"Tonal" Modern Classical Music

Edited: July 10, 2019, 2:54 PM · Maybe it is my lack of
Knowledge, but it seems to me that the modern classical music, the modern classical Composers, went almost completely to the A-Tonal music.

I posted here before about the problem of lack of "Catchyness" in Classical Music (in my view) And I think that it mainy related to the "A-Tonality".

Do you know such "Tonal" modern known composers that write Tonal music in advanced "Classical" level?

I recently, after many years, saw the 3rd movement of Vivaldi's A minor concerto, and in my view the lengh of the piece, the speed, and the "Catchyness" is very close to pop music. Very easy to listening.
The same thing with the known 1st movement of "Winter" or the "presto" from "Summer".

If anyone has such "Tonal" classical level piece that he likes please share here. Because by the Names of the composers it is hard to find what piece is "Tonal".

Replies (85)

July 10, 2019, 1:42 PM · Check out Roman Kim

July 10, 2019, 1:46 PM · Sure. Just off the top of my head, from composers whose music I have played:

Miguel del Aguila
Beth Anderson
William Bolcom
Michael Daugherty (not all of his stuff is tonal, but he writes stuff intended to entertain, like his bassoon concerto "Dead Elvis" in which the soloist is instructed to dress up as Elvis)
Arvo Part (again, not necessarily tonal, but has turned out to be popular)
John Rutter

Classical composers often write film/TV music as well, which tends to be "catchy". Even Alfred Schnittke, who is famously atonal, wrote a lovely, catchy tonal suite for violin ("Suite in the Old Style") that is based on his music for children's TV shows.

July 10, 2019, 2:27 PM · Georges Delerue wrote tonal and atonal music but even his technically atonal music sounds tonal. John Williams has written tonal sounding classical pieces too.
July 10, 2019, 2:30 PM · Lydia Leong

Even in their cases it is hard to find "Tonal" music:

July 10, 2019, 2:52 PM · If anyone has such "Tonal" classical level piece that he likes please share here. Because by the Names of the composers it is hard to find what piece is "Tonal".
July 10, 2019, 3:16 PM · Listen to John Rutter's Requiem, which is beautiful and wholly tonal (and kinda Hollywood-ish).
Edited: July 10, 2019, 3:35 PM · More, off the top of my head:

Peter Maxwell Davies
Jennifer Higdon
Michael Torke
Maria Newman
Enrique Diemecke
Gabriela Lena Frank
Morten Lauridsen

Peter Maxwell Davies started out composing mostly atonal music, but most of what he composed after 1971 is tonal. The others are all living composers whose music is mostly tonal.

Edited: July 10, 2019, 4:08 PM · Andrew Hsieh
There are specific "Tonal" pieces that you like?
July 10, 2019, 4:14 PM · Literally look up anything by the composers I listed. Other than Davies's earlier period, almost everything they composed is tonal.

Edited: July 10, 2019, 5:33 PM · One of my daughter's groups did a master class with Caroline Shaw two months ago...one of the other groups there performed this piece of hers. Both quite modern and "tonal".

July 10, 2019, 5:33 PM · I sure do love the music of John Adams.
July 10, 2019, 6:19 PM · A few years ago there was a documentary on British TV about Vivaldi and his music. After showing a lively performance of one of V's violin concertos the presenter remarked that this a good example of how Baroque music can (and should) rock, an opinion I thoroughly agree with.
Edited: July 10, 2019, 10:41 PM · Pop Music, the popular! Pop Music, is Tonal, while the Classical Music - that basically invented the Tonality - isn't (Today). Pretty amazing.

I think that it is probably the first reason why classical music is so unpopular today.

Edited: July 11, 2019, 2:02 AM · Strictly speaking, atonal classical music's era was predominantly in the mid-20th century, say from the 1920s to the 1970s, mainly among composers in academia. Thereafter, it faded away as a compositional style; I doubt you'll find too many atonal composers today. (Incidentally, it's tonal and atonal, not "Tonal" and "A-Tonal"; these aren't brand names!)

