Thomas Bergersen's Hybrid Symphony "Seven"

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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

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.
Well, whether it's in the title has relevance in regards what is meant by the artist. When it's just in the title it doesn't mean that the artist thinks it's a symphony. But if they describe it as a symphony then they consider it to be one (So I'm for instance not in the position of having to consider this song by The Verve you mentioned to be a symphony just because of the title).
Regarding the criteria... I guess that'd be getting more complicated to discuss I don't think every single criteria of a term needs to necessarily be met (no idea where I could've have said that).
It depends on how many are broken and how important they are.
Number of instruments can of course be a huge deal if only a handful of instruments required for the symphony term are there.
Well, despite all the terminology wars - happy to read that you have been enjoying Seven!
I also think it has way more gravitas than most of what Thomas wrote before (despite already being a crazy fanboy haha). I also found some of the FFF trailer parts a bit overbearing mainly because of the choir and the compression at the mastering stage.
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Didn't enjoy it either. I found 'American Dreams' more interesting. I listen to his albums because his production skills are fantastic, and there's a lot to learn from that. But it's not a genre I particularly enjoy listening to.
I just realized after you said that you didn't enjoy it that I have been referring to the comment of another person haha. I guess I just looked at the thumbnail and they both look kinda similarly graphically. :P I'm such a mess LOL
 
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Wunderhorn

Active Member
The whole debate about what a symphony is and is not seems pointless to me. More than a hundred years ago Gustav Mahler started to demolish the Sonata form and introducing unusual elements in to the genre.
If we want to allow classical music to live on we need to let it evolve and morph along with time. Personally, I think the addition of sound design, electronic atmosphere and other sonic enhancements is a totally legitimate way in exploring how to stretch the envelope yet into another direction.

I enjoyed the music a lot and I would wish more film and trailer composers would venture out into creating concert music that reaches past the 2 minute mark.
Of course, on merely a personal note I would have liked to see more thematic development and less comfort food, harmonically speaking. I also think that in order to amp up intensity or express grittiness it does not automatically need to mean turning up volume or throwing in heavy percussion. Unusual intervals and harmonies, playing techniques, instrumentation, rhythmic patterns and other things can do the trick well before the big blow in the face needs to come down.

However, in the end, we have a beautiful and colorful movie canvas without the need for picture and as such it works wonderfully. It beckons for some repeat listening.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I wouldn’t say pointless. Not historically anyway. I also wouldn’t say people are losing any sleep over this debate either. It’s not that the description Symphony is sacred but rather, what is it’s scientific meaning? The Symphony has been expanded in its form and meaning ever since Haydn established it. Beethoven certainly redefined it as did Mahler, but all the way up to Shostakovich or even Corigliano (who’s still composing) they are all easily traceable to Haydn. Having a glance at Corigliano’s score to his 2nd Symph., I found the second movement titled, Scherzo, which is Beethoven’s innovation, differing from the Minuet of Haydn’s and Mozart’s symphonies.

Consider the way Liszt, Strauss and others use Tone Poem to describe large symphonic works of a programmatic nature in steering around the Symphony designation. Or, more to the point: consider how carefully composers have been identifying their works for centuries. When Ravel played a two-piano reduction of what was a commissioned Ballet from no less the Sergei Diaghilev, the impresario responded, That’s not a ballet. So at least historically, it was important to the giants of those eras. Even so, many composers including Beethoven and Mahler had been criticized for stretching the meaning of their work-titles in their day. So perhaps this is just a new stretching of Symphony. My concern is that one day I’m going to be asked to a baseball game only to find ten seven-foot guys trying to shoot a ball through a hoop.
 
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Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Trailer style LOL. Either you don't listen to trailer music or didn't listen to the album.
Some of it does sound a bit like that to me as well. However "You Were My Forever" is growing on me and imo seems much more expressive than the (in these times) generic cyber-cold that dominates the rest of the piece.

I couldn't care less what it's called, symphonies stopped being solely about sonata form with Mahler.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I couldn't care less what it's called
I understand. My point is that for centuries (even millennia) composers whether great or amateur did care - and still do. A Mass would be just that, as would be a Toccata and Fugue and so on. I can come along and say I don’t care but is that to my credit? If I’m commissioned to write a waltz, I’m going to write in 3/4 right? So there are real ramifications in the abandoning of some nexus between a title and a work. If we truly don’t care, then why not call TB’s work, String Quartet No. 3?
symphonies stopped being solely about sonata form with Mahler.
As I said Mahler stretched the meaning by the structural changes he made. Even so, he is a direct connection to Beethoven’s symphonies and even begins his 1st Symphony (note-for-note essentially) with Beethoven’s 4th. The nexus is crystal clear. The 20th century symphonies that follow are downright Hadynesque in their strict adherence to the the Sonata form.

My purpose is not to single out TB’s Symphony. There’s been a trend in the culture for some time toward a far looser labeling of musical works so as to render them meaningless. I once kidded a buddy of mine who co-wrote a piece called Piano Concerto with David Foster. It’s basically a piano doing a couple riffs with an orchestral accompaniment. It’s very brief. We chuckled at that and how silly the title is. In listening to Seven, I can’t make a connection to any aspect of any symphony by the loosest of definitions. I think that if we want to use the descriptions and labels that the giants of the past used, it should be to connect with them in some way - not disconnect.
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Some of it does sound a bit like that to me as well. However "You Were My Forever" is growing on me and imo seems much more expressive than the (in these times) generic cyber-cold that dominates the rest of the piece.

