Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Composers/Archive 8

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Romantic music

The article Romantic music says that The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. The Romantic period was preceded by the classical period, and was followed by the modern period. Meanwhle Category:Romantic composers explains that Romantic composers are those individuals who wrote music in the Romantic era, between about 1815 and 1910.

Is this simplistic, I wonder? Does the article need rewriting? (I thought I should pose the question here rather than on the Opera Project, because you are looking at the composers' whole musical output, not just a section of it.) This has become an issue because of work on opera categories, and because the composers (bio) infoboxes link to the article under the so-called 'genre' (actually period) category. (For example Shostakovich is 'Romantic' because he was born in 1906!).

P.S. Following the Chopin infobox discussion, I've asked for opinions on infoboxes on the following Talk Pages: Beethoven, Gluck, Mussorgsky, Puccini, Richard Strauss. Please comment if you have a spare moment. --Kleinzach 08:03, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

I think that an article on Romantic music would be better served by defining Romanticism in music and only then talking about when or where Romantic principles flourished and defining that as the Romantic era, even though there were always composers who composed according to Romantic principles before and after this era and composers in the era who largely rejected Romanticism. There's also considerable scholarly debate about whether the Romantic era was short lived (and thus the second half of the 19th century is largely Post-Romantic) or encompasses the whole "long nineteenth century. ". The Grove opening to Romanticism is worth comparing: "A movement or, more commonly, period of cultural history. When understood as a period, Romanticism is usually identified with either the first half or the whole of the 19th century. The term is used with reference primarily to the arts, but it can also embrace philosophy, socio-political history and, more widely, the ‘spirit’ of the era." Of course, Jim Samson in Grove is writing for a purely musical audience, so the lack of mention of music in his lede is acceptable, whereas it wouldn't be for WP. Samson also points to Donald Grout (author of the most influential music history textbook in America) as one of the big names in the push towards equating the nineteenth-century with Romanticism. It's an extremely strong article, one of the best for its length in Grove. However, it does try to define Romanticism more than give a history of music 1800-1900, which is currently also what we are asking the WP article to do.
The article might be a candidate for someone taking into a sandbox and attempting a rewrite. I don't think the sorts of substantial changes it needs will happen well in little pieces.
Aside: The template "History of Classical Music" isn't as bad as a typical infobox, I suppose, but it is similar in that it presents as many distortions as facts (what happened in 1401 that made the Middle Ages end?)

--Myke Cuthbert 22:42, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Myke, thanks for your explanation, and sorry to take so long to say so.
Coming from a European/opera background, and as a Grove (Opera) user, I was puzzled by the way Romanticism was equated with the whole of the 19th century. Now I understand a bit more.
Grove (Opera) has no articles on Romanticism or Romantic Opera, nor is there one in the Oxford Dictionary of Opera. (They refer to German romantic opera of course). Maybe this is because 'romantic' is even less of a fit for 19th-century opera than it is for music in general?
I see here that there has been a big argument about whether Betthoven was R/romantic. Perhaps there could be similar arguments about almost all 19th-century composers! (Somewhere on WP it says that Rossini was the "first Romantic composer" so we could start there!)
Re revising Romantic music, I wonder whether it wouldn't be easier to fit the text (which in many ways is not too bad) to a new title of 19th century music, rather than trying to make it correspond to the existing title? Cheers. --Kleinzach 09:43, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
There's certainly such a thing as Romanticism in music, it's just that not everyone in the era it dominated was an out-and-out Romantic. It's the same with literature; Walter Scott was a Romantic, but Jane Austen certainly wasn't. I'd put Rossini's Guillaume Tell in the Romantic category (themes of liberty, plot derived from Schiller, interest in local colour), but not The Barber. Incidentally, the first composer to be called "Romantic" was Méhul (in 1792). --Folantin 10:34, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
You do have to remember that WP is not the place for original research and that there's plenty of verifiable sources that talk about that period in music being called the romantic period. While I can somewhat understand the hesitation (Trisan and Isolde is very unlike the Eroica Symphony in their sound world, yet both are considered romantic), the fact remains that that period IS called the romantic period by a large majority of music history texts (etc), at least that I've seen. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 11:36, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm not going to disagree with you there. There certainly was a Romantic Era in music and we should have an article on it. It did dominate the 19th century -it's just that nobody can say for sure when it began and ended. Is Beethoven a Romantic? Schubert? Rossini? These things need to be qualified. --Folantin 12:06, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
To ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫: Can I ask you - which music history texts refer to the Romantic era in music? And what definition do they use? Are they American? Are they European? When were they published? My information seems to be different from yours so I would like to be clear what you are referring to. BTW no original research is involved here, since the alternative to the label 'Romantic' would be not to use a label at all. --Kleinzach 12:32, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Well maybe it IS a disjunct of global location. I've always heard the period refered to that way -- and studied it that way in music history class in college. I'm from the U.S. so it's probable that whatever I've read reflects that (which I'm pretty sure includes Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts). Beyond that, no I don't remember specifics, but it's surprising to see a very different take on the matter. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 13:06, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
It's not a issue if we have differing ideas about Romanticism in music. My definition may be narrower, yours may be broader, but the article is not about Romanticism in music as such. It's about 'Romantic music' - including everything from 1815 and 1910. That's the problem. To me it seems like a huge misrepresentation of what was happening in music during those years. Just think of what was happening in the first decade of the 20th century! --Kleinzach 13:42, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I went to conservatory in the US and we used the 6th edition of Grout/Palisca (the year after I graduated it became Grout/Palisca/Burkholder, and having had Burkholder as a prof. I'm guessing his definition of Romantic is pretty close to Grout's). The Glossary gives the definition of Romantic as: "(1) Quality of free, imaginative storytelling characteristic of the nineteenth-century French roman (romance) (2) Period in music covering all but the first and last decades of the nineteenth century." The first definition is not exactly relevant, except I find it interesting that it's the first one given. I should point out that it is the habit even in third and fourth year conservatory courses in the US to simplify music history, and to at first at least define eras by their chronological boundaries. In the actual text, it talks about the difficulty of finding the boundary between Classic and Romantic. And we also have the difficulty of how people decided to label themselves vs. how they would be labeled otherwise. The post-facto definitions of Romantic aren't necessarily the same as the definitions applied during the period (you get into similar difficulties in different periods with the labeling of madrigals and motets). Mak (talk) 13:26, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

