Historical Disengage, or Dissing Cage?

Like many so-called young composers (ugh, don’t even get me started), I’m not into labeling and pigeonholing, but the fact remains that presenters ask for a bio that succinctly describes what I do as an artist. Given the minimal amount of space generally allotted, it’s hard to get the gist across without streamlining, by which I mean using the pre-existing labels that people already know. The boilerplate text that I usually send off begins with something along the line of: Randy Nordschow is a composer and sound artist, blah, blah, blah…

I haven’t given much thought to this opening line before, but after filming a discussion between FJO and Luke DuBois earlier this week, I’m beginning to have second thoughts. After detailing his own distaste of genre distinctions and classifications, Luke assailed the term sound artist in a convincing fashion. His argument went something like this (and I’m totally paraphrasing, he’s way more articulate than I):

Musicians call themselves sound artists in order to separate their work from the canonical tradition. They want their work to be experienced without the centuries of baggage that music history brings to the table—but there is no need for any of this. To call yourself a sound artist is to belittle all of the work that John Cage did to emancipate all sounds and redefine music as “sound heard.” If you are working in a time-based medium that includes sound—any sounds or noises—you are by definition, a composer.

I never thought of it this way before. Indeed if everything is music, as it has been now for over half a century, why do we need the term sound artist? Especially considering the work that I create, which heavily relies on and quite often references the Western classical tradition. Sure, my work also jibes with visual art tropes, but there’s really no need for the double descriptors of “composer and sound artist.” I want my work to mingle with the tradition, so I think my bio might need a little revision. Hey all you sound artists out there, what do you think? Have we turned our back on Cage in order to better align with a sector of artists that yearn not to burn down the opera houses, but instead, totally ignore them?

14 thoughts on “Historical Disengage, or Dissing Cage?

  1. rtanaka

    Kind of like the definitions of pornography, music is one of those things where you just sort of know it when you see/hear it. And the definition is largely subjective depending on who you talk to as well.

    A co-worker of mine introduced me to Last fm, which is sort of a hybrid of a music site, wikipedia, and social networking. The way that the system works is that people “tag” what they think you’re doing and eventually that links you around toward people of simlar tastes in music. He said he was skeptical at first but the system seems to work pretty good for what its worth.

    Trying define what you do in words is pretty hard, since it’ll never really capture the full extent of what you’re doing. I’m trying this thing out to see how other people define what I do, instead of applying labels myself…it’ll be interesting either way I think.

    Reply
  2. coreydargel

    Sound Logic
    It’s an interesting question. I’ve always thought that people use “sound artist” to indicate that their sonic compositions are best experienced or disseminated in alternative ways. If you compose primarily for concert situations (in concert halls, bars/clubs, etc.), you’d be more inclined to call yourself a “composer,” whereas if you design sonic installations, make pieces that should only be experienced on headphones, create sound-scores for interactive technology projects, etc. etc., then you’d be more inclined to call yourself a “sound artist.” I’m not sure if other people see it this way, and I’m not even sure that everyone who calls themselves “sound artists” would agree with my interpretation, but that’s how I’ve interpreted it. In the end, I think “sound artists” are “composers,” and “composers” are “sound artists.” So I think people should use the different terms for practical reasons rather than philosophical reasons.

    Reply
  3. Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

    Perhaps an invitation to Giancarlo Toniutti or Bill Thompson from the soundasart listserv would be worthwhile. They are often very eloquent in making the distinction.

    SoundAsArt

    Dennis

    Reply
  4. prof.lofi

    Hi Everyone,

    Very interesting discussion, one that we labored over (lovingly) for much of the early postings of the soundasart list. We never settled it of course, but some of you may want to visit the list to read some of the postings which were quite stimulating (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/soundasart/) There are also links to other web resources dealing with the subject and a pretty badly put together book list (by me) that you might find interesting.

    I should say that although I’m flattered by Deniss’s recommendation as well as having some experience in this area, I’m no expert and without a doubt won’t settle the discussion here or ever. I don’t really think it’s one of those things that can be nailed down, if indeed categorical distinctions ever really can be once examined in any detail. After all, these exist as mental shortcuts to help us organize our experience, and as with all such things, shift/change/evolve with each new significant experience, as well as with each new generation reconsidering the same questions and determining how they would like to define the world for themselves.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a question of culture and context as much as it is of function or even practice. And in reality, in the actual day to day stuff of the world, there are very rarely hard and fast categorical distinctions that have any real meanings (to me anyway)-most distinctions in my reality blend and shift between the categories I carry around. On the rare occasion I do find someone clinging to hard-edge distinctions as though they were irrefutable a priori truths (particularly when it comes to art/music etc), I tend to leave them be and go have a cup of coffee :)

    But this isn’t to say that there are no differences between composition and sound art, there certainly are. There are of course, similarities too, and these differences and similarities aren’t always the same-they shift and change depending on the individual practice of each artist-which again makes it a difficult thing to define in the abstract. It’s pretty annoying :) Trying to sort this out easily leads to generalizations, and that can be quite frustrating because for every generalization, everyone knows ten artists/composers who’s work is to the contrary.

    For instance, the quote Randy provided that said “If you are working in a time-based medium that includes sound—any sounds or noises—you are by definition, a composer.” Well, of course, definitions don’t fall out of the sky. By definition, as defined by who? From a composer’s point of view, especially one who comes from a post-Cage perspective, yes, this makes perfect sense. But there are many (too many) composers that think that if every aspect of the composition isn’t defined, controlled, structured etc that it’s not ‘really’ music. Nor would many of them accept it as music if it only involved ‘non-musical’ sounds or noises, no matter how well structured. And god forbid if it was indeterminate, open-ended, ‘installed’, nevermind sound walks and sculptures etc. But this also assumes that there could be no other definitions that involved the creative use of sound, and no one else who could do the defining.

