Question Specific Discussion

Old college threads.
User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6514
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:14 pm

What I'm saying is that at any tournament, there are borderline types of questions that could be considered academic or trash and that tournaments that lack trash can't put them in the trash distro (maybe it should have been in the other category?). I agree that Les Miserables is pretty trashy on the borderline scale, since it's pretty trashy on the musical scale, but I don't see that inherently more unacademic than Anne of Green Gables, which was also asked about at this tournament in the lit distro. At MO the year I edited, I asked about Inherit the Wind and Jack the Ripper in academic categories, but those are both fringe as well. I agree this is a problem if there's a preponderance of it in a category and maybe this specific question was questionable, but I think my principle stands.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
Auroni
Auron
Posts: 2988
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Brooklyn

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:34 pm

John, it might be instructive for future arts category writers and editors reading this thread if you were to lay out your argument for why this particular answerline is not a good idea, and when, if ever, other musicals are appropriate as the occasional Fine Arts question (and with what sorts of clues).
Auroni Gupta
UIUC

User avatar
Auroni
Auron
Posts: 2988
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Brooklyn

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:41 pm

So Matt B., Mike, Cody, and I had a heated argument about the academicity of the Javert tossup. We didn't really get anywhere, and I didn't really make any convincing arguments in favor of it being an appropriate tossup. The reason, however, that I jumped in to defend it is still valid, I think.

I think we can do a lot to use the "other arts" category to encompass more segments of peoples' prior knowledge. In the past, this has allowed people to be rewarded for their knowledge of classic American film. I think it can reward peoples' knowledge of art being produced around the world (with non-stupid answerlines, a topic I might discuss further in a separate thread if I have the time/motivation.), or about musicals one might encounter in a non-trashy setting (we do reward non-musical theater, and musical performances, why not some things at the interesection?) My main fear is that people reading this discussion will be dissuaded from taking this category in these interesting directions, leaving people to play the same stale tossup on Giacomo Puccini and Auguste Rodin in every tournament with the standard distribution. I'll argue that it's justified to produce a few questions on things that are not art in the pursuit of producing questions that reward a greater proportion of peoples' academic knowledge, and it is better than not trying at all.
Auroni Gupta
UIUC

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 795
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:54 pm

Cheynem wrote:What I'm saying is that at any tournament, there are borderline types of questions that could be considered academic or trash and that tournaments that lack trash can't put them in the trash distro (maybe it should have been in the other category?). I agree that Les Miserables is pretty trashy on the borderline scale, since it's pretty trashy on the musical scale, but I don't see that inherently more unacademic than Anne of Green Gables, which was also asked about at this tournament in the lit distro. At MO the year I edited, I asked about Inherit the Wind and Jack the Ripper in academic categories, but those are both fringe as well. I agree this is a problem if there's a preponderance of it in a category and maybe this specific question was questionable, but I think my principle stands.
This post is a fine position to take on borderline cases, once you have established criteria by which something can by deemed a borderline case (which is hopefully the discussion we're about to have now). The question I asked before is: by what criteria is Les Miserables being considered anything other than Trash? How did it even become a borderline case? The arguments thus far appear to be:

1. It ran a long time
2. It won a Tony award
3. People have knowledge of it
4. It has a prominent role in popular culture

These are obviously weak arguments that open the floodgates to all of pop culture.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6514
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:58 pm

That's fair; I really am not wedded to this tossup and people have done a good job convincing me it isn't even borderline.

Putting aside that specific tossup, I guess I would say that a "borderline case" would be something that doesn't really get academic study per se but is something that you have to be sort of intellectually or culturally curious to learn about. I realize that sounds nebulous, but that way you rule out stuff that's just too ubiquitous like, say, almost all TV.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 795
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:21 am

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:John, it might be instructive for future arts category writers and editors reading this thread if you were to lay out your argument for why this particular answerline is not a good idea, and when, if ever, other musicals are appropriate as the occasional Fine Arts question (and with what sorts of clues).
Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:So Matt B., Mike, Cody, and I had a heated argument about the academicity of the Javert tossup. We didn't really get anywhere, and I didn't really make any convincing arguments in favor of it being an appropriate tossup. The reason, however, that I jumped in to defend it is still valid, I think.

