The Musical Equivalent of Impressionism

So I got into this (legitimately thought-provoking, addictive) conversation last week with a gentleman who worked for decades as a theoretical physicist/mathmetician. (No idea what a professional theoretical physicist [i]does[/i] all day, but his topics were fodder for intellect, so I indulged myself). We started off talking math and chemistry, which for him was probably a lot like discussing the tropics with an Eskimo, and made the logical progression to philosophy, which for him was probably a lot like discussing Neptune with an Eskimo. But one thing he said, in particular, that I've been ruminating for a good week now, is that all of mankind's intellectual undertakings appear to be converging on one, central point -- one source of all our cosmic laws; religion, science and art all seem to be gradually revealing the same cosmic ";truths.";

As an example, he mentioned the similarity between the quest of the arts and the sciences, which seem to have gained intellectual ground almost in tandem. In particular, he cited that at almost precisely the time that Einsten formed his Special Theory of Relativity, leading artists of his day were developing what we now call ";impressionism,"; which is really a series of dots that silhouette an object, versus drawing it directly. This technique sort of forms the antithesis of a piece, without ever stating the piece, but more importantly, gave view to objects from a brand new perspective, in much the same way that Einstein's theory did.

Naturally, I considered (what admittedly little I know of) the advances that the musical communtiy has made over the centuries -- advanced concepts in composition, advanced concepts in tonality, advanced metric concepts, modulations, etc. -- and I began to wonder, like most musicians do, I'm sure, what concepts have [i]yet to be[/i] discovered. Specifically, is there a way to mimic impressionism, using only musical notes? More specifically, is there a way to convey a [i]rhythm[/i], without ever actually stating the rhythm itself? Viz., tonal and rhythmic impressionism.

In short, is there a way to state all of the space [i]around[/i] a rhythm, without drectly revealing the rhythm?
I'm closing this topic. Perhaps something can be gained by some of the info shared along the way in previous posts.
[quote author=J Mattson link=topic=2800.msg14862#msg14862 date=1226103275]
UCSD is where the REAL new music is.  Tonality and rhythm are child's play.  Last week a grad student made gurgling sounds through a garden hose with a funnel on the end, dressed as batman, while ";Moon River"; played over a PA system.  The title was ";A Hero's Dilemma.";  Another grad performance was called ";Cowboy"; where a guy blindfolded with a noose around his neck smashed his fists on the piano while screaming ";I'm going to f-ing kill you!"; over and over.  Pure genius. 
[/quote]

For what it's worth...

I've always felt a deep, personal affinity for outside-the-box sorts of people, and I really think it originates in basic human curiousness and a fascination with possibility, versus a manufactured, look-at-how-humble-I-am sort of motive. Inasmuch, I have more than just sympathy for those who try to respectfully push boundaries, with rare (but measured) regard for what boundaries those may be, I have authentic admiration. As a child, I can remember befriending schizophrenics and stray dogs. Nowadays, I'm just getting over fierce loyalty to the notion of electing Ron Paul for President. I got up at 3 AM on school nights as an adolescent to watch drum corps videos, but I've never seen a solitary episode of Jerry Springer or Oprah.

Importantly, (and speaking of YouTube), I practice ordinary-ality in personal and professional presentation, as evidenced by my little YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/RCRhythm

I've never been an ultra-devoted drumset player, so bear with my occasionally mediocre pocket, but the point is that, while I masquerade as a soldier, drummer and sincere Jeopardy enthusiast, I wet the bed until I was 14, am still scared of the dark and sometimes dine at the local soup kitchen, though I have more than enough money to eat my own food. I say bravo to both weird people and people [i]trying[/i] to be weird.

Long live immigrants, bedwetters, premature ejaculators, obese pole vaulters, homeschooled teenagers with moderate acne and apologetically hand-me-down clothes, anyone who's weird without being a tyrant, Greenland and all failed attempts at progress!
For those who may be interested...

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_7loz-HWUM
Nocturnes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3ch1GfmLkw
Daphnes and Chloe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BotBJVg0ECM
La Valse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WywLtnY7_ME
One of Debussy's ";Trois"; Images: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlVcbP1tevI
Some Very Small People Breakdancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz1dn5OqZho

Good call Jim.  I have almost every piece that Debussey composed in my classical collection - including all of his music for piano. 
And don't forget Debussey's [i][b]Trois Images[/b][/i], especially the 2nd movement - [i]Iberia[/i].  This was one of the first pieces I heard from the Impressionistic period.  I enjoy listening to his subtle uses of percussion as well as the rhythmic momentum of the movement.
[quote author=J Mattson link=topic=2800.msg14862#msg14862 date=1226103275]
Last week a grad student made gurgling sounds through a garden hose with a funnel on the end, dressed as batman, while ";Moon River"; played over a PA system.  The title was ";A Hero's Dilemma.";  
[/quote]

They stole my idea. Again.
Some ";must haves"; that would give you a good primer of these composers:

DEBUSSY:
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Nocturnes
All the Piano Preludes

RAVEL:
Daphnes and Chloe (one of my all time favorites)
Le Tambeau de Couperin (sp?)
La Valse

Just these pieces alone should give you a wealth of really juicy music. I'd recommend you either purchase CDs with performance notes, or maybe find some background on the pieces on the internet so you can have a sense of the sonic picture being created. With that in mind, the music can paint a pretty vivid picture if you allow for your imagination to work with it.
[quote author=Jim Casella link=topic=2800.msg14861#msg14861 date=1226101836]
Impressionist music is most often associated with Debussy and Ravel ...[/quote]

Which pieces, in particular? (All I know of those two guys is La Mer and Bolero, respectively, and that's through drum corps). And what would one be listening for? How is the ";impressionism"; expressed?

This is all that Wikipedia offers on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionist_music
UCSD is where the REAL new music is.  Tonality and rhythm are child's play.  Last week a grad student made gurgling sounds through a garden hose with a funnel on the end, dressed as batman, while ";Moon River"; played over a PA system.  The title was ";A Hero's Dilemma.";  Another grad performance was called ";Cowboy"; where a guy blindfolded with a noose around his neck smashed his fists on the piano while screaming ";I'm going to f-ing kill you!"; over and over.  Pure genius. 
Impressionist music is most often associated with Debussy and Ravel - a period which was directly influenced by the impressionist art you've mentioned. To me, this is still some of the greatest music ever created, even though it's nearly a century old.

Clarity via chaos - I'm sure there's much in there that has yet to be expressed. It's always exciting to see what creative minds may cook up that we haven't seen yet. A good reason to keep our eyes and minds open.
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