Talk:Modernism (music)

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Small EditEdit

I made charles ives's name a link. May 15, 2006 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Thanks for being bold. Hyacinth 22:14, 7 August 2006 (UTC)


I think that something should be said of the more traditional theory of Modernism being started with Tristan und Isolde. Even if one doesn't necessarily agree with this it still needs to be put out there. Also something more should be said of Stravinsky. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gingermint (talkcontribs) 21:50, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Modernism templateEdit

I've added a template feel free to add new articles to it. Stirling Newberry 00:32, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)


The article was presenting a few askew views:

  • One could think that "Ursonate: Rondo" was a poem by a later artist, who was influenced by Schwitters. -- I think a reference to "Ursonate" is more helpful, without going into detailed parts of it. And of course it must be unambiguously stated, that it is a work of Schwitters.
  • Article said that "Ursonate: Rondo" was based on a single word: "fmsbwtözäu" -- Well, firstly Schwitters writes it "Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu" which is not a single word, and secondly he also draws from Hausmann's "pggiv" from the same poem and "qjyE" from another poem.

Hausmann's so-called "poster-poem" which influenced "Ursonate" could be found here (with more background here) at the time of this writing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BjKa (talkcontribs) 02:48, 27 June 2006

Please Please sign your posts on talk pages per Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks!.
Just because Schwitters used many words does not mean tha the did not develop or derive them from one. Your second argument contradicts Albright (2004), if I remember correctly, and some other source if I don't. Hyacinth 22:12, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Reads like a Sixth-Form essay?Edit

This article reads a bit like a sixth-form (high school?) essay to me, I'm afraid. Needs a serious rewrite. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SecretTheatre (talkcontribs) 03:30, 15 June 2007

How so? What about it needs to be rewritten? Hyacinth (talk) 11:57, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Everything. This is almost illiterate. Gingermint (talk) 21:43, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

I would hope for better advice from someone in a high-school English class. Hyacinth (talk) 01:02, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Okay, that's overstating it. (The article has put me in a bad mood). But still, it does need to be overhauled. I do appreciate the attempt to give several points of view with quotes from several musicologists but it isn't enough. Gingermint (talk) 21:53, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Tell us specific things wrong with the page or move on. Hyacinth (talk) 01:01, 12 December 2009 (UTC)


I started at the beginning, to edit some of the more obvious problems. After a paragraph I gave up. This article is so poorly written yet so pretentious... Well, I can't even finish that sentence. I will try again at a brief edit, if for no other reason than to eliminate a few of the glaringly incorrect "facts." Really, just reading the beginning of this article put me in a seriously bad mood. Now, if it was a child who wrote it, I certainly apologize for being so grumpy, because this is a rather nice job for a kid. Gingermint (talk) 21:42, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Facts neededEdit

Why are all the citations needed needed? Hyacinth (talk) 12:01, 12 January 2008 (UTC)


This article is pretty crap in general, but the history section was especially wtf. I took a stab at starting a writeup -- refs are needed, since I was going mostly off memory of Taruskin's Oxford History but my lovely box set is 3000 miles away :(, more detail is wanted and my prose probably needs some editing -- and took the liberty of deleting the old first paragraph with 01/10 relevance tag. Temevorn 19:47, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Why?/How so? How should it be improved? Hyacinth (talk) 02:42, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
This discussion has now gone rather stale, but the article has not improved much in the past year. The main problem as I see it is the repeated attempts to make simple what is in fact a very complex subject. Identifying philosophical stances in musical artifacts is difficult enough, but when there is disagreement on what exactly those stances are, the exercise becomes virtually impossible. Temevorn was absolutely correct about the lack of references but, even worse, now references have been offered that wholly fail to support the claims being made.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:42, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
If it is absolutely correct that there are not references, are they needed? Where? How? Why? Hyacinth (talk) 02:34, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Let me clarify: When Temevorn complained of this a year ago, references were indeed lacking, Since then, a number of references have been added (and challenged, unreferenced material has been deleted). The net result is that there are now plenty of references, but unfortunately a number of them do not support the claims to which they are attached. These are all in the section "Examples of modernism in music", and have all been tagged. The one remaining flaky section is the lede, which attributes a number of traits to modernist music that are never mentioned in the body of the text. I think with the deletion of these, the refimprove banner can be removed, as well. Clearly, this article was written "off the top of the head" by somebody who really didn't know what they were talking about. Work is progressing now. Thanks once again, Hyacinth, for calling attention to a problematic article that is long overdue for improvement.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 02:55, 29 February 2012 (UTC)


