Mar 2015 20:27

Slightly off-topic, but somewhat related: does the chronological category refer to birth and date of the composer or to the style of the composition?

For instance, I use for my own composition written in Renaissance style "Renaissance music", not "Contemporary", and would use "Galant" or "Classical" for the late Telemann and "Baroque" for the early Telemann. There are other composers who wrote even simultaneously in both contemporary and historic styles (e.g. J.J. Fux or J.D. Zelenka).

How do you use this category?
(If it is only a verbal description of the composers life time, it seems redundant to me).

vaarky
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby vaarky » 19 Mar 2015 21:01

Good question. Do you mean this category?
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Cate ... ance_music

It is defined as:
"A list of music composed in the Renaissance era (ca. 1400-1600)"

Similarly, this category
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Cate ... _composers
is defined as:
"A listing of composers of the Renaissance era (ca. 1400-1600)"

You wrote:
"(If it is only a verbal description of the composers life time, it seems redundant to me).'

If this is a functionality you meant, I don't see how it's redundant. It allows users to have a place to go to peruse works written in the Renaissance, or a list of composers who wrote during the Renaissance.

I think even aside from the definition written, the terminology is consistent with users' expectations. If you or Eric Whitacre wrote a composition in the Renaissance style, it would not make the composer a Renaissance composer or the composition a Renaissance composition as most people would expect that categorization to apply. Did you mean something else?

So I think the category should apply to when the composer lived.

Regarding composers who span transitions between two adjacent eras (as also happened during the Renaissance/Baroque transition), I think both categories should be applied if the composer can reasonably be expected to be considered as having written during both those periods. If the composer was age 13 in 1610, then I would not classify them as a Renaissance composer, but a composer born in 1560 who kept writing to a fortunate old age should be listed in the two overlapping categories during which they composed.

carlos
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby carlos » 17 Mar 2016 02:05

Reviving this thread, almost one year later. Sorry for the delay! :)

uptoncp wrote:I prefer the definite chronological statement of "Early 20th Century", but do agree that the time period currently labelled "modern" could beneficially be divided. Maybe "Mid 20th Century" for the second, then "Contemporary" - with that last being retained in perpetuity, and new "Early 21st Century" and so on being created if CPDL continues on a similar structure long enough to need them.


I like Christopher Upton's suggestion a lot. We could maintain "Early 20th Century" as it is, and just divide "Modern" into two (or more) new categories, possibly avoiding the term "Modern" altogether because of its ambiguity.

carlos
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby carlos » 17 Mar 2016 02:25

Cdalitz wrote:Slightly off-topic, but somewhat related: does the chronological category refer to birth and date of the composer or to the style of the composition?

For instance, I use for my own composition written in Renaissance style "Renaissance music", not "Contemporary", and would use "Galant" or "Classical" for the late Telemann and "Baroque" for the early Telemann. There are other composers who wrote even simultaneously in both contemporary and historic styles (e.g. J.J. Fux or J.D. Zelenka).


I agree with vaarky that "the category should apply to when the composer lived." So, Monteverdi belongs to the Renaissance and Baroque categories; some of his works are categorized as being in the Renaissance style, while others are in the Baroque style.

On the other side, Fux was from the Late Baroque era. I'd not consider his Renaissance-like compositions as being in the "Renaissance style" (just like Eric Whitacre's example given by vaarky above). For these cases, I think we lack a new family of neo-categories: Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neo-Classical etc. Another possibility would be to create composite categories like "Classical music in the Baroque style", or still "18th century music in the Baroque style", "20th-century music in the Renaissance style" etc.

vaarky
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby vaarky » 17 Mar 2016 02:56

I strongly would prefer Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neo-Classical etc. Composite categories like "Classical music in the Baroque style", or still "18th century music in the Baroque style", "20th-century music in the Renaissance style" etc. get unnecessarily granular and explode the number of categories to unwieldy numbers: for every Renaissance style composition not written by a composer alive during the Renaissance, we'd need 6 or 8 categories (e.g. Baroque-Ren, Classical-Ren, 18thC-Ren).

I'm guessing most people looking for Ren style pieces by non-Ren composers are just not that particular about whether it was written during the 18thC or 19thC. The few that care that deeply can probably tell from the composer names (Stanford, Howells), plus may also be able to get at this functionality by choosing the neo-style of the composition and combining it with that the composer lived/lives.

carlos
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby carlos » 17 Mar 2016 04:24

vaarky wrote:I'm guessing most people looking for Ren style pieces by non-Ren composers are just not that particular about whether it was written during the 18thC or 19thC. The few that care that deeply can probably tell from the composer names (Stanford, Howells), plus may also be able to get at this functionality by choosing the neo-style of the composition and combining it with that the composer lived/lives.


Yes, that makes sense.

D-fished
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby D-fished » 23 Mar 2016 22:25

'Contemporary' is a bit of a slippery term. Its literal meaning is 'at the same time', and refers to what is current at the time of writing, so what's contemporary now would no longer be so in the future. 'Modern' can be used in much the same sense as 'contemporary', i.e. music that is current at the time it's being talked about, but when you start using the terms 'modern' and 'post-modern' together, you get into some quite specific meanings. Schoenberg, for example, would count as a modernist, and Arvo Pärt as a post-modernist, but Stravinsky, contemporary with Schoenberg, regarded himself as a neo-classicist.

I would have trouble extending contemporary as far back as 1935. A case could be made for contemporary applying to anything from within the speaker's/writer's lifetime, but that has the same drawback that I began with. Leonard Bernstein would be contemporary for me, but not for anyone born after 1990.

Another problem is the fracturing of styles in the twentieth century and beyond. Simply saying when a composer lived is no longer adequate to describe his/her style. Even excluding such things as living composers deliberately writing in Renaissance or Baroque idiom, you could hardly say that Philip Glass and John Rutter have much in common stylistically, even though they were born only eight years apart.

That said, I feel the best description is still the purely temporal one: early 20th century, late 20th century etc. The heavy semantic loading of terms like 'modern' and 'contemporary' have too much against them.

(And yes, I know that I used 'contemporary' in its other sense of referring to things in the past that were concurrent back in paragraph 1.)

carlos
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby carlos » 25 Mar 2016 23:33

Hi D-fished, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm tending to agree with you that purely temporal categories are the best way to go.

CHGiffen
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Re: Modern vs Contemporary

Postby CHGiffen » 26 Mar 2016 04:21

I concur.
Charles H. Giffen
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Manager of ChoralWiki
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Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).


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