I think we can do a lot to use the "other arts" category to encompass more segments of peoples' prior knowledge. In the past, this has allowed people to be rewarded for their knowledge of classic American film. I think it can reward peoples' knowledge of art being produced around the world (with non-stupid answerlines, a topic I might discuss further in a separate thread if I have the time/motivation.), or about musicals one might encounter in a non-trashy setting (we do reward non-musical theater, and musical performances, why not some things at the interesection?) My main fear is that people reading this discussion will be dissuaded from taking this category in these interesting directions, leaving people to play the same stale tossup on Giacomo Puccini and Auguste Rodin in every tournament with the standard distribution. I'll argue that it's justified to produce a few questions on things that are not art in the pursuit of producing questions that reward a greater proportion of peoples' academic knowledge, and it is better than not trying at all.
This may warrant a thread split; eventually, at least.

I'm really behind in my reading for class tomorrow, so this is going to be a shorter post than I'd like, but hopefully this is enough to get the ball rolling.

My basic argument (which I've made before in other threads, I'm sure) is that making the Fine Arts / Trash distinction according to value judgments about the "quality" of the art in question is pointless. So, for that matter, is pointing out that some academic somewhere studies a particular piece, because academics study everything. Rather, the more useful distinction is between works of art that are part of pop culture or high/academic culture. The only easy way to do this is, as I see it is to define high/academic culture negatively: that is, to define it as "not pop culture"; high/academic culture is therefore formed of the collection of works that are still considered culturally relevant even though they are not written in the artistic vernacular of the genre as it currently exists. Another way of saying this is academic genres are those that are culturally enduring but either were never popular to begin with or were popular in a now dead mode and have survived the death of the rest of their genre.

I cannot stress enough that dissociating this from value judgments is important: I think Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a very fine album that will stand as one of the great artistic achievements of the 20th century. Though I like John Philip Sousa's music, I do not think it possesses the same degree creative spark as that of The Beatles. Nonetheless, I would place Sousa in the Fine Arts and The Beatles in the Trash. If this rankles, I suspect it is because we have put a negative connotation on the word and category "Trash".

This brings me to the next point, I think the problem is less a matter of mis-use of Fine Arts and more a mis-use of the Trash/Other category. The latter is treated as if it possesses no canon, and anything is fair game (usually the pet subjects of the writers/editors). But this is obviously not reflecting reality: pop culture is as subject to a process of canonization and internal ranking as high/academic culture. The fact that we do not properly devote this sub-distributional area to exploring culturally-significant pop culture is a failure on our parts. It is not a failure that should be solved by shoe-horning this stuff into another part of the distribution that exists.

Also, I find the last paragraph of Auroni's second post rather odd. Do we really find the Misc. Auditory Arts distribution to be particularly plagued with limited answer space? Why do you think the alternative to shoe-horning in pieces of pop culture into the Fine Arts distribution is to ask repeatedly about Puccini and Rodin? This strikes me a rhetorically inflated false dichotomy. Also, have any of you taken a look at a major book on or list of important operas or jazz musicians and noticed how bad a job we've done at asking about many of the most important parts of that repertoire? Maybe, we could try working our way towards that? (I don't mean just tossing stuff up and watching it go dead. Obviously, I mean via bonus hard parts and early clues in common-links.)

