Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Simple doesn't necessarily mean that complexity is lacking

An article by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker on the Shakers and their artwork; Gopnik usefully clarifies the parallels between the Shakers and some minimalist visual artists.

The initial generation of American musical minimalism produced work, like the Shakers, out of the force of strong, experiential rather than doctrinal, beliefs, and like the Shakers, the minimalist composers did all things by going to extremes. The distancing from, if not absence of, these qualities in the "post-minimal" era was perhaps necessary, but still somehow disappointing. The acoustic grafitti -- or halo -- produced by combination tones and other acoustic ephemera that hung over the works by Young, Riley, Reich, Glass, Maxfield, Leedy, Lucier and others marked the unpredictable, unstable, complex and connecting elements in tapestries that were otherwise regular, straight, and narrow.

A return to those heady days is both impossible and unwanted, but a reinvigoration of our music, now, with those radical impulses is not only desireable but also necessary, if we are to get out of the present slump.

No comments: