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Thomas Bergersen's Hybrid Symphony "Seven"

Jediwario1

Composer
I just listened from start to finish (found the full album on YouTube uploaded by CDBaby).

Overall I was a bit disappointing considering I loved "American Dream". I was also expecting more hybrid/synth elements but it was mainly orchestral with little extra bits sprinkled in.

Pros: Strings sound lovely. Nice dynamic range. I really enjoyed the first track (once the strings come in).

Cons: loud parts sound very compressed (fatiguing). Some parts I thought didn't need the choir. Themes weren't memorable (but maybe I need a few more listens).
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Yes, of course.



Disagree there. Hybrid does not mean nor imply electronic.
Nothing here suggests that S&M is a symphony, especially since there are apparently also songs from previous albums on there with some orchestra slapped behind it by Michael Kamen. I also cannot see it being referred to as a symphony anywhere else.
(Symphony & Metal yes, but that refers to the style, doesn't mean the whole album is meant to function as a symphony with all tracks being movements of it.)

And, hybrid is more and more implying the implementation of electronics whether you like it or not. :P That's what you are finding when searching for it in most style/genre sorted places like production music pages https://www.universalproductionmusic.com/de-de/search?q=hybrid&qtext=hybrid&vtag=1&vwave=1&vdesc=1&ktype=6
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Out almost everywhere now. For streaming as usual on Spotify I'm amazed overall. Some parts I didn't like a lot, a lot of parts I loved and the most crying I had all year. :P 5 times I think and it's only out for a day.
(But I also thought the louder parts where over compressed on the mastering stage - unfortunately as usual with Thomas/TSFH in general)
 

muk

Senior Member
But is it a symphony?
It's not a symphony in the traditional meaning of the term. But neither is Thomas Bergersen's Seven. The term symphony not only implies the use of the traditional western culture orchestra by definition, and a coherent piece of music that is formed by several (usually four) related movements. It also implies the use of traditional western music form, i. e. at least one movement (usually the first, often the last as well. But at least one) will be in sonata form. That's a criterion Mr. Bergersen's album does not match. So, in the traditional sense of the word 'Seven' is not a symphony.

Of course you can just accept the title chosen by the composer as decisive factor for the genre. But that puts you in the unfortunate position where you would have to call The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" a symphony (which it is clearly not, it is a song), and Walter Ruttmann's "Berlin - Die Sinfonie der Grossstadt" (which is a movie), and a myriad of books too that are called "Symphony" in their titles.

But maybe whether it is a symphony or not, and whether it is the first hybrid anything or not, is not all that important if you like the music.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
It was good. I think TB has a long way to go. But no offense meant to fans whatsoever, he's obviously talented.

I think I might be listening to too much Shostakovich lol!
 

Gerbil

Active Member
I think it's as brilliantly written as anything else I've ever heard him do. But also, for my tastes, pretty cheesy. Looking at the number of listeners who were enjoying it (judging by the relentless stream of admiration as they had their ears on the music and their fingers on their tech) it's going to bring a lot of happiness to people.
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
It's not a symphony in the traditional meaning of the term. But neither is Thomas Bergersen's Seven. The term symphony not only implies the use of the traditional western culture orchestra by definition, and a coherent piece of music that is formed by several (usually four) related movements. It also implies the use of traditional western music form, i. e. at least one movement (usually the first, often the last as well. But at least one) will be in sonata form. That's a criterion Mr. Bergersen's album does not match. So, in the traditional sense of the word 'Seven' is not a symphony.

Of course you can just accept the title chosen by the composer as decisive factor for the genre. But that puts you in the unfortunate position where you would have to call The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" a symphony (which it is clearly not, it is a song), and Walter Ruttmann's "Berlin - Die Sinfonie der Grossstadt" (which is a movie), and a myriad of books too that are called "Symphony" in their titles.

But maybe whether it is a symphony or not, and whether it is the first hybrid anything or not, is not all that important if you like the music.
There is obviously a difference between putting symphony in the title and describing something as a symphony and just putting it in the title.
No idea where you're going with this. Thomas describes his project as a symphony, neither Metallica nor The Verve describe their respective works as symphonies. Makes absolutely no sense what you're saying. I'm not taking it as a symphony because Thomas called it "Seven Symphony" (which he didn't) but because he described it as such, and since he is definitely very familiar with classical music and thus symphonies I'll take that. There also is coherence throughout Seven. Of course the movements are distinct but there is a line throughout it and motifs keep coming back.
And refusing something the stance as symphony because a single criteria is broken is rather narrow minded. He said himself that it doesn't follow the rules of traditional symphonies but what else do you call a piece of music in several distinct parts that are yet connected? By calling it a hybrid-symphony he kinda made up a new term anyway, so...
 

muk

Senior Member
Had Beethoven described his fifth symphony as a craddle song, it would still be a symphony. And no matter how Thomas Bergersen describes this album, it does not make his music something that it is not.

