Monday, February 14, 2005

Recent musical misgivings 

Doubt is a very large component of my mundane, internal dialogue. I've resolved to, from time to time, use these pages to construct a grandstand for the observation of this open-mind(ed) auto-triage. Sorry, but I've no hard and fast answers at this point, only soft and slow ones to foist on you. My cup runneth over...

1. The myth of 'real-time' music

There are two aspects to consider here:

a) the technical, programming side - At the moment I'm not addressing this
b) the theatric, performative side - This has been picked apart by so well by so many people. I'll just add my two-cents worth here.

A scene from the Wizard of Oz comes to mind. Humor me by reading it, OK?

Do not arouse the wrath....

MCU -- Toto at Dorothy's feet -- CAMERA PANS right with him as he runs to
a curtain that hangs near the throne steps --

...of the Great and Powerful Oz! I said --
come back tomorrow!

MS -- The Four -- Dorothy speaks as she looks o.s. to right f.g. -- CAMERA
PULLS back to right to enter the curtain where Toto ran in the b.g. -- it
shakes as Toto starts to pull it back --

If you were really great and powerful,
you'd keep your promises!

Do you presume to criticize the....

MLS -- Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the Wizard at the controls of
the throne apparatus -- his back to the camera

...Great Oz? You ungrateful creatures!

MLS -- The Four react with fear -- Scarecrow looks o.s. to right -- points
for Dorothy --

Think yourselves lucky that I'm....

LS -- Shooting past the Four at left to the Wizard at the controls of the
throne apparatus -- the Four react as they see him after Dorothy calls
their attention to him --

...giving you audience tomorrow, instead

MS -- The Wizard at the controls -- his back to camera -- he speaks into
the microphone -- he turns, looks o.s. to f.g. and sees that the curtain
is gone -- reacts and turns back to the controls --

...twenty years from now. Oh -- oh oh!
The Great Oz has spoken! Oh -- Oh ---....

LS -- Shooting past the Four at left to the Wizard as he pulls back the
curtain --

... Oh .... Oh ....

MS - The Wizard peers out from behind the curtain -

MS - Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and Scarecrow react as they look at the Wizard
o.s. to right - Dorothy speaks

Who are you?

MCU - The Wizard peering out from curtain - he ducks back out of sight and
his voice booms out again -

Oh - I - Pay no....

LS -- Shooting past the Four at left to the Curtain in b.g. -- Dorothy
goes over to it and starts to pull it aside --

...attention to that man behind the curtain.
Go - before I lose my temper! The Great and
Powerful ---....

MCS -- Dorothy pulls back the curtain to reveal the Wizard at the controls
-- he reacts as he sees Dorothy -- Dorothy questions him -- the Wizard
starts to speak into the microphone -- then turns weakly back to Dorothy --
CAMERA PULLS back slightly as the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man enter and
stand behind Dorothy --

... -- Oz -- has spoken!

Who are you?

Well, I -- I -- I am the Great and Powerful
-- Wizard of Oz.

You are?

Uhhhh -- yes...

I don't believe you!

No, I'm afraid it's true. There's no other
Wizard except me.

MCS -- Dorothy and her three friends react -- Camera shooting past the
Wizard at left -- the Scarecrow and Lion speak angrily --

You humbug!


CS -- Wizard -- shooting past Dorothy, the Lion and Scarecrow -- the
Wizard speaks --

Yes-s-s -- that...that's exactly so. I'm
a humbug!

Oh ....

MCU -- Dorothy -- Tin Man and Scarecrow behind her --

...you're a very bad man!

MCU -- The Wizard reacts, speaks humbly --

Oh, no, my dear -- I'm -- I'm a very good
man. I'm just a very bad Wizard.

...and so on and so forth. Naturally folks like HYPO have gone a long way towards exploding this situation.

2. What kind of music would Webern make if he had to make music with a sampler? I think Roddy Schrock, to name one person I know, will really 'get' what I'm pondering here. (Note for the layperson: Webern's works are terse, and through-composed...in other words, repetiton is minimised.) Another way to phrase this question would be - Why does the technique of sampling seem to be pre-bundled with the concept of multiple repetitions? I propose whoever UN-BUNDLES them will be making a very interesting kind of music. I have a few folks in mind...

3. Getting to the bottom of why Cage so opposed to improvisation in music. We all know that even that the interpersonally Nerf-esque Cage hated two things: vibraphones and improvisation. Well obviously there are PLENTY of reason to hate vibraphones, but why improv? This is a very long and complex issue (aren't they all?), and I really need to speak with Tadashi Usami on this one before I write something I'll wind up regretting in the morning. Suffice it to say that the Cageian modus operandi, in one way or another, was the original pre-digital, pre-algorithmic 'shuffle mode'...Boy, now I'm REALLY in trouble!

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