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Reflections of an American Composer$
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Arthur Berger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232518

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232518.001.0001

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Postmodern Music

Postmodern Music

(p.99) 8 Postmodern Music
Reflections of an American Composer

Arthur Berger

University of California Press

This chapter examines the existence of postmodernism in music and how it is assimilated. The attraction of a label for any movement in the arts is the function it serves to encapsulate its reason for being. Where postmodern music is concerned, just what was subsumed under the rubric was not altogether clear to many at first and may not be clear even now. For some time listeners had regarded serialism as a “modern” tendency, in the sense of being advanced, problematic, and of today or indeed, of tomorrow. The music once called “modern” is now regarded as “academic” but the fragmentation and rhythmic asymmetries, the absence of catchy tunes and tone centers, the relative novelty of this putative “academic” music offered none of the comforting familiarity of the earlier academics, the Romanticists composers like Daniel Gregory Mason or Howard Hanson. An important aspect of postmodern aesthetics has been the goal of creating art that has accessibility which is still the rallying cry in general today. It is a goal so obsessively pursued that one would think it were a substantive aesthetic virtue. Another important concern of postmodernists in all the arts is not to have their return to nineteenth-century Romanticism or their tendency to arrogate to themselves the finished works of others confused with neoclassicism. They do not at all approve of the tension that arises in neoclassicism.

Keywords:   postmodern music, aesthetic, composers, critics, academic music, Daniel Gregory Mason, Howard Hanson

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