(reset indent): Thanks for the Grout Glossary quote; as I mentioned above, I was surprised to learn that Grout was instrumental in calling for Romantic to cover the whole of the 19th century rather than just the first half, so it's one case where his textbook is unlikely to be dispassionately summarizing current state of thought in the field. With respect to Melodia's comments, I think that the hard part about rewriting the article in any form will be that we could go in two totally different directions all the while using reliable sources, avoiding original research, etc., simply because there isn't a consensus in the field (and judging by Grout's book, Plantingen's book, etc., there isn't even consensus that there's not consensus!). I would support a move to "Music of the 19th century" or "19th Century Classical Music," if we want to give a complete history of the period.

Oh, and a useful source to see how Burkholder/Grout/Palisca organize their historical topics is the online Gr/outlines of their book. There are many many more errors than in the book, and the emphasis in the outline is not the same as in the book (i.e., a one paragraph discussion may get zero or ten bullet points), but it's still handy, as are the TOCs for Taruskin's book at the LOC website.

One more week of teaching, then papers to grade, then maybe time for some deeper contributions. --Myke Cuthbert 16:48, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Elliott Carter

I’ve nominated Elliott Carter for the Wikipedia:Article Creation and Improvement Drive. I thought someone might be interested. Regardless of whether you like his music, he really is a very important composer and his article could use some work. S.dedalus 22:33, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Infoboxes again