Two important conclusions: 1. Just because something is a culturally significant and people know about it doesn't mean that it is a work of Fine Art. 2. Trash (quizbowl) does not mean trash (garbage). There should be a place in quizbowl for culturally significant pop culture. That place should not automatically be the Misc. Fine Arts distribution, though.
Last edited by ThisIsMyUsername on Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

User avatar
Auroni
Auron
Posts: 2988
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Brooklyn

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Auroni » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:38 am

My basic argument (which I've made before in other threads, I'm sure) is that making the Fine Arts / Trash distinction according to value judgments about the "quality" of the art in question is pointless. So, for that matter, is pointing out that some academic somewhere studies a particular piece, because academics study everything. Rather, the more useful distinction is between works of art that are part of pop culture or high/academic culture. The only easy way to do this is, as I see it is to define high/academic culture negatively: that is, to define it as "not pop culture"; high/academic culture is therefore formed of the collection of works that are still considered culturally relevant even though they are not written in the artistic vernacular of the genre as it currently exists. Another way of saying this is academic genres are those that are culturally enduring but either were never popular to begin with or were popular in a now dead mode and have survived the death of the rest of their genre.
I'll have a more detailed response later, but for now I want to address this portion of your post. I think this distinction gets pretty murky when dealing with things like The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet. These things are unquestionably both academic culture, but are also often experienced and talked about and referenced in the context of pop culture. You couldn't say that either of them are "dead" now. There's also a clear academic and a clear trash way to write a tossup on each of them.

I think that things in this foggy zone are what we're concerned with when talking about borderline/fringe stuff.
Auroni Gupta
UIUC

Adventure Temple Trail
Auron
Posts: 2613
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:52 pm

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:13 am

Patrick: I'm not sure how to account for all the negs on the Serbian ultimatum question, which I agree is a fine topic for a quizbowl question (I 10d it relatively late in my room & don't know about others at our site). I think perhaps the even more salient feature is that no rooms powered the tossup, perhaps because very few people have actually read the document or know a lot of the blow-by-blow sub-minutiae surrounding it. You have to be a very close detail-reader of the leadup-to-WWI timeline, or a huge buff, to have knowledge beyond the perfunctory "it came after the Franz Ferdinand assassination and before the other European powers came in" note about where it stood in the chronology.
Matt J.
ex-Georgetown Day HS, ex-Yale
member emeritus, ACF

Sailing away on my copper boat

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1320
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:17 am

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:There's also a clear academic and a clear trash way to write a tossup on each of them.
Honestly, I think this should tell you what you need to know: great, you can write two different tossups on either side of the academic/trash line on these. You simply cannot write an academic tossup on Les Mis, and (aargh), you can about Sousa, Puccini, etc.
I agree with John vis-à-vis The Beatles—although, a ridiculously hard tossup on say, Berio's, Rorem's, Glenn Gould's, and Joshua Rifkin's papers on/approaches their music would be academic, it wouldn't exactly be convertable, thus every doable tossup on them is trash (although a leadin involving Rifkin's post-Schenkerian analysis of "Strawberry Fields Forever" would be wonderful!).

(seriously, could this thread get split?)
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 1881
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: Falls Church, VA

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:38 am

RyuAqua wrote:Patrick: I'm not sure how to account for all the negs on the Serbian ultimatum question, which I agree is a fine topic for a quizbowl question (I 10d it relatively late in my room & don't know about others at our site). I think perhaps the even more salient feature is that no rooms powered the tossup, perhaps because very few people have actually read the document or know a lot of the blow-by-blow sub-minutiae surrounding it. You have to be a very close detail-reader of the leadup-to-WWI timeline, or a huge buff, to have knowledge beyond the perfunctory "it came after the Franz Ferdinand assassination and before the other European powers came in" note about where it stood in the chronology.
I buzzed reasonably early with "[the telegraph about] the blank check sent from Germany to Austria" or something along those lines because it sounded like that's what the question was asking for. This was after having negged the "Germany and Russia" tossup previously with "Germany and Austria" due to confusing what the Reinsurance treaty was, so I guess I was really determined to give an answer involving those two countries on that day. Of course, I also stupidly negged the Austria-Hungary tossup with "Israel" on the first line, because that sounded like a description of a logistics problem involving an invasion of both Syria and Egypt; I rather idiotically forgot to pay attention to the whole "in its last war" cue. Needless to say, I was not playing very well that day.