Nevertheless, I suspect you're speaking of something quite different, namely, the move away from simple melodic forms and almost entirely diatonic harmonies toward larger, more complex forms less dependent on pure melody and a growing chromaticism in harmony.

And, frankly, that isn't even remotely restricted to modern classical music. Even in the Baroque era, few composers relied on pure melody and simple harmonies as Vivaldi did. Compare the famous Bach Chaconne from Violin Partita #2 to any movement of the Four Seasons, and it's like moving to a different world, emotionally, tonally, and harmonically. Put bluntly, the Chaconne is impressive and moving, but it certainly isn't "catchy." Beyond that, Beethoven's Violin Concerto is miles away from Vivaldi's works for solo violin and orchestra, and Brahms's is even further -- and we haven't gotten past the mid-19th century yet!

Overall, I tend to think that this move toward more harmonically-complex pieces with (in later cases) less of an emphasis on melody DOES speak to a growing sense of unease with and chaos in the world that has accumulated since the enlightenment, and burst into full flower with the World Wars of the 20th century, but that's another argument for another time. The point is that it's way too simplistic to just break classical into tonal (pre-20th century) and atonal (20th century and beyond). Virtually everything written today is tonal, if more harmonically-complex than music of prior eras. And that complexity does not rule out melody or beauty. Since we're mainly talking about music involving violin and orchestra, I'd point out that I know of few pieces more beautiful than Barber's Concerto, even though it definitely uses chromatic harmonies and has some stark, dissonant passages.

As to why classical music is far less popular than it used to be, that's a pretty complex question. While the "modern music" of the mid-20th century may have had something to do with it a half-century or so ago, it think it has a lot more to do with what I'd call the "cultural ADHD" that has emerged with the technology-driven sensory overload of the past few decades. Frankly, I think all-too-many people today view music as "sonic wallpaper" to be used in the background of other activities. Just sitting and listening to an extended musical work (whether in the concert hall or at home from a recording) is far less-common an experience than it used to be even thirty or forty years ago. The average person wants music that's short and simple, to be quickly digested before one moves on to the next musical-background experience, for which pop music is ideal (even more so than Vivaldi, who is nonetheless far better suited for such listening than, say, even Beethoven). Let's put it this way: if classical music's current lack-of-popularity is due to dislike of the "modern music" of the mid-20th century, why would it reflect a dropping-off of interest in ALL classical music, as opposed to just works from that era, while the body of works from earlier eras continued to be popular?

July 11, 2019, 2:37 AM · I would also add that I'm thoroughly bewildered by your citing the Bolcom piece in that YouTube clip as proof that "it's hard to find 'Tonal' music." Although it's in the musical genre of ragtime (a genre that, in its heyday at the very beginning of the 20th century, was considered "popular music" rather than classical), that piece is completely, 100% tonal — and quite lovely.
July 11, 2019, 2:53 AM · https://youtu.be/KN-Lsw-jY1w

David check that, it really has the classical pop down

July 11, 2019, 3:11 AM · @James Walley

1. Probably there's difference between someone like Arnold Schoenberg and the current Composers - but it is still very "Atonal"- when you compare it to vivaldi or Mozart or romantic Composers:

Take for Example the pieces Andrew Hsieh shared above - you can feel the significant difference from Tchaikovsky or Beethoven and of course Mozart or Bach in the "Tonality".
Its like the difference in art between sorts of Classical art and Cubism - You can feel the difference immediately.

2. You also said "Let's put it this way: if classical music's current lack-of-popularity is due to dislike of the "modern music" of the mid-20th century, why would it reflect a dropping-off of interest in ALL classical music, as opposed to just works from that era, while the body of works from earlier eras continued to be popular?"

I'm not saying that i did some academical research, and i might be wrong,
But Even Tonal pop music from 50-60 years ago, that was highly popular and very "Catchy", isn't popular as current music, there are differences of taste, new technologies, length of pieces and more.
And Of course it might effect music that is 200-300 years old-
(even in the Classical music itself there are major differences - the length of vivaldi conceto isn't close to Beethoven's).
There are probably othet reasons too.