User:Pigsonthewing is continuing what seems to be a WP:POINT edit war at Steve Reich and Philip Glass over infoboxes. His position seems to be that the consensus established above needs to be reinstated on each individual article's talk page to justify disincluding infoboxes. Fireplace 21:41, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree and have reverted his edit on Philip Glass. This needs to find resolution somehow, however. Eusebeus 22:54, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
See also Talk:Steve_Reich#Infobox. Fireplace 02:13, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
IMO we have already found as much resolution on this as we are ever going to. We spent days discussing it (above) and Makemi summed it all up in a remarkably thorough-going way. --Kleinzach 13:47, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
...And his behavior continues at Michael Nyman. After repeated edit warring, incivility, ignoring consensus, wp:point abuses, and an inappropriate ANI listing, I'd be happy to write/contribute to an ANI or RFC listing for disruptive editing if there's support for taking it there. Fireplace 20:21, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it's getting beyond a joke. I warned him about a particularly ludicrous WP:POINT violation days ago [1] but he's still at it. He appears to know little or nothing about classical music (certainly not opera) so I have no idea why he's so obsessed with composer bioboxes. But check his extensive block log [2] where one admin says: "This user appears to be here to make nuclear war with contributers; not to write an encyclopedia". Sounds about right. --Folantin 20:48, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
You have never warned me about a "a particularly ludicrous WP:POINT violation", because there has been no such violation. It's worrying that you choose to threaten in this manner, and make unfounded allegations; doubly so when I have offered suggestions for compromise, which you (collectively) appear to have rejected out-of-hand. Andy Mabbett 20:55, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Assuming good faith is getting hard, though I will say that most of those blocks were over a year ago.(ah, Fireplace's point taken) However, Andy, we're here, talk about Infoboxes with us if you want. I need to get back to writing a journal article on minimalism, not trying to make the same argument against infoboxes at John Coolidge Adams ("is associate with postminimalism"? great info! worth reverting), Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Michael Nyman. --Myke Cuthbert 21:02, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Looking at the log, most of the blocks were over a year old because he was blocked for a year. Fireplace 21:06, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Infoboxes. Mak (talk) 21:08, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
"we're here, talk about Infoboxes with us if you want" I have been trying to do so for some time. As I said above, I (and, indeed, others) have offered suggestions for compromise, which you (collectively) appear to have rejected out-of-hand. Once again (and I'm getting equally sick of having to repeat this) if there are errors or misleading information in infoboxes; correct it - do not simply remove the whole box. That's baby/bathwater. Andy Mabbett 21:22, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Andy, some of us find that infoboxes lead to the condensation of information into bite-sized chunks whether or not the information works best that way. When all the misleading information is removed, what is often left is either information repeated immediately in the lede (birth date) in the first paragraph (birth location) is trivially obvious (occupation: "composer", yes, that's why there's an article) or is pure trivia (daughters' names). At that point, I think they are best removed, and I believe the consensus of people who edit classical music pages is with me. (The only piece of useful information I've frequently found in composer infoboxes not immediately easy to find in the articles is death location, though these are often confused with burial location). --Myke Cuthbert 21:46, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Then I would suggest (as I think I did some time ago) that you take the matter to the Biography and/ or Infobox Projects, and try to obtain consensus for your view on a WP-wide basis (or an understanding of why the contrary view has consensus), rather than trying to apply it on a project-by-project bass, which not only involves policy-breaching ownership, but is doomed to failure where two projects with opposing views coincide. Andy Mabbett 21:54, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Consensus already exists -- "WP-wide" consensus is neither necessary nor appropriate for localized issues like this one. Further, Wikipedia:WikiProject_Biography/Infoboxes makes it clear that infoboxes on certain classes of articles should be approved individually before being added, and WP:Infobox "is not intended to be a place for infobox standardisation, rather a place for designers to help each other." Fireplace 22:06, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Once again, you appear to be unwilling to cooperate or compromise, outside of the narrow focus of these two sister projects. Andy Mabbett 22:10, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out the Biography infobox page, Fireplace, which now also reflects consensus here. It's getting hard to find a place where there isn't consensus (not unanimity) against composer infoboxes. Andy, where does your base of support come from for infoboxes on the minimalist composers' pages? I know that Badagnani has supported your view on Michael Nyman, are there others? I'm just trying to figure out where this other consensus we're supposed to be respecting is. --Myke Cuthbert 00:10, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Another point: Pigsonthewing writes . . . if there are errors or misleading information in infoboxes; correct it - do not simply remove the whole box. This is unreasonable because (1) no editor should put unchecked information up on a page and then tell other editors to fix it, and (2) if an editor finds wrong information added to an article, that editor has to decide whether to retain some of the information, or delete it all. If there is no viable substance remaining after correction then it all has to go. The editor who created the false information should not come along and say, "you can take out this, but you can't take out that". --Kleinzach 00:06, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

