Writing Music Questions for Music Players

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Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Auroni » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:25 am

I haven't taken music theory and can't carry on an intelligent discussion about specific pieces of musical works, but quizbowl tossups on classical music intrigue me, and I would like to write them better. What I feel is that, if one is not in the know about informative and useful musical discourse, one is severely disadvantaged when writing tossups on works (at any level) and composers (at the higher levels). I know that clues such as "this piece's second movement progresses with a cascade of English and French horns" is terribly unspecific to the music player and is usually passed off as nonsense. Therefore, my challenge is to find unique clues for a piece having no way of putting such characteristics into words that music players would then buzz on and regard as good.

For example, at a really high level, when I'm writing a tossup on say, the Lemminkainen Suite, I have maybe a few sentences about the history of its creation and a clip to the piece(s) itself, maybe a score if I dig deeper. With these sources, how can I write a good tossup?
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cornfused » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:57 am

JelloBiafra wrote:I know that clues such as "this piece's second movement progresses with a cascade of English and French horns" is terribly unspecific to the music player and is usually passed off as nonsense.

As a musician, this DOES help - while it's not uniquely identifying, it can help narrow it down.

Something that I've also seen used is a description of the work's theme in terms of musical intervals. Here's a clue from an unused Grieg Piano Concerto tossup that my teammate Emily submitted to ACF Winter:
ACF Winter wrote:The opening movement of this work, marked allegro molto moderato, begins with a dramatic timpani roll followed by a series of falling minor seconds and major thirds.

While the opening timpani roll is certainly not uniquely identifying, the "series of falling minor seconds and major thirds" is - a music player would recognize this as the dahdahDUM dahdahDUM dahdahDUM that is the concerto's most recognizable fragment. If the theme is described correctly, the writer provides the music player with the same information as would be given in an audio sample.

If you can write a succinct, accurate musical description of the work's notable melodies, you can award points to players who have listened to the work in question before you award points to players who know the history of the piece or have only learned about it from quizbowl.

And for writers who can't translate the notes they're hearing into words (I know I have trouble describing what's happening in o-chem reactions when I try to write tossups on them,) allow me to suggest using a piano and this Wikipedia page, which has a chart of intervals.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cornfused » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:04 am

JelloBiafra wrote:I have maybe... a clip to the piece(s) itself.

Also, YouTube is a great place to find complete audio of classical works, so you at least almost always have the full piece available in audio (albeit with occasionally non-classical video.)
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby magin » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:15 am

It's pretty difficult to describe musical works in the framework of quizbowl (unless they have definite and unique names, or unique instrumentation, or time-signatures, or some other unique traits). Here are some ways I tried to write tossups on works of music for Gaddis:

This composition's first movement includes an extremely difficult repeated-note passage played by oboes. In its fourth movement, woodwind trills repeatedly interrupt a march theme punctuated by the blasts of French horns. Its second movement consists of a lullaby for muted strings, and its third movement, in 5/4 time, ends with a triple forte woodwind chord representing a suicide. In its final movement, a swordsman asks his sword "if it was disposed to slay him," receiving the reply "Should I not thy flesh devour." The chorus of this symphony enters during its third movement, describing a character "with the very bluest stockings," who entices a girl into his sleigh and ravishes her, only to discover that she is his sister. Including movements about the title character "going to battle," and ending with that character's anguished suicide, for 10 points, name this symphony about a tragic character from the ► Kalevala, composed by Jean Sibelius.
ANSWER: Kullervo Symphony

I was uneasy about the first clue, since it's true, but it could also be true of many other works. The second sentence was my attempt at describing the symphony's march, which I think is useful if you've heard the Kullervo Symphony. The third sentence is even more specific (I think the woodwind chord clue is fairly unique). However, there may well be other pieces that use a triple forte woodwind chord to represent a suicide. For that reason, I don't think it's realistic for to ask writers to find absolutely unique descriptions of a piece, but ones that describe sections of a piece in context to the best of the writers' abilities. It's then up to the players to put at least two musical clues together and buzz (since it's extremely unlikely that two specific, contextual clues about different parts of one piece are also true for another piece).

This work's second movement, in F major, follows an ABA form, and includes a section marked "piu largamente" in F sharp minor containing variations of a pastoral theme first stated by a solo oboe. In its first movement, the soloist enters in the ninetieth measure playing the main theme in a minor key. The composer of this piece spent a summer in Pörtschach teaching Marie Soldat to perform it. This composition uses extensive double-stopping in its final movement, whose extended coda transforms the theme of a "rondo alla Zingarese" into a cheerful Hungarian march. This piece was originally intended to be four movements, but its composer discarded the middle ones in favor of one he termed "a feeble Adagio." Its composer's opus 77, it was the last major concerto to leave a blank space for the performer's cadenza. Written in 1878 for Joseph Joachim, for 10 points, name this D major concerto for a solo string instrument by the composer of the ► Academic Festival Overture.
ANSWER: the D major violin concerto of Johannes Brahms [accept Opus 77 before mentioned]

With that in mind, I'd like to analyze this next tossup. The ABA form clue isn't very useful, since an enormous amount of musical movements are in ABA form. The next clue about the pastoral variations seems more useful to me, but still not really buzzable (I might be wrong, though). Since I'm not a violinist, the 90th measure clue might not be useful, but I put it in there on the chance that it was (violinists who have performed this concerto, feel free to weigh in). The double-stopping narrows it down much further, and I think the coda clue is pretty much unique, as are the remaining clues.

Another thing you can do is to look for pieces that are inspired by/quote the work in question. Those tend to be very specific clues. Also, when describing music, I think it's good to use terms like tremolos, ostinato, double-stopping, etc. that reflect what the musicians actually do when playing it. Also, certain terms like "allegro deciso" are, I think, useful (if it were just an allegro, I wouldn't have named it, since there are oodles of allegros in music).

So, I'm in favor of using the following clues:

- Works inspired by or that quote parts of the piece
- Specific, contextual descriptions of instrumentation (like "at the beginning of the second movement, the trombones begin a molto agitato march in 2/4 time")
- Names of notable notes or chords (including the Tristan chord and the repetition of E's at the beginning of the toccatta in Le Tombeau de Couperin). Naming random chords is probably a bad idea, as is using terms from music theory that performers of a piece won't recognize (since music has a pretty high barrier to understanding already)
- Anything that's reasonably unique (unusual time signatures, instructions to the performer, instrumentation, places of the orchestra--for instance, the performers of The Unanswered Question are in unusual places).

I hope that helps a bit.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Auroni » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:28 am

cornfused wrote:While the opening timpani roll is certainly not uniquely identifying, the "series of falling minor seconds and major thirds" is - a music player would recognize this as the dahdahDUM dahdahDUM dahdahDUM that is the concerto's most recognizable fragment.

If you can write a succinct, accurate musical description of the work's notable melodies, you can award points to players who have listened to the work in question before you award points to players who know the history of the piece or have only learned about it from quizbowl.

And for writers who can't translate the notes they're hearing into words (I know I have trouble describing what's happening in o-chem reactions when I try to write tossups on them,) allow me to suggest using a piano and this Wikipedia page, which has a chart of intervals.


I happen to recognize the opening of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, it's one of my favorite piano concertos, but even if I did trace out the intervals, how would I have the assurance that they are unique to this one piece, or aren't seen again in a minor portion of another potentially tossupable work?

Coral Gardens and their Magin wrote:I was uneasy about the first clue, since it's true, but it could also be true of many other works. The second sentence was my attempt at describing the symphony's march, which I think is useful if you've heard the Kullervo Symphony. The third sentence is even more specific (I think the woodwind chord clue is fairly unique). However, there may well be other pieces that use a triple forte woodwind chord to represent a suicide.


I think I understand your reasoning about uniqueness here, but how would I, without a background, be able to distinguish that "oh hey, the woodwinds are playing some trills" with certainty?

Another thing you can do is to look for pieces that are inspired by/quote the work in question. Those tend to be very specific clues. Also, when describing music, I think it's good to use terms like tremolos, ostinato, double-stopping, etc. that reflect what the musicians actually do when playing it. Also, certain terms like "allegro deciso" are, I think, useful (if it were just an allegro, I wouldn't have named it, since there are oodles of allegros in music).


I've played some basic piano so I know vaguely what the terms mean, but I need much sharper knowledge to pinpoint passages exactly with these terms. Which passages should I focus on (that music players would know, as opposed to the unremarkable ones that some seemed to indicate that poor questions spend time describing).