That being said, I'm not sure why you have tossups on Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia (late 19th century), and the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in the same set - it's not egregious, but it still seems a bit of an overload to me.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

Ras superfamily
Wakka
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Ras superfamily » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:02 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
This piece’s first section is a grave sinfonia that repeats a dotted quarter – eighth motif; that section is followed by two recitatives for tenor.
The last part of this clue is simply inaccurate. That section is followed by one recitative and one aria for tenor. When hearing this, I refrained from buzzing with Messiah (I had been sitting on it because the first clue suggested something British, and I now suspected that it has to be a Baroque piece with an overture), because I knew that the second major thing after the overture is definitely not a recitative.
This was the result of a lack of diligence on my part, so I apologize for this.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
At the beginning of one of the tracks on this album, the ensemble alternates between B-flat minor seventh chords and E-flat minor chords; the saxophone soloist then enters with a melody that features a rising dotted-eighth, sixteenth motif.
Arranging the chords in pyramidal order rather than the order in which they appeared prevented me from buzzing. I thought was looking for a piece in B-flat minor that was alternating between i7 and iv, when I should have been looking for a piece that alternates between i and v7. I most certainly would have buzzed had I attempted to hear this with E-flat minor as the tonic.
I can see that this could be reworded to better help players and will be sure to do so in the future.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:lesson: pieces get re-arranged all the time. If you're cluing from the score, make sure it's the original version.
Another good point. I will make sure to do this as well.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
One work by this composer introduces two harp parts in the 3/8 second movement, in which they enter after some string tremolos by playing rising triplet sixteenths on the F major triad.
I personally was not able to buzz on this, though this is probably the best of these score clues so far. But, let us say that this was a clue in a tossup submitted to me. What would I do? First, I would check the score to see if it's accurate. I would find that it is slightly misleading: it suggests that both harps enter after the string tremolos, both playing a rising F major triad. This is not the case: they enter one at a time, only one of them playing the F major arpeggios.

I now want to assess the importance of the information: is the fact the rhythm is triplet sixteenths or the fact that the chord is F major remotely helpful? The answer to that is clearly "no", and so I would eliminate that. What's important is that this second movement opens with string tremolos and then rising harp arpeggios, and that the two harps are appearing for the first time in this movement.

Now, I want to consider what details/context are needed to make this evocative. Is the mere mention of this feature enough to trigger buzzes: maybe some. How can I improve upon this, though? The way I can do so is by providing the player with a foothold. Right now, if you were trying to "figure out" this score clue, it's not clear what piece of information you would use as your entry point. Do you first consider pieces with harps, and the try and thinks which one of them has a second movement in 3/8? That would be difficult. No, to make this more buzzable I want to contextualize this within a larger genre. I have two options: the piece is a symphony and the movement is a waltz.

Let's say that I take the first option. I then rewrite this clue as: "The second movement of a symphony by this composer opens with string tremolos followed by rising arpeggios in two harps, marking the harps' first appearance in the work."

Let's say that I take the second option. I then rewrite this clue as: "A waltz movement in 3/8 time by this composer opens with string tremolos followed by rising arpeggios in two harps, marking the harps' first appearance in the larger work to which the movement belongs."
These are good ideas. Could you explain why you think the rhythm and triad are unimportant? Is it just that the space could be better used by including other clues? If so, I don't see what new clues were introduced in your "second option" of rewriting the clue other than writing "waltz"
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
This composer wrote a piece whose first section begins in 6/4 but switches to 6/8 before a solo flute introduces the melody in sixteenth triplets; the third section of that work is marked “lively and tumultuous” and begins with trills on C for the timpani.
Also, there's no such thing as a timpani trill.
I believe timpani rolls are unfortunately marked as trills in some works, so I didn't know which to actually write. I guess I should write roll in the future?
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
The fourth and last section of a piano suite by this composer is in F sharp minor and begins with many bars of staccato arpeggios in the left hand; that is the (*) “Passepied” of a suite that begins with a “Prelude” and “Menuet.”


"Begins with many bars of staccato arpeggios in the left hand" is not a helpful clue, especially when by "many" you apparently mean "two".
I guess what I meant to say was that the left hand part continues to just do staccato arpeggios for a while but I failed to be clear about that.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
The prelude to this opera begins with a three beat pickup as the double reeds and strings play a slow A flat arpeggio to begin the love feast motif.
In a gusty move, I buzzed on this even before the words "love feast", though the prelude does not begin with a three-beat pickup. Don't use technical terms like "pickup" unless they actually apply.
I should have said there was a rest on beat one but I thought I was saying the same thing. I guess I was wrong.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
One work by this composer begins with single tone eighth notes before adding a second, third, and fourth tone to the eighth notes on the bass clef; that piece starts with an Allegro vivace (quasi presto) section in 3/8.
Unbuzzable gobbledygook. It took my looking at the beginning of every piece mentioned in the tossup to figure out that this is supposed to be the opening of the Mephisto Waltz. Not until I saw the score did I have any idea what you were trying to say. Even had you phrased it perfectly (and I don't know how you could have), this cannot possibly be a useful clue.
This seems useful if I could have described it better. I would like to hear from [other?] piano players whether this makes any sense and what kind of description they would have used for this piece.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
The nobilmente e semplice first movement of one work by this composer has a long thematic introduction in A flat, but then shifts to D minor; that is this composer’s Symphony No. 1, one of very few symphonies in A flat major.
Will Nediger and I buzzer-raced on the twelfth word of this tossup. Not a smart choice of lead-in clue.
All you told me here is that you and Will knew a clue, which doesn't really help me since Will is a good player.

You made some good points, though. I apologize for the inaccuracies as those are simply unacceptable, and I will try to be more discerning about my use of rhythmic clues.
Saajid Moyen
Penn '15

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 795
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:33 pm

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:
My basic argument (which I've made before in other threads, I'm sure) is that making the Fine Arts / Trash distinction according to value judgments about the "quality" of the art in question is pointless. So, for that matter, is pointing out that some academic somewhere studies a particular piece, because academics study everything. Rather, the more useful distinction is between works of art that are part of pop culture or high/academic culture. The only easy way to do this is, as I see it is to define high/academic culture negatively: that is, to define it as "not pop culture"; high/academic culture is therefore formed of the collection of works that are still considered culturally relevant even though they are not written in the artistic vernacular of the genre as it currently exists. Another way of saying this is academic genres are those that are culturally enduring but either were never popular to begin with or were popular in a now dead mode and have survived the death of the rest of their genre.
I'll have a more detailed response later, but for now I want to address this portion of your post. I think this distinction gets pretty murky when dealing with things like The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet. These things are unquestionably both academic culture, but are also often experienced and talked about and referenced in the context of pop culture. You couldn't say that either of them are "dead" now. There's also a clear academic and a clear trash way to write a tossup on each of them.

I think that things in this foggy zone are what we're concerned with when talking about borderline/fringe stuff.
I have no idea what you're talking about when you say that Romeo and Juliet does not belong to a dead genre. Renaissance tragedy is very clearly not a living popular vernacular form for our time.

Yes, of course, because Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous works in all of culture, references to it abound within pop culture. And of course you could write a trash tossup on Romeo and Juliet, cluing it from those appearances in pop culture. Naturally, you could just as easily write a trash tossup on Ode to Joy using things like the score from Die Hard, or a tossup on Leonardo Da Vinci based on all kinds of pop cultural references to his work. None of these change the fact that the works themselves are clearly not examples of pop culture. On the contrary, the very fact that you would need to write those tossups in a way that does not focus on the works' contents in order to make them trash tossups is proof of what I'm saying.