And still - The "Tonal" known classical composers and many pieces are popular among average people too - Bach's Air or Vivaldi's "Winter" for example.

Edited: July 11, 2019, 5:02 PM · @JI

That's what Nathan Cole did after the Schumann Scherzo?
I can totally understand - I wanted to do something like that too after playing it;)))

July 11, 2019, 4:19 AM · Every single piece I shared is tonal. More harmonically complex, but still tonal. "Atonal" has a very specific meaning. It refers to the lack of a tonal center, and nothing else. I thought you would know this, if you claim expertise in music theory and history.
July 11, 2019, 6:02 AM · The "catchy", and resolutely tonal, music of the 20th century is Broadway and its successors, not the "modern classical" styles, which suppose sustained, attentive listening..
Edited: July 11, 2019, 10:39 AM · @Andre Hsieh

I learned last time 15 years ago, and wasn't really involved in Classical Music since except concerts and youtube and things like that, therefore i might forgot the exact terms,
But i think that it is pretty clear what I'm talking about:

If you have "Standart" melody with Atonal harmony it is still "Atonal".
You can see clearly when something is "Tonal" and something isn't.
Mozart or Mendelssohn probably sound more like pop than some 21 century classical music. Even some of the pieces you shared above.

Edited: July 11, 2019, 11:33 AM ·

So, you're looking for stuff that sounds like Mozart? So like this?

July 11, 2019, 12:48 PM · I performed that Mozart quartet in high school. Marvelous piece of music.
Edited: July 11, 2019, 1:09 PM · Irene, I even finds the "catchy" bits that follow a bit disappointing after this sublime, mysterious opening!

A quartet is a team of soloists: soloists for the quality, teamwork for the spirit..

Edited: July 11, 2019, 5:26 PM · @Irene Chen
It doesn't need to be necessary like Mozart, moreover - if the modern classical Composers will compose something "Tonal" it will be probably more "Catchy" and easy to the Listener today, because all the effects of the pop and rok and jazz and the romantic era.

The problem is that it is very hard to find such pieces - they compose mainly Atonal music.

When i learned in High school in classical music department we learned composition too, and i remember that the students were always pushed to do Atonal things.
When i composed it was very tonal And in the compositions evenings it was like some "not related" piece.

Even William Bolcom that i mentioned above - most of his pieces on YouTube are Atonal, like this one:

But he clearly can compose Tonal music too :

Edited: July 11, 2019, 7:38 PM · So, you cite a particular work by Bolcom as proof that "all modern classical music is atonal" (oh, excuse me, "A-Tonal"), and then, when it's pointed out that the piece you use as evidence (which you obviously never listened to before posting the link) is not even remotely atonal, you then grant that point and, instead, post another work by the same composer to "prove" the point you were making at the time?

Sorry, but it's obvious that you're just playing games here. You admittedly have no idea what tonal or atonal mean; instead, you're engaging in Humpty-Dumptyism ("when I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less"). Your position here is simply the old "I hate 'modern music'" line used by so many who only think of a handful of pieces (generally starting with The Rite of Spring and going on to vague mentions of Schoenberg), label that as "modern music," and don't bother investigating further because "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts." (Incidentally, though I doubt it will make any difference to you, the Trio you now give as revised evidence is Bolcom's tribute to his composition teacher at university, someone who WAS an academic serialist; is it a great surprise that he chose to use the latter's musical vocabulary in that tribute?) I could point you to composers, even from the height of the serial, 12-tone era -- composers like Samuel Barber, Howard Hanson, or Alan Hovhaness -- who would compose work that was resolutely melodic and relatively conventional in harmony, but it seems clear from previous attempts by others that your reaction would be to dismiss any such attempts -- because they conflict with your predetermined conclusion. The fact that you could claim that Jennifer Higdon's Piano Trio is closer to Schoenberg than "vivaldi or Mozart or romantic Composers" (oh, my!) makes me wonder if you ever bothered to listen to the clips provided.

