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    Samuel Andreyev

    Trusting in the potential enjoyment and appreciation of new music, even when it's difficult, can lead to discovering exceptional pieces. Being open to new and challenging sounds increases the chances of encountering significant and vital works.

    enFebruary 19, 2017

    About this Episode

    A conversation with Samuel Andreyev: A composer, poet, teacher and performer. His music is performed, broadcast, recorded and written about worldwide, and is known for its expressive intensity, spirit of exploration and enormous range of timbres. Resolutely independent, his compositional process is marked by a rigourous perfectionism, with many projects taking years to reach completion.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Andreev's career shift from pop songs to experimental composition underscores the importance of staying true to artistic vision, despite the challenges of pushing boundaries and exploring new forms of expression.
    • The 1960s saw avant-garde artists influencing popular music, leading to experimental tunes that deviated from conventional structures, captivating the speaker's young mind
    • Teenage composer Samuel Andreev explored avant-garde music, abandoning his pop career for a full-time focus on composition.
    • The 1960s saw a fusion of avant-garde art and music, with bands experimenting with untested forms of expression, like sound collages and poetry, that drew the speaker's attention as a young listener. However, the historical significance of avant-garde art is debated due to its institutionalization and societal tolerance.
    • The avant-garde movement offers artists more freedom to explore and challenge norms, while the pop song format provides a clear structure and tension with its verse-chorus and three-minute length.
    • Music's development follows a similar pattern as child development, with a focus on exploration, comfort, and intensity, transitioning from Renaissance to Baroque and beyond.
    • The evolution of Western classical music saw a shift from linear melodies to emotional intensity, with each era introducing distinct characteristics and overlapping influences.
    • Both science and music experience periods of expansion where theories or forms are tested and periods of consolidation where simplification occurs. Progress may not be obvious in art due to incommensurate paradigms, but there are boundaries to prevent too much chaos or revolutionary transformation.
    • Music enriches experiences, transcends cultures, and serves various roles including science, entertainment, expression, social interaction, and religious devotion.
    • From dance-based rhythms to quiet contemplation, music's role in society has shifted. It's evolved from an intrinsic part of daily life to a more contemplative experience. Today, music's power lies in its ability to evoke emotion, connect people, and reflect cultural trends.
    • Music offers a unique perspective on time, allowing for the exploration of intricate patterns and interactions, and can provide a rewarding challenge for those willing to engage with complex and avant-garde pieces.
    • Trusting in the potential enjoyment and appreciation of new music, even when it's difficult, can lead to discovering exceptional pieces. Being open to new and challenging sounds increases the chances of encountering significant and vital works.
    • New and unconventional music offers individual expression and continuous learning for both creators and listeners, with the potential for lasting impact.
    • The modern period in music marked by personalized compositions, individual careers, and experimentation, leading to groundbreaking innovations despite initial shock and denigration.
    • During the Renaissance, individual genius and the deification of artists emerged, leading to recognizably human forms in art and novel forms in music that continue to captivate listeners due to their depth and semantic overload.
    • Great art, whether music or visual, has complex connections and references, revealing new meanings with each encounter. Historical events like the Industrial Revolution and World Wars influenced the development of modern music.
    • Europe's post-WWII governments funded avant-garde and post-war music as part of the rebuilding process, recognizing its importance for morale and meaning.
    • Creative individuals have a natural inclination towards dreaming, fantasizing, and finding routine unbearable, leading them down unexpected paths and ultimately propelling them into new territories.
    • Explore areas of life that spark fascination, they may lead to profound experiences and new worlds of knowledge.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    A composer's journey from pop songs to experimental music

    Andreev, a Canadian composer now living and working in Strasbourg, started out producing songs as a teenager but found himself drawn to more experimental forms of music. He described the tension between popular song formats and his own artistic interests, leading him to abandon his singer-songwriter career and focus on composition full-time. Andreev differentiated between songs and other forms of composition, explaining that songs are a vernacular format, accessible to everyone, while other branches of composition are primarily written and not necessarily tied to a performance tradition initially. He contrasted the immediate, tactile relationship to an instrument in songwriting versus the written document as the starting point for other forms of composition. The avant-garde elements Andreev sought to incorporate were not easily compatible with the pop song format, leading him to make songs that sounded unlike traditional pop music. Overall, Andreev's career trajectory illustrates the importance of staying true to one's artistic vision and the challenges that come with pushing boundaries and exploring new forms of expression.

