Talk:Postmodern music

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Merged articles and archived talk page[edit]

I have merged Postmodern Classical Music into this article. I have also archived this talk page here since all the discussions were held last year or before. --Jubilee♫clipman 04:32, 17 November 2009 (UTC)


This article is a real mess and, even with the new material from the other article, just does not do justice to the subject. Anyone willing to overhaul this? --Jubilee♫clipman 04:35, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

It's a shitty article for a shitty subject. What more could you possibly ask for? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:57, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Civility. Helpfulness. Hyacinth (talk) 06:01, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I am totally on this. (Vive1936 (talk) 21:37, 14 May 2010 (UTC))

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 20:22, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why, what, where, and how does this article need additional citations for verification? Hyacinth (talk) 20:24, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

That banner must be seriously out of date! There is scarcely a sentence in this very short article that does not bear a verifying citation. I would say, remove the banner.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:02, 27 August 2011 (UTC)


Why, what, where, and how is this article written like an essay and what should be done about it? Hyacinth (talk) 20:24, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

It doesn't look essay-like to me. Perhaps it did in 2009, when that banner was place. I say remove the flag.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:04, 27 August 2011 (UTC)


Editor Btbowen has removed a "Failed verification" tag, and replaced it with a hidden-text comment which I am moving here, since it requests discussion. The disputed passage is: "There is no discernible or provable difference between the labels "Postmodern" and "Postmodernist" music, the latter being simply a derivation of the former", and in support of this Btbowen offered Bertens 1995, 3. In placing the "failed verification" tag, I commented: "Bertens says nothing remotely like this but, on the contrary, refers to a "bewildering" variety of usage. Furthermore, his context here is the terms in general--he does not mention music at all until page 17." Btbowen replaced the tag and my comment with a quotation from Bertens ("Postmodernism is an exasperating term, and so are postmodern, postmodernist, postmodernity, and whatever else one might come across in the way of derivation.") and a comment: "what evidence is there that 'postmodernist' music is anything different from postmodern music; citation please? This is what I mean about labels being applied from the outside, as is almost always the case when discussing genre -- which is essentially how this is being treated. Most composers/artists would rarely-if-ever self-identify as 'postmodern.'" I agree that, as things stand, there is no evidence offered one way or the other. However, it is the responsibility of an editor to provide a reliable source substantiating claims that may be disputed. The offered source in this case fails to support the claim, either with respect to music or more generally as an aesthetic/philosophical term. Whether or not composers/artists would self-identify as 'postmodern' is entirely beside the point. What is needed here is a source stating that there is no distinction between the terms 'postmodern' and 'postmodernist', and preferably a source that makes this point specifically with music in view.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:12, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

The way I read the Bertens is that he is saying all those terms are synonymous; there is no difference between any of the derivations. I think it's possible that what you're asking for as a reference may be impossible, since if there is no difference and the two words are used interchangeably, then no one will have bothered to address the "confusion" of the terms. It's like the difference between "trumpet player" and "trumpeter." I'm honestly quite content to be wrong on this one; I've just never read anyone who makes the distinction. One would think if it were indeed a point of contention that a source such as Grove or Jameson or indeed Beard & Gloag would discuss this. —Btbowen 20:40, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

I think you can see the problem here has to do with "the way I read the Bertens", which is an interpretation. I read it quite differently: there is a confusion of terms that may mean different people actually mean different things. This view is supported by Jameson (somewhere, I could look it up) when he says there are as many different "postmodernisms" as there are "modernisms" against which they react. So far as the distinction between "postmodern" (a condition) and "postmodernism" (an attitude or aesthetic/philosophic position) is concerned, I can certainly find sources for you, though I cannot at the moment think of one that specifically addresses music.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:34, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think Jameson is talking lexical semantics, though; he means that postmodernism is manifested in an incredible number of ways. Yes, clearly what we have is a difference of interpretations. So then, how is it determined whose opinion ends up on Wikipedia? Btbowen 08:35, 3 October 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Opinions published in reliable sources may be cited on Wikipedia. Editors are not permitted to inject their own interpretations, which on Wkipedia is called original research. In the present case, Bertens can be used to verify the fact that there is a bewildering variety of terms. It must be left up to the reader to determine whether this might mean that all of these terms refer to exactly the same thing, or if it means there are significant differences of opinion about what might fall under these rubrics.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:00, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Missing Composers/Popular Musicians[edit]

Some of the composers I am familiar with are missing from this list. I don't want to introduce poor sources, but I thought I should bring them up: John Zorn, Henry Brant, Morton Gould, and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Two popular music entities that I would cite as postmodern are likewise missing: Mr. Bungle and Frank Zappa. I will delete John Cage from the "Popular Music" section since he is already listed under classical music. Magicwalltree (talk) 20:57, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

It may be possible to find sources for any and all of these names, though I am a little startled to see Brant and Gould in your nominations. Still, they both composed mainly after 1930, which by some definitions makes them indisputably post-modern. It is very instructive, by the way, to compare this list with the List of modernist composers. Thank you for removing Cage from the list of popular musicians. I had tagged that entry for a reference rather than removing it myself, because Cage has been claimed for almost every other conceivable category, and I thought whoever had put his name there ought to be given the opportunity to cite a source in support of this one as well. Enough time has passed, however, and no citation has been forthcoming. Too bad.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:26, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
To me Henry Brant is clear cut: looking at the list of 16 characteristic of Postmodernism, I would say his music largely satisfies 15, with #10, being a possible exception. To return to Cage, of the 16, I count 9 clear characteristics of postmodernism in his music.

1. Yes and no... Cage broke many rules, but I see his music as an extension of modernism. 2. No, though Cage's music possesses some natural humor to it, I think it would be wrong to term it "ironic." 3. Yes, of course, this was his obsession. 4. No, though Cage's music was not accepted by many circles in his time, his purpose was not to challenge the barriers between high and low. 5. Yes, this follows from #3 for him and was an integral part of his rebellion. 6. Yes and no ... though this is similar to #4, I believe a case could be made that Cage want his music to be appreciated by a non-traditional classical audience that could be termed as "populist." 7. Yes, this is the same as #5. 8. Yes, Cage's rebellion in many ways socially, culturally, and politically driven. 9. No, in referencing Eastern Philosophy and the I Ching, I believe Cage is drawing from precompositional sources as many Modernists did. 10. Yes, Cage may not have embraced technology as composers do today, but the scope of technology was more limited in his time. 11. Yes, although this is a very vague characteristic. 12. Yes. 13. Yes. 14. No, again this follows from #9, in that his invention of Chance/Aleatoric music is a modernist system. 15. No, the meanings of his pieces are fairly specific. They range from traditional abstract compositions to Zen Meditations. 16. Yes. I hope to visit the library next week to back up my claim.Magicwalltree (talk) 20:03, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Keep in mind that what you must accomplish here is to demonstrate that the cited authors did not claim Brant or Cage as modernists or postmodernists. The 16 characteristics are Jonathan Kramer's criteria; there are many other opinions, and many of these definitions do not exclude traits of modernism. Furthermore, a composer may well change characteristics over the course of his career (in fact, it is unusual for a composer not to change). George Rochberg is a well-known example of a composer who allegedly started out as a modernist, and then changed his mind. If you know his Fifth Symphony, however, you may well have doubts about whether he rejected all elements of modernism. Finally, it should be born in mind that modernism and postmodernism are philosophical stances, not musical styles (though some writers pretend otherwise). It will not do (for example) to automatically impute a modernist position to a composer who happens once to have used a twelve-tone row, nor to label all minimalist composers as postmodern. If you were to do this, what would you make of a composer like Frans Geysen, who is a minimalist and at the same time uses twelve-tone rows?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:52, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
If it is a philosophical stance that we are looking for, shouldn't the basis for determining who belongs in this group be from the composer's own words only?Magicwalltree (talk) 04:58, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Supposing that the composers in question have discussed the appropriate things then, yes, this would be more significant than anything that could be deduced from a stylistic analysis of their music (one of the shortcomings of a formalistic approach to art). Of course, composers not trained in philosophy may not know how correctly to express themselves in these matters. There is in addition the possibility that they may not be telling the truth. A lie-detector test might be helpful or, better, fMRI promises a great deal for the future. Neither technique would be of much use in the cases of Cage and Brant, of course, since they are both deceased. Finally, it is not out of the bounds of possibility that these two categories are (1) not mutually exclusive, (2) inadequately defined, or (3) invalid. Fortunately, we need not concern ourselves with these issues on Wikipedia, which requires only the authority of a reliable source.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:00, 6 February 2012 (UTC)