looks like someone has cut and paste a bib section from a paper or some other ref list, all in all a weird list of musicologists with really incompatible views, with nothing in the actual article that would demonstrate their need of being there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:55, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

many of the quotes are misleading or are irrelevant to the author's main known position on the topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vive1936 (talkcontribs) 03:40, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

proposed additionsEdit

-list of major theorists of modernism and their direct critics Major thinkers who have interpreted the importance and influence of modernism in music include: theodore adorno, walter benjamin, lawrence kramer and richard taruskin. etc..

-the history of modernism is the history of criticism of theories of modernism (lol) The term has encountered so much controversy through the last century that to understand it requires the knowledge of an entire history of musicological practices and attempts to theorize modernism (new musicology, new formalism, etc). Many attempts have been made to interpret music categorized by these thinkers as modernist in discourses wholly independent of that title. (these should be noted and linked)

-propose article name change to modernism (musicology)?

cut from dahlhaus quote (needs further context)

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Vive1936 (talkcontribs) 03:40, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Modernism vs Late RomanticismEdit

(removed from article) this is a critique of a position that has not even been presented on the article — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:49, 28 August 2012

"The label "late romanticism" a terminological blunder of the first order and ought to be abandoned forthwith. It is absurd to yoke Strauss, Mahler, and the young Schoenberg, composers who represent modernism in the minds of their turn-of-the-century contemporaries, with the self-proclaimed anti-modernist Pfitzner, calling them all "late romantics" in order to supply a veneer of internal unity to an age fraught with stylistic contradictions and conflicts." (Dahlhaus 1989, 334) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vive1936 (talkcontribs) 03:40, 28 August 2012 (UTC)


i deleted this because it is misleading

"creating new understandings of harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music: modernism in music. The operative word most associated with it is "innovation" (Metzer 2009, 3). Its leading feature is a "linguistic plurality", which is to say that no one musical language ever assumed a dominant position (Morgan 1984, 443)."

when you say that modernism brings about new "understandings" you do not differentiate between music theory of the time, contemporary theory of music at the time, or what. it is very difficult to say that modernism (or composers that would call themselves modernist) would deny then-authoritative knowledge beethoven's use of dominant and tonic harmony. Metzer likely uses this in his book as shorthand in his introduction and we all know what he is talking about. the use the quote here is inappropriate, as this is an encyclopedia.

"linguistic plurality" <-

"no one music genre\musical language ever assumed a dominant position" <- right so tell me why atonal theory is canonized as the music and theory best representing that period when very few of the composers of that time wrote in atonal idioms percentage-wise?

(Vive1936 (talk) 04:29, 30 August 2012 (UTC))

Who is saying someone is denying knowledge about Beethoven?
Why is use of Metzer's quote inappropriate?
The quote regarding "linguistic plurality" is clarified immediately following.
I don't think two can be a jumble, even if they weren't organized and pertinent.
Hyacinth (talk) 07:20, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
Understandings implies an accepted discourse. what was accepted? when? by whom?
"the operative word" is an unnecessary figure of speech, "innovation" is a simplistic and naive way to try and impose unity in a period label.
metzer can do that in the introduction to his book, it seems out of place here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:36, 30 August 2012‎
Actually, I asked Vive1936. Hyacinth (talk) 03:48, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Removed: UncitedEdit

  • Modernism as a term has become more and more disputed and multifaceted due to the challenges laid against the claims of its proponents and constant reinterpretation by contemporary scholarship. Modernism as a term has seen both use as a description of stylistic practices pioneered by composers and theorists, as well as a broad array of philosophical developments, in a classification of thought and practice now often regarded as having been defined and imposed upon the period by latter scholars in the late 20th century.{{Cn|date=September 2012}}
  • The notion of modernism as a descriptions of styles and practices divergent from conventions in earlier periods of music has seen prolonged use, as a narrativizing model of continuity in the development of western music, linking composers and theorists in a long chain of inheritance all the way back to renaissance and antiquity.{{Cn|date=September 2012}} This narrative, rooted in early 20th century scholarship, was commonly used in pedagogical practice, textbooks, (Grout & Burkholder{{citation needed|date=August 2012}}) and saw widespread use in marketing and publishing the work of artists and writers of that period (Schoenberg, Babbitt, Stockhausen{{citation needed|date=August 2012}}) while being documented as a social and intellectual discourse, in and of itself by latter theorists of modernism in music.{{Vague|date=September 2012}}<!--What is this trying to say? It sounds like it was written by a government bureaucrat.-->

