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Return of Kings: Contemporary classical music is like a feminist yelling about rape

Not a fan of Ludwig Van (Click on pic t see entire piano-smashing video)
Not a fan of Ludwig Van (Click on pic to see the entire piano-smashing video)

Max Roscoe, a self-described ‘aspiring philosopher king” who writes regularly for misogynistic garbage site Return of Kings, doesn’t like feminism. Or contemporary classical music.

So he’s decided to take down both of these allegedly awful things, by suggesting that they’re pretty much the same thing, if you think about it.

Modern culture tells us that short skrillex haircuts, defiling the body with metal shrapnel and inked graffiti, and massive, revolting body fat is “beautiful.” This message is so successful, that today, in the west, it is extremely difficult to find a female below the age of 25 who has not purposefully destroyed her physical beauty in multiple ways.

As this worship of ugliness has marginalized natural beauty, likewise, modern classical music teaches us that dissonant chords, out-of-key incongruous sounds, and loud, harsh noises are pleasant and desirable.  Gone are the naturally pleasing chords and intonations which music theory teaches are good. 

Damn you feminists with your blue hair and your 12-tone scales!

Also, feminists and modern classical music are both really, really repetitive.

Much as feminists do little more than repeat meaningless phrases like “Rapists cause rape” and “Still not asking for it” … instead of having a thoughtful discussion, modern classical music replaces creativity and musical complexity with repetition.

Roscoe reports with horror that he was FORCED to listen to one super-repetitive avant-garde piece this past weekend in which the same chord was played a whole bunch of times in succession. The horror!

It was like every other modern classical piece I have heard: an aural assault of dissonant noises, repetitive sounds, and unnatural rhythms….

In the piece … the same chord was repeated at least 50 times before another instrument joined in. 

Golly. How could ANYONE think that playing the same chord over and over would ever sound good? Or that deliberate dissonance might make music sound … well, a heck of a lot more rocking?

Here’s one of the examples he offers as evidence of just how laughably awful contemporary classical music is.

Really, dude? Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians? That’s a bit like using the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to prove that rock music is uncreative.

Roscoe fleshes out his argument with a segment trying and failing to show that dissonant chords are basically the musical equivalent of “deviant lifestyles.” It’s about as nonsensical as it sounds, and really just an excuse for Roscoe to rant ignorantly about trans folks, so I’m not even going to bother to quote it.

Add “music” to the long list of things that manospherans just don’t get.

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JennyWren
JennyWren
4 years ago

Mr. Blue Sky is maybe not the best song to illustrate that using the same chord can sound good, ‘cos, y’know, it uses more than one chord. Try “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. Or “Tribute” by Tenacious D, which has the same chord for the whole verse.

dreemr
dreemr
4 years ago

And for offbeat rhythms and occasional atonality, we can look look to oh-so-modern Stravinsky from, y’know, 100+ years ago…

Jaygee
Jaygee
4 years ago

There are other women out there (who don’t have piercings, short hair, or tattoos, and I happen to be one of them, but thank goodness they don’t notice me) just as there are other kinds of music out there. Neither women nor music are monolithic. He also makes it sound like these women and this music is being forced on him. Maybe he’s pretending like these women are flocking to him? I really doubt women even of the tattooed and pierced kind want to spend any time in his company. He’s so whiny, which I understand to be the opposite of alpha, so isn’t he like displaying his weakness for others to see?

Nathan Hevenstone
4 years ago

*sigh*

I’m not really surprised, though, that they would be just as clueless about music as they are about everything else. I gotta share this with a friend of mine, a modern composer himself (he’s really good, IMO; and I don’t just say that because I’m biased :D)…

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago
Cecilia
Cecilia
4 years ago

As a professional music theorist I can say with authority that his complaints about “modern” music are actually functionally the same complaints that people have been making about Music These Days since literally as long as anyone has written down anything about music.

Also he’s wrong about what music theory teaches, just in general.

Hu's On First
Hu's On First
4 years ago

“A Horse With No Name” might be one of the most repetitive songs ever. It was still a huge hit.

Hu's On First
Hu's On First
4 years ago

Also, a lot of traditional music styles use drones. One note or chord that is sounded for the entire length of the piece. Can’t get more repetitive than that.

ikanreed
ikanreed
4 years ago

I mean, I think, having listened to atonalists present their case and their music, that 12 note search-space atonalism is not very good.

