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Monk is in the long tradition of playing a theme and variations. The only difference between his style and that of Baroque composers is that he substitutes harmonic variations whereas they used rhythmic changes (called "divisions" in the Elizabethan period).

Monk also used lots of seconds, ninths and other intervals that were "forbidden" by the rules of classical harmony.

I find it interesting that the biggest development of the past 30 or so years has been a transition to rhythm as the primary musical language rather than melody. In the classical world this began with Terry Reilly, Steve Reich, Glass, etc. In the pop world it has mostly been seen in the rise of rap and its spinoffs which is really a form of rhythmic declamation (like Greek theater).

Modern crossover groups (at least in the NYC area) seem to focus on short phrases which get repeated using changes of rhythm or meter.

I heard a traditional lieder recital yesterday on the radio and I can't imagine the younger generation sitting still for such an abstract form of music these days.

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by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 01:13:49 PM EST
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