Thanks and general discussion

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vinteuil
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by vinteuil » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:13 pm

Ike wrote:
I'll repeat my literature analogy: lots of tournaments have literature questions only from primary texts. Nobody complains. If you don't want clues that you learn from listening to music (a lot of these clues were designed to NOT require having seen the score or knowing more details than you could find in the cd track info), I don't see why I'm writing music questions for you. Other kinds of knowledge of music seem wholly secondary to me--Quizbowl is not a piano competition.
Jacob, I agree with Andrew Hart's view of the editorship, in that an editor has the right to do as he sees fit, but that doesn't mean "nobody complains" if the editor's taste is repetitive, eccentric or bonkers. To use your literature example, I actually kind of like the core-minded, primary-text driven approach to a lot of literature in tournaments, especially for lower levels, but I would be driven nuts if every tournament took such an approach. To say that "nobody complains" is a misunderstanding of a lot of people's positions: I would complain if literature in every tournament were core driven, E.G.: I don't mind playing your tossup on Thomas Sutpen, but I don't want to have fucking play a Thomas Sutpen question every tournament at the cost of playing your question on Donald Barthelme's Snow White because people with real knowledge of literature don't read Snow White (not saying anyone actually subscribes to that exact thought, but it sure feels like it!). One of the reasons why I agree with Yaphe's editorial choices for ICT even though other core-minded writers openly disagree with him is that Yaphe is still rewarding legitimate knowledge, and his material is intellectually entertaining to those anyone. I think a lot of your music questions were interesting, Jacob, but a lot of them were also white noise to me, as I'll talk a bit about down below.
OK, that's fair. I think you're conflating the issues of "core vs. non-core" and "primary text vs. secondary text," but I agree that it might be a little dull to have only the former in both cases in all tournaments. I overstated my position.
Ike wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote:...no it's not? If anything, the early clues are a little too obvious/to-the-point, but certainly not unfixably so. I'm certainly not trying to argue that you don't have the right to edit your category as you see fit, but I for one would've enjoyed a bit more variety, especially in the form of more questions like this and fewer impenetrable, top-heavy tossups on instruments.
I agree with Rob on Zhdanov, I actually think the Zhdanov degree isn't too hard to be asked about, and I also think that the tossup is quite transparent as presented but that it is fixable. I also agree that it uses cultural history, but that's okay - some of my literature for example used history and myth to name a few subjects that I waded into.
I based this judgement on the fact that the decree doesn't show up at all in one of the most-used music history textbooks (Grout/Palisca/Burkholder) and I didn't remember it playing a huge part in the Shostakovich "memoir" Testimony (Zhdanov appears twice for a few pages); but, it appears to be pretty quizbowl famous (especially recently). I still remain unconvinced that there would be a good distribution of buzzes here.
Ike wrote: But that last paragraph I wrote is secondary to my point: the part of Rob's post that I think you should take away is the fact that the music for this tournament is very dense to intellectually curious "musical amateurs," whose interaction to classical music is some combination of listening at concerts + listen to music appreciation lectures + read program notes, but not actually study scores. I think of Mike Sorice and Rob Carson, for example, as great players who do this: I have fond memories of Sorice playing a bunch of music appreciation lectures or podcasts about the great composers on the radio on the way back from many tournaments. As an example of a bonus part that is accessible to them, I cite the Eliot Carter 3 symphonies bonus part - I have listened to enough about Carter to know he uses big orchestral ensembles. To someone like Rob who didn't get the bonus part, he will no doubt find it interesting to learn from that bonus that Carter uses big ensembles. However, if you contrast that bonus part with what you did for The Rite of Spring tossup, you have to understand that most of that question to someone like Rob or Mike is going to be white noise.

Again, that's not to say what you did for this tournament was illegitimate (I can't really musically judge that), it's just that the way you wrote questions isn't going to gel well with the quizbowl populace's generalist music knowledge, and you have to acknowledge that you are cutting these people off from the question. I personally like music editors like Jonathan Magin or Rob who will find ways of incorporating these clues that I am able to parse over someone who goes for specialist only knowledge.

Edit1: for grammars
I admit that the Rite of Spring tossup was pretty miscalculated in a few ways, and unfortunately that came first in the set.

I PMed Rob about the instrument tossups:
I'm a bit worried by the word "impenetrable" here--I really, really tried to restrict the technical terms in those four questions (I think I used "recapitulation" twice and "second theme" once), instead saying things like "this instrument plays at the beginning of this piece." What did I miss?/what could I do to make these more accessible?
Genuinely curious here.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

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Lagotto Romagnolo
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:51 am

After looking at the finals packets, I think I overstated the distributional skew; there was still a decent amount of modern stuff.
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:15 pm

I based this judgement on the fact that the decree doesn't show up at all in one of the most-used music history textbooks (Grout/Palisca/Burkholder) and I didn't remember it playing a huge part in the Shostakovich "memoir" Testimony (Zhdanov appears twice for a few pages); but, it appears to be pretty quizbowl famous (especially recently). I still remain unconvinced that there would be a good distribution of buzzes here.
There's a page dedicated to it in the Soviet composers chapter of Schonberg's Lives of the Great Composers, which I would hazard a guess is much more widely read than either of those.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:29 pm

I don't think there's much substance to a critique of the music questions in this set that begins with the premise that it was somehow illegitimately written. Different people are going to make different aesthetic choices, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open, so if you didn't love Jacob's approach, maybe you'll love someone else's next year.
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:06 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I don't think there's much substance to a critique of the music questions in this set that begins with the premise that it was somehow illegitimately written. Different people are going to make different aesthetic choices, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open, so if you didn't love Jacob's approach, maybe you'll love someone else's next year.
It's perfectly valid to challenge a writing approach on the grounds that nobody gets anything out of the questions produced. Maybe this hasn't come through on the message board, but the major criticism of Jacob's questions at the tournament was that players could rarely buzz on the technical clues that dominated the set. Now, I'm not ready to say if that's entirely true or not. If it is, though, why shouldn't we bring up the fact that less absolute approaches work way better than this one?
Matt Bollinger
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vinteuil
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by vinteuil » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:25 pm

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I don't think there's much substance to a critique of the music questions in this set that begins with the premise that it was somehow illegitimately written. Different people are going to make different aesthetic choices, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open, so if you didn't love Jacob's approach, maybe you'll love someone else's next year.
It's perfectly valid to challenge a writing approach on the grounds that nobody gets anything out of the questions produced. Maybe this hasn't come through on the message board, but the major criticism of Jacob's questions at the tournament was that players could rarely buzz on the technical clues that dominated the set. Now, I'm not ready to say if that's entirely true or not. If it is, though, why shouldn't we bring up the fact that less absolute approaches work way better than this one?
I agree with Matt, and, again, I would like to hear exactly which clues were not buzzed on so I would know better what to avoid.

EDIT:
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
I based this judgement on the fact that the decree doesn't show up at all in one of the most-used music history textbooks (Grout/Palisca/Burkholder) and I didn't remember it playing a huge part in the Shostakovich "memoir" Testimony (Zhdanov appears twice for a few pages); but, it appears to be pretty quizbowl famous (especially recently). I still remain unconvinced that there would be a good distribution of buzzes here.
There's a page dedicated to it in the Soviet composers chapter of Schonberg's Lives of the Great Composers, which I would hazard a guess is much more widely read than either of those.
That's true, I'd forgotten. (Of course, there are pages dedicated to plenty of untossupable things, but that's not really an argument for the difficulty of "things that have one page in Lives of the Great Composers.")

One of the reasons that I suspect I didn't remember that mention is because Schonberg talks about a Central Committee Resolution, and then some "remarks" made by Zhdanov at a meeting (as opposed to a "decree")—and then goes on to focus much more on Khrennikov.

A larger point: we can argue that this question is as hard or easy as we want, but it is, I think, pretty obviously MUCH harder than any of the other tossup answerlines I picked at CO this year—it was a stylistic choice on my part to keep those uniformly quite easy. Maybe this tossup wasn't "too hard" in absolute terms, but it really stuck out in a lot of ways, and that's not something I like in a set.
Last edited by vinteuil on Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Jacob Reed
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Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:02 pm

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I don't think there's much substance to a critique of the music questions in this set that begins with the premise that it was somehow illegitimately written. Different people are going to make different aesthetic choices, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open, so if you didn't love Jacob's approach, maybe you'll love someone else's next year.
It's perfectly valid to challenge a writing approach on the grounds that nobody gets anything out of the questions produced. Maybe this hasn't come through on the message board, but the major criticism of Jacob's questions at the tournament was that players could rarely buzz on the technical clues that dominated the set. Now, I'm not ready to say if that's entirely true or not. If it is, though, why shouldn't we bring up the fact that less absolute approaches work way better than this one?
I am not technically qualified to have an opinion on the substantive content of music questions. However, I will note that in this tournament, I did occasionally answer a music question, towards the end. As far as I know, neither Auroni nor Will nor Richard, with whom I played, are any sort of super-dedicated music theory people, but I routinely saw them buzz and answer music tossups. So the allegations that "nobody gets anything out of the questions produced" seem exaggerated to me.
Jerry Vinokurov
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The King's Flight to the Scots
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:51 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I don't think there's much substance to a critique of the music questions in this set that begins with the premise that it was somehow illegitimately written. Different people are going to make different aesthetic choices, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open, so if you didn't love Jacob's approach, maybe you'll love someone else's next year.
It's perfectly valid to challenge a writing approach on the grounds that nobody gets anything out of the questions produced. Maybe this hasn't come through on the message board, but the major criticism of Jacob's questions at the tournament was that players could rarely buzz on the technical clues that dominated the set. Now, I'm not ready to say if that's entirely true or not. If it is, though, why shouldn't we bring up the fact that less absolute approaches work way better than this one?
I am not technically qualified to have an opinion on the substantive content of music questions. However, I will note that in this tournament, I did occasionally answer a music question, towards the end. As far as I know, neither Auroni nor Will nor Richard, with whom I played, are any sort of super-dedicated music theory people, but I routinely saw them buzz and answer music tossups. So the allegations that "nobody gets anything out of the questions produced" seem exaggerated to me.
Right, people are saying the technical clues were excessively difficult, not that the questions were unanswerable at the end. A good question has to meet a higher standard than that. A huge portion of the field, including Will and Auroni by their own admission, wasn't able to buzz until near the end of almost every tossup in the set. Although I can't judge the accuracy or evocative nature of these clues, I do tend to think, through repeated observation, that sets with a smaller proportion of score clues provide better competitive matches.
Matt Bollinger
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Re: Thanks and general discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:36 pm

The Superfluous Man wrote:After looking at the finals packets, I think I overstated the distributional skew; there was still a decent amount of modern stuff.
Not that my opinion ought to mean anything about anything anymore... but having briefly skimmed the packets it seems like modern music was decently represented here. What did seem to get somewhat short shrift were the late- and post-Romantics.

I guess I'll also be a voice echoing from the post-retirement grave to concur with Charlie that historical and performance clues are indeed legit, and usually make for better quizbowl than score clues. Granted, CO is exactly the sort of place to experiment with those clues, but as a general rule they're best used sparingly. And this is coming from someone who was a big booster of music theory content back in the day. IMO, if your goal is to reward technical knowledge of music, I think things like the occasional "trill" tossup (or, at most other levels, bonus part) are better than listing series of notes that are hard to translate at game speed.
Chris White
Bloomfield HS (New Jersey) '01, Swarthmore College '05, University of Pennsylvania '10. Still writes questions occasionally.

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