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Webern and Little House  
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epistrophy
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Post 2020-06-27 22:42   [Quote] 
I've just listened to Webern's Opus 12 for the first time and I was struck with a melody played on the piano at the beginning of the second part - it immediately reminded me of the descending melody right at the beginning of the piano introduction for Little House I Used To Live In (BWS).

I thought I'd raise it here as I'm sure there are a whole lotsa people with better ears than I have who can tell me if this is just coincidence, or if I'm hearing things.
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oofers
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Post 2020-06-28 02:07   [Quote] 
epistrophy wrote:
I've just listened to Webern's Opus 12 for the first time and I was struck with a melody played on the piano at the beginning of the second part - it immediately reminded me of the descending melody right at the beginning of the piano introduction for Little House I Used To Live In (BWS).

I thought I'd raise it here as I'm sure there are a whole lotsa people with better ears than I have who can tell me if this is just coincidence, or if I'm hearing things.


I'll let others here who are more versed in what inspired FZ to say if it's a coincidence or not -- but both contain chromatically descending augmented triads. In fact, in the second measure of both pieces in question, it's even the same augmented triad (Gb+) that starts the pattern (at least in one clef of each piece).

So... great ears you have!

But I will not hazard a guess on if it's intentional or just general influence.
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Post 2020-06-29 22:53   [Quote] 
maybe FZ heard it in his teens and subconsciously put it in Little house

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Post 2020-06-30 03:26   [Quote] 
There's only a little overlap in that piece, a very short phrase. If you listen to a lot of this style of music it starts to get a bit hackneyed after a while. There's only so much you can express from the spectrum of human emotion and experience, while trying to totally avoid tonality.

If someone was to copyright moderate heat and start the ball rolling on the copyrighting of various temperature experiences, you'd end up having to set yourself on fire to be original and that would get old pretty quick.

Like in literature, you don't have to be an iconoclast to write good stories. If you invented your own language for the sake of originality, no-one would understand you.

For me, music is about expressing how I feel about being alive. Using lyrics can make that pretty obvious and I like writing them but there's something special about expressing yourself just with music. That doesn't require your palette to be made up totally of unfamiliar sounds, in fact, if you want to be understood and appreciated, almost the opposite is the case.

Stravinsky: Good composers borrow, great composers steal.

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yetanother
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Post 2020-06-30 19:40   [Quote] 
epistrophy wrote:
I thought I'd raise it here as I'm sure there are a whole lotsa people with better ears than I have who can tell me if this is just coincidence, or if I'm hearing things.

No need to rely on ears, the score has been public domain for a few years: http://imslp.eu/files/imglnks/euimg/0/05/IMSLP28268-PMLP62112-Webern_-_4_Lieder,_Op._12.pdf

Yes, you could say in both pieces there is a sequence of chromatically descending augmented triads (although that would be grossly inaccurate in the case of the Webern, because it ignores what the pianist's right hand is playing). So is there in the long, long intro to Liszt's Faust Symphony, several decades before the Webern. The similarity ends there. These things are like blues licks, you could pick one classic solo by any great bluesman and start hearing "quotations" from it every time someone plays a pentatonic scale.

Also, as we all know, when Zappa wanted to quote something, he made it abundantly clear through pitches, rhythms, and even orchestration - i.e., he actually quoted it, rather than, say, scattering pitches around, changing contours, or distorting durations to make it deliberately less recognizable (in which case I wouldn't even characterize it as a quotation - more like a paraphrase or a literary borrowing).

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drdork
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Post 2020-06-30 20:27   [Quote] 
yetanother wrote:
Also, as we all know, when Zappa wanted to quote something, he made it abundantly clear through pitches, rhythms, and even orchestration - i.e., he actually quoted it, rather than, say, scattering pitches around, changing contours, or distorting durations to make it deliberately less recognizable (in which case I wouldn't even characterize it as a quotation - more like a paraphrase or a literary borrowing).

Well, he did that too. Off the top of my head, I can think of two undeniable examples (both Hawaiian, as it happens):

1. Hawaiian War Chant in Cruising For Burgers (1976, 1988 arrangements) is rhythmically altered, I think. FZ admitted, "It's called the 'Hawaiian War Chant', and I don't know who wrote that."

2. Hawaiian Punch commercial ("the one and only taste that really goes Hawaiian") in Strictly Genteel, Drowning Witch, and Dumb All Over is altered both melodically and rhythmically. But we can assume the reference is intentional because of the lyrics "As a result of people with Hawaiian shirts on" and "'cause he can really go Hawaiian".
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epistrophy
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Post 2020-06-30 22:28   [Quote] 
Thanks guys, Iím grateful for your thoughts. My music reading skills leave a lot to be desired so it was my ears I was reliant upon which is why I raised it here.

Over the years it has often struck me how the opening melody of Pound For A Brown reminds me of the opening bassoon from the Rite Of Spring. Iíve never seen anyone mention it anywhere, but I took a closer look last week and really feel that the Pound opening melody follows the Ďcontourí of the Riteís opening.

So itís not a direct quote or a lift, but almost like a subtle variation. As far as we know it was written during FZís 3rd year of composing, so I think itís an important piece to look at as itís the earliest composition we have access to albeit from later recordings.

I guess the revelation that Uncle Meat seems to have been inspired by Stravinskyís Three Japanese Lyrics has made me wonder if he used this approach for other early pieces, such as Little House and Pound.

Does anyone know of any analysis thatís been done on Pound For A Brown?
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Post 2020-06-30 22:48   [Quote] 
drdork wrote:
Well, he did that too.

Not to the point of unrecognizability, I don't think so. For FZ, a quote is a quote. Nine times out of ten, rendering it unrecognizable would defeat the purpose.

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yetanother
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Post 2020-06-30 23:03   [Quote] 
epistrophy wrote:
Over the years it has often struck me how the opening melody of Pound For A Brown reminds me of the opening bassoon from the Rite Of Spring. Iíve never seen anyone mention it anywhere, but I took a closer look last week and really feel that the Pound opening melody follows the Ďcontourí of the Riteís opening.

For me it's just another variant of the "blues lick" phenomenon. You could argue they're different transpositions of the same mode, and that both omit the same degree of the scale, but personally I think it's a very loose case.

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epistrophy
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Post 2020-07-01 07:20   [Quote] 
Thanks yetanother. I really appreciate your learned opinion.
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polydigm
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Post 2020-07-01 13:15   [Quote] 
I remember having this discussion with someone who disagreed that the closing line of the first "melodic" section of Toads of The Short forest sounded like a phrase from Favourite Things as performed by John Coltrane. It may not sound like it to him, but it did to me and so a lot of that is subjective. The notes do follow a similar melodic pattern, which is not subjective, but, does that mean I think FZ was ripping off that melody? Not at all. It ends that section well and I like the way it drops into the stage madness that follows. It performs very different functions in those two pieces.

I can't recall the source, but I remember FZ at one point saying he was going to stop listening to other music so he could work on being more original. At another point he talked about purging himself of the blues. I think he was probably a bit too hard on himself. His attempts at avoiding the blues in his later solos led to rambling implosions often enough.

Music has had a long history. Originality is more about style than it is content.

Creating and/or appreciating music involves the development of one's ear. It's good that you're hearing these similarities. The more you delve into it the more similarities you'll hear and that should not spoil your enjoyment of music. It just means that you're learning the language.

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