But, man, can these guys ever, ever manage an argument by metaphor that isn’t so far off the mark that you can scarcely imagine how they arrived at it in the first place.

Male Dudes, I can play this game too: “Denying the wage gap is like cubism because it just looks at the pieces of things without even once acknowledging how they work together, and I personally think it’s dumb! Ha!”

Except. Um, I guess that metaphor actually kind of makes sense. Whereas “you’re repeating the same things over and over” is kinda not characterizing the positions of your opponents at all and is the laziest fucking strawman in the world.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

Much as feminists do little more than repeat meaningless phrases like “Rapists cause rape” and “Still not asking for it” … instead of having a thoughtful discussion

Why do I get the feeling that his idea of a thoughtful discussion about rape involves him telling women they’re sluts who deserved it and expecting no one to object to this “thoughtful” opinion?

BoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoink
BoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoink
4 years ago

I don’t like caramel. Clearly it is because caramel is too sticky and hard for me to chew, much like the NEFARIOUS STICKINESS AND CHEWINESS OF THE PATRIARCHY.

BaronJenks
BaronJenks
4 years ago

So MRAs hate Modern Classical Music and Fundamental Christians hate Set Theory. I like the idea of particular groups having really big issues with very specific bits of modern culture and science.

LindsayIrene
4 years ago

The manosphere is like romantic comedy–they’re both full of toxic ideas about both men and women, and they both give me the creepy-crawlies.

Claire
Claire
4 years ago

Oh cool, a new game! Take Thing A, compare it to Thing B, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and TADA! THEORY!

Lemme try: telephones are like jewellery because they both have a ring.

No? Am I doing this wrong?

Bacholyte
Bacholyte
4 years ago

Oh dear god, I read the original post and he just butchers his Music Theory explanations.

“Typically, before beginning to play, the orchestra musicians will all tune their instruments to a middle “A4” note of 440 cycles per second. Avant garde modern music does away with all of this, allowing all 12 tones to be used at any time, essentially doing away with the idea of a musical piece having a key.”

WAT. NO. Even if you don’t have a key, orchestras still need to play in tune. Modern pieces still have everyone tune to A4.

And he confuses the harmonic series (overtones) with how the major diatonic scale was derived, which betrays someone who has spent a grand total of 4 minutes trying to understand any of the nonsense he’s spewing.

feartheminotaur
feartheminotaur
4 years ago

ELO…eh…using The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows”, Aretha Franklin’s (as noted by @JennyWren), or Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut” imparts a little more cachet to the argument than ELO*

*Hey, nothing wrong with 70’s prog rock, but…versus The Beatles or Aretha Franklin? Sorry. And Jeff Lynne is a great singer/songwriter in his own right, but not in Harry Nilsson’s class

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

Did we ever get an answer to that “raven is like a writing desk” thing?

feartheminotaur
feartheminotaur
4 years ago

@ David Futrelle

..and it is a rocking song

iknklast
iknklast
4 years ago

Maybe they should try this thought experiment: Imagine that you find something “ugly”. Then think about whether that makes it, in fact, “ugly”, which is a subjective value judgement.

There are things in this world I find unpleasant, and might even use the word “ugly” about them, but I am well aware that, while I have a right to my own opinion, that right does not make it fact. Other people are free to disagree with me.

I dislike country music intensely. That does not make the music wrong, bad, or ugly, it only makes it not my thing. Please do not try to explain to me why country music is great; I don’t care, and I won’t believe you, but I will honor your liking of country music by refusing to engage and try to prove to you that it is, in fact, unpleasant. That is simply my subjective opinion, just as opinions about tattoos, haircuts, and dissonant music are subjective. If they could only realize that…

You don’t like women over a certain weight? Fine. Go your own way in the other direction and find a woman who meets your ideal of weight. We all have our standards of beauty, which is why we are all attracted to different people. That’s good. That’s the magic of a diverse world.

The Dark Avenger
The Dark Avenger
4 years ago

@Bachelorite, it’s so badly written, he implies that 12-tone music is played on untuned instruments. I thought my understanding of harmony was shaky, but I’m Walter Fucking Piston next to this clown.

princess sunny burn
princess sunny burn
4 years ago

Gotta love the standard MRA idea of “I don’t personally like this thing therefor not only is it universally awful and no good to anyone at all, it is also HERALDING THE DOWNFALL OF CIVILIZATION.”

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
4 years ago

“Music for 18 Musicians” really makes me want to play SimCity now.

Also, modern classical music includes, to my knowledge Danny Elfman, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Joe Hisashi, and video game composers like Jeremy Soule, Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush, Martin O’Donnell…

I’ll happily plant myself in the degenerate camp.

Nequam
Nequam
4 years ago

@Alan: They both have inky quills?

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
4 years ago

But yeah, I can understand it’s a human reaction to try and frame subjective opinion as objective, especially when the things you like are unpopular and the things you hate are popular. When that morphs into demonizing the things you don’t like… well

Knitting Cat Lady
Knitting Cat Lady
4 years ago

Bwahaha!

I play the Cello.

I’ve played loads of Baroque and earlier music.

Often basso continuo. Which sometimes consists of an ostinate bass. Which means repeating the same sequence of notes over and over for the whole piece.

Oh, and dissonance? We’ve been started getting in on that since we started out on that whole polyphonic music thing…

Subtract Hominem, the Renegade Misandroid
Subtract Hominem, the Renegade Misandroid
4 years ago

…and the Deplorables would never listen to any music with “dissonant chords, out-of-key incongruous sounds, and loud, harsh noises” and find that “pleasant and desirable,” right?

http://youtu.be/HqezCR_XzaI

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

Modern culture tells us that short skrillex haircuts, defiling the body with metal shrapnel and inked graffiti, and massive, revolting body fat is “beautiful”

I don’t know which is creepier. That he has a beauty destruction checklist for women under 25 (with PUAs ya never know how low that number goes) or that he says one that does have any of these defilements is “extremely difficult to find
*shudders*

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

I think today might be a Pachelbel’s Canon day for me.

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
4 years ago

My music degree wants to fly off the wall and smack this idiot through the internet.

I can’t wait to hear his opinion on Indian Classical music. /s

@kupo LOL! *looks for cassette of Rite of Spring*

Bodycrimes
Bodycrimes
4 years ago

One of the most peculiar things about the manosphere (and authoritarians in general) is how they embrace philistinism, while claiming to love art and beauty.

This guy doesn’t know very much about music – if he did, he’d know it was the very composers he says he loves (e.g. Wagner) who dissolved the Western tonal system.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Fishy Goat
I have a CD in my desk that has 8 versions of Canon in D. 😀

Mike
Mike
4 years ago

Huh, I must admit, when I came to this site today I wasn’t expecting to see a PUA/MRA argument against contemporary classical music, of all things… Personally, I’ll note that while the common argument (up to and including this article) against contemporary classical music is that it’s inherently ugly, unemotional and uninspiring, the more contemporary stuff really does speak to me in ways that more, um, classical classical music does not; that is, I do find a lot of contemporary classical to be beautiful, emotionally resonant, and inspiring. Finding my way to contemporary classical is really what opened the door to classical music in general.

With that in mind, I’ll also just take a moment to mention some of my favorite contemporary classical works (I’m assuming ‘contemporary’ here is being used as ’20th century and up’): Morton Feldman’s ‘Neither,’ Giacinto Scelsi’s ‘Aion,’ Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Moses und Aron,’ Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Harawi.’ Anyone else?

Hambeast
Hambeast
4 years ago

I’m no fan of contemporary classical* and I’m with inklast about country music. I’d rather listen to either of those than be in a room with any of these “scholars” for any length of time.

How lucky for us all that there are other schools of thought as well as many musical genres to enjoy!

*I don’t think this is the fault of the genre; for some reason I had to endure a lot of John Cage played way too loudly in my visual arts/art history classes in the 90s. I’d hesitate to say it was a “thing” except I went to school off and on through the whole decade and on both U.S. coasts (VA and CA.)

JoeB
JoeB
4 years ago

Another “Pick 3 things you don’t like and explain why they are related” essay. They seem popular.

Nentuaby
Nentuaby
4 years ago

Haha, fucking contemporary classical with all its repetition.

Let’s go back to the non-repetitive music of the old days. You know, like the good ol’ Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo .

*cellist spontaneously manifests from thin air, breaks a bow over my head*

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

Something tells me that these guys’ opinions on what good classical music is radiate from Wagner outwards. Basically anything that was acceptable to the Third Reich. Can’t possibly imagine why they’d think that. Probably less to do with the sound of the music than, say, other things.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
4 years ago

@Alan:

Did we ever get an answer to that “raven is like a writing desk” thing?

@Nequam:

They both have inky quills?

Poe wrote on both?

The notes for which they are noted are not notably musical notes?

There are lots of answers people have come up with… I tend to be in the ‘Carroll didn’t actually have an answer in mind, he was just trying to make as big a non sequitur as possible’ camp.

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
4 years ago

@Mike El niño busca su voz , music by George Crumb, words by Frederico Garcia Lorca

And I want to plug a former classmate of mine named Jocelyn Morlock. 🙂 https://jocelynmorlock.com/

Weird (and worried about the election) Eddie
Weird (and worried about the election) Eddie
4 years ago

telephones are like jewellery because they both have a ring.

bless you, Claire!

I dislike country music intensely

In college (in th’ early 70’s), I had a professor who complained he did not like Rod Stewart because he used a steel guitar which, to the professor’s tender ears, “sounds like country music”….

Podkayne Lives (Hairless Marsupial Gutter Nun)
Podkayne Lives (Hairless Marsupial Gutter Nun)
4 years ago

So MRAs hate Modern Classical Music and Fundamental Christians hate Set Theory. I like the idea of particular groups having really big issues with very specific bits of modern culture and science.

Conservapedia has, or had when I checked last, an apparently serious bit complaining about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, because they appeared to think it was in some way related to cultural relativity.

I think that was their problem with it. It was sort of hard for me to tell, since I understand relativity about as well as these folks do, except I was pretty sure that was they were describing was…not it.

Of course, Conservapedia also has an article on the Invisible Hand of Marriage, which is like the invisible hand of the market, but with people getting richer because they’re married.

And an excellent set of case studies on why you should not marry a liberal.

And, my favorite, their attempt to crowd-source a translation of the Bible with all the liberal misinterpretations of the text edited out, leading to phrases like ‘free market parables’, and randomly changing pronouns to make them masculine, regardless of what the Hebrew says.

I reported on the Bible project to my rather devout father, who more or less screamed ‘what do you mean they’re writing their own version of the Bible? That’s not conservative! That’s radical!’

AW
AW
4 years ago

While you’re all being very erudite, my first thought was this (spoilers for the latest Star Trek):

https://youtu.be/PdtwX6oRDSo?t=1m13s

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
4 years ago

@Hambeast Too bad they didn’t limit their selection of John Cage to 4’33”. 😉

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4%E2%80%B233%E2%80%B3

Iseult The Idle
Iseult The Idle
4 years ago

Well, I for one cannot wait to hear his take on that newfangled “jazz” music.

gelar
gelar
4 years ago

I hate endless repetition! I hate it so much, I’m going to go listen to Correli’s La Follia, then Vivaldi’s, then Handel’s Sarabande in D minor, in that order.

EJ (The Orphic Lizard)

@leftwingfox:

“Music for 18 Musicians” really makes me want to play SimCity now.

I love you THIIIIIIIIS much for reminding me of Simcity’s awesome soundtrack.

@BaronJenks:
LessWrongers reject the concept of future discounting. They don’t reject any other standard accountancy practises that I’m aware of, just that one.

(For non-accountants: future discounting is the principle that having a good thing right now is better than having it tomorrow, because you can start using it right away; and therefore that valuable things become increasingly less valuable as they’re put off further and further into the future. Everyone except LessWrongers considers this to be uncontroversial.)

The now-moribund Conservapedia rejected the physics concept of Relativity. It is not certain what they think would happen if someone travelling at 99% lightspeed switched on their headlights.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

Speaking of repetitive music:

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

To be fair, it’s not easy to keep finding different angles on how to write the exact same blog post every week for several years. Every manosphere article is about how terrible women are, so of course they’re gonna run out of ideas if they keep churning these out. One could almost say they’re being… repetitive.

Jayne
Jayne
4 years ago

@Podkayne

Fundamentalists complaining about the theory of relativity . . . ah, that just takes me right back to high school, and that time I had to write an essay on why Einstein sucks for that very reason.

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