I agree that The Godfather is a borderline case according to the criteria I have proposed. This is, to me, not at all an argument against my criteria. That is: I am not trying to eliminate borderline cases altogether. (Given the fluid nature of the boundaries of pop culture and high culture, I would be suspicious of any theory that claimed to be able to make a firm distinction.) Rather, I am trying to establish some basic principles by which we can asses, to begin with, which things are outright art or trash and which things are in the gray area, while minimizing how many works occupy the gray area. After that, it is up to the individual editors to control how many borderline cases they think it is acceptable to include in a tournament.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6514
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:45 pm

I would say (although this is way beyond the scope of non trash featuring Penn Bowl) that I sympathize with what John is saying about trash, but that I think simply put the best way to write quizbowl trash questions is to write on accessible, interesting answerlines with accessible, interesting clues and making sure that one's personal tastes do not dominate a tournament's trash distribution. Attempting to worry about cultural significance is a bit too difficult a task I think. That isn't to say that John isn't right in saying that too many trash questions go right for someone's pet topics.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
Mewto55555
Tidus
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:27 pm
Contact:

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:05 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
13. Every Cauchy sequence within a metric space has this property. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this property which, for a series, means that the sum is finite. The harmonic series lacks this property, but the geometric series has it as long as the ratio between successive terms is between negative 1 and 1.
ANSWER: convergence [accept word forms]
So this is pretty wrong. You can have Cauchy sequences in metric spaces which do not converge (like a monotonically decreasing sequence satisfying p_n^2>2 in the space Q with the standard distance metric), so you have to specify that it's complete. The reader in my room botched and said "infinite" but it's still pretty sketchy to say "finite", since, for example, 1-1+1-1+... will always have finite partial sums, but doesn't converge; it might be better to say like "tends to some finite number/limit"?
Max
formerly of Ladue, Chicago

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 795
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:06 pm

Ras superfamily wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
One work by this composer introduces two harp parts in the 3/8 second movement, in which they enter after some string tremolos by playing rising triplet sixteenths on the F major triad.
I personally was not able to buzz on this, though this is probably the best of these score clues so far. But, let us say that this was a clue in a tossup submitted to me. What would I do? First, I would check the score to see if it's accurate. I would find that it is slightly misleading: it suggests that both harps enter after the string tremolos, both playing a rising F major triad. This is not the case: they enter one at a time, only one of them playing the F major arpeggios.

I now want to assess the importance of the information: is the fact the rhythm is triplet sixteenths or the fact that the chord is F major remotely helpful? The answer to that is clearly "no", and so I would eliminate that. What's important is that this second movement opens with string tremolos and then rising harp arpeggios, and that the two harps are appearing for the first time in this movement.

Now, I want to consider what details/context are needed to make this evocative. Is the mere mention of this feature enough to trigger buzzes: maybe some. How can I improve upon this, though? The way I can do so is by providing the player with a foothold. Right now, if you were trying to "figure out" this score clue, it's not clear what piece of information you would use as your entry point. Do you first consider pieces with harps, and the try and thinks which one of them has a second movement in 3/8? That would be difficult. No, to make this more buzzable I want to contextualize this within a larger genre. I have two options: the piece is a symphony and the movement is a waltz.

Let's say that I take the first option. I then rewrite this clue as: "The second movement of a symphony by this composer opens with string tremolos followed by rising arpeggios in two harps, marking the harps' first appearance in the work."

