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opmaak Music

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Preface

It is remarkable how poorly informed those active in musical life generally are
about even the most elementary technical matters concerning contemporary
music. Such a lack of knowledge would probably not be tolerated in any other
profession. Since even specialised literature hardly offers solace, the present
book aims to underline certain technical aspects of contemporary musical
language. It has been written from the point of view of the composer rather
than that of the theoretician, an approach which has its advantages and disadvantages, as one can easily imagine.
This book is intended for various categories of readers. First and foremost
it is addressed to the music student of today, for whom some knowledge of
contemporary music may now be considered normal. Subsequently, it is written for all musicians engaged in one way or another in new music: performers, teachers and others who in practice often face certain problems that can
be solved through a deeper investigation of the structure of the musical language. But the well-informed musical amateur too may consult many chapters to his advantage.
To make matters as concrete as possible, much use is made of easily accessible scores; thus compositions are discussed that may regularly be heard in
the concert hall or through recordings. Electronic music has been left out of
consideration. Not only are scores scarce, but a technical approach to the subject is hardly meaningful unless the reader is at home in the world of the electronic studio.
The above-mentioned paucity of technical literature has obliged the writer
to organise the content in his own way. It proved necessary, even with regard
to terminology, to devise names and definitions for certain concepts. This,
together with the hitherto unknown diversity of individual styles and techniques, will safeguard the reader from generalising about what is discussed, a
path that would merely lead to new academicism. The specific purpose of this
book is to encourage everyone to become better acquainted with living music.

Preface to the Second Edition


A period of more than seven years lies between the preparation of the first edition and this second one, a considerable length of time in view of the rapidly
changing contemporary music scene. Beside a few corrections this new edi9

opmaak Music

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tion therefore contains a number of additions that cast light on the developments of recent years.
After the many fortunately favourable reactions to the first edition,
one critical remark persisted: the names of a number of important contemporary composers are hardly mentioned or have been omitted altogether. This
is indeed the case, and the reason lies in the aim that I have pursued. For what
I have written has no documentary pretension at all, but is based on the study
of those aspects of twentieth-century music that are new in respect to classical traditions. I chose the period around 1910 as my starting point, with the
works of composers then in their thirties, since it was then that these new
phenomena first occurred with some frequency, and in a manner essentially
integrated into musical thought.

Preface to the Third Edition


New names and new trends continue to emerge, and each new impression of
this book would perhaps justify the addition of a new chapter.
I have nevertheless decided not to tamper with the essence of the book,
which is a survey of the most important technical aspects of twentieth-century music up to the 1960s. It would appear that the half century thus covered
contains in its essence all those elements that characterise the music of today.
New developments hardly occur in terms of the technical aspects of music.
An exception is formed by electronic music, which in the past few years
in particular has developed rapidly. But this same period has seen the publication of so much literature on the subject that it would not seem useful to
incorporate it again in the present book.
Amendments in this third edition are therefore limited to a few additions,
slight alterations and corrections which owe their origin to comments made
by many alert music students and other readers.

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music of the twentieth century