I guess my overall quandary is that I have some basic definitions of several of the terms music questions use, but have never actually analyzed works of music with them and so am particularly fearful of misleading people with the clues. Within the time constraints of writing music questions for a tournament, how might I most efficiently use my team to yield the best clues possible? This thread is giving me some leads for future reference, which is good.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cornfused » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:36 pm

JelloBiafra wrote:
cornfused wrote:trace them intervals

I happen to recognize the opening of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, it's one of my favorite piano concertos, but even if I did trace out the intervals, how would I have the assurance that they are unique to this one piece, or aren't seen again in a minor portion of another potentially tossupable work?

State that it's the theme - the chances of the theme showing up as the theme of another work are relatively low and I think that's a chance you should be willing to take - if the theme IS a quote from another work, the editor should catch it.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cvdwightw » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:38 pm

I have the exact opposite problem from Auroni. I have a pretty good grasp of music theory, so the theoretical definitions necessary in music questions are not beyond me to write. However, I'm worried that, because I don't have an equal grasp of the classical music canon, sometimes I get too specific. If I'm writing about a notable passage, I tend to do things like just list a bunch of notes and hope that someone can figure out what that series of notes actually corresponds to. Are these clues actually useful?

Also, Auroni, sometimes you find interesting clues from things that aren't just the "history of the work's creation" or an audio clip/score. I have several unused (and used) lead-ins that I have gleaned from other sources. For instance, here's a question I submitted to ACF Winter that got cut:

Dwight wrote:Near the end of one work by this composer, an eighth-eighth-quarter motif is played G-B-G in one of the namesake instruments and B-G-B in the other, but it sounds as if one piano is playing all G’s and the other is playing all B’s. In addition to his Second Suite for Two Pianos, this composer wrote a posthumously published piano miniature with the enigmatic subtitle “Delmo,” Morceau de Fantaisie. One work by him begins with a lento in A minor with the unusual time signature 5/8, and also contains a French horn solo quoting the Dies Irae, while another work contains the simple motif G sharp – C sharp, intended to evoke the tolling of the title objects. Those works were inspired by, respectively, a Bocklin painting and a Poe poem, and are Isle of the Dead and The Bells. For 10 points, name this Russian composer of a work based on a violin caprice, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
ANSWER: Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff [accept Rachmaninov for last name]

I found the opening sentence while reading a chapter on the psychology of music; that passage is notable in that the way it is scored is not the way it sounds, but the work itself is obscure enough to show up in the lead-in. Although I liked the clue enough to include it, my biggest issue is "do the mentions of the specific notes actually help anyone get the question, as opposed to just a vague contextual description of what is going on?". On the other hand, I'm not sure that Morceau de Fantaisie is easy enough for an early middle clue, but the rest of the tossup seems as if it would be solid to me (actual music players, feel free to chime in with what could be better).

Here are some more things that might show up in your questions:

Unusual time signatures: if the top number is something that isn't 2, 3, 4, or 6, it's likely unusual (unless it's 9/8 or 12/8).
Unusual dynamics: anything marked with three or more f's or p's is unusual, but not uniquely identifying. Sudden changes to things marked with 2 f's or p's (e.g. in the Surprise Symphony) can also be unusual, but not uniquely identifying. These clues can't stand on their own, but if you're describing the unusually-marked chord/passage, they might help.
Unusual tempos: anything faster than allegro or slower than adagio is unusual, but not uniquely identifying. Without music theory knowledge, it's difficult to know exactly what that means, but stuff like "allegro ____" and "andante" is extremely commonplace.
Unusual instrumentation: this is a bit weird, because "unusual" means different things in different periods. For instance, anything that mentions the trombones doing something should cue the music player to "this is Beethoven or later," as Beethoven's typically credited with popularizing the use of the trombone in symphonies; however, just saying that something happens in the trombones isn't necessarily unique. On the other hand, I know of only one piece that uses multiple helicopters.
Modulation/transposition: you need a good ear for this, but not necessarily music theory background, if you're listening to an audio clip; otherwise, it should be easy to find from the score. Key changes in the middle of a work/movement are typically not unique, but they do help music players cue into pieces they may have played before. If all you've got is a score, then this isn't the worst thing you can write about from it.
Motifs: these are good middle clues, because they're usually uniquely identifying. Especially if you can give the instrumentation, representation, or other clues that reinforce the idea of the motif.

Lots of people try to write tossups lead-in to end, then rearrange clues. If you're not a good music writer, I'd actually try the reverse. Get your giveaway, and get it solid. Then write the easy middle clues; descriptions of famous parts of the piece. At this point, you should have a solid three-line tossup. Then you just have to make your best guess on the other three to five lines. If stuff looks important or unusual, put it in. If you're listening to the piece and you keep hearing a melody over and over, it's probably a notable theme - try to include something about that. Use your best judgment on what you find interesting when listening to the audio clip, then try to describe it. If you can describe it such that an arts editor can figure out what you're talking about and convert it into language a music player is going to understand, then you've done your job.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:07 pm

if the theme IS a quote from another work, the editor should catch it.

The obvious problem there is thinking that there are enough people who can edit music competently to feel safe leaving it to the editors. I just talked about this last night, but due to the nature of quizbowl being really time consuming assuming you want to do more than just show up to a couple tournaments a year and maybe a practice twice a month, it almost automatically precludes the kind of music major looking to have a professional concert career or a teaching job at a conservatory, which are the kinds of people who would mostly fill that particular void in the same way scientists have stepped up for their categories. As such, you're left with people like me and Hannah, people who studied music privately and enjoy it, but who make up a rather small population of the circuit, thus making it nearly impossible for every tournament to have a good music editor.

I will give my own opinions about how to find good music clues in another post, but I have been thinking about something recently that I really want to bring up with the quizbowl community. The current trend of musical writing above novice levels has seemed to move into a frustrating territory. There are large swathes of musical history that are extremely important that are clearly being cast aside in favor of writing "cool" questions on obscure and rather unimportant modern composers. This became obvious to me when I realized that Magin has probably written the first tossup actually on Brahms's violin concerto. I hate to sound like someone who is complaining about what people in my category learn in classes, but there are a bunch of extremely important works both in and out of the context of music history that I have hardly ever heard as clues even, much less as answers to questions. Off the top of my head, things like Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky's violin concerti, or Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto, or countless symphonies by people like Mahler, Beethoven, etc. Instead of these works coming up, which are extremely important (and in many cases, extremely recognizable even to the layman), whenever I go to events like the Emergency (notably, Gaddis 2 didn't do this which I enjoyed), many of the questions I hear are a barrage on figures like Ligeti, or people even less noteworthy than him. A lot of these random modern composers are picked because they sound cool are indeed somewhat interesting, but have nowhere near the objective importance of these extremely neglected works I listed above. As a result, there is this huge gap in the canon that makes lots of these pieces very unknown so that now they can only be tossed up at hard events, except at said hard events they are being pushed aside for the latest modern composer tossup, so they keep not coming up and being able to claim their rightful place as things that should be coming up routinely at the regionals level. Anyone who is a musician will realize that when Brahms's violin concerto can only be tossed up at one of the hardest events of the year, that means there is a problem. While I understand and even enjoy the occasional question on composers like John Adams or Arvo Part, these people still are not as important as all these unasked topics, and even more obscure modern composers less so. Next time you write a music question for a hard tournament and think you've found this cool new composer to introduce to the canon, please think twice about it, and instead try to find some cool famous work that has gone unasked for too long. If you stumble your way through it without any good clues, I will still be happier about it because of the effort than if I have to hear the 5th tossup on a post-serialist in the set.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:36 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:stuff


As much as I do genuinely love John Adams, I agree that the kinds of works you mentioned are are super-important and need to come up more. That being said, I disagree that the drive for novelty is the issue here. I think that the main problem is actually the fact that it's actually really hard to write good questions on abstract music from the Classical and Romantic eras- the forms are all very similar, the tonal language doesn't change much, the orchestration is largely standard, and trying to describe the melodic or harmonic contours of a main theme in words is usually a fool's errand, especially when you're under the many other constraints of quizbowl writing. However, the stylistic innovations of 20th century music mean that it's a lot easier to pack a question on instrumental music full of buzzable, interesting clues. The Turangalila Symphony will likely always be easier (in a quizbowl context) than the Haffner Symphony, even though surely more people have heard the latter.

A side note: I'd like to nominate Chris Horng of Rutgers to the short list of "quizbowl people who know their music". I assume he was the author of the really good (and badly-needed) Beethoven's 7th TU from Buzzerfest, and I was very impressed with how early he was getting questions at MO.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby DakarKra » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:45 pm

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:A side note: I'd like to nominate Chris Horng of Rutgers to the short list of "quizbowl people who know their music". I assume he was the author of the really good (and badly-needed) Beethoven's 7th TU from Buzzerfest, and I was very impressed with how early he was getting questions at MO.