Let's say that I take the second option. I then rewrite this clue as: "A waltz movement in 3/8 time by this composer opens with string tremolos followed by rising arpeggios in two harps, marking the harps' first appearance in the larger work to which the movement belongs."
These are good ideas. Could you explain why you think the rhythm and triad are unimportant? Is it just that the space could be better used by including other clues? If so, I don't see what new clues were introduced in your "second option" of rewriting the clue other than writing "waltz"
Giving chords is only useful if you are describing a chord/progression that is notable/unusual, or if you are using them to establish a sense of what key the piece is in. The F major triad is only significant in its immediate context, in which the fact that it is the flattened-sixth degree of the tonic of A major is what grants it is coloristic effect. But just calling it an F major triad completely removes it from context. No one goes around memorizing the isolated individual chords of a piece. Likewise, triplet sixteenths are a perfectly generic rhythm for a harp arpeggio. Neither of these clues is remotely evocative of anything. No light is going to go on in my head if you say "triplet sixteenths".

To my mind, there are two ways to process score clues: either the clue immediately reminds you of the moment being clued, or you have to figure it out. The latter is more common. Speaking for myself here, the pieces I know are not organized in my head by time signature and key signature. If there's a really unusual time signature or key signature (A-flat minor, 7/4, etc.), then sure, those I stick out. But if you say some combination of common time signature and key signature, I cannot navigate easily to the place in my mind where those facts about the piece are stored. The way my head is organized is in terms of genres. So, if you make it clear that we're looking for (e.g.) the finale of a piano concerto, I can pull up the finales of piano concertos I know, and start comparing them with your clue. This is what I meant by a "foothold". If you want people to figure out a clue, it is helpful to give them at least one word that functions as sort of first step on the path to finding the piece. In my second example, "waltz movement" is supposed to do that. From the outset, it tells you that the work being clued is multi-movement and that one of those movements is a waltz. That should considerably narrow the field you are comparing that description of the opening to.
I believe timpani rolls are unfortunately marked as trills in some works, so I didn't know which to actually write. I guess I should write roll in the future?
Yes, only call it a trill if it alternates between different pitches.
All you told me here is that you and Will knew a clue, which doesn't really help me since Will is a good player.
Well, compare that lead-in to pretty much every single other lead-in you wrote. The others require you to have engaged with the works (listening, score-reading, etc.) in order to buzz, and were fresh clues. Without any insult to Will, I somehow doubt he was buzzing on the first line of most of your music tossups (actually, given their inaccuracy and/or vagueness, I doubt anyone was for most of them!). This clue, on the other hand, is Elgar's most famous tempo indication. It is well known in real life. It has appeared before in multiple tossups over the years. And this is the earliest I've ever seen it in a question. Even at ACF Fall 2008, this was not the first clue of the Elgar tossup. This is a very shallow first clue. I'm not saying you should automatically replace it with some detailed score clue. That doesn't need to be your default. But your lead-in should be some non-recycled piece of information that rewards engagement.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

Ras superfamily
Wakka
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Ras superfamily » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:34 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
All you told me here is that you and Will knew a clue, which doesn't really help me since Will is a good player.
Well, compare that lead-in to pretty much every single other lead-in you wrote. The others require you to have engaged with the works (listening, score-reading, etc.) in order to buzz, and were fresh clues. Without any insult to Will, I somehow doubt he was buzzing on the first line of most of your music tossups (actually, given their inaccuracy and/or vagueness, I doubt anyone was for most of them!). This clue, on the other hand, is Elgar's most famous tempo indication. It is well known in real life. It has appeared before in multiple tossups over the years. And this is the earliest I've ever seen it in a question. Even at ACF Fall 2008, this was not the first clue of the Elgar tossup. This is a very shallow first clue. I'm not saying you should automatically replace it with some detailed score clue. That doesn't need to be your default. But your lead-in should be some non-recycled piece of information that rewards engagement.
I see. I was expecting another "this is a problem in music questions in general" criticism rather than a "this is a misplaced / reused clue" criticism.
Saajid Moyen
Penn '15

User avatar
Sima Guang Hater
Auron
Posts: 1849
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:42 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
13. Every Cauchy sequence within a metric space has this property. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this property which, for a series, means that the sum is finite. The harmonic series lacks this property, but the geometric series has it as long as the ratio between successive terms is between negative 1 and 1.
ANSWER: convergence [accept word forms]
So this is pretty wrong. You can have Cauchy sequences in metric spaces which do not converge (like a monotonically decreasing sequence satisfying p_n^2>2 in the space Q with the standard distance metric), so you have to specify that it's complete. The reader in my room botched and said "infinite" but it's still pretty sketchy to say "finite", since, for example, 1-1+1-1+... will always have finite partial sums, but doesn't converge; it might be better to say like "tends to some finite number/limit"?
I forgot to say "complete", so that's my mistake. I also should have said "finite and defined".
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
Washburn Rural High School, 2005
Brown University, 2009
Medical Scientist Training Program, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
Intern in Internal Medicine, Yale-Waterbury, 2018-9
Dermatology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2019-

Member Emeritus, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer, NAQT, NHBB, IQBT

"The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It's one of the never-ending cycles in life."

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1320
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:39 pm

Ras superfamily wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
One work by this composer begins with single tone eighth notes before adding a second, third, and fourth tone to the eighth notes on the bass clef; that piece starts with an Allegro vivace (quasi presto) section in 3/8.
Unbuzzable gobbledygook. It took my looking at the beginning of every piece mentioned in the tossup to figure out that this is supposed to be the opening of the Mephisto Waltz. Not until I saw the score did I have any idea what you were trying to say. Even had you phrased it perfectly (and I don't know how you could have), this cannot possibly be a useful clue.
This seems useful if I could have described it better. I would like to hear from [other?] piano players whether this makes any sense and what kind of description they would have used for this piece.
I actually had no problems parsing this description and matching it to the first Mephisto Waltz, having played through this piece (although, of all things, the tempo mark threw me off—it's not incredibly memorable)—and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to have played through a piece this famous, or at least have seen the score (I'm positive that people analyze harmony in this piece in classes, given how complex and ahead of its time it is). However, the wording of this clue really isn't optimal.

I understand what you mean by "single tone," but it's just not the way anybody would ever describe that texture ("lone" or "single" eighth notes would be better); same with "notes on the bass clef" (by the way, after two measures of "four eighth notes on the bass clef," it switches to three, because the right hand moves up to the treble clef)—also, given that you haven't told us which instrument this is for, that is an extremely unhelpful description (remember that this piece is pretty famous as "Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke," the orchestral version Liszt himself made! That version begins with no fewer than three parts playing in bass clef, and what you're describing is in only the 'cellos!).

More importantly, you didn't actually clue the two most memorable feature of this opening—the stacking of perfect fifths (imitating Mephistopheles tuning up his fiddle) and the acciaccaturas (for the purposes of a quizbowl clue, "grace notes" is probably fine) at the beginning of the 1st, 3rd, and 4th measures of the opening motto. Given this information, even without the tempo and time signature (which are only useful to people who've seen the score), this would be more buzzable (correct me if I'm wrong, John). When I wrote a clue on this for East of Eden (I guess that Liszt question really was too hard, sorry Will), I worded it (not amazingly well, in retrospect) like this: "Another of this composer’s works was inspired by a poem by Nikolaus Lenau and begins in 3/8 with a series of stacked fifths imitating the tuning-up of a violin" (for what it's worth, I just read that description out to a pianist friend who has never played the piece and was able to get to the first Mephisto Waltz from there).

I would say the same about the Symphonie Fantastique leadin—I had a little trouble parsing it, but I could get the gist of "At the opening of the second movement of this piece, the harps enter for the first time in the piece playing some arpeggii after some string tremolo," which sounds like a not-bad description of the opening of "Un bal" to me.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5662
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Re: Question Specific Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:05 pm

Considering "other arts" is a category that encompasses pretty much every popular movie with a modicum of artistic value, I fail to see how one tossup on a light musical presents an ideological conundrum.
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

Locked