Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hearing —> Changing

I just reread Charles Shere's fine book Thinking Sound Music: The Life and Works of Robert Erickson. His final paragraph, on Erickson's final, enigmatic composition, Music for Trumpet, Strings, and Timpani is wonderful writing and absolutely on point:

Music for Trumpet, Strings, and Timpani is cheerful and outgoing. It makes no attempt to investigate new territory; it is unconcerned with introspection or dark contemplations; it makes few demands of its performers (trumpet part aside). It is engaging and straightforward, as if to close a distinguished , inventive , and finally profound catalogue of over seventy compositions on a note of modest triumph. Music can be complex or simple, expressive or neutral, eventful or calm. It can contemplate things dark or transcendental. It can grieve or rejoice. It is profound solitude or communal cooperativeness. It is everything to its composer, at work on it; to the audience, it might mean anything. In the end — in Music for Trumpet, Strings, and Timpani — it is a diversion, notes on paper, then in the air, then gone; six minutes of entertainment at the end of a program. The music is heard; the audience applauds; the performers are content. The music, for the moment, is over. Hearing it changed the way we knew our world.

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