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Trying to get cultured - need advice

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by TheRookie, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. TheRookie

    TheRookie Senior member

    Aug 25, 2004
    First, thanks for all the great advice. It has been duly noted. To matadorpoeta's comments, yes, there is a genuine interest. I love going to art museums and on architectural tours in the various cities we visit. The problem I run into is that I see the stuff and find it visually interesting, but I don't really "know" what I'm looking at and further can't competently describe it to others after the fact. As to the wine, I realize that it needs to be experienced and not read about, but I'd like to at least be able to know the differences beyond white and red so that I don't start going to tastings and looking like a redneck boor.

    Thanks again gentlement, the suggestions are much appreciated.
  2. PHV

    PHV Senior member

    Sep 23, 2004
    (TheRookie @ June 23 2005,03:36) As a summer project I'm trying to learn (something) about the art world, architecture, wine, and classical music. Trite I know, but I feel these are topics a man should be able to discuss semi-competently. Any advice on books or other resources to pick up in this quest? Many thanks.
    These are boring topics. better learn about clothes, shoes and watches.
    Ahh so that he can buy into the mistaken belief that culture can be physically manifested?
  3. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

    Mar 4, 2002
    For classical music, forget the theory at first, just listen to it. I have to disagree with an earlier poster in that I think Tchaikovsky is probably the most accessible composer. Mozart is probably more well-known to people that know absolutely nothing about classical music, but when it comes down to listening, I think that more novices would tend to get hooked on classical through Tchaikovsky. I've actually read that somewhere too.

    I now own over 70 classical CDs, all purchased within the past year. I started with buying everything by Tchaikovsky after hearing the Violin Concerto in D major.

    The following is what really got me hooked:

    Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor
    Violin Concerto in D Major
    Romeo and Juliet

    Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor

    Siegfried Idyll

    Italien Concerto (which was actually the last thing i attempted on the piano before quitting)
    Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 in G Major

    My collection now covers everything, but I have a particular fondness for the great violin and piano concertos. I really enjoy the virtuoso performances given by some of the greats. Believe me, it's incredible how good some really old recordings are.

    Some great performers(no they don't all sound the same and it's not meant to be all-encompassing):

    Heifetz, Anne-Sophie Mutter, David Oistrakh, Nigel Kennedy, Ishtak Perlman

    Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, Van Cliburn, Argerich, Ashkenazy, Serkin

    Play it safe and stick to the likes of labels like Deutsche Grammophone, EMI, and Decca. DG accounts for a large portion of my CDs. I also really like the RCA Living Stereo series of SACDs. The first one i purchased was the Tchaikovsky/Rachmaninov SACD with both of the concertos listed above, then I bought the rest (there'a about 15 total). Also, don't be afraid to purchase CDs with some overlap, you'll find that different artists and conductors can have a very different sound. Try to get some variety at first though.

    I also hope you have a worthy stereo because it really does make a huge difference with classical music. I recently heard the Rach 2 on cheap speakers and was disgusted by how muddled the piano sounded.
  4. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

    May 5, 2005
    Or you can be an expert on 80s pop, like Patrick Bateman.
  5. spencers

    spencers Senior member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Culture? I heard New Orleans has that.

    Not sure what the hell it is, though. Good food, good drinking, and live music? I can go anywhere for that shit.
  6. celery

    celery Senior member

    Nov 3, 2007
    There's a bit of a difference between being cultured and knowing trivia. Reading about things may give you knowledge, but in the end you're only gaining trivial facts from someone elses perspective.

    *Just to clarify, reading poetry = experiencing that art (as it is a written artform). But reading "about" poetry without having experienced the poetry means that you know trivia about a subject. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting reading theory/criticisms of any given subject, but you need a foundation to build that upon."

    Globetrotter made the best suggestion imo. Travel and experience things. No, you don't need someone else to tell you what you're experiencing. As you discover things that interest you, then go ahead and find some material on them to expand your understanding of what you experienced.

    Also, and pay attention here, "being cultured" is not something you just do and call it a day. It's a lifelong process of experience, discovery, and sometimes appreciation. That last bit may need some qualifying as some people you meet will consider you uncultured, because you don't appreciate something that they feel you should (happens often in the contemporary art world sadly).