I don’t want to get caught up in a war about this. However I am quite opposed to the idea of removing the infoboxes from composer’s pages. If the consensus is uniformly against me, we should at least work with other projects to come up with a unified solution. Here are some reasons I support the inclusion of infoboxes on composer pages:
  1. WP:BIOGRAPHY still includes infoboxes in its pages. It would be ludicrous to be working against other projects in this regard.
  2. Infoboxes have been criticized for offering only a snapshot of information. Indeed that is their purpose. They allow the reader to see the basics of the article without having to first read several thousand words. This can help the casual viewer decide wither or not to read the entirety of the article.
  3. Infoboxes helps categories all the articles on a topic.
  4. Infoboxes adds some color to many otherwise drab pages.
  5. Whether we like it or not Wikipedia’s main viewers are not collage grads. Wikipedia is primarily used by students I believe. Now how long is the average teenager’s attention span? No offence to teens, but most teenagers (and many adults) have the attention span of a TV commercial. At least the infoboxes tells them SOMETHING about the subject.
  6. If the content of an infobox is wrong don’t blame the infobox. Be bold and fix it, or, leave that section of the box blank.
  7. Infoboxes often include some important information that would require a lengthy search through the text to find (examples: label, years active, notable instruments)
Anyway, those are some of the reasons I feel that all the major composer’s pages should include an infobox. (Or at least all articles for which an infobox would offer significant information.) S.dedalus 06:48, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't write/contribute/edit for 'college grads' or 'students'. I write etc. for the general public. --Kleinzach 07:31, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
What Kleinzach said (BTW we also have a "Simple English Wikipedia" [3] which might be of use). Sorry, there are no new arguments here. The composer bioboxes are redundant at best, sometimes downright silly (what does knowing the names of Michael Nyman's wife and children tell you about his music) and factually inaccurate in all too many cases. --Folantin 08:12, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
We have a responsibility on Wikipedia to make information as accessible as possible. Infoboxes help do this. There is no need to stop using them. Though occasionally redundant, that is far outweighed by their clarity. Has consensus already been reached on this issue here or on other Wikiprojects? S.dedalus 04:51, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
We also have a responsibility to make information as accurate as possible. "Clarity" has no value if what is made clear is inaccurate. While I see where you are coming from, I cannot agree that adding infoboxes in any way improves a composer article, for the numerous reasons cited above. There are too many issues regarding composers that require a nuanced approach, which brute-force presentation in an infobox ruins. Respectfully, Antandrus (talk) 05:00, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
To answer S.dedalus's second question: consensus has been reached on both the Composers Project and the Opera Project not to use BIO-infoboxes (as noted above by Fireplace). I believe that science projects have also declared against using them, presumably for similar reasons. I also note that a majority are voting for the deletion of the Infobox Needed Template, see Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion/Log/2007_May_13#Template:Infoboxneeded -- Kleinzach 05:30, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
"Has consensus already been reached on this issue here..? " No, consensus has not been reached here. Editors speaking aginst the supopsed consenus include S.dedalus, Lin, Cricket02, Antandrus, Turangalila, emerson7, pizza1512, cgilbert, Wormsie, Gretab, ickbigd and me, Andy Mabbett 09:37, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
That's patent distortion. Plenty of those in your little list have spoken against the boxes. Moreschi Talk 17:28, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
They may have spoken against some boxes in some context or other; but they have also all spoken against a blanket ban such as you seem to desire; ergo there was no distortion in my post; and there is no consensus. Andy Mabbett 22:23, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, one thing's for sure, Mr. Mabbett, you won't be adding any infoboxes for the next month. How about using the intervening time profitably by designing a composer biobox that doesn't actually violate WP policy on factual accuracy and is flexible enough to describe someone like Paderewski (without producing the dog's dinner currently showing on the page), for example? Then you can come back and get consensus to use it. You might have to do a shedload of reading first to avoid another embarrassing incident like the Comic opera fiasco, but I'm sure your evident passion for opera and classical music will see you through. --Folantin 10:03, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the more I think about it that Paderewski page (back-up link here [4]) is the perfect illustration of the inherent ridiculousness of the "biobox". I'm not criticising the user who added it; it's the very concept of the box which leads to absurdities like this. And I predicted this would happen to that very page on the ANI noticeboard two weeks ago [5]- but I didn't need to be Nostradamus to see that one coming. --Folantin 10:26, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

I have only just become aware of this debate via a post at WP Infoboxes, and have gone over it with some interest. My work with infoboxes has mainly been with ones of a geographical or historical nature, and I appreciate the problems with biographical infoboxes (the above Ignacy Jan Paderewski problem is a good example), although have had nothing to do with the development of the bioboxes.
First, to clarify what WP Infoboxes is: WP:INFOWATCH is not exactly a project, but a centralised location for designers to help each other with design and usage issues, and to be something of a help desk. It does not intend to create and enforce site-wide rules. Sure, we have no authority, but the people involved have a rather lengthy experience of what works and what doesn't. The group is definitely not biased towards the use of infoboxes everywhere - but it is heavily biased against their incorrect usage. Infoboxes have become a part of Wikipedia, like it or not - all we can do is make sure that they are used properly.
Now for my 2 cents. I largely agree with a lot that Turangalila has said, particularly regarding the supplementary and summarising role of an infobox. From this debate, there are a few points that I would like to address:

  1. Help with metadata: they can also help with categorisation
  2. Not everything deserves an infobox: I agree. If a suitable infobox does not exist, then I would rather not use one until the right one becomes available.
  3. No baptism field: this is clearly a fault in the template and should probably be added somehow - not just here, but probably in other biogboxes.
  4. Flags in biog-infoboxes: I don't really like them. I also don't like how the modern country is usually given and linked to when the country didn't exist during the life of the person in question. From my work on former countries, this is a big problem. That said, this same mistake is made even more often within the body text. So for this problem (the country problem, not the flag problem), the infobox is not at fault any more than the article itself.
  5. Infoboxes violate factual accuracy: This is a big claim, and a false one. How an infobox on its own can do this is beyond me. They are only inaccurate if the wrong information is given. This also applies for the rest of the article. So this claim is similar to saying that having an article at all violates factual accuracy. Because anyobody can edit, there is always the risk of the wrong information being given anywhere in the article: accidentally or deliberately

I'm sure there are more points that I wanted to bring up, but i can't think of them all right now. 52 Pickup 11:47, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Infoboxes have become a part of Wikipedia, like it or not - all we can do is make sure that they are used properly. Er no, there is no policy saying we need infoboxes and their use is best considered on a project by project basis by those who know the subject under consideration. They are also redundant in composer articles. Infoboxes violate factual accuracy: This is a big claim, and a false one. How an infobox on its own can do this is beyond me. Well, this one has managed just fine; it's forced editors to add ridiculous bits of information (Gluck was a leading pianist?), if not downright false "facts". Articles don't force anyone to violate factual accuracy and they're immensely flexible. Plain old text can cope with the multiplicitous career of Jan Ignacy Paderewski succinctly and elegantly, whereas the bioboxes are just a disaster. Wikipedia is supposed to be the encyclopaedia anyone can edit (anyone who knows what they are talking about, that is); you can't change the bioboxes without a good deal of specialist computer knowledge (plus the templates are often edit-protected). Again, you only need minimal technical knowledge to add simple text here. I'm sure infoboxes are useful on geographical matters; I know very little subject and I wouldn't dream of interfering with its editors. But these composer bioboxes are just ludicrous as the Paderewski page sadly proves. --Folantin 12:28, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Er no, there is no policy saying we need infoboxes... - Hang on. I didn't say that there was a policy calling for them, I'm simply stating the fact that they are here. ...and their use is best considered on a project by project basis by those who know the subject under consideration. - I agree. Projects that I am involved in do the same, but it is always necessary that even projects do not assume total ownership (whether or not the Composer project is assuming ownership of these articles is none of my business). As I said, if the right infobox isn't available, then either 1) the right one should either be developed, or 2) don't use one. - 52 Pickup 12:45, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
OK, glad you understand. Option 2 is the obvious choice here. Total ownership isn't a goal, especially bearing the Paderewski article in mind, since he's the responsibility of several projects. But that page just shows the problems of having several project infoboxes when they clash. If in doubt, do without....--Folantin 13:10, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
"Option 2 is the obvious choice here." It's far from obvious that that would be the right choice.
"Total ownership isn't a goal - perhaps not; but its the apparent outcome of current behaviour.
Andy Mabbett 13:29, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, as I've suggested, off you pop and use your encyclopaedic knowledge of classical music to design a new infobox with none of the flaws of the present one. Then you can come back here and see if you can get consensus to use it. Why are you waiting? --Folantin 13:39, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
[6]. Andy Mabbett 13:44, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's my ideal solution. No infobox, no problem. But you are quite welcome to try and prove me wrong and there's nothing stopping you from going ahead and making the attempt if you're so enthusiastic about these boxes. --Folantin 13:49, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
It was not an ideal solution, just an out-of-hand rejection. Andy Mabbett 14:13, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
It was a considered rejection based on the same knowledge of the subject that led me to predict the Paderewski disaster. But if your new infobox can address the problems I raised there, maybe you'll win me and other people over. --Folantin 14:22, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Both Folantin and I spelled out quite thoroughly why that suggested box was not going to work. Moreschi Talk 17:28, 16 May 2007 (UTC)