Chris did write the tossup on Beethoven's 7th and his buzz on Die Winterreise impressed me (and I see this shit from him all the time). Sorry to distract; now back to your regularly scheduled thread.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:45 pm

I agree that part of the problem is in fact the technical writing problems, which I even addressed by saying I would have much more respect for someone willing to spend the time trying to write on these important works even if their end result is a bad tossup just because they tried something both more important and harder to do than write that random modern composer question. However, the response I hear a lot of to those kinds of questions is stuff about how cool those random obscure composers are, and I even find that people like Hannah Kirsch and Aaron Rosenberg, the kinds of people who CAN write good music questions, seem to frequently opt for the obscure composers to introduce things they find interesting, so I disagree that barrier to entry is what leads to all of these questions, and instead view it as a mix.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cornfused » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:54 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I just talked about this last night, but due to the nature of quizbowl being really time consuming assuming you want to do more than just show up to a couple tournaments a year and maybe a practice twice a month, it almost automatically precludes the kind of music major looking to have a professional concert career or a teaching job at a conservatory, which are the kinds of people who would mostly fill that particular void in the same way scientists have stepped up for their categories.

My mistake, then - I have a very skewed team, I guess, as of the six regulars on my team, four are heavily involved in the conservatory.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:11 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I agree that part of the problem is in fact the technical writing problems, which I even addressed by saying I would have much more respect for someone willing to spend the time trying to write on these important works even if their end result is a bad tossup just because they tried something both more important and harder to do than write that random modern composer question. However, the response I hear a lot of to those kinds of questions is stuff about how cool those random obscure composers are, and I even find that people like Hannah Kirsch and Aaron Rosenberg, the kinds of people who CAN write good music questions, seem to frequently opt for the obscure composers to introduce things they find interesting, so I disagree that barrier to entry is what leads to all of these questions, and instead view it as a mix.


Yeah, that makes sense, and I'll admit I've done the same thing quite a few times as well.

For what it's worth, I'm quite enamored of using common link tossups on "Symphony No. X" or "Instrument Concertos", since they'll usually always allow you to work in both the gee-whiz obscure stuff and the concert staples, and the reduced clue-per-work requirement makes it a whole lot easier to ensure that all/most of the clues which make it into the final question are useful.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Captain Sinico » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:28 pm

I agree in strongest terms with the second paragraph of Charlie's earlier post.

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PS: The contents of a recently recovered box of pre-2000 quizbowl material from a closet in a storage area above one of my family's bars reminds me to caution you all against making statements like "The Turangalila Symphony will likely always be [easy]." My own sense is that the "Turangalia" Symphony and similar things whose frequency of appearance in the game are largely out of proportion to their gravity in the academy, or even popularity among consumers, are almost certainly destined to join what Ryan Westbrook calls the shadow canon (of things that at one time came up, even frequently, but later don't.)
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:41 pm

PS: The contents of a recently recovered box of pre-2000 quizbowl material from a closet in a storage area above one of my family's bars reminds me to caution you all against making statements like "The Turangalila Symphony will likely always be [easy]." My own sense is that the "Turangalia" Symphony and similar things whose frequency of appearance in the game are largely out of proportion to their gravity in the academy, or even popularity among consumers, are almost certainly destined to join what Ryan Westbrook calls the shadow cannon (of things that at one time came up, even frequently, but later don't.)


To piggyback on Sorice, I agree in strongest terms with this sentiment.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:55 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:PS: The contents of a recently recovered box of pre-2000 quizbowl material from a closet in a storage area above one of my family's bars reminds me to caution you all against making statements like "The Turangalila Symphony will likely always be [easy]." My own sense is that the "Turangalia" Symphony and similar things whose frequency of appearance in the game are largely out of proportion to their gravity in the academy, or even popularity among consumers, are almost certainly destined to join what Ryan Westbrook calls the shadow cannon (of things that at one time came up, even frequently, but later don't.)


Did said box have a lot of shadow-canon type stuff that we've stopped asking about, or was the canon mostly just smaller? (And if it did have a large shadow canon, what sorts of compositions came up but have since fallen by the wayside?)
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Captain Sinico » Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:17 pm

There seemed to be several things at first glance. All the material will be online at some point, so we can look there at that point.

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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:33 pm

Finally, a thread where I can actually be of use!

First off, I'll give my own practical response to justified criticism.

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:However, the response I hear a lot of to those kinds of questions is stuff about how cool those random obscure composers are, and I even find that people like Hannah Kirsch and Aaron Rosenberg, the kinds of people who CAN write good music questions, seem to frequently opt for the obscure composers to introduce things they find interesting, so I disagree that barrier to entry is what leads to all of these questions, and instead view it as a mix.


I freely confess that about 95% of the classical music on my computer is from Beethoven onward, and yes, I do find those obscure modern composers interesting. I'll admit that making Rautavaara the hard part of a bonus was a mistake, and I'll try to rein in my personal tastes in the future. That said, as I mentioned in Andy's thread about the distribution, the further back in time you go, the harder it is to write tossups on musical works (especially when they don't have lyrics), as Chris has already pointed out.

Which brings me to music theory. To put it mildly, basic music theory doesn't lend itself well to quizbowl, because quizbowl likes unique material while intro-level theory likes works that follow the same guidelines. The typical first two semesters of music theory (in my experience) focus on learning the basic rules of tonal harmony (with some renaissance-era species counterpoint), and applying those rules again and again to works which follow the rules. For most of my first music theory course, we studied types of chords and chromaticism and how to use them within the tonal framework, through composition and analysis. The second semester was mostly a continuation of this, but with emphasis on larger forms. Even after doing a full roman numeral chord analysis of the third movement of Beethoven's Pathetique sonata (which falls under the umbrella of extremely important works Charlie mentions), I wasn't convinced that I had found anything that could be used as a tossup clue. Writing tossups on Beethoven's piano sonatas as a group gives you much more flexibility and clue space. Basically, what I'm saying is that taking music theory won't necessarily improve your ability to get tossups early except for those tossups with clues about medieval church modes.

Bonuses are another story. You could write a bonus on types of chords with clues about how they are generally used, which chords they move to, etc. I think this is something that should be introduced into the canon, although it would be challenging, and inaccessible for people who don't read music.

cornfused wrote: ACF Winter wrote:The opening movement of this work, marked allegro molto moderato, begins with a dramatic timpani roll followed by a series of falling minor seconds and major thirds.


While the opening timpani roll is certainly not uniquely identifying, the "series of falling minor seconds and major thirds" is - a music player would recognize this as the dahdahDUM dahdahDUM dahdahDUM that is the concerto's most recognizable fragment. If the theme is described correctly, the writer provides the music player with the same information as would be given in an audio sample.


I basically agree with Greg here, and with Dwight's comments. If you can describe a melody accurately, it helps players who have listened to the piece, and the above clue is a fine example.

If I can't find enough unique clues based on the music itself, I usually try to search for anecdotes about the music in program notes, etc.. This is not ideal, because such anecdotes often have nothing to do with how the piece sounds, and sometimes approach the level of "biographical clues." But on the other hand, many listeners actually do pay attention to the liner notes, and even if those anecdotes do not tell you how the music goes, they do give insight into the music's creation and importance.

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:PS: The contents of a recently recovered box of pre-2000 quizbowl material from a closet in a storage area above one of my family's bars reminds me to caution you all against making statements like "The Turangalila Symphony will likely always be [easy]." My own sense is that the "Turangalia" Symphony and similar things whose frequency of appearance in the game are largely out of proportion to their gravity in the academy, or even popularity among consumers, are almost certainly destined to join what Ryan Westbrook calls the shadow cannon (of things that at one time came up, even frequently, but later don't.)


I also agree with this sentiment, though I'm not sure about the Turangalila Symphony joining the shadow canon. I'm sure it's hard to sell tickets for a performance of that piece because so much of it is atonal, but I'd wager that its use of the ondes martenot is important.

Captain Sinico wrote:shadow cannon


Image

I'm also interested in taking a look at that box of pre-2000 questions.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Not That Kind of Christian!! » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:21 pm

Aaron’s music theory comments are spot on, and I’d like to add that I dislike many music theory clues in general. I don’t necessarily mean clues like “oh, hey, there are these six sforzando dominant seventh chords in the first movement” or instrumentation clues like “there are these warring timpani...” The former is extremely famous, and the latter is both famous and unique. (I think the Grieg clue falls under the “six sforzando” umbrella. That intro is both quizbowl notable and musically significant, and there really aren’t other askable concerti that open like that.) It’s more when questions open with “The third movement’s andante quieto follows a solo woodwind passage,” something that describes quite a few of Beethoven’s works alone. I’m guilty of writing clues like that myself, things that are too general or not recognizable enough to be useful first clues.

