Schönberg’s music sounds as ugly as it looks—behold the the sheet-music heading this blog post
People throw about the term “Cultural Marxism” with abandon, without always understanding what it means. Like antibiotics, the overuse of the term diminishes its potency.
About the virtuoso progressive metal band “Dream Theater,” a reader wrote on Twitter:
It is not MUSIC, it is the INSIDIOUS cultural Marxist degradation of music into a WALL OF NOISE that passes itself off as progressive. In actual fact, it is a step backward for civilization.
The reader is confused. Highly accomplished and polished progressive rock groups like “Dream Theater” or “Symphony X” follow Western rules of harmony, which go back hundreds of years. Layers of complexity in composition are being conflated here with Cultural Marxism.
The fact that it takes some dedication to listen to music that isn’t all of three chords—as is the blues or the country music twang—doesn’t make it Marxist.
What the reader is hearing in Dream Theater is, again, complexity. Highly accomplished and polished progressive rock groups like Dream Theater and Symphony X follow Western rules of harmony. And, odd time signatures, “irregular, complex, asymmetric or unusual time signature,” (my fav) are not Marxist.
While Dream Theater uses exceptionally complicated rhythms, their music is at its structural core traditional Western music.
What the reader says about Dream Theater—some would say about the genius of Béla Bartók or Igor Stravinsky. They would be wrong.
I was trained by a tough father, no longer with us, to listen to classical, in particular, chamber music, starting at a tender age. No option was given. The love followed the discipline, hence the ear for complexity.
If we wanted to spend time with dad, Friday, it was 5 hours of nonstop music. One night it’d be Bartók, the other Beethoven, but dad also introduced us to The Beatles. (Western civilization, parents. Do it up, not Kanye West.)
The routine dad enforced seemed awfully oppressive then. Today, I am grateful for the gift of knowing—nay, seeking out—the greatest music, which is, indubitably, Western music. Thus transitioning from Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” to gifted progressive rock guitarist Tony MacAlpine is organic.
Dad, a rabbi, once whispered sheer blasphemy to me as a kid, “Don’t tell anyone, but Bach is really God.”
Without going into Cultural Marxism and doing the hard work of applying the concept to music, let me say only that the music mentioned is not Marxist as it adheres to traditional scales and structures.
WHAT IS MARXIST is the G-d-awful Arnold Schönberg and his atonal technique. Schönberg’s music sounds as ugly as it looks—check out the sheet music heading this post.
The reason he’s Marxist is that Schönberg treated all 12 semi-tones as equal, seeking to weaken harmonic progression. This rigidly ruled out patterns and familiarity, and with it the pleasant sensation that comes with beauty and symmetry.
Arnie Schönberg would think “Brother Of Mine,” a sublime piece by “Yes,” kitschy in the extreme.
While it has plenty odd time signatures; it also has exquisite compositional complexity, masterful execution, top-notch musicianship. AND THIS IS LIVE. Indistinguishable from the studio version.
Most so-called musicians today, other than classical, are inaudible and tuneless live without the mighty Auto-Tune: the “holy grail of recording,” that “corrects intonation problems in vocals or solo instruments, in real time, without distortion or artifacts.”