You pronounce that "If you have 'Standart' (sic) melody with Atonal harmony it is still 'Atonal'." Once again, you're talking about CHROMATIC harmony, not "atonal harmony" (because there's no such thing). But, if that is your position, I have to ask: is Mahler an atonal (oh, excuse me, "A-Tonal") composer? What about Wagner? Debussy? Because each of them falls far from standard, purely diatonic harmony.

You cite "vivaldi or Mozart or romantic Composers." but let's get real here: while the average person MIGHT be able to hum a few snippets of melodies from a work or two of each of these composers, they would certainly find following an entire movement, let alone an entire work, from any of those you cite -- particularly Romantic composers -- a far more demanding and less accessible experience than anything in pop music...which may be why so few people are interested in listening to them at all.

In any rate, it's clear to me that you are interested in monologue rather than dialog. Thus, I see no reason to participate in this further.

July 11, 2019, 7:39 PM · The one burning question: is an A-Tonal composer one who only writes music in A major and A minor?
July 12, 2019, 12:26 AM · @James Valley

Although I didn't learn in Musical Academy, but i did learn in very advanced and almost professional musical department in High school - and we studied all the basics in advanced level.
(As final project in this department the studets! every year write and perform an Opera!!!:
So you have to know alot for this)

I didn't just learn about Atonal music and the Atonal History, but i played and performed! It.

I might forgot some specifics after 15 years, but i do remember basic things and when you listen to the music it is immediately obvious what is "Tonal" and what is "Atonal".

Edited: July 12, 2019, 12:55 AM · @James Valley
Andrew Rieu's Success
is the proof that Classical Music as Mozart/Beethoven with some adjustments can be very popular and known even among average listeners. It is more than few melodies.
You can't compare it to Atonal music.

The only Atonal music that i can imagine average person will like is John Cage's "4:33" - probably after listening to other Atonal pieces;)))

Edited: July 12, 2019, 1:38 AM · You clearly did not even watch the video you posted, which says exactly what James and I are both trying to tell you. Dissonance and atonality are two completely separate ideas. If you learned music theory at an "advanced level" in high school, it doesn't come across like you remember any of it.
Edited: July 12, 2019, 2:31 AM · Andrew Hsieh

She said in the video:
"There are verying degrees of how extreme this can get" (about Atonality).
The same thing about disonance - i think you can see disonances in Bach's pieces too.
If you have very heavy disonances they will probably sound as Atonality too.
What I'm talking anout is Atonality!.

Edited: July 12, 2019, 2:48 AM · Despite philosophical/linguistic bickering, David has a point...

From, ca.1600 to ca.1850 Popular and Art(?) music used the same musical vocabulary. Later, Art Composers strive to avoid what is obvious, and their music reflects poetic, industrial, & even bellicose concerns. Such music, tonal or not, takes a willing listener on uncharted journeys.

On the other hand, pop music and Broadway musicals are still composed in easy, "catchy", memorable, styles. So David, what's the problem? Play what you like!

July 12, 2019, 3:13 AM · What's the purpose of writing strictly tonal classical music in the 21st century when even pop music is pushing the boundaries of common practice harmony?

Take 'Single Ladies', one of the most quintessential pop tunes of the 2000's. Adam Neely provides an in-depth look at the variance from the typical I-V-vi-IV progression here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rRKBXQotnA&t=29s

Atonality isn't merely defined as 'sounding ugly', which appears to be your thought process throughout this entire thread. I've found some atonal (post-tonal might be a better term, as it defies the constrictions of both tonal and atonal qualities) music to be extremely catchy. The Ginastera Quartets, the first three movements of the Shaw Partita, Ligeti's Musica Ricercata; they're just as easy to listen to (and are significantly more interesting) than anything Vivaldi brought to the table.

July 12, 2019, 3:41 AM · @Adrian Heath

You are right, i too see Brodway as the closest thing to "Classical-Pop" as i see it.

But Broadway is more "Commercial" and "Entertaining" and therefore i guess it has some limits to professionalism and complexity unlike the serious Classical Music.

I'm really interested to see how will look like modern "Tonal" opera or concerto.

Edited: July 12, 2019, 6:02 AM · But David, I had the distinct impression that for you complexity is less "catchy" (and often too long..) and anyway I find Broadway very "professional".

Louis, "pushing the boundaries" is for us bourgeois music lovers!
In pop doesn't it sound more like sheer incompetence?

Edited: July 12, 2019, 7:10 AM · Adrian Heath

1. There are different things in complexity - Bach is very complex, but "Tonal". The same with Chopin or Paganini.

2. I'm not saying Broadway isn't professional - it is amazing! (I saw it - I'm not just saying based on TV)
But how can you fit something like Tchaikovsky violin concerto or chopin pieces In Broadway show?
It is more for entertainment in a specific thing - Musicals.

Also - In Broadway they are very "Cruel" from what i read - if a Musical doesn't bring money fast they kill it. This is a big business. And they have to do any trick fast to make it appealing instantly. I don't see how professional art can work like that. (Ans Science too and many others professional areas).

July 12, 2019, 9:18 PM · "If you have very heavy disonances they will probably sound as Atonality too.
What I'm talking anout is Atonality!."

And all three pieces I posted are tonal. There are unexpected chord changes, but they are still firmly rooted in a tonal center.

July 12, 2019, 11:15 PM · Sondheim's Broadway music is quite sophisticated and complex, and indeed one of his musicals, Sweeney Todd has succeeded both as a popular movie (starring Johnny Depp, no less), and has landed in the regular classical opera-house canon as well.

Although Sondheim has noted the importance of repetition in a score to make the audience like it -- the notion that they need to hear a tune a bunch in order for it to feel "hummable". That's why Into the Woods is scored the way it is.

Edited: July 13, 2019, 5:19 AM · A fully developed "classical" piece can contain "catchy" bits (which will appear on "Themes from Classical Favorites" discs) which make us want to stop and listen, following the composers thoughts and feelings (which cannot be expressed in a 2-minute sound-bite) right to the end.
Examples? Bach's St Matthew Passion (3 to 4 hours), or Wagner's Twilight of the Gods (5 hours). Worth paying for a comfortable seat, though! (I remember the Wagner with my shins jammed against the chair in front..)
Edited: July 13, 2019, 1:18 PM · @Andrew Hsieh
I my view if you have to search where is the for Tonality in a piece - it is Atonal;)))
July 13, 2019, 1:24 PM · Are you saying that Debussy is atonal, then? Richard Strauss? Wagner, even?
Edited: July 13, 2019, 1:36 PM · I my view if you have to search where is the for Tonality in a piece - it is Atonal;))) [sic]


Edited: July 13, 2019, 2:37 PM · @Andre Hsieh

It is not just me, here is from Wikipedia:

"Late 19th- and early 20th-century composers such as Alexander Scriabin, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, and Edgard Varèse have written music that has been described, in full or in part, as atonal (Baker 1980; Baker 1986; Bertram 2000; Griffiths 2001; Kohlhase 1983; Lansky and Perle 2001; Obert 2004; Orvis 1974; Parks 1985; Rülke 2000; Teboul & 1995–96; Zimmerman 2002)."


July 13, 2019, 4:47 PM · Again, how about Richard Strauss? Wagner? Because you definitely have to search for a tonal center in some of their music.
Edited: July 13, 2019, 5:31 PM · Andrew Hsieh

Here they talk about Wagner:

In my case i determine that something is Atonal immediately because of the Scales!:
In tonal music, even if there are notes that aren't in the scale, they are leading to the notes in the scale - therefore you can feel always the scale strongly.

In Atonal Music you don't have scales, therefore you immediately feel alot of "Unrealated" notes without any lead to the scale.

July 13, 2019, 5:52 PM · I want to clarify that i don't think that Atonal Music is horrible -
I personally see Atonal Music like a House built from "Barbed wire" -
It has Beauty - because it is a house! - professionally built and architected by best composers - it looks like a House!, You can see and feel it,
but it still built from "Barbed wire" - therefore you can't "sit" anywhere. It cuts you;)))
July 13, 2019, 5:54 PM · Wait, what? You mean to tell me you don't hear any scales in the Higdon, Torke, or Frank pieces?

Also, uh, atonal definitely doesn't mean there are no scales...

Edited: July 13, 2019, 8:23 PM · Liszt wrote a bagatelle for piano that I believe is atonal or close to atonal. It’s worth a listen.

Check out Delerue’s L’Antienne for violin and piano. This piece is atonal. Compare this piece with his Concerto L’Adieu, which is mostly in the key of F minor.

July 13, 2019, 9:55 PM · The last 10 seconds of this is awesome


July 14, 2019, 12:06 AM · @Raymond Conncanon

I'm not an expert of course, but
I knew listz as someone who takes tonallity very far with a lot of notes - but you still could Sense the Tonality - that he "Comes back" to The basic "Standart" Western Scale. this piece is indeed Atonal. I don't think it is

The idea for me with Atonality is that you don't have this "Standart Scale" feeling anymore.

July 14, 2019, 12:08 AM · @Marty Dalton

Now we know what in Mozart times probably would have Thought about Atonality;)))

Edited: July 14, 2019, 1:52 AM · I like the "barbed wire house"! Another image is "throwing rocks at the piano keyboard"...

And David is right, there is a difference between temporarily obscuring the "standard scale feeling" and leaving those poor notes to fend for themselves for an entire piece!

July 14, 2019, 2:03 AM · So do I - David, if you would be so good as to take this discussion seriously and cut out all the "Nigel Molesworth" misspellings I'd be tempted to join in
Edited: July 14, 2019, 3:32 AM · And how do we describe
- Wagner's music when he finishes in a different key from the beginning?
- Debussy's music when he has the "scale feeling" but avoids a sense of tonic?
- Bartok's music when he has very chromatic, sinuous melodies with no "scale feeling" but centered round reference notes?

BTW all three have "catchy" moments, as well as those of mystery, joy, anguish, or magic.

Edited: July 14, 2019, 3:52 AM · @Adrian Heath

1. Changing Scales is ok. Bach/vivaldi/Mozart and everyone else i think did it. Even in very known and catchy pieces.
But in Atonality they change scale in every note;))

2. I agree that Atonal music is advanced level music - that's why i compare it to very well built and architected house, these aren't random notes as sometimes it feels. It is like Piccaso in painting - you feel something smart and well built.

July 14, 2019, 12:21 PM · Re. the real Atonal style is the 12-tone system of the second Viennese school and the its logical extension, Serialism. As for its being "advanced", I am not impressed. Counterpoint in a non-tonal environment is a dubious achievement when compared to the amazing counterpoint on chromatic themes done by Bach. Even within the constraints of the 12-tone rule, some of the composers achieved chordal effects; Berg, Frank Martin. One of the themes in Richard Strauss Zarathustra is a 12-tone row. Even Mozart and Bach got close. I forget the composer's name, but I liked a recent Expressionist style sound track done for the classic silent movie Nosferatu. That style works well for Sci-fi and horror genres. Anyway, most of it sounds dull and boring to me, maybe because it is based on the artificial compromise of the equal-tempered tuning, and ignores the real, natural, consonant and dissonant nature of the intervals and chords.
Edited: July 14, 2019, 3:31 PM · Joal Quivey

This is the big problem in my view:
Despite even many Classical fans don't like it - the Atonality took over completely on the modern classical Art and Music. Completely! - it is unbelievable.

If you want "Normal" Tonal music you can get it just from Pop/Broadway, or You have died 100-300 years ago classical composers.

You can hardly!, Very very hardly! Meet modern Tonal classical pieces that were writtn by modern classical Composers for Example.

Edited: July 14, 2019, 3:49 PM · If you're taking this piece for Example, that was mentioned here - it is Tonal! Piece by Modern Classical composer.

It is Tonal piece, and you feel it is more than pop in the advanced level of it (Harmony/Technically).
But it isn't Mozart/Vivaldi/Chopin despite it is Tonal -
You feel the effect of Jazz and pop.

And i tried to find more pieces like that by this composer - And you can't - very hard - everything is Atonal - with the other Composers too.