    My one cent. Sorry, I have to keep my other cent due to the current financial situation.
  7. Matt

    Matt Senior member

    Jan 14, 2005
    Sunny Saigon
    it's great when spam bumps old threads and I get reminded of long lost members. I wonder what happened to alchimiste....
  8. tagutcow

    tagutcow Senior member

    Nov 29, 2006
    Greensboro NC
    I'm in the midst of working on a pretty exhaustive fine arts study project; right now I'd rather not go into sources for certain reasons, but maybe in a week or two I should be able to recommend specific texts for general and specific study.

    One tip for classical music: learn some basic theory and try to get to a point where you can at least read music. I may just be stuck up from my old days as a coerced-by-parents child violinist, but I think that's the bare minimum for anyone to be able to be considered "cultured" as far as music goes.

    Also, having some understanding of sonata form and variations form will help greatly with active listening to Beethoven and Mozart, and fugue form for Bach. This will help him make sense of what's actually going on in the music.




    Of course, all of this presupposes understanding of the basics of keys and modulations. I don't think it's necessary for a casual listener to know how many sharps there are in an A Major scale, though (considering this man is trying to get an accelerated familiarity with European Fine Culture in the space of a few months.)

    At the risk of sounding glib, if you just want a dabbler's knowledge of Classical music, stick to the Big Three to begin with, although listening to Classical music radio will help fill in some of the gaps.

    I'll be emphatic on this point, however: Classical music, especially at the level of complexity of the greats, demands your full attention. That is, you listen to it sitting in front of your stereo, and not while you're driving, or as background music for dinner.
  9. tagutcow

    tagutcow Senior member

    Nov 29, 2006
    Greensboro NC
    it's great when spam bumps old threads

    Whoops! [​IMG]
  10. thenanyu

    thenanyu Senior member

    Aug 16, 2009
    San Francisco
    Edit: Oops. Didn't read above. One more opinion on classical music, I would start with stuff you have heard before but probably never knew the names of. It makes everything more accessible in the beginning. Bach: - Toccata and Fugue in d minor - Cello Suite number 1 - Prelude Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra Beethoven - Symphony number 3,5,6,9 Holst - Mars Every John Williams score. They are just blatant ripoffs of famous classical pieces, but oh so fun to listen to.
  11. musicguy

    musicguy Senior member

    Oct 1, 2008
    Santiago de Chile
    For classical music it's probably best to start with orchestral music. Listen to and study (at least in a minimal extent) all of the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann, Tschaikovsky 4 and 6, and at least a few Mahler, probably 1, 2 and 5. Listen to some Mozart symphonies, at least 40 and 41. Haydn symphonies, there are 104 or 105, but picking the ones that have a nickname is the best idea. Listen to at least a half dozen Bach Cantatas and know what they're about and why he wrote so many Cantatas. Also, listen to at least some of St. Matthew's Passion. Then start with solo piano repertoire. Chopin nocturnes, Beethoven sonatas, Bach anything, Mozart sonatas, Haydn sonatas, Rachmaninoff etudes, etc. You can then go on to other instruments of your liking (at least one string instrument and one wind instrument) and chamber music. You can stick with string chamber music for the beginning as it is the best. As I'm not a string player, I don't have a great knoweldge of string chamber music, but there is some amazing stuff out there. Oh yeah, and don't forget Vivaldi. His music is fun to listen to.

    You will not offend any musician if you say Beethoven is your favorite composer, and know, as a minimum, his odd numbered Symphonies (and 6) and why his piano sonatas are so freaking awesome. Beethoven was extraordinarily ahead of his time and is awesome.

    GQGeek and tagutcow's advice are pretty spot on. I would stick with somewhat recent (within the last 35 years) recordings of orchestras in cities you've heard of.

    I beg to differ thenanyu. Listening to John Williams' music won't help it getting cultured. It's not bad, but it's not classical music. If you say you love his music to a musician, they'll think you're shallow.

    Oh crap, I just wasted my time on a dead thread. hah... well, whatever.
  12. RyJ Maduro

    RyJ Maduro Senior member

    Jan 10, 2008
    Sitting at my credenza.
    For one thing, you want to become cultured, not get cultured.
  13. milosz

    milosz Senior member

    Oct 16, 2008
    As a summer project I'm trying to learn (something) about the art world, architecture, wine, and classical music. Trite I know, but I feel these are topics a man should be able to discuss semi-competently. Any advice on books or other resources to pick up in this quest? Many thanks.

    Why should "a man" be able to do so? What makes these topics particularly valuable?

    (Learn to ask and answer those questions, and you're a more cultured man than wine nerds.)

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