And if you understand the term 'hybrid' as 'seamless blend between traditional large scale western orchestral writing and electronic elements' as you describe it, then this is hardly the first attempt either. Composers are doing this since the fifties, using tape recordings (Donaueschingen would be a relevant term here), Theremin, later synzhesizers, electric guitar (Alfred Schnittke!), live electronics... And these were actual real symphonies - by fitting the definition, not by mere description by the composer.

No, this is an album of epic music but no symphony in the normal sense of the word. You can, of course, see this as a symphony if it makes you happy. Just don't expect anybody else to understand or agree with your usage of the term.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
As always I'm deeply impressed by the density and power of TB's production. He did everything right and even created this style of epicness. Chapeau! But for my personal taste it's just too much of everything and waaayyy to much compression. After listening through three songs it's like an electric kitchen hood noise for me. I switch it off and I feel "aaaaaahhhhh... finally silence again".
 

Bluemount Score

Active Member
Overall I was a bit disappointing considering I loved "American Dream".
Honestly, I was a bit surprised that it only took a couple of weeks to write American Dream compared to 4 years in total to get Seven done. When I heard about that, I was expecting Seven to be way longer. Other than that, I really like both. Little fanboy here, even though I see the criticism about compression and such. Don't care too much about the symphony title.
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Had Beethoven described his fifth symphony as a craddle song, it would still be a symphony. And no matter how Thomas Bergersen describes this album, it does not make his music something that it is not.

And if you understand the term 'hybrid' as 'seamless blend between traditional large scale western orchestral writing and electronic elements' as you describe it, then this is hardly the first attempt either. Composers are doing this since the fifties, using tape recordings (Donaueschingen would be a relevant term here), Theremin, later synzhesizers, electric guitar (Alfred Schnittke!), live electronics... And these were actual real symphonies - by fitting the definition, not by mere description by the composer.

No, this is an album of epic music but no symphony in the normal sense of the word. You can, of course, see this as a symphony if it makes you happy. Just don't expect anybody else to understand or agree with your usage of the term.
That's exactly what I meant. You were talking about titles including "Symphony" (like that The Verve song) and how this doesn't necessarily mean it's a symphony. Which I never denied since I was taking it as a symphony due to Thomas' description, not a title.
Due to my lack of knowledge regarding symphonies I do take the descriptions of highly skilled composers for gospel unless I truly know better.
Seven is not an album of epic music at all - it's mostly classical orchestration, with SOME typical epic parts and quite a substantial amount of hybrid integration.
And there is a connection between the individual pieces in many places, it's all married despite being distinct. It's not a soundtrack and not an album of individual songs but a connected musical work in different parts with a lot of different aspects but mostly a symphonic character. If that doesn't fit the definition of a symphony, perhaps it just needs some upgrading. ;) Terms can widen over time. Not that they necessarily should - if it makes them too wide and all-encompassing they become meaningless. But since there are very few musical works that fit this description we would not see a sudden saturation of things being called "symphony", so it seems fine to me.
 
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muk

Senior Member
Whether it's in the title or the description makes no difference. There are objective musical criteria to define the genre. In this case, they are partly met, but not totally. As you wrote it's important that all criteria are met. Otherwise a string quartet would suddenly count as a symphony as well (meets all the criteria but one, which is the number of instruments). Of course these criteria have been adapted over time. A 1950 symphony is markedly different from, say, an early Haydn symphony. And yet both do meet all the relevant criteria which defines them as a symphony. And this album does not.

If the term album of epic music does not convince you it's probably difficult to find an appropriate term. (By the way, I think there are plenty of albums where all the tracks are not individual, but tightly woven together). Album of hybrid music is certainly not far off. If at all, the narrative (the life of a human being from birth to death) would put it closer to the 'symphonic poem' than to a symphony. But it's not that either.

But in the end, if you enjoy the music it's probably not particularly relevant to which musical genre it belongs. Whether symphony or hybrid album, if you dig the music that is all that counts.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
The way around the description, symphony is generally to use symphonic as in, Symphonic Adventures! Otherwise you’re going to invite comparisons with an agreed upon form as well as composers that no one wants to be compared to : )

I guess this is “Epic” music then? It seems to me that term gets applied to large instrumental forces regardless of the writing, which is more importantly - loud!

To me epic music is, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wind and the Lion or Game of Thrones. Others come to mind as well but in most cases, a considerable depth of composition is on display. Ramin Djawadi’s work on the truly epic Game of Thrones contains epic themes that are not only uncanny in their capturing of the subject matter and it’s psychological properties, but marvelous examples of compositional invention. Orchestrated perfectly (and unusually) with not just the perfect size of forces but always the “appropriate” size that builds and recedes in the way all quality music does. That is, the writing is epic. In fact, Djawadi’s default is not to size or volume but to character. Both the character of the music and the story characters. In any case, front and center always, is writing of such quality it need never be artificially hyped and blared. It doesn’t push you back, it draws you in. The visuals and story may give you a headache, but never the music. Of course we’re talking about one of the greatest thematic writers in all of film and beyond. It would be nice if that kind of epicness rubbed off on the rest of us a little bit.
 
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bbunker

Senior Member
Not to wade too deep into the "what makes a Symphony" or "what makes a Sonata-Allegro form" or "is it Sonata-Allegro form or the Sonata-Allegro 'idea' or 'principle' you should use" or any of that - I suppose I've said my 'piece' on all of that the old-fashioned way. Which is to say - writing about what a Symphony is or isn't, when millions more will listen to Bergersen's 'Symphony' than mine, feels like heights of hubris that I won't start climbing now. Or have I, indirectly? The curse of working in a 'creative' field... ;)

That said - for the people who would say "Yes of course it is" what it claims to be, or something along those lines, I really would like to understand where that's coming from more, because I was profoundly disappointed by Seven. I think it's almost entirely because this was presented as being his first "Symphony" - and since he's written a wealth of 'Symphonic' music that doesn't get that title, it feels like there's meant to be some distinctive parameters in the piece that makes it a "Symphony" and - I seem to be missing them entirely. It sounds an awful lot like a lot of the work he's done before, and uses most of the same processes, so - what's different here? What's going on? Wherefore the rapturous reception? Explain Like I'm 5!
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Considering other epic scores such as Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, the more modern Prince of Egypt, Gladiator, Troy or even Matrix films, you find the same thing: very informed symphonic writing. If you consider large Classical symphonic music with chorus such as Mahler’s 8th, Vaughan Williams’ 1st or any of the the large Elgar works, you have what are truly epic-scale creations. Which is to say that the film scores above have their roots in earlier works such as these (or at least a certain level of composition technique) and you can hear it on every level.

It may be that works that are now being called symphonies or even epic have a certain disconnect with the past and with the artistic properties that brought about those descriptions. With the emulations of these styles made for libraries used on broadcast and cable TV as well as in video games (some of which are excellent) we are getting a looser identifying process that makes it harder to understand what you’re about to hear.
 

Bluemount Score

Active Member
I find it quite remarkable how different the critics are here compared to what l've read in the YouTube comments for "Deliverance" and during the pre release livestream.
I guess that's the big difference between consuming fans and producers (even though I don't know what of both would describe myself best in this case)
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Check the, Wife Argues With Me thread. People come down on all sides with any music. I’ve always admired TB’s talent and gifts and genuinely liked his music. This particular piece doesn’t do anything for me but I’m sure his fans love it and it more than fulfills their expectations. That’s going to hold true with the release of music from anyone - with very few exceptions.
 

Harzmusic

Active Member
To be honest, I am torn.
I do not really care about the "symphony" definition, except that of course it raised my expectations for this to be a little different.

I did enjoy most of the album a lot, got drawn in by the music very well. And I felt there were more than one moment where he really found something profound and meaningful and "grown up" to say, which I don't feel in most of his other work.
Interesting harmonies, melodies that aren't quite as simple to the ear, but carry more emotional complexity. Interesting colors and soundscapes that pull me in.

I feel like the album is kind of fragmented though.
"You Were My Forever" I can hear in a concert setting, beautiful writing. But then in the middle of the next track he goes full "trailer-dude" again, cranks up the choir and drums and distances me from the music. It is not that I don't like the trailer sound and all, I just did not feel that in fit with other parts which I found quite phenomenal.
I feel like anytime the loud block chord choir comes in, the music gets more shallow and anytime it drops out, we are back in business.
Stand out tracks for me are Deliverance, You were my Forever and Return to Sender.

I will listen to this again with an open mind. There is something of relevance there, and some day I really want to hear the album where Thomas lets go of his "choir&drums"-reflex and really allows himself to stay in the depths that parts of this album offer.
I get that people who don't feel fatigued by that trailer-y sound enjoyed this album entirely.
Will keep following this artist with all my attention.
 
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