The fact that Albinoni is more quizbowl-obscure than Turangalila kind of proves the point about how the quizbowl canon diverges from the “real world” canon.

I’d like to see the pre-2000 stuff, too.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:48 pm

One other note. If you're interested in learning more about music theory, I recommend:

Stefan Kostka and Dorothy Payne. Tonal Harmony with an Introduction to Twentieth-Century Music. McGraw Hill.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Louis XIV and Twenty Million Henchmen » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:47 am

The Gold Gringo wrote:I'll admit that making Rautavaara the hard part of a bonus was a mistake, and I'll try to rein in my personal tastes in the future.

noooo we need more Rautavaara :cry:

Basically, what I'm saying is that taking music theory won't necessarily improve your ability to get tossups early except for those tossups with clues about medieval church modes.

What about a clue mentioning a notable chord, like if you said something like this in a New World Symphony tossup (probably right before FTP): "The tonic chord becomes augmented in the second phrase of the parallel interrupted period that opens the second movement's famous English horn solo"? (I just glanced at the score quickly, so I don't know if "parallel interrupted period" is the best analysis of those measures…but something like that, involving the augmented chord, because that's pretty distinctive and memorable, right?)
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:07 am

mcn46 wrote:What about a clue mentioning a notable chord, like if you said something like this in a New World Symphony tossup (probably right before FTP): "The tonic chord becomes augmented in the second phrase of the parallel interrupted period that opens the second movement's famous English horn solo"? (I just glanced at the score quickly, so I don't know if "parallel interrupted period" is the best analysis of those measures…but something like that, involving the augmented chord, because that's pretty distinctive and memorable, right?)


There's an idea. I know some people have issues with using the word 'famous' but I can't think of any other second movement with a well-known english horn solo.

mcn46 wrote: The Gold Gringo wrote:I'll admit that making Rautavaara the hard part of a bonus was a mistake, and I'll try to rein in my personal tastes in the future.


noooo we need more Rautavaara :cry:


What have I unleashed on the world? :neutral:
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:53 am

Yeah, the Turangalila Symphony definitely belongs to that class of answers which is currently (extremely!) hot in quizbowl but may well at some point go cold.

But, the general point is well taken - that it's easier and more feasible for most people, for a lot of reasons, to write a tossup on the Turangalila Symphony than the Haffner Symphony. Not only that, but tus on things like Turangalila with all of their clear-cut unique clues usually come off as more interesting and more entertaining to play on, at least among people who can't very easily buzz on "pure-music" clues.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:53 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:My own sense is that the "Turangalia" Symphony and similar things whose frequency of appearance in the game are largely out of proportion to their gravity in the academy, or even popularity among consumers, are almost certainly destined to join what Ryan Westbrook calls the shadow canon (of things that at one time came up, even frequently, but later don't.)


For what it's worth, you have this equation backwards. Turangalila may not have popularity with a wide swath of consumers, being long and modernist, but (speaking from personal experience) certainly has a greater deal of "gravity in the academy" then you seem to give it credit for. I'm willing to grant that Messaien is probably overasked at the moment (Harawi does not deserve middle-clue status, as happened at MO- there are about a dozen other Messaien works which are more important), but he absolutely deserves to remain an active part of the canon.

HKirsch wrote:The fact that Albinoni is more quizbowl-obscure than Turangalila kind of proves the point about how the quizbowl canon diverges from the “real world” canon.


Given that Albinoni is (for the vast majority of people) only famous for a) one piece, b) which is essentially the poor man's Canon in D, c) which he didn't even write, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the fact that Albinoni is more quizbowl-obscure than Turangalila kind of proves we're doing something right.

Switching gears:

The Gold Gringo wrote:Even after doing a full roman numeral chord analysis of the third movement of Beethoven's Pathetique sonata (which falls under the umbrella of extremely important works Charlie mentions), I wasn't convinced that I had found anything that could be used as a tossup clue. Writing tossups on Beethoven's piano sonatas as a group gives you much more flexibility and clue space. Basically, what I'm saying is that taking music theory won't necessarily improve your ability to get tossups early except for those tossups with clues about medieval church modes.

Bonuses are another story. You could write a bonus on types of chords with clues about how they are generally used, which chords they move to, etc. I think this is something that should be introduced into the canon, although it would be challenging, and inaccessible for people who don't read music.


My experience is basically the same; if you want to reward knowledge of music theory (and, sure I'm biased, but I do think it is knowledge worth rewarding), then the best way to do so is not to fill tossups on works with psuedo-theory-babble that's useful to nobody when read at tossup speed. Instead, it's better to ask about things like chords or modes or forms, preferably as a hard bonus part so as to maintain accessibility for the rest of the field). Back in my undergrad days, I wrote a few pure theory questions which went over poorly due to the fact that I had a poor sense of what people knew, and made them all way too hard. (If anyone still remembers the "name the type of species counterpoint from a brief description FTPE" bonus I wrote sometime back in 2003, I'm sorry!) But that's a pitfall which can be easily avoided.

Kaleido Star Legend of the Phoenix wrote:What about a clue mentioning a notable chord, like if you said something like this in a New World Symphony tossup (probably right before FTP): "The tonic chord becomes augmented in the second phrase of the parallel interrupted period that opens the second movement's famous English horn solo"? (I just glanced at the score quickly, so I don't know if "parallel interrupted period" is the best analysis of those measures…but something like that, involving the augmented chord, because that's pretty distinctive and memorable, right?)


The 2nd mvt. English horn solo is a fine clue; it's memorable and very nearly unique (I certainly don't know any others); the bit about the augmented chord is something that I don't think is really all that buzzable, even if you know the underlying theory as well as the piece in question (as I do). Not only is the verbal-to-aural translation something that is very hard to do mid-tossup, but the nature of common practice tonality (and, relatedly, the popularity of sonata form) means that the vast majority of those kinds of clues are going to be worthless for just about everybody.

It's still worth writing them occasionally, because there are some exceptions, and if you can actually manage to verbalize a melody or a form such that somebody can buzz, then you've done something very valuable. But, honestly, when you're trying to write about abstract music from pretty much any time between 1600 and 1900, you're going to have a better hit rate if you just simply mine some liner notes for memorable biographical and/or performance anecdotes. I hate to say it, but it's true.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Louis XIV and Twenty Million Henchmen » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:26 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:
mcn46 wrote:What about a clue mentioning a notable chord, like if you said something like this in a New World Symphony tossup (probably right before FTP): "The tonic chord becomes augmented in the second phrase of the parallel interrupted period that opens the second movement's famous English horn solo"? (I just glanced at the score quickly, so I don't know if "parallel interrupted period" is the best analysis of those measures…but something like that, involving the augmented chord, because that's pretty distinctive and memorable, right?)


There's an idea. I know some people have issues with using the word 'famous' but I can't think of any other second movement with a well-known english horn solo.

Well, that's part of the reason why I said "something like" that – I don't think I would put that particular sentence in a question anyway; it looks kind of awkward to read.

And yeah, Rautavaara is awesome. ^_^

1572 in science wrote:The 2nd mvt. English horn solo is a fine clue; it's memorable and very nearly unique (I certainly don't know any others); the bit about the augmented chord is something that I don't think is really all that buzzable, even if you know the underlying theory as well as the piece in question (as I do). Not only is the verbal-to-aural translation something that is very hard to do mid-tossup, but the nature of common practice tonality (and, relatedly, the popularity of sonata form) means that the vast majority of those kinds of clues are going to be worthless for just about everybody.

With the result that they would mostly come up in questions about modern music, giving those things more attributes that can appear in clues, like "This work's Xth movement is based on weird synthetic scale Y", that have no parallel for Mozart works that might be more notable.

When I wrote the clue in my last post, I thought I would find it helpful if it appeared in a question; but now I'm looking at it again and realising that it pretty much amounts to "it has an English horn solo in it". It could probably be made more or less helpful by the clues that would appear before it, like if you mentioned D-flat major in the same sentence.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Pilgrim » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:53 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:but I can't think of any other second movement with a well-known english horn solo.

Concierto de Aranjuez has one, for what it's worth.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:17 pm

Pilgrim wrote:Concierto de Aranjuez has one, for what it's worth.


