Sunday, October 16, 2011

From a Diary I:vi

Fuller famously said "Dare to be naive." But I think that's not quite right. Whether an idea is naive or not is a function of perspective, experience, available information. More precisely, then: "Dare to reconsider your assumptions." If the radical music had (or has) a common denominator, it's probably that: explore the extent and limits of the musical. The minimal impulse comes directly out of this: the elimination of distractions. Of course the laundry list of the Occupy protesters is unrealistic and if many demand were to be realized immediately, the result would be immediate and deep human tragedies. But by keeping attention on fundamental issues, even if our utopias are always indefinitely postponed for the immediate needs, it does strengthen the case of the reformers who might do some real good in the meantime. While there was always a conservative tonal music being produced and played in the heyday of the avant-garde — indeed, conservative tonal music in functional repertoire (= for media, education, church & state) has always predominated quantitatively — the radical music, particularly through its minimalist strain with its reconsiderations of the basic elements of the musical, was decisive in the reemergence of the tonal and straight-forwardly metrical in "serious" concert repertoire. The radical music's challenge of assumptions made a repertoire of neo-conservative and, yes Virginia, naive, music possible. We have much more work to do.

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