Thursday, June 27, 2013

Those added degrees of freedom

Eight weeks after having a heating pipe bust, with the insurance company willing and the plumbers & painters & floorers finally done with their work, (and perhaps the good will of a couple of benevolent pagan demi-Gods,) we're finally in a position to put the furniture back in the living room.  And* with walls and floors and celing looking fresh and new, the temptation to reposition the furniture is great, a chance to make our old familiars (tables, chairs, sofa, cabinets, lamps, home entertainment devices (piano, harpsichord, music stands, the electronica), pictures) somewhat less familiar.  But our stuff, less chosen than accumulated, none of it especially valuable or (one drawing excepted) attractive, our stuff entered our house piece-by-piece over many years, each piece chosen largely on the basis of being able to fit into whatever space the existing piecery left vacant, so that the number of possible repositionings in the room is greatly limited and the number of functional & desirable repositionings is even more limited, so much so that the optimal repositioning of the objects in the room is pretty much exactly the same positioning we had before the pipe broke, give or take an inch here or a centimeter there.  And yes,** we could probably gain some modest additional degree of freedom by admitting that we have too much stuff, but that we know, already and all-too-well, even if — in an effort to delay the reality of our fading youth — we pretend that that is not the case, keeping up with the accumulation of our stuff as a way of artificially staving off age & death & all that:  it's a way of saying, or signaling that we are still in the game, even though we don't really have space any more for any new stuff.  WHICH IS ALL A ROUNDABOUT WAY OF MAKING AN OBSERVATION ABOUT COMPOSING AND ITS ADVANTAGE OVER JUST LIVING AN ORDINARY LIFE:  unlike real rooms (or at least those rooms that folks like musicians could ever afford), there is really no natural limit on the degrees of freedom with which we can rearrange our acoustical furniture (sounds in general or their absenses; musical tones, noises in particular; from instruments and/or voices and/or neither; in established or novel configurations; comfortable & familiar or disturbing & strange), and indeed the very rooms (forms) into which we fit our music are elastic in the extreme.  However, there is a real and non-trivial musical joy in taking the most well-known, even banal, of our acoustical goods & properties and the most established of our formal scaffolds, the oldest cookie cutters or aspic molds in the drawer, and trying to find just one more undiscovered way of nudging things around a bit. And*** often that is our best, even most radical work.

* Yes, once again I am caught starting a sentence with "And...."  Blogging wild.
** See above.
*** ibid.

1 comment:

Mark R said...

I've read your previous post about your damaged pipes, and I'm glad to know that it's all fixed now. Good thing your insurance company shouldered the expenses regarding the repairs. I do hope you'll never experience that kind of damage again so that you won't lose some masterpieces again.

Mark R @