Once again that piece screws me over.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Sargon » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:56 pm

I think a good deal of the problems people encounter when writing music tossups can be avoided by writing works on composers or, if one must, common link tossups on types of works. For me, even though I know a good bit of music theory, attempts to describe the music do not help me identify even works I know very well. Thus, in the Kullervo symphony tossup cited above, despite the fact that I have listened to that piece dozens of times and could hum excerpts from all its movements, I would be hard pressed to answer before the suicide in the third movement clue midway through. Normally works will have a few really notable and distinct things about them musically like an unusual instrumentation (high bassoon solo in the opening of the Rite of Spring, 18 trumpets in Khachaturian's third symphony), funny dynamics (like Vaughan William's sixth symphony, whose finale is entirely pp), or bizarre structure (Ockeghem's Missa Prolationum written entirely in strict double mensuration canon). Moreover, having some context, generated through the careful use of biographical clues or obscure works, will make musical descriptions of the famous works easier to process, as well as reward people who know a lot about a given composer, rather than just his most famous work. Hence, the clue that Sibelius's 7th symphony starts with an ascending diatonic scale and is in one movement with basically no key changes is not very helpful if you are deciding between any orchestral work of western music ever written, but if you are thinking of Scandinavian composers or early twentieth century symphonists, it could be very helpful.

On this note, people should really stop writing Pope Marcellus Mass questions, since these always tend to boil down to "it's a famous Renaissance mass." Knowing a lot about Palestrina and having listened to the mass in no way helps you get the tossup; only lateral thinking and knowing Pfitzner's much later opera on the subject really help. Expansion of the Renaissance music canon, which is sorely needed (as it stands, Josquin, quite possibly the greatest composer to ever live in any age is the hard part of a bonus), should take the form of new composers like Ockeghem, Dufay, and Mauchaut, who are all very famous in music history, rather than individual works of Palestrina and Josquin.

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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby David Riley » Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:34 pm

When I was working on my music degrees (c. 1976-1985), Turangalila was a very popular work in the academy at that time. And often, one encountered an attitude of either "if it's 20th century, it's got to be good" or "It's too personal to criticize it's worth" [music post-Elektra] and it seemed like every composer was fair game. I've been out of the music circuit since 1990, what are some of the currents now, in addition to the ones mentioned above?
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Louis XIV and Twenty Million Henchmen » Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:26 pm

Sargon wrote:For me, even though I know a good bit of music theory, attempts to describe the music do not help me identify even works I know very well. Thus, in the Kullervo symphony tossup cited above, despite the fact that I have listened to that piece dozens of times and could hum excerpts from all its movements, I would be hard pressed to answer before the suicide in the third movement clue midway through. Normally works will have a few really notable and distinct things about them musically like an unusual instrumentation (high bassoon solo in the opening of the Rite of Spring, 18 trumpets in Khachaturian's third symphony), funny dynamics (like Vaughan William's sixth symphony, whose finale is entirely pp), or bizarre structure (Ockeghem's Missa Prolationum written entirely in strict double mensuration canon).


I thought the same thing about the Kullervo tossup – I got nothing from the thing about the woodwind trills the first time I read it, although when I knew what it was I knew exactly what it was talking about. I don't think I would have gotten anything until "third movement in 5/4", or been completely sure until "asks his sword". (I might be weird, but the "woodwind chord" in the third movement that stands out the most in my mind is the C# minor one right before Kullervo's lament begins, rather than the triple-forte ones at the very end.) The clue about the second movement also did nothing for me, but I think that someone presented with this set of early clues might indeed think "hey, yeah, that's Kullervo", whereas if they were presented with some early clues from which I might have found it easier to identify Kullervo (like maybe something about F# quintuplets in the second movement), they might not, and vice versa…just like any other question on any other work, music or otherwise.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:40 pm

It may just be the packets our team has used in practice, but my vote for most over-used piece of music relative to actual importance goes to Der Freischutz. Not much performed, except for its overture, so anything more than a very occasional appearance is not really warranted. Also, questions about it are hard to write with smooth pyramidality. They seem to go: aria nobody's heard of, another aria nobody's ever heard, and then Wolf's Glen or magic bullets, which causes mass fumbling for buzzers.

My question for the experienced music writers is: what is your main criterion for determining a piece's difficulty? Is it concert hall popularity, academic/historical significance, or how easy it is to write about due to distinctive features? Another way of asking this might be, who is intended to answer these questions: music lovers/listeners or music major/students? If the latter, something's awry when as Paul Gauthier pointed out above, the most famous composers of the Renaissance are the hard parts of bonuses, especially when things like the Kullervo Symphony are going to be tossups.

I'll say up front that I've only been involved in quiz bowl for about a year now, and this is one of my first posts on this forum. This is just the experience of playing this year's tournaments speaking, and I know that it might be unwise for me to post with this little experience, but I'm sure you'll correct me if any of this is way off base. I have really enjoyed a lot of the music questions I've heard in practice and tournaments (in particular, the 2005 Jacopo Pontormo Tournament of Masters that I read through off the Stanford Packet Archive, had some of the best regular season difficulty questions I've read all year, as far as both answer choice and the clues given), but I did find that there was a lot of expansion in depth as the year progressed and almost none in width. At EFT, the first and easiest tournament I attended, I failed to 30 a bonus on Meyerbeer operas because I blanked on the name of the librettist. At the time, I was delighted to hear a Meyerbeer question, since I'm a 19th century opera buff. In retrospect, something is fishy when one of the easiest tournaments of the year starts asking for depth in rarely performed 19th century opera, while many other areas of music had not even been touched yet. Likewise, questions on semi-obscure Minimalist operas and experimenters in aleatory music started creeping into tournaments suspiciously early in the year, before almost any real exploration of the standard solo piano or chamber music repertoire beyond one or two works.

The 2009 ICT is not a tournament I would hold up as a paragon of music questions for either the quality of the writing or for its very scarce distribution (we were lucky to hear a music tossup once every other packet), but one thing that was refreshing was that the questions covered several of the areas that were neglected in the canon throughout the rest of the year: 1. Performers. There was a nice tossup on Isaac Stern. There have been relatively few tossups on the major conductors, pianists, violinists, and singers in classical music, who are often more well known and important than a lot of these obscure modern composers we get asked about. 2. Ragtime and pre-bebop jazz. Maybe it's the fact that I specialize in pre-WWII jazz, but I think there are very few questions about this very important and developmental era in American music, even while bonuses begin to ask for increasingly minor albums of Miles Davis' as the year wears on. 3. Film and stage music. Even if a lot of this stuff seems frivolous and trashy, there's still plenty that can be asked about. The Great American Songbook is very highly valued by many musicians and is studied academically. Questions like the Missouri Open Star Wars "Duel of the Fates" tossup might be trash/music (though it was fun), but the WWII-era Hollywood composers included some of the best Central and Eastern European composers who were fleeing the rise of totalitarianism, and are certainly worthy of some more questions. Apparently all of these topics are going to be covered in the VCU Open music tournament, so I'm excited to play that to see how it pans out.

The last, sort of weird, thing that struck me is that there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember. This may seem a bit of an odd claim, but I find no other way to explain why even the most obscure Sibelius tone poems appear with far more frequency than any of his symphonies. Or why Brahms' symphonies seem to appear far less frequently than those of his contemporaries, even though his symphonies are the most popular and important symphonies of the romantic movement after Beethoven (they're distinctive enough to make them easy to write about too). Or why the concerto repertoire seems rather marginalized.

Anyway that was my two cents.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:10 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:The last, sort of weird, thing that struck me is that there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember. This may seem a bit of an odd claim, but I find no other way to explain why even the most obscure Sibelius tone poems appear with far more frequency than any of his symphonies. Or why Brahms' symphonies seem to appear far less frequently than those of his contemporaries, even though his symphonies are the most popular and important symphonies of the romantic movement after Beethoven (they're distinctive enough to make them easy to write about too). Or why the concerto repertoire seems rather marginalized.


Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I'm still mad that my Brahms 4 tossup got thrown out of our nationals packet. I'm probably as guilty as anyone of favoring named works over important ones. If we're going to fix this, though, we need to do so gradually or the difficulty could skyrocket. I tried writing a Shosty 5 tossup for T-party and I'm told it went dead in more than a few rooms.

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:My question for the experienced music writers is: what is your main criterion for determining a piece's difficulty? Is it concert hall popularity, academic/historical significance, or how easy it is to write about due to distinctive features?


I try to weigh all three of these, but the presence of distinctive features always seems to win. If you try to write about a work without distinctive features, you have set yourself a hard task. Also, I try to be cautious with concert hall popularity, because sometimes it doesn't correlate with historical significance. Take Schoenberg and Rachmaninov, for example. Schoenberg gets entire chapters devoted to him in theory textbooks because he pioneered a musical system which changed the direction of music in the 20th century. Rachmaninov introduced no new forms; he probably gets a few paragraphs at most. Yet today, the latter is performed far more, for the simple reason that Schoenberg tickets are harder to sell, and Rachmaninov's work in existing forms was very good. So take popularity with a grain of salt.