    But working in a time based medium with sound isn’t even the real issue. What if the artist in question was using sound, but without sound being the ‘point’ of the work. What if the artist was more interested in drawing attention to a space, or the experience of space in general, or the physical mediation of space through listening, or mediation of space within an artifact (found cassette tape) or the crossing of territories and geographical space as found cassette tape is gathered from where it has blown from one area of the world to another, or the experience of inner-space as listeners are directed to hum quietly to themselves as different frequencies are played through headphones from the found cassette tape, or the cultural space that is exemplified by speeches of world leaders as they are recited over each other on various cassette tapes in a cacophony within a gallery, or the exploration of cyberspace as people visit a website that offers field recordings from different areas of the world that are mixed at random, etc. Would these all be best described as composition, or better, more usefully understood, as sound art-both, neither?

    And even if sound is the point, that doesn’t help either. What about the sound artist that hangs sheets of metal inside a gallery that quietly resonate with each other when any of them are lightly stimulated by air currents, or Christina Kubisch’s headphones that allow you to walk around and hear electro-magnetic fields from ATM and vending machines, or Bill Fontana mic’ing the Millennium Bridge in London, playing the sound of it resonating as hundreds of people walk across it, or Max Neuhaus’s drive-by installation in which cars that drove through the area picked up radio transmissions meant as art-are these composition, sound art, anti-nature walks, or sculpture? (And I’m not saying that the difference between sound art and composition balances on the differences between a concern with time/structure vs space/experience, though many do draw that distinction-again, there are too many examples of artists from both camps doing work that would confuse this distinction for me to be comfortable with it etc.)

    And with respect to the value of terms, their impact on how we understand something, does the term ‘composition’ carry with it connotations of structure, presentation, authorship, objecthood, performance, music history (and thus a reaction-positive or negative, to that) etc, that sound art doesn’t, or rather, how sensitive is the music field to these questions as opposed to the art field? Does it carry with it a background of theory that is different to the art theory that might more often inform those working with sound art? And can composition support a conceptual dimension of the work, or is that better developed in the art world-and when it does, is it more symbolic than allegorical? Does this matter? If composition and sound art can be defined simply by what one does, is a composer the same as an engineer or a chef? And in terms of definitions, would you be happier eating a meal by an artistic chef or an experimental one? How about flying in an airplane built by an artistic engineer or an experimental one? (Ha, ok-getting away from myself, but you get my point I hope.)

    I am sensitive to what Randy spoke about though, and the above are just some of the examples and questions that confronted my own understandings of the issue. Certainly for many, the adoption of the term ‘sound artist’ is nothing but a new table cloth for an old table. I remember one conference where an electro-acoustic composer introduced herself as a composer and sound artist. It’s fair to say, I was pretty insulted simply because she really wasn’t a sound artist, and in rolling her eyes, almost seemed to imply that no one else was either. Nothing in her work had changed to necessitate the redefinition of her practice other than her feeling the need to identify herself with a contemporary trend in the field-but her art didn’t reflect any knowledge or familiarity with those who’s work was better described as sound art than composition. Basically, her work was completely consistent with what she had been doing for 20 years, but now she simply and somewhat embarrassingly felt the need to identify herself as a sound artist, I guess to stay current. But why? There’s nothing at all wrong with being a composer! You can be a composer in the 21st century and still be current without changing hats! But for some, the use of the term sound artist really does better define what they are doing, where they are coming from, and what area they are working in-it’s not necessarily an arbitrary term.

    In any case, I found that for myself, it was finally better to approach the question from a cultural perspective, understanding each area as a territory of activity that involved the history, tradition, culture, shared concerns/experiences/theories, and of course, training of each practice. For me, experimental music (post-Cage etc) and sound art, are at the edges of their respective territories, and often blend, borrow, and cross with each other. But those of us that have traveled out from the music territory crossing paths with those that have traveled out from the visual arts territory (who are now incorporating sound as material and performance as practice) often have very different understandings of what they (and consequently each other) are doing, and why.

    It’s easy for those of us who come from music, to miss the fact that there are others that come to sound art without any knowledge whatsoever of Cage, Varesse, Shaeffer, Xenakis, or any of the many composers that finally broke free of the canonical straight-jacket of music (which by the way, I don’t think really happened as although many of these composers identified themselves as ‘sound technicians’ or ‘sound engineers’ etc, they all worked as composers within the field of music, however openly they defined that, and although they may have punctured holes that allowed some of us to escape into fields like sound art or to allow in non-musician artists who worked with sound, they themselves never really left-maybe they would have if a field like sound art existed, and without a doubt, I think their work helped make sound art possible, at least for those of us coming ‘from’ music etc, but during their lifetimes, each was working squarely within the music tradition, avant-garde or not). But there are many visual artists, performance artists, sculptors and others who are working within sound art that come with a completely different, non-music perspective, a completely different background of theory, and with very different concerns than many of us who come out of music.

    I think that’s why many composers who come across sound art often feel like the work is ‘weak’ or badly made etc because they’re evaluating it in terms of composition and very often missing the point of the work altogether. You know, ‘not enough structure’, ‘sound quality is abismal’, ‘why use cd player when you could do that in max/msp’ etc etc. While sometimes these comments might be accurate, at other times it think it’s just cultural bias, and they’re not able to see past their own concerns as composers to really experience the work as intended. Essentially