Sunday, March 28, 2010

O is for Ordinary

The radical music has often been focused on the extremes — of pitch, duration, amplitude, perception, attention, memory, from the micro, minimal and miniature to the macro, maximum, and epic — but it has also always been just as much about the familiar, the middle, the ordinary. When Stravinsky reduced his written-out dynamics to piano and forte in the Octet, he was at once pointing to older repertoire for which such a binary pair sufficed but also indicating that there was a lot more music to be found within those familiar confines.  Or this: that sudden all-white-key-dominant-something-without-a-tonic-in-earshot-chord in Cage's Water Music.   Or this: those wonderful and wonderfully disconcerting post-Boulangerie pieces of Glass: Music in Parallel Motion, Music in Contrary Motion, Music in Fifths... all the way through Another Look at Harmony.  


1 comment:

Paul Beaudoin said...

Are these moments really "ordinary?" For me, those moments that stand out, do so because they are not ordinary. I call these moments "marked for consciousness." O is for ordinary is a tough one and as I think about it a bit more - maybe I'm no longer sure of what ordinary is anymore.