    Avant-garde art and music crossover in the 1960s

    The avant-garde movement in art, which originally referred to artists pushing boundaries with untested forms of expression, has evolved significantly over time. During the 1960s, there was a cultural crossover between avant-garde artists and popular music acts, resulting in experimental pieces that deviated from traditional song structures. These unusual elements drew the speaker's attention as a young listener, despite being overlooked by others. The term "avant-garde" can be debated in terms of its historical relevance today, with some arguing that societal tolerance and the sheer volume of artistic expression have desensitized audiences. Nonetheless, the speaker remains intrigued by the avant-garde's historical significance and its impact on popular culture.

    From singer-songwriter to composer: Samuel Andreev's unconventional journey

    Samuel Andreev, a Canadian composer currently residing in Strasbourg, France, had an unconventional start to his music career. He began producing songs as a teenager, but soon grew interested in avant-garde forms of music. The tension between these two interests led him to abandon his career as a singer-songwriter and focus on composition full-time. To understand this transition, it's important to define some terms. A song is a vernacular format, meaning it deals with familiar and accessible materials. In contrast, other forms of composition are primarily written and not necessarily tied to a performance tradition. Samuel's interest in avant-garde forms came from a desire to explore musical expressions that were not easily compatible with the pop song format. Samuel's experience highlights the contrast between the song format and other forms of composition. Songs often start with performing on an instrument, while other compositions begin with a written score. Samuel's fascination with avant-garde forms ultimately led him to abandon the song format and dedicate himself to composition.

    Avant-garde art and music in the 1960s

    The avant-garde movement in art, which originated as a term for soldiers going into battle first, came to represent artists pushing boundaries with untested forms of expression. During the 1960s, there was a cultural crossover between avant-garde and popular music, with bands like The Beatles and The Doors experimenting with sound collages and poetry. These experimental elements, often overlooked at the time, drew the speaker's attention as a young listener. The avant-garde can be defined as artists engaging in new and untested artistic expression, but its historical validity is debated due to its institutionalization and the increased societal tolerance and indifference towards shocking art. The sheer volume of sounds and images we're exposed to today also makes originality more challenging.

    The Avant-Garde and Pop Song Format: Two Different Approaches to Art

    The avant-garde movement in art, including music, emerged in part due to the shifting nature of cultural taboos and norms. The pop song format, on the other hand, is restrictive and unforgiving, with its three-minute length and verse-chorus structure originating from a polarity between tonic and dominant degrees that became prevalent during the 17th century. This polarity creates tension, attention, and a need for resolution, making it a popular and effective strategy in music. The avant-garde, meanwhile, offers artists more freedom to explore and challenge norms, but requires a cultural context with established taboos to push against. The pop song format and avant-garde represent two distinct approaches to art, each with its own strengths and limitations.

    Music's structure mirrors child development

    Music and child development share similarities in their fundamental structures. The area around a mother is a child's home territory due to familiarity and access to immediate resources. Children explore the world driven by curiosity and return to their mother for comfort and stability. This pattern is reminiscent of the hero's journey and the structure of pop songs, which promise a return to a familiar place after an intense experience. The tonal harmonic system in pop music follows this directional, teleological structure, while Renaissance music lacks such clear directionality. The transformation from Renaissance to Baroque music was driven by the need for more dramatic and expressive forms of music during the Baroque period, leading to increasingly intense musical expression throughout the classical and romantic periods. Music's development can be roughly divided into the Renaissance (1400-1600), Baroque (1600-1750), a transitional period, and the classical and romantic periods (second half of the 18th century onwards).

    From linear melodies to emotional intensity

    Western classical music underwent significant transformations from the Renaissance to the 20th century, with each era bringing distinct characteristics. During the Renaissance, music was primarily linear and melodic. The Baroque period, starting in the early 17th century, introduced a stronger harmonic dimension and stylized dance rhythms. The classical period simplified and codified these elements, leading to the symphony, string quartet, and concerto. This period was unique for its overlap of popular and high art, exemplified by Mozart. Romanticism, starting with Beethoven, marked a shift towards individual expression and emotional intensity, leading to the destruction of classical forms from within. These eras are not rigid categories but rather fluid and overlapping, with composers like Beethoven embodying the transition from one to another.

    Oscillation between expansion and consolidation in science and music

    Both in science and music, there are periods of expansion where theories or musical forms are tested and rethought, and periods of consolidation where simplification occurs. This oscillation between these two states is a permanent feature of both fields. Piaget and Kuhn's theories suggest that progress or improvement may not be obvious in art, as paradigms in art may be incommensurate. However, there are boundaries to the movement, and too much chaos or revolutionary transformation could lead to degeneration or the breaking of social contracts between artists and the public.

    Music's Multifaceted Roles and Functions

    Music serves various contradictory and paradoxical roles, fulfilling numerous functions simultaneously. It's a science and entertainment, a form of expression, a means to get people to dance or go on dates, and a tool to enhance religious devotion, among other things. Music's importance lies in its ability to fill in the lacking context, making experiences richer and more real. It's a universal language that transcends cultures and societies, although its role may differ significantly. In traditional societies, music is rarely divorced from its surrounding context, while in more developed societies, it often stands alone. Despite its diverse functions and seemingly incompatible roles, music remains an essential and fascinating phenomenon.

    The Role and Function of Music in Society has Evolved

    Throughout history, as societies and cultures have evolved, so too has the role and function of music. Music has moved from being an intrinsic part of daily life, often tied to dance or religious practices, to a more contemplative experience where large groups gather to listen quietly. This shift can be seen in the evolution of musical styles and genres, from the Baroque period's dance-based rhythms to the more recent concept of concert experiences with no additional material. Additionally, the role of music in society has expanded beyond just entertainment, with conscious efforts to create synesthetic experiences through lighting and visuals. The avant-garde period introduced a disordering function to music, challenging the traditional ordering functions, and continuing to push the boundaries of what music can be. Music's ability to evoke emotion, connect people, and reflect the cultural zeitgeist makes it a powerful and enduring art form.

    Music's complex experience of time

    Music offers a unique experience of time, allowing for the distension, contraction, and simultaneous occurrence of events, much like the complex patterns and interactions in the world around us. Musical time is a complicated concept, and the experience of listening to music can vary greatly depending on individual perception and musical complexity. Some listeners may find impenetrable pieces fascinating, while others may require multiple listens to understand the patterns and repetition. The avant-garde and complex music can be particularly intriguing, offering a challenge and reward for those willing to engage with it. Ultimately, music's ability to model the persistence and transformation across multiple levels of reality makes it a powerful and meaningful art form.

    Embracing the Avant-Garde as a Listener

    Music, particularly new or avant-garde music, can be a deeply rewarding and life-affirming experience, despite initial challenges or suspicions. Trusting in the possibility of enjoyment and appreciation, even when it's difficult at first, is essential. History shows that works of art that fail to communicate something significant or vital to the present tend to fade away. As a listener, you're engaged in the process of selection and discovery for contemporary art, which can be risky but also potentially rewarding. The vast number of active composers today means that only a small percentage are producing work of the highest order. However, with the right context and guidance, one can navigate this space and discover truly exceptional pieces. Embracing the avant-garde as a listener means being open to the possibility of encountering new and challenging sounds, even if the odds of success are low. Ultimately, the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.

    Exploring the value of new and unconventional music

    The value of listening to new and unconventional music, whether as a composer or a listener, lies in the potential for individual expression and the continued ability to teach us new ways of perceiving the world. The competition may be greater in more conventional musical genres, but the reward for carving out a unique space is the possibility of making a lasting impact. For listeners, the enduring appeal of older composers is not just in their greatness, but in their continued ability to challenge and inspire us, much like how impressionist paintings, once shocking, are now an integral part of our visual language. The unfamiliarity of a piece does not necessarily make it avant-garde, and it's important to remember that what may be challenging for some may be familiar to others. Ultimately, the pursuit of new and unconventional music is a journey of discovery, both for creators and audiences alike.

    Exploring the innovative and boundary-pushing nature of modern music

    Great composers own their material in a deeply personal way, inventing forms, languages, and universes, while taking enormous risks. Their work often goes against the norms of their time, leading to shock and denigration, but eventually, they are recognized as pioneers. The transformations in music throughout history have accelerated since the Industrial Revolution, with the funding of more orchestras, full-time musicians, and increased leisure time. In the post-romantic period, structures began to break up, leading to highly personalized compositions, and composers started to have individual careers, with Beethoven being a prime example. The modern period saw further experimentation and a move away from traditional forms. The speaker's attraction to this period lies in its innovative and boundary-pushing nature.

    The Renaissance and the Emergence of Individual Genius in Art and Music

    The concept of individual genius and the deification of artists emerged during the Renaissance, coinciding with the shift from abstract, formulaic representations of deities to recognizably human forms. This transformation was facilitated by wealth and the rise of identifiable individuals. In music, the proliferation of novel forms in the 20th century led to a filtered view of history, where only truly innovative and surprising compositions continue to captivate listeners, as their contributions have not been fully incorporated into the musical lexicon. Ultimately, great music possesses a depth and semantic overload that defies exhaustion, suggesting that it contains elements beyond what the composer intentionally put into it.

    The depth of great art is inexhaustible and full of intricate connections.

    Great art, whether it's music or visual, possesses an inexhaustible depth that keeps revealing new meanings with each encounter. This depth comes from the intricate connections and references within the art, creating a complex web that cannot be fully explored. This notion was exemplified by a visual representation of the Bible, which showed the number of cross-references between chapters and the intricate links between them. Similarly, great music is like an iridescent object, revealing different aspects depending on the listener's perspective and mood. The 20th century saw a sudden acceleration in music, driven by the Industrial Revolution and the aftermath of the World Wars, leading composers to create entirely new musical worlds as they sought to rebuild society. The historical significance of these events cannot be underestimated in shaping the development of modern music.

    Europe's investment in arts post-WWII

    The post-World War II period was a pivotal time for the arts, particularly music, in Europe. Governments recognized the importance of investing in advanced and striking artistic expression as part of the rebuilding process. This led to significant funding for the avant-garde and post-war musical expression, despite the challenges faced by artists. The spiritual function of art was essential for restoring morale and providing meaning, even in the most difficult circumstances. Music's meaning is self-evident and cannot be argued against, making it a powerful and universally understood form of expression.

    Creativity is a fundamental instinct for open individuals

    Creativity is not a choice but a fundamental instinct that drives individuals, particularly those high in openness. It's an unrelenting force that manifests itself in their increased proclivity to dream, fantasize, and find routine unbearable. Creativity can be demanding and effortful, but it's a choice to either cooperate with it or get crushed by it. The alternative to pursuing creativity is often unbearable for creative individuals. This instinct can lead them down unexpected paths, such as being attracted to unfamiliar or incomprehensible art forms, which can ultimately propel them into new and uncharted territories. It's important to recognize that creativity is not arbitrary, but a natural manifestation that requires effort and expertise to fully realize.

    Fascination with the unexplored

    There are deeply meaningful experiences in life that speak to us on a profound level, often without a clear explanation as to why. These experiences can be invitations to new worlds of knowledge and understanding, and they can have a significant impact on our lives. For the speaker, this meant an instinctive fascination with the composers of the second Viennese school during his teenage years. Although his music is different from theirs, the discovery of this world opened up a vast landscape of exotic knowledge and experience. This concept can serve as a reminder that there may be areas of life that hold great meaning, even if they are not immediately apparent or easily understood. For those seeking greater meaning in their lives, it's essential to pay attention to the flickers of fascination and explore the possibilities they present. If you're interested in the speaker's work, you can support him through his Patreon account or visit his YouTube channel for helpful guides through the complex musical landscape.

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    Jordan Peterson sits down with author, speaker, and Bishop of the Dioceses of Winona-Rochester, Robert Barron. They discuss the use of new technologies to interpret and explore religion, the fallacy of self-deification, the spiritual blocks to the flow of grace, and how to stop servicing power and become an orchestrator of peace and love.

     

    Bishop Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author and has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He was a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and EWTN. Bishop Barron’s website, WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year, and he is one of the world’s most followed Catholics on social media. His YouTube videos have been viewed over 131 million times, and he has over 3 million followers on Facebook.

     

    - Links -

     

    For Bishop Robert Barron:

     

    On X https://twitter.com/BishopBarron

     

    On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BishopRobertBarron/

     

    Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bishopbarron/?hl=en

     

    Word on Fire (Website) https://www.wordonfire.org/