“(Gimme Some of That) Ol’ Atonal Music”

By Thomas V. Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 20, 2019

I’ve been playing piano with a country band off and on for the past year and a half, so I enjoyed this spoof in which the country singer “Merle Hazard” remembers the good ol’ days of his father, an atonal composer. A great, pointed send-up of the movement which, by the end of the first half of the 20th century, had destroyed classical music.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist, composer, and occasional amateur comedian living in New York City. He produces and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Thomas V. Mirus - Mar. 04, 2019 5:33 PM ET USA

    jorchard1934: There is plenty to be said about it. From the artist's standpoint, there was a period in which atonal serialism dominated schools of composition and anything else was considered passe. Tonality is no longer considered outdated, but as far as I can tell classical composers have not recovered to the point of writing real melodies (we get lots of interesting but ultimately sterile textures with minimalist harmony). And as I learned more recently, even outside the academy, the promoters of serialism like Boulez did their best to kill the careers of those composing beautiful tonal music - people like Durufle. I highly recommend this essay by Roger Scruton on serialism: https://www.futuresymphony.org/the-music-of-the-future/

  • Posted by: jorchard1934 - Mar. 01, 2019 1:07 PM ET USA

    Very much enjoyed the video, and shared it with multiple people. I think you might explain, "destroyed classical music". Is that why no one seems to know what it is anymore? Thanks.

  • Posted by: Philopus - Feb. 21, 2019 6:18 PM ET USA

    Sweet, a tonal spoof of the atonal, and all in the context of family values! My perception is that concert audiences continue to demand the classics while tolerating the atonal offerings that typically get mixed in (to allow the “educated” to assert their sophistication?). I would say that they didn’t “destroy” classical music, rather they just abandoned it, perfectly reflecting the abandonment of historical culture that Modernism embraces.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Feb. 20, 2019 10:11 PM ET USA

    Gotta like that. Funny!