I removed the above as uncited. Hyacinth (talk) 00:58, 23 October 2012 (UTC)


I removed said section. If you put it back, please, please, PLEASE first rework it into something actually worth putting back. In its current form, it would probably be a good idea to replace with a series of raunchy jokes- it'd make as much sense, be as much informative, and be a lot more fun. I know I'm beating a dead horse here. I'm sorry. But this section needs a complete rebuild, not a few quick edits. (talk) 14:55, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

No dead horse here. It is about time somebody removed the last remnants of random anecdotes. The needed rebuild is a daunting task, however, which is why I have not undertaken it myself. One fundamental problem is that the article in its entirety is almost non-existent. Before the reception of musical modernism can be addressed, it will be necessary to establish just what it is that is being received. The "Time period" section points directly at this problem. On the one hand it offers a definition of an historical period between 1890 and 1930, but on the other makes clear that many scholars disagree with such periodizing efforts and instead regard it as an attitude that may be found in any time period. Just yesterday nd anonymous editor removed a composer's name from the List of modernist composers, and I restored it because it was documented with a reliable source. I can understand the editor's astonishment. No doubt he believed it was either vandalism or some sort of mistake, but indeed the source goes to some length to show that Johann Sebastian Bach was a composer with a modernist outlook.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:50, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

After 1930?Edit

This article makes it seem as though Modernism in music ceased to exist after 1930, yet I've seen the term applied to many works from the 1940s through 1960s including modern jazz and the Mod subculture. I've attached some online books which may be useful to this article; those which I've found mention of such "Modernist" works.

  • Brown, Timothy Scott; Lison, Andrew (2014). The Global Sixties in Sound and Vision: Media, Counterculture, Revolt. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-37523-0.
  • Enns, Anthony; Trower, Shelley (2013). Vibratory Modernism. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-02725-2.
  • Hewitt, Paolo (2011). The Soul Stylists: Six Decades of Modernism - From Mods to Casuals. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78057-023-5.
  • Molon, Dominic (2007). Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967. Museum of Contemporary Art ; New Haven. ISBN 978-0-300-13426-1.
  • Pells, Richard (2011). Modernist America. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-17173-0.
  • Priore, Domenic (2005). Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece. London: Sanctuary. ISBN 1860746276.
  • Scott, William Ramsey (2007). Dressing Down: Modernism, Masculinity, and the Men's Leisurewear Industry in California, 1930--1960. ProQuest. ISBN 978-0-549-52940-8.
  • Storey, John (2006). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-2849-2.

--Ilovetopaint (talk) 15:55, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