If anything, I'd say this thread has proved that music will always be one of the hardest categories to write. Written language can only convey so much about how a piece sounds; that's just the way it is.

On another note, I think John and Cameron are right about virtuosos and conductors; they are an important part of music and it's probably time to bring them into the canon (starting at the higher levels, of course).
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Not That Kind of Christian!! » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:23 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:The last, sort of weird, thing that struck me is that there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember. This may seem a bit of an odd claim, but I find no other way to explain why even the most obscure Sibelius tone poems appear with far more frequency than any of his symphonies. Or why Brahms' symphonies seem to appear far less frequently than those of his contemporaries, even though his symphonies are the most popular and important symphonies of the romantic movement after Beethoven (they're distinctive enough to make them easy to write about too). Or why the concerto repertoire seems rather marginalized.


Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I'm still mad that my Brahms 4 tossup got thrown out of our nationals packet. I'm probably as guilty as anyone of favoring named works over important ones. If we're going to fix this, though, we need to do so gradually or the difficulty could skyrocket. I tried writing a Shosty 5 tossup for T-party and I'm told it went dead in more than a few rooms.


I loved that Shosti 5 tossup, for the record.

I think the difficulty of adding more symphonic or concerto repertoire to the canon is that for a non-musician or music aficionado, hearing "the violins repeat an A for 60 measures at the end of this piece" or "a notable half-diminished chord in the woodwinds" doesn't make much sense. It's boring to just straight-up memorize numbers corresponding to this sort of phrase, which is what would be required. Perhaps, as Aaron mentioned, using conductor clues or performance history clues in with the music theory could be a gentler way of tossing up things like Beethoven's 8th symphony or the Sibelius violin concerto.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:28 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:The last, sort of weird, thing that struck me is that there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember. This may seem a bit of an odd claim, but I find no other way to explain why even the most obscure Sibelius tone poems appear with far more frequency than any of his symphonies. Or why Brahms' symphonies seem to appear far less frequently than those of his contemporaries, even though his symphonies are the most popular and important symphonies of the romantic movement after Beethoven (they're distinctive enough to make them easy to write about too). Or why the concerto repertoire seems rather marginalized.


Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I'm still mad that my Brahms 4 tossup got thrown out of our nationals packet. I'm probably as guilty as anyone of favoring named works over important ones. If we're going to fix this, though, we need to do so gradually or the difficulty could skyrocket. I tried writing a Shosty 5 tossup for T-party and I'm told it went dead in more than a few rooms.

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:My question for the experienced music writers is: what is your main criterion for determining a piece's difficulty? Is it concert hall popularity, academic/historical significance, or how easy it is to write about due to distinctive features?


I try to weigh all three of these, but the presence of distinctive features always seems to win. If you try to write about a work without distinctive features, you have set yourself a hard task. Also, I try to be cautious with concert hall popularity, because sometimes it doesn't correlate with historical significance. Take Schoenberg and Rachmaninov, for example. Schoenberg gets entire chapters devoted to him in theory textbooks because he pioneered a musical system which changed the direction of music in the 20th century. Rachmaninov introduced no new forms; he probably gets a few paragraphs at most. Yet today, the latter is performed far more, for the simple reason that Schoenberg tickets are harder to sell. So take popularity with a grain of salt.

If anything, I'd say this thread has proved that music will always be one of the hardest categories to write. Written language can only convey so much about how a piece sounds; that's just the way it is.

On another note, I think John and Cameron are right about virtuosos and conductors; they are an important part of music and it's probably time to bring them into the canon (starting at the higher levels, of course).


Agreed on all counts. FWIW, my common-link tossup on "Third Symphonies" from T-Party spent a few of its middle clues talking about Brahms 3, and in fact was largely written because I felt Brahms 3 needed to come up somehow, but would be way too hard/vague/impossible to write if I tried to give it an entire tossup. As I think I've mentioned before, abstract music (such as symphonies and concertos) is the #1 reason that common-link tossups need to exist.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby theMoMA » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:07 pm

People in this thread need to realize that there are less than a dozen people in quizbowl who have truly outstanding music knowledge. Music is one of the least-accessible of the humanities categories because many of the clues require a lifetime of music education to fully understand. There are certainly plenty of things that are important that don't have traditional names in music, but regardless of their real-world importance, things have to be answerable by an acceptable majority of the players before they can be tossup answers. Things that have names like "Cello concerto in G" or "Symphony Four" are just harder to remember and associate clues with than things like the Haffner symphony. The way to introduce things into the canon continues to be to write on them as bonus parts, using the most important clues (and sometimes even stating "this thing which is really important but never comes up"), so that the teams that study packets see the importance of the answer and associate the clues needed to answer tossups on it.

Note that I'm talking about regular tournaments all the way up to nationals, not events meant to push the canon like arts side events or Chicago Open. Then again, keep in mind that regardless of how many tossups you write for tournaments like that on Brahms's fourth, there's still a really big audience of players who have no clue what it is, so it's probably not the best way to introduce something if you want it to stick.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:09 pm

Well, as a non-musician, the music answers that I'm aware of I know because I heard them come up in various tournaments. If Brahms' 4th Symphony came up the way Turangalila does, I'd probably know more about the former than the latter.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Sir Thopas » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:30 pm

theMoMA wrote:People in this thread need to realize that there are less than a dozen people in quizbowl who have truly outstanding music knowledge. Music is one of the least-accessible of the humanities categories because many of the clues require a lifetime of music education to fully understand.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to have people devote a fair amount of time to understanding music theory and the like if they want to be competent music players. This is no different from what we require from budding science players (as you yourself imply). There may be only a few really good music players (of which I am certainly not one), but I trust them when they say that the canon is in the wrong place. It's probably easier to shift the canon entirely than to make it deeper, or at least to confine all expansions to one section. If this requires that people learn how to understand deeper clues, so be it.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:39 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:The last, sort of weird, thing that struck me is that there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember. This may seem a bit of an odd claim, but I find no other way to explain why even the most obscure Sibelius tone poems appear with far more frequency than any of his symphonies. Or why Brahms' symphonies seem to appear far less frequently than those of his contemporaries, even though his symphonies are the most popular and important symphonies of the romantic movement after Beethoven (they're distinctive enough to make them easy to write about too). Or why the concerto repertoire seems rather marginalized.


Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I'm still mad that my Brahms 4 tossup got thrown out of our nationals packet. I'm probably as guilty as anyone of favoring named works over important ones. If we're going to fix this, though, we need to do so gradually or the difficulty could skyrocket. I tried writing a Shosty 5 tossup for T-party and I'm told it went dead in more than a few rooms.


I'm surprised that either of those (Brahms 4 or Shostakovich 5) could go dead, as they both have very distinctive features and are generally regarded as being amongst the most important and popular of their era. Could I possibly see them?

But regarding difficulty skyrocketing, I don't see why it should for anyone who actually knows the repertoire rather than just the canon of works that quizbowl has been asking about, since we're talking about widening the canon to better represent repertoire. Perhaps I'm overestimating how many teams have a person who actually knows classical music, as Andrew Hart suggests. But even so, I don't think there's anything wrong with writing a tossup that separates those who know music from those who have memorized past answers, by going dead for the latter group. It's knowledge of the subject rather than knowledge of the canon that we're meant to be rewarding right?

The Gold Gringo wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:My question for the experienced music writers is: what is your main criterion for determining a piece's difficulty? Is it concert hall popularity, academic/historical significance, or how easy it is to write about due to distinctive features?


I try to weigh all three of these, but the presence of distinctive features always seems to win. If you try to write about a work without distinctive features, you have set yourself a hard task. Also, I try to be cautious with concert hall popularity, because sometimes it doesn't correlate with historical significance. Take Schoenberg and Rachmaninov, for example. Schoenberg gets entire chapters devoted to him in theory textbooks because he pioneered a musical system which changed the direction of music in the 20th century. Rachmaninov introduced no new forms; he probably gets a few paragraphs at most. Yet today, the latter is performed far more, for the simple reason that Schoenberg tickets are harder to sell, and Rachmaninov's work in existing forms was very good. So take popularity with a grain of salt.


I'm afraid that I'm one of those people who tends to line up for Rachmaninov concerts (as I do love his music) and hide from Schoenberg ones. But are you suggesting that Rachmaninov should have a smaller place in the canon, because his popularity has obfuscated his lack of historical significance, or rather that you think Schoenberg is getting too small a place in the canon because he's not popular with the concert-going public?

The Gold Gringo wrote: If anything, I'd say this thread has proved that music will always be one of the hardest categories to write. Written language can only convey so much about how a piece sounds; that's just the way it is.


