Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Event Horizon

Self-criticism, on the edge of a manuscript:

... have to remember that music is not a collection of objects -- notes -- but rather sequences and ensembles of events. Both notation and certain favored compositional tools tend to push musicians into an object orientation. Notes are markers of similitudes (pitch, duration, etc.) between events but not the reiteration of sound-objects, which on any level other than the most casual is impossible, both physically and psychologically. The common preference for composers to use certain instruments -- keyboards, in particular -- as compositional tools is sometimes a liability, in that a "push-the-button-out-comes-the-sound" mentality often distracts from the extemporal uniquity of sounds within a musical context.

But isn't there also, compositionally speaking, something of an advantage in using an object orientation, whether via notation or a push-button instrumentation, to clarify and focus on the event aspect, if only through the notation's isolation of the least interesting features in a music?

Twentieth century music, in part, was all about the note, and the most vital work now at hand, it seems to me, is, at least in part, all about forgetting whatever it was we had once decided the note was supposed to be.

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