Talk:Jean-Philippe Rameau

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Librettists second rate?[edit]

The libretto for BOREADES is an exquisite piece of poetry; Les Indes Galantes as well;

Who is the judge of what is poor poetry? Please put in some sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

1722 Treatise on harmony ;; deletion discussion[edit]

This message is in response to the deletion of content from the article:

2007-02-02T15:12:17 Folantin (Talk | contribs) (Rv material sourced from a very cranky, POV web page.)

This discussion thread was started by User:Dreftymac to give User:Folantin an opportunity to explain the rationale for deletion. The deletion is contested as inappropriate for the following reasons:

  1. finds fault with an external source, but no substantiated rationale for discrediting the source has been provided
  2. removed content that was not even dependent on the allegedly improper external source
  3. at the time of this writing, there were *zero* footnotes in the article prior to the deleted contribution, thus even if the source had been discredited, that would not justify deleting the entire contribution, which did not wholly depend on the cite for substantiation anyway
  4. did not indicate any limitation that would prevent other editors from fact-checking, expanding, reforming or otherwise improving any deficiencies that may have been in the contribution itself
  5. did not indicate any factual errors or even a *single* flaw with the content of the contribution itself

Consequently, the contribution has been re-added to the article by reverting the deletion. Before taking further adverse action on this contribution, please provide support here in discussion so we can work together to improve any deficiencies. Thanks! dr.ef.tymac 23:28, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

My apologies for deleting the material wholesale when there was some worthwhile content in there. My objection was to the use of one source, namely the pretty cranky essay from the Schiller Institute which makes some very odd claims: "Rameau's popularity practically meant the end of rigorous musical composition in France and a great part of Europe. Bad music, particularly opera, became a kind of plague, similar to the rock and pop music of our days." "Bach's polyphony is based on this notion of a curved universe, as opposed to the flat thinking of Rameau and his followers." Erm, right. Any essay that takes Jean-Jacques Rousseau as an objective authority on Rameau - or, indeed, any music at all - has to be taken with a barrowload of salt. The essay makes very sweeping claims about the whole course of music history which aren't backed by any books I've read. So I've cut out the whole Bach/Rameau comparison which was sourced from the essay and tried to produce something more objective with the other material you included plus some reference books of my own.
As you imply, this isn't a great Wikipedia article anyway. I've been planning to overhaul it completely using reliable sources and I hope to get round to doing this over the next few weeks. Feel free to chip in, of course. Thanks.--Folantin 09:46, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Follow-up: Thanks for responding and, likewise, I appreciate and welcome any contributions, by you, and anyone else for that matter, to keep this and any other WP article moving toward the highest standards of professionalism, quality and scholarship. Based on your response and actions, the following points shall be noted:
  1. The original Dreftymac contribution ("DMContrib") was fairly meticulous in excluding the opinionated elements from the Schiller Institute essay ("Schiller"). This cite was merely added as a starting point for accessible citations (of which this article had none, but now people are starting to chip in, good to see!);
  2. Essays that contain factually correct information (baby), yet also contain contestible and dubious claims (bathwater), are common in almost every realm of classical scholarly inquiry. Anyone familiar with, say Bertrand Russell, Pythagoras, Descartes, Nietzsche, et al. would have no difficulty demonstrating this.
  3. The Bach/Rameau contrast as presented in DMContrib contained *none* of the "oddball" and "sweeping" claims you extracted from Schiller. They were not even hinted at in DMContrib. This was by design: very dilligent effort was taken to separate the "baby" from the "bathwater."
  4. You found fault with some statements in Schiller but you still did not specify *any* deficiencies or problems with DMContrib itself. Therefore, your statement about improving the "objectivity" of DMContrib is (so far) unsubstantiated, and your newest deletions (although scaled-back) are still unwarranted.
Based on these, and absent any further explanation or rationale, I will proceed to add or re-add content that I feel is consistent with a good-faith effort to continue to improve this article, and I appreciate your efforts to do likewise. Hopefully, such efforts will not consist solely of wholesale, undiscussed deletions that fail to address specific problems. Thanks! dr.ef.tymac 17:11, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
I'd prefer to go straight to reliable sources such as Girdlestone (maybe the standard work on Rameau in English) and Grove or the Cambridge History you cite rather than sort the wheat out from the chaff in some dubious online source. As far as I can tell, Tennenbaum (the author of the essay) isn't even a musicologist but some sort of "scientific adviser" to Lyndon LaRouche. The only source for the whole Bach-Rameau comparison was Tennenbaum's essay (which contains no footnotes). I haven't seen such claims made elsewhere so I'd be suspicious of its inclusion because (a) it does not come from a reliable source; and (b) it gives undue weight [1] to a minority theory. --Folantin 17:43, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Although your misgivings about Schiller are duly noted, for the third time, you did not contest any part of what you deleted, you simply contested the cite. Let's not forget the entire article was uncited before I started contributing to it, yet you didn't blank the entire page.
For example, are you saying it is a "minority theory" that Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and Rameau's Treatise were both published in 1722, both had significant influence on the progression of western music, and both are still considered important works? If you are not saying that, then how does "objectivity" improve by deleting it?
As far as someone's title as a "musicologist," I am not aware of any wikipedia policy that restricts contributions or citations to only those who have specific credentials. There are plenty of people who have expertise and scholarly insight outside their academic or professional domain (Rameau himself was slated to be a lawyer). This is another reason why *specific* suggestions on article content are more helpful than ad hominem, job titles, or other tangential stuff that, at the end of the day, really does not bring us any closer to making this a very comprehensive, well-written "featured" article. Anyway, HTH. dr.ef.tymac 20:09, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

The contrast between Bach and Rameau in your material was - as far as I can see - entirely Tennenbaum's idea. If we want to get specific, the following is a big claim and needs proper sourcing: "The tension between the evocative style and aesthetics of Bach on one hand, and the methodologies and analytic reductionism of Rameau on the other, constituted a major rift in the development of music theory and composition, and represented a primary schism in two prevailing and antagonistic schools of thought". The question of Tennenbaum's authority is hardly irrelevant. Why exactly should we credit his opinions as opposed to those of established musicologists? He's perfectly entitled to his own theories, of course, but that doesn't mean they should be included in an encyclopaedia. I can't see how this page will be improved by adding such information. I was not responsible for any of the content of this article before today, except for some of the works list. I have begun to improve it by adding properly sourced material from reliable sources. --Folantin 20:38, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

You notice how you did not answer my question regarding "minority theory" above? If you found fault with the "major rift" bit, that's fine. I'd even have no problem with omitting it entirely, but note it is the first time you have mentioned something *specific* with the contribution itself which was all I had requested from square five. :)
If you want to debate Tennenbaum's authority, or express your disfavor with some particular fringe group, thats fine, but I don't see how it is relevant because I am neither contesting nor supporting his credentials, theories, institute, or "authority" and never did. My remark about "musicologists" related only to general WP policy. Even established musicologists are capable of bias and mistakes, so I don't see how someone's background should invite us to turn off our critical thinking skills and fact-checking abilities. Even impeccable sources with sterling reputation and flawless content can be mis-applied or mis-quoted, and any citation is only as good as its proper application to a *specific context*. Anyway, fun discussion, seems like we agree on a lot, but perhaps from different vantage points. Thanks for your contributions and responses! dr.ef.tymac 22:39, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

'Enemies' ?[edit]

The statements about Rameau's 'enemies' are extremely vague and sweeping. They seem to imply, first that anyone who didn't agree with him about music theory was his enemy; second, that anyone who disagreed with him about music theory exaggerated his character flaws. Neither claim is supported in any way - nor could it be, given the very large number of 18th century writers and musicians who disagreed with Rameau's theoretical views. --Tdent 20:47, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

"Better on Piano"[edit]

A claim is made in this article to the effect that Rameau's harpsichord works are not idiomatic to the harpsichord (literally, not as idiomatic as Couperin's) and that they sound better on piano. This should sound spurious immediately. Material paraphrased; contested claims in italics. I have marked the statement in question here. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ (talk) 17:25, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Removed. I don't know how that got there. There is no way of making that statement NPOV. --Folantin (talk) 17:29, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it's less bad than it seems. It's just ambiguous. "[T]hey place less importance on ornamentation and are more satisfying when played on the piano" is supposed to mean they "are more satisfying when played on the piano" than Couperin's harpsichord works (a commonly held opinion) NOT "they are more satisfying when played on the piano" rather than on the harpsichord. --Folantin (talk) 17:40, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
That does sound more reasonable, since Baroque ornamentation is generally less tenable on the resonating piano, but it still needs citing. Edit: And clarification, of course. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ (talk) 17:44, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Theoretic Specifics[edit]

Insofar as the article deals with fairly precise developments in musical history, the lack of technical details is disappointing. Specifically, what elements in Rameau's music, outside of the purely stylistic cast of genres and forms, excited the admiration/hostility of his contemporaries? Any innovation/experimentation of a harmonic and melodic character should be described, or at least limned out, with reference to the ongoing history of dissonance and tonality in Western music.Orthotox (talk) 09:28, 23 December 2012 (UTC)


Like most of his contemporaries, Rameau often reused melodies that had been particularly successful, but never without meticulously adapting them; they are not simple transcriptions. Besides, no borrowings have been found from other composers, although his earliest works show the influence of other music.

Why begin the second sentence with "besides"? Would Rameau have been less of a composer if he had borrowed the occasional melody? What is this paragraph trying to say?