Such Classical Music can be easily popular - but you can rarely see it.

July 14, 2019, 4:33 PM · The "Atonal" style did NOT completely take over mid-20th cent. concert music. Major league composers that did not go down that road: Shostakovitch, Copeland, Prokofiev, Bartok, etc. Stravinsky tried it for awhile. Thankfully it is now a part of music history. What we have now I would call the post-modern eclectic era. Composers have a lot more freedom now.
July 14, 2019, 4:41 PM · Joal Quivey
Maybe it isn't officially "Atonal", but very close to it - it isn't "Tonal" for sure.
The so called "contemporary Classical music":

I'm talking about making Tonal! Classical Music.

July 14, 2019, 5:32 PM · Plenty of people liked the John Williams scores to the recent Star Wars movies despite the fact they were neither tonal nor especially tuneful.
Edited: July 14, 2019, 6:15 PM · @lydia leong
This is Atonal? I think it can be define as tonal.

Edited: July 15, 2019, 12:01 AM · Again, this is one of the pieces you're calling atonal. I suppose it's really modal, but modal music definitely isn't atonal by any common definition the word.

July 15, 2019, 12:03 AM · No. Not the Star Wars theme itself. The new music for Force Awakens et.al. Like this: VIDEO LINK
July 15, 2019, 2:03 PM · But overall the recent Williams Star Wars scores remain tonal, although it is true many who expected something familiar were a bit disoriented by them.

While we're dipping into film scores I'd be curious to know where people put Goldsmith's score for the original Planet of the Apes on this scale.

July 15, 2019, 10:15 PM · It's very atonal, to me, and I'm not fond of it. Here's a good analysis: LINK
July 16, 2019, 12:03 AM · This discussion seems to be more about semantics than music, attaching labels to what we all hear. I'm done.
July 16, 2019, 2:20 AM · "Sorry, but it's obvious that you're just playing games here. You admittedly have no idea what tonal or atonal mean; instead, you're engaging in Humpty-Dumptyism"

This is going to be another very long thread, and it's basically trolling.

It's no use discussing this with someone who has no clue of music history, spelling or arguing, for that matter. All DK is looking for is to use as much of your time as you can afford, and then some.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 2:51 AM · Hmm. David's points are valid, and I like his "scale feeling" aspect of tonality as much as the common reference-note descriptions. And we are actually reacting to each other, not just to David..

Also, in this thread, we have not been subjected to the Terrible Unfairness of Classical Musicians.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 3:16 AM · "Scale feeling" is just an uneducated way of saying "tonality".

It's pretty weird to say "Mozart wouldn't like atonal music". Mozart in his time was considered too much out there and had to reverse course (Zauberflöte) to pay the rent. He was from a different era, but pretty much all composers we still enjoy and play were pushing the envelope in their time.

Music doesn't have an obligation to be "catchy". One man's "A Tonal" is another man's catchy, especially if that A Tonal music happens to be plain tonal.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 3:35 AM · I've been looking at the manuscripts of a composer called Percy Hilder Miles dating from the early 1900's. He was a professor of harmony at the Royal Academy of Music and his own music is very conservative, tonal even! Amongst his manuscripts is a short "atonal" piece for piano which he wrote in a single morning in order to make the point that any fool can write this stuff. Valid point? What price music if you can't tell the right notes from the wrong ones? But a lot depends on the education of your ear. I think it's likely that many people genuinely like atonal or serial music and can even tell the right notes from wrong ones on repeated hearing.
Edited: July 16, 2019, 4:16 AM · Herman, let's be fair: The OP starts with "it may be my lack of Knowledge".

In my book, tonality has two overlapping aspects:
- pitch content (= "scale feeling") e.g.Debussy, and
- directional function (voice leading) e.g.Bartok.

And English is DK's third language, and smartphones have a knack of putting capital letters where they want, and if you have nice thick fingers...

Some of us spell like, sorry, as we play, but this is not the subject of this thread!

July 16, 2019, 4:53 AM · I don't think that classical music will survive that way:

Today it is already unpopular and lean on 2 things:
1. On performing Old! (100-300 years old) known Tonal!!! Pieces (Bach/Beethoven/chopin/Mozart etc.)
2. On government support for its educational Tonal!!! Part.

For the last 50 years and more Classical Music almost totally didn't produce anything that the general public likes. And i think it is related mainly to the fact it is almost completely Atonal today.

As a politician i will say - that you have to have a reason to invest in something - When you invest in Medicine/science for instance - you have clear results that the public benefit from.
What is the product of the modern classical music??? How the people benefit from it?

July 16, 2019, 5:08 AM · And i want to be clear:

"Tonal" and "Cathcy" doesn't mean necessary simplistic. It can be very advanced and complicated.

Here is a piece i wrote recently that i think is very relevant - Variation on the "Catchy" "Bella Ciao" for Violin:
It is a tonal but very advanced (I don't know even how to play it yet).

I will be happy to hear your opinion:

Edited: July 16, 2019, 5:32 AM · Oh dear.
The song is in C minor(with many B naturals in the implied harmony).
The variation is in E flat major, but as in many books of études, the harmonies don't change at convincing moments.
July 16, 2019, 6:16 AM · @Adrian Heath

I think it is legitimate to change scales, everyone does it, even Bach.
I think that the main difference is that you can constatly feel the presence of the "Standart" weatern scale.
In Atonality you can't feel it at all.

July 16, 2019, 6:32 AM · The E flat scale is indeed "felt" (Pitch Content), but even in their arpeggiated form, the underlying harmonies ought to make sense (Directional Function).
And preferably follow those of the song, if that is what we want to "vary"..
July 16, 2019, 7:24 AM · @Adrian Heath
So you say that even here I'm out of tune?;)))

But seriously - I didn't try to make an edude or something classical else. I simply composed with the line of the melody that i felt. I'm not sure even in what Scales it is.

And still you can feel well that I'm in some scale. You can't feel it in Atonal music.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 7:39 AM · Don't worry, the notes are in tune!
But if you present a composition, one will judge it as a composition, and assume you know what you are doing.

To acquire a sense of tonal harmony, I recommend playing through Anglican/Episcopalian hymns (simpler than Bach's chorales), over and over again, until you can imagine them in your head. Copy them into MuseScore.
Then you will write better harmony than most pop songs!

As a tutorial in writing variations, look at Mozart's.
Look at he slowest "voice", usually in the left hand, to find the underlying harmony.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 7:58 AM · The piece you posted is not atonal, it starts in C minor and seems to end on an unresolved chord leaning towards E flat. In addition it is not "for violin" but for keyboard, which is why it would be hard to play on the violin. And unrewarding.
If you look at some of Bach's keyboard preludes of a similar noodling nature you'll find there are many dissonants in those piece to give it drama and direction.
Edited: July 16, 2019, 7:58 AM · @Herman West
This is a piece for Violin, and it is based on the technique of 16th caprice by Paganini,
I started already to practice it and put fingerings and it is generally possible to play, but may get some changes, and probably won't be in that speed.

I don't think you should try to put it in some Classical Form, because i didn't try to do it. I just went with the feeling of the melody. There's no any structure there.

Edited: July 16, 2019, 8:05 AM · But David the "technique" of the 16th caprice includes Directional Tonal Harmony.
Bringing this out when we play the caprice is part of our "Musicality"..........

I fear you have just spoiled a fairly friendly discussion.

July 16, 2019, 8:19 AM · @Adrian Heath
I'm not talking about the Musical side of the 16th caprice but about the physical technique -
Fast 1/16 with big string changes, with accents on different places.
Edited: July 16, 2019, 8:32 AM · "I'm not talking about the Musical side of the 16th caprice"

No comment.

"I will be happy to hear your opinion:"
And as usual, our opinions are wrong!

July 16, 2019, 2:26 PM · Lydia thanks for playing along. There is interesting fodder for further discussion here, in that I think Goldsmith engaged in some sleight of hand in that score, but I doubt it would survive the environment. :-)

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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