Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Music and Globalization

The world out there is large and on its affairs new music barely registers. Nevertheless, the act of making our music is inextricable from the world, and our music either fits in, accepting the world as it is, or refuses the easy fit, disturbing the order of things, in however modest a way.
How far is anyone expressing or trying to express in terms of music (sounds, if you like) the value of anything, material, moral, intellectual, or spiritual, which is usually expressed in terms other than music? (Ives)
New music -- again, modestly -- is a response to the complex of developments which are thrown together nowadays under the word globalization. Questions of tradition, identity, and propriety and of the control over properties real and creative are, even for the least political among us, inescapable and urgent as the way in which we answer these questions can determine how our music is placed in the world, how it is consumed, valued, disposed. What does it mean for a music to identify itself as "popular" or "classical", "new" or "experimental"? What forces control the distribution of music? Who are the gatekeepers for training, prestige, distribution, payments? What is musical diversity and how does our music fit -- aesthetically, practically -- into an expanded repertoire? These questions are intimately connected to issues in the globalization complex, and our response cannot be left at a naive and inadequate expression of pro- or anti-globalization, but must work instead to optimize a process that is irreversible and has potential for good as well as bad.
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere.
Our sounds, our noises, whether comforting or disturbing, are, as forms of response, substantially different to the forms taken by either the politicos and bureaucrats at the current G-8 summit or the protesters, both peaceful and violent, shut behind barricades. Musical sounds are less direct that words exchanged or stones thrown, but don't the sounds have potential to be both more subtle and more honest? A musical disturbance strikes me as an infinitely superior and more subtle expression to those responses which have been reduced to either physical violence or physical barricades. But still, the honesty of our response should always be questioned: have we tempered our music to meet the demands of the gatekeepers?

(The above is inadequate, provisional, and quite probably preposterous, but the best I can manage at the moment. The piece I'm working on now, a string quartet, is the more coherent argument, I think. In particular, I've decided in the quartet to answer those gatekeepers who'd have us avoid or even abandon the idea of a music that is identifiable as classical and still make discoveries, perhaps even radical ones).


Anonymous said...

Herbert Brün's trace on compositions <-> society, which I seem to frequently point people to but just as frequently lose all understanding of.

Daniel Wolf said...

Thanks, Jacob, for the reference. Maybe I should check out some of Brün's music.

Anonymous said...

I've decided in the quartet to answer those gatekeepers who'd have us avoid or even abandon the idea of a music that is identifiable as classical and still make discoveries, perhaps even radical ones.

The last clause of this sentence is radically unclear. Are you going to 'make discoveries' in the quartet? Or is it that those mysterious 'gatekeepers' want 'us' to make discoveries, despite avoiding or even abandoning the idea of a music, etc.?

Is classicality then good, bad or indifferent for discoveries - according to you? - according to which gatekeepers?

Anonymous said...

Hello ! I was searching for people that could have an interest for my music with the help of the name Charles Ives (one of my gods) and found your blog.

My new album is now available for sell, but it's still without its first reviews. In the past, I have received incredible press from a variety of sources (All Music Guide, great composers...).

See and mostly listen by yourself some Philosophie Fantasmagorique.

Thank you !

Vincent Bergeron

"In the course of a lifetime, one encounters very few major musical talents. Vincent Bergeron is one of those few, a unique composer who is at the forefront of musical thinking."

Noah Creshevsky
Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
Director Emeritus, Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College