I couldn't care less what it's called, symphonies stopped being solely about sonata form with Mahler.
Yea, sure - some of it. But as someone who listens to a lot of trailer music I'd say that only 5-10% of it is reminiscent of typical trailer music. For the rest you'd get kicked by publishers when they ask for trailer music. ;)
 

Patrick de Caumette

Senior Member
Nowadays, trailer music is downgraded by the lowest common denominator composition-wise, so yes, what TJ does is of much higher caliber, but i agree that there is a certain "epicness" and simple, catchy melodies that do put it in that realm.
After all, he has been doing just that with Nick for how many years now?
I liked his earlier years better, but composers are not his targeted audience, i assume.
 

Guffy

Senior Member
Eyes Wider almost sounds like leftovers from Sun (Colors of Love).

Overall i like the album (i'm a massive TB fanboy so duh), but as a whole it feels a bit disjointed, compared to let's say American Dream. I might just have to listen to it more before it sticks (as is usually the case with TB's music - i usually come to love it after a few listens).

Considering it's been 4 years in the making i do understand that it shares similarities and has been influenced by his other music during the period.

I would like him to explore more of the gentler sides, and maybe explore some fresh orchestrational devices he don't use all the time. Apparently he has a bunch of symphonies lined up going forward so who knows what 2019+ Thomas is brewing :P
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
Eyes Wider almost sounds like leftovers from Sun (Colors of Love).

Overall i like the album (i'm a massive TB fanboy so duh), but as a whole it feels a bit disjointed, compared to let's say American Dream. I might just have to listen to it more before it sticks (as is usually the case with TB's music - i usually come to love it after a few listens).

Considering it's been 4 years in the making i do understand that it shares similarities and has been influenced by his other music during the period.

I would like him to explore more of the gentler sides, and maybe explore some fresh orchestrational devices he don't use all the time. Apparently he has a bunch of symphonies lined up going forward so who knows what 2019+ Thomas is brewing :P
Well, American Dream is supposed to be one single piece, while it's similar with Seven the parts here are supposed to be distinct. I do hear a connection, but I'm not really looking out for it - I just appreciate what I'm hearing, connected or not.

As far as I know from Thomas there is just one more symphonic work (he didn't call it 'symphony', so probably more a looong orchestral piece like American Dream) coming up.
The next immediate projects seem to be his solo album Humanity (2 hours of music) and a sequel to TSFH's Dragon.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
I understand. My point is that for centuries (even millennia) composers whether great or amateur did care - and still do. A Mass would be just that, as would be a Toccata and Fugue and so on. I can come along and say I don’t care but is that to my credit? If I’m commissioned to write a waltz, I’m going to write in 3/4 right? So there are real ramifications in the abandoning of some nexus between a title and a work. If we truly don’t care, then why not call TB’s work, String Quartet No. 3?

As I said Mahler stretched the meaning by the structural changes he made. Even so, he is a direct connection to Beethoven’s symphonies and even begins his 1st Symphony (note-for-note essentially) with Beethoven’s 4th. The nexus is crystal clear. The 20th century symphonies that follow are downright Hadynesque in their strict adherence to the the Sonata form.

My purpose is not to single out TB’s Symphony. There’s been a trend in the culture for some time toward a far looser labeling of musical works so as to render them meaningless. I once kidded a buddy of mine who co-wrote a piece called Piano Concerto with David Foster. It’s basically a piano doing a couple riffs with an orchestral accompaniment. It’s very brief. We chuckled at that and how silly the title is. In listening to Seven, I can’t make a connection to any aspect of any symphony by the loosest of definitions. I think that if we want to use the descriptions and labels that the giants of the past used, it should be to connect with them in some way - not disconnect.
I think you have important points here, Dave. There are of course important connections that link the Haydn-style symphony with Mahler's (and so many others).

I remember Rock guy Yngwie Malmsteen coming out with a "Concerto" cd including songs labelled things like "Adagio" and "Fugue" when the tracks contained pretty much nothing of the sort. It irritated the hell out of me (especially when young guitar noobs started telling me how great a composer he was...cracking up thinking about it). So I sympathize.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I think you have important points here, Dave. There are of course important connections that link the Haydn-style symphony with Mahler's (and so many others).
It seems the whole Neo Classic period was rather obsessed with earlier forms and so for symphonies they chose its most successful form. Baroque forms were used heavily during that period as well, usually for smaller works. It’s the 21st century, anything goes, I know. I just would hate to see a complete disconnect where artists don’t retain what’s gone before even if they depart from it in nearly every way.
But as someone who listens to a lot of trailer music I'd say that only 5-10% of it is reminiscent of typical trailer music. For the rest you'd get kicked by publishers when they ask for trailer music.
Exactly. Even trailer music as a description is well enough established after a few decades so that if those defining characteristics are not present someone is going to say, That’s not trailer music. I was simply making that case for the centuries-old Symphony.
As far as I know from Thomas there is just one more symphonic work (he didn't call it 'symphony'...)
I didn’t see where he called it a symphony either and “symphonic” is exactly right so, not sure where all this got started.
 
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DarkestShadow

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
I didn’t see where he called it a symphony either and “symphonic” is exactly right so, not sure where all this got started.
Well, I mean American Dream and the upcoming "symphonic" work. Seven he actually did call a "hybrid-symphony", but not the 2 others. That's what I meant.