I have noted your comment, and am working on this aspect. The central issue is in the way modernism may be defined, and there have been many different definitions. So far as music is concerned, one of the most frequent methods is not to define it at all, but simply to assert that a particular span of time is an age called "modernism" (or "modernity", or "the modern age", etc.), or that a list of certain musicians are modernists. This is of course not very satisfactory, especially when different writers give conflicting lists. A second, only slightly better method is to offer a list of traits or attributes supposedly characteristic of modernism. This same technique has been severely criticized in the case of Romanticism, both because it is vague and because the list tends to grow and grow until it encompasses just about anything at all. As an example of this problem, our current article includes near the beginning the (referenced) statement "Its leading feature is a 'linguistic plurality'," which may be perfectly true, but this plurality is at the same time a feature often cited to distinguish postmodernism from modernism. Periodization is a separate and even more problematic issue. Carl Dahlhaus is one of the most careful thinkers on this subject, and his definition is also the most limited: he calls the period from approximately 1890 to 1910 "the period of modernism", after which comes "our modern age". It is almost certainly impossible to do what ought to be done, which is to establish a repertory of musical devices that are unambiguously tied to the aesthetic position defined by philosophers and philosophers of history as "modernism". One reason for this impossibility is that practically any musical device is liable to be used in many different ways, so that its presence is not a reliable indicator of a composer's belief structure. All that we really can do here on Wikipedia is to report on what "reliable sources" have to say on the subject, and here we may find ourselves in a morass, especially because of the broad latitude of the Wikipedia definition of what constitutes a reliable source.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:13, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Besides running a little sparse, the article right now is good for what it is. The only lingering question (the one which brought me here in the first place) is what exactly record producer-types mean when they talk about "modern" records (re: Brian Wilson: " 'Good Vibrations' was a very modern record ... we wanted to do something that was R&B but had a taste of modern, avant-garde R&B to it. ... There was a lot of 'oh you can't do this, that's too modern'"). Then there are some people who regard artists in the state of California during the mid-20th century to have propagated a new type of cultural "modernism", a time when radio stations from the area dedicated themselves to "modern" music (the new rock and roll).
I'm aware there's a chance they have no idea what they're talking about but I just wasn't to make completely sure that it wasn't hyperbolic beatnik slang.--Ilovetopaint (talk) 15:29, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
That's a great example of what I was talking about. The definitions shift about according to context and just who is talking. Speaking as one who was there at the time, and already old enough to be aware of such things, "modern" was a word with only positive connotations in the early 1960s, and "modernism" was still an exciting idea. The opposite term was "old hat", and referred to the vast expanse of history going back from about 1958 to very origins of music in 1924 or 1925 (the exact date is a subject of some disagreement). In this context, promoters and record producers were keen to portray their artists as being totally up to date. To a large extent this is still true today, only the notions of "modernity" and "modernism" have acquired a less salubrious resonance, as a result of a now long history or ecological and socio-political disasters to which those words have become (at least tenuously) attached. Perhaps "hyperbolic beatnik slang" is going a little too far, but is a lot closer to the truth than "the view held by scholars in the field". It might be useful to add a section to this article on the rhetorical and hyperbolic uses of the term, but I think these need to be firmly differentiated from the ways the word is used in serious historical discourse.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:21, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

This article doesn't speak much about musical modernism before or after modernism? The Baroque music article doesn't talk much about Baroque music before 1600 or after 1750 either. Hyacinth (talk) 16:25, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

There is a huge difference between the way the terms "Baroque" and "modernism" are applied to music. As a periodization term, Baroque has fairly well-agreed limits, but "modernism" has not. Dahlhaus was very cautious about using the word for this purpose, but finally conceded there was no better option, and attempted a definition that set the boundaries between about 1880 and 1930. As Ilovetopaint points out, not every writer follows Dahlhaus on this point. As a style label, too, "Baroque" is well identified, whereas "modernism" is nothing of the sort. In fact, the period delimited by Dahlhaus is remarkable for the diversity of musical styles that evolved within it: post-Romaniticism, impressionism, expressionism, free atonality, neoclassicism, jazz-centered music, and various nationalist styles are found cheek by jowel. On the other hand, as a philosophical/aesthetic stance, "modernism" is fairly well established, and has little to do with date limitations (though of course it depends on a general consciousness of living in a time that is no longer as things "have always been"). "Baroque" on the other hand is not really such a thing at all. Naturally, an aesthetic posture is much more difficult to identify from the sound of a piece of music or the appearance of a score, but it is some measure of the desperation historians display when confronted with music after about 1850 that they must invoke such a nebulous thing, whereas they would scarcely ever attempt to categorize the music of 18th-century Europe under the heading of "Enlightenment music", much less to attempt analysis of music for six centuries preceding to detect what is essentially "scholasticist" about it. Ilovetopaint has made a good point here although, in my opinion, this line of inquiry is bound to lead eventually to the realization that at least 90% of the "experts" pontificating on the subject do not actually have the faintest idea what they are talking about—or to put it more politely, they do not agree among themselves on the criteria they are using to define the subject. To make matters even worse, in popular journalism this word (along with others, like "postmodernism" and "tonality") are Humpty-Dumpty terms, used to mean whatever the speaker intends them to mean, which i usually "I like this" or "I don't like this". Unfortunately, the Wikipedia practice on reliable sources is liable to result in the acceptance of just about anything in print, since only a few editors are actually equipped to discriminate between sound thinking on such a subject, and mere expression of irrational opinion by anyone confronting works of art.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:55, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Mystifying remark about progressive rockEdit

The article ends with a remark that sounds interesting, but remains cryptic to me even after reading the cited reference: "Goodwin posits that progressive rock should be considered 'anathema' to postmodernism". Can anybody clarify this notion? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:55, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Return to "Modernism (music)" page.