I agree with Hannah that performance history clues would be helpful, and are a good idea. Although I would hesitate to use too many unless the piece really has too few distinctive musical features to be gotten mainly from those. (Though Hannah's example of Beethoven's Eighth should be buzzable without too much padding, I think. It's clock-imitation unusually fast second movement is unique. So are the timpani pitched an octave apart in the finale. And I'm not sure someone who didn't know those details would know performance history.) But I think the problem with the descriptive clues is less the limits of describing music with language, and more the type of language used by writers. The language is often layman's language rather than musicians' language and the musical passages described are often non-uniquely identifying description; the equivalent of saying "a character gets shot near the end of the book" in a Lit clue. The difference between "in one section of the third movement the string sections enter one by one with a theme in the major" and "in the trio section of the third movement, the string section enter in fugal imitation with a rising theme in the relative major" is big (in fact you may already know what piece I'm thinking of from the revised clue). Clues that give hints as to the form or key of movements of a symphony for example, really help you narrow down the possibilities.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:03 pm

Sir Thopas wrote:
theMoMA wrote:People in this thread need to realize that there are less than a dozen people in quizbowl who have truly outstanding music knowledge. Music is one of the least-accessible of the humanities categories because many of the clues require a lifetime of music education to fully understand.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to have people devote a fair amount of time to understanding music theory and the like if they want to be competent music players. This is no different from what we require from budding science players (as you yourself imply). There may be only a few really good music players (of which I am certainly not one), but I trust them when they say that the canon is in the wrong place. It's probably easier to shift the canon entirely than to make it deeper, or at least to confine all expansions to one section. If this requires that people learn how to understand deeper clues, so be it.


Just to clarify, widening the canon to include more famous works is not the same thing as requiring more technical/theoretical knowledge of music to get the answers. I'm suggesting that more theoretical/technical clues in the description of works would be more helpful than the non-uniquely identifying, non-musically substantive clues we often have now and would allow people who do understand music to beat the non-musicians who've memorized list clues to the answer; but I have no problem with the answers remaining accessible to all those who listen to classical music, and therefore know the famous pieces/performers. But right now, neither people with technical knowledge of music nor even concert-goers or CD-listeners of classical music with repertoire knowledge seem to be targeted by music questions, but rather people with knowledge of an unrepresentative canon of select pieces.

By the way, in spite of what Andrew said, I have never heard a single music clue that contained a music clue that required "a lifetime of music education", or in fact that required more theory knowledge than what's on the Music Theory AP, which is designed for high schoolers who have taken only one year of theory.

Also, saying that we should stick to pieces that have nicknames even when they're more obscure, because the names are harder to keep straight strikes me as an odd argument. It's a bit like me asking that you stick to writing science questions about laws named after guys because I can't keep straight which is the first and which the second law of thermodynamics, or because I keep confusing alkanes and alkenes.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby theMoMA » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:13 pm

Please stop reading me the wrong way. Music clues are hard for people without training to understand or make use of, so at most tournaments, you need to be very careful that your answers are things that people without that specialized background are going to be able to answer at the end. This privileges things that have real names, and the responsible way to change that is to start using the unnamed pieces as early clues and answers to harder parts of bonuses, not to start writing tossups on Brahms's fourth symphony at Penn Bowl and tell the 70% of teams that don't answer it that it's important. If 70% of people didn't know what alkanes were, we'd have the same problem. But we don't, and the rules about writing tossups on answers that can be converted don't simply disappear when there is a major underrepresentation somewhere in the distribution. This has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings about the current music distribution (I actually played an instrument for most of my pre-college education). I'm just reminding everyone how writing tossups and expanding the canon works.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby cvdwightw » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:16 pm

The Gold Gringo wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:there seems to be preference given to titled and nicknamed works over works that only have a number, key, and opus, maybe because there is an idea that a nickname makes them easier to remember...
I tried writing a Shosty 5 tossup for T-party and I'm told it went dead in more than a few rooms.
Not that I'm a good music player or anything, but I'd like to point out that Shostakovich's 5th has a common "subtitle" and thus would be only a step up in difficulty from the "nicknamed" symphonies.

The reason people have difficulty writing music questions is that people just don't know what's unique and what isn't - you have to have literally a lifetime of listening to these pieces to say "does this clue apply to something else?" because there may or may not be some other difficulty-appropriate piece to which the same clue applies. To give an example from just this thread, it was believed that the "well-known English horn solo in the second movement" clue would be standalone and unique until a counterexample was given. So, as it turns out, it's not standalone and it's only unique if context clues specifically eliminate one or the other piece from the list of "pieces this could possibly be asked about in this question" (for instance, if it's a tossup at ACF Fall, you're probably fine including the clue, because Concerto de Aranjuez should never be tossed up at ACF Fall level, but it's a bad idea at ACF Nats).

My point is simply, if we can't expect some of the best music players in the game to accurately and reliably identify what's unique and what isn't, how are the rest of us who haven't listened to hundreds or thousands of pieces going to identify that? And that's just counting the "rest of us" as "experienced writers who have some basic idea of what is common and therefore a useless clue;" I'm not even counting freshman history players who have no idea that "The first movement of this work is marked Allegro con brio" is a bad clue.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby theMoMA » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:18 pm

Sir Thopas wrote:
theMoMA wrote:People in this thread need to realize that there are less than a dozen people in quizbowl who have truly outstanding music knowledge. Music is one of the least-accessible of the humanities categories because many of the clues require a lifetime of music education to fully understand.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to have people devote a fair amount of time to understanding music theory and the like if they want to be competent music players. This is no different from what we require from budding science players (as you yourself imply). There may be only a few really good music players (of which I am certainly not one), but I trust them when they say that the canon is in the wrong place. It's probably easier to shift the canon entirely than to make it deeper, or at least to confine all expansions to one section. If this requires that people learn how to understand deeper clues, so be it.


Just, no. Regardless of whether the people telling us what music should be are right or not (and it seems like we should have a discussion about this if we're actually talking about blowing up the current music canon and starting over), we are always going to be tied to writing questions that can be empirically answered, not just answers on things that someone deems important. "Competent music player" means different things to different people, but if you mean it in the sense that people without a background in music shouldn't be getting tossups at the end at regular tournaments, I can't disagree more.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:20 pm

I think you're misreading John, Andrew. He's not saying "let's immediately insert [composer]'s [number] into the canon," for tons of values of [composer] and [number]. He's saying that we shouldn't have such a bias towards things with nicknames, because he doesn't believe they increase conversion rates too much over things without nicknames. So if you're already decided that you're writing something hard, there's no reason for it to be that really hard Sibelius piece Chris White mentioned when it could be a work of equal fame and greater import that isn't named.

John's merely arguing that if we're going to be expanding the music canon, and two pieces are equally far away, and one is named, you really may choose the unnamed one, which would buck the trend of emphasizing named things over numbered--John argues that the unnamed one won't simply be forgotten or anything.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:23 pm

theMoMA wrote:"Competent music player" means different things to different people, but if you mean it in the sense that people without a background in music shouldn't be getting tossups at the end at regular tournaments, I can't disagree more.

And I wouldn't expect that that's his definition, because if so, then I'm one too. We accept that people without a background in physics might not understand early and even middle clues in a nutation tossup; most people without backgrounds in physics don't know what nutation is. But that's okay. Why is it not okay for music clues to have some difficult but entirely important terminology in them?
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:24 pm

I want to caution people against casting music in analogy to science, which some people in this thread seem to be attempting. Science requires a certain specialized vocabulary to even get off the ground; even the most basic concepts in science don't really make a lot of sense without that vocabulary. On the other hand, music (like painting and literature) can be enjoyed by many people even without specialized knowledge. A lot of people listen to Beethoven because they love the music of Beethoven and not because they have special technical knowledge of its contents; a lot fewer people prove theorems for fun. So the last thing we want to do is to cut off those people who may listen to a lot of music and might even know a lot about its history but are not music theory specialists.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:28 pm

grapesmoker wrote:So the last thing we want to do is to cut off those people who may listen to a lot of music and might even know a lot about its history but are not music theory specialists.

Since I am one of those people, I do agree with you. And that's why I'd never support a clue canon that somehow includes exclusively music clues, not least because it would be horrifyingly difficult to write, most submitted tossups would suck, and tournaments would 100% have to contain a music specialist on staff (whereas now they mostly do). I'm totally in favor of including other kinds of legitimate clues in music tossups.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:31 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I want to caution people against casting music in analogy to science, which some people in this thread seem to be attempting. Science requires a certain specialized vocabulary to even get off the ground; even the most basic concepts in science don't really make a lot of sense without that vocabulary. On the other hand, music (like painting and literature) can be enjoyed by many people even without specialized knowledge. A lot of people listen to Beethoven because they love the music of Beethoven and not because they have special technical knowledge of its contents; a lot fewer people prove theorems for fun. So the last thing we want to do is to cut off those people who may listen to a lot of music and might even know a lot about its history but are not music theory specialists.


The academic study of music requires the same kinds of vocabulary. Obviously, we should take great pains to make our music tossups acessible, just as (IMO) even SCIENCE questions should be answerable to non-scientists at the end. But I think it's just fine if we have some leadins, or hard bonus parts, that make use of this specialized vocab.

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I think you're misreading John, Andrew. He's not saying "let's immediately insert [composer]'s [number] into the canon," for tons of values of [composer] and [number]. He's saying that we shouldn't have such a bias towards things with nicknames, because he doesn't believe they increase conversion rates too much over things without nicknames. So if you're already decided that you're writing something hard, there's no reason for it to be that really hard Sibelius piece Chris White mentioned when it could be a work of equal fame and greater import that isn't named.

John's merely arguing that if we're going to be expanding the music canon, and two pieces are equally far away, and one is named, you really may choose the unnamed one, which would buck the trend of emphasizing named things over numbered--John argues that the unnamed one won't simply be forgotten or anything.


I would take this a bit further, in that given the current state of the quizbowl canon, if: a) you're going to be expanding the canon, and b) you're writing about something from the height of Common Practice Era (let's say 1775-1900), you should prefer asking about the numbered thing. Obviously, this applies less if you're writing on modern or early music, where numbered things aren't quite as prominent.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:47 pm

theMoMA wrote:Please stop reading me the wrong way. Music clues are hard for people without training to understand or make use of, so at most tournaments, you need to be very careful that your answers are things that people without that specialized background are going to be able to answer at the end. This privileges things that have real names, and the responsible way to change that is to start using the unnamed pieces as early clues and answers to harder parts of bonuses, not to start writing tossups on Brahms's fourth symphony at Penn Bowl and tell the 70% of teams that don't answer it that it's important. If 70% of people didn't know what alkanes were, we'd have the same problem. But we don't, and the rules about writing tossups on answers that can be converted don't simply disappear when there is a major underrepresentation somewhere in the distribution. This has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings about the current music distribution (I actually played an instrument for most of my pre-college education). I'm just reminding everyone how writing tossups and expanding the canon works.


I'm certainly not intentionally reading you the wrong way, Andrew. Actually, I'm not sure what part of your post you think I'm misreading. And once again I do think you are misreading me a bit, as I think Andrew Watkins pointed out (thanks for that, by the way). I would like clues on musical works to have some musical substance at least in the lead-ins, so that musicians do have the edge over non-musicians in answering them early. I would also like the canon to expand to include the really famous pieces of music that have not been asked about, not because they are unimportant or have no uniquely identifying features, but because they don't have a nickname that makes it easier for people who know only the quiz bowl canon to get. These are two separate problems to be addressed, and could be addressed independently, if there's large objection to one or the other idea. Answering questions on un-nicknamed works requires no more technical knowledge of music theory, just a knowledge of the titles of famous works. Lead-ins requiring more technical knowledge does not make the answer more difficult, it just increases the likelihood that someone who knows music will get it earlier. These are two separate issues.

Also, and I'm very sorry if I do offend anyone by writing this, I do think that someone who does not know Brahms Symphony No. 4, and could not get a tossup on it even after a straightforward giveaway (like "last symphony of the composer of the Tragic Overture" or something) knows little to nothing about classical music. Brahms symphonies, which are all un-nicknamed, are some of if not the most important and widely-performed symphonies of the 19th century after Beethoven's. Someone who really loved to listen to classical music of the period would know the piece. To address your 70% point Andrew, if a tossup on Brahms' Fourth goes dead in 70% of rooms, due to the lack of music people on the teams, surely that's the fault of the teams for not having someone who studies a category that is supposed to make up 5% of all packets. If that tossup goes dead in the majority of rooms that do have music people in them, then I agree that it was a bad choice of a tossup. I merely think that the fact that there are fewer music people than science people in quiz bowl should be reflected only in the distribution, not in gearing music questions towards people who aren't familiar with famous pieces of music, but are familiar with the quiz bowl canon.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:49 pm

Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:The academic study of music requires the same kinds of vocabulary. Obviously, we should take great pains to make our music tossups acessible, just as (IMO) even SCIENCE questions should be answerable to non-scientists at the end. But I think it's just fine if we have some leadins, or hard bonus parts, that make use of this specialized vocab.


I definitely agree with the last sentence here. Absolutely, we should reward the experts first. However, the first part here is misleading because the small number of things that can actually be identified by non-experts in science is actually very small and would lead to a minuscule science canon. But the number of things that even a casual listener could identify from classical music is quite large; hell, even the list of things I can identify despite not really listening to music at all is large. Ever since we picked up Aaron Rosenberg in that blockbuster trade of 2008 I've taken to fallen asleep on music tossups anyway, but if poked with a sharp enough stick I can probably still buzz and identify a thing or two.
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Re: Writing Music Questions for Music Players

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:55 pm

Argh; why won't it let me post?

EDIT: Okay it works now.

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I'm surprised that either of those (Brahms 4 or Shostakovich 5) could go dead, as they both have very distinctive features and are generally regarded as being amongst the most important and popular of their era. Could I possibly see them?


Hans von Bülow called this work a "law unto itself," and the composer of this work claimed that he put the piece together from a couple of entr'actes. The recapitulation of the first movement begins with this work's only marking of 3 p's. In the opening of this work, the violins play only in descending thirds and ascending sixths, though the woodwinds imitate those figures as chords, while the piccolo and triangle only play in the allegro giocoso third movement. The aforementioned chains of falling thirds allude to the composer's song "O Death," while the fourth movement of this work is a set of thirty-two variations on the cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, originally thought to be composed by J.S. Bach. For ten points identify this work by the composer of the Academic Festival Overture which followed three others of the same genre.

ANSWER: Brahms' Fourth Symphony in E minor

6. The low strings open the second movement of this work with a macabre variation on the first movement's second theme, while the repeated A in the violins and high woodwinds at the end of this work is a quotation from the composer's song 'Rebirth.' Its first movement opens with the cellos and violins leaping up and down minor sixths, and closes with a chromatic scale on the celesta, while the final movement was described as a 'parody of shrillness' in its composer's autobiography Testimony. Written out of the composer's desire to return to heroic classicism after the poor reception of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, for 10 points, identify this Shostakovich symphony sometimes called a "response to justified criticism."
ANSWER: Symphony No. 5 in D minor [accept A Soviet Artist's Response to Justified Criticism before that is read, but also accept 'practical' or similar words in place of 'justified.']

If it went dead, it's probably because it just isn't as canonical as, say, Leningrad. True, it has a subtitle, but I can see a lot of people missing the exact wording.

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I'm afraid that I'm one of those people who tends to line up for Rachmaninov concerts (as I do love his music) and hide from Schoenberg ones. But are you suggesting that Rachmaninov should have a smaller place in the canon, because his popularity has obfuscated his lack of historical significance, or rather that you think Schoenberg is getting too small a place in the canon because he's not popular with the concert-going public?


No, they're both well-represented as they should be. This is just an example that a teacher once told me. All I'm saying is that criteria for judging an answer's difficulty will not always correlate with each other.

theMoMA wrote:But we don't, and the rules about writing tossups on answers that can be converted don't simply disappear when there is a major underrepresentation somewhere in the distribution. This has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings about the current music distribution (I actually played an instrument for most of my pre-college education). I'm just reminding everyone how writing tossups and expanding the canon works.
.

ACF website wrote:Dead tossups are the enemy of having fun at quizbowl tournaments, so above all, do not do not DO NOT write tossups on answers that are obscure (for ACF Fall, Winter, and Regionals. For Nationals, some more leeway is permitted in the sense that you do not have to reasonably expect that everyone will know the answer, but you still should not write for only the top 3 teams.) Use easy answers, and make your early-in-the-question clues hard to provide the challenge, rather than using challenging answers for tossups. Ideally, there should be almost no tossups in the tournament which go unanswered at the end. If you want to ask about something harder, use it as one part of a bonus that also contains two easier parts, not as a tossup answer or as the subject for an entire bonus. Use clues that are many and interesting throughout your tossups


I'm going to have to side with Andrew here. You can't "fix" the canon instantly, and all player's should have the opportunity to answer questions (at least by the end) if they're willing to put in the study time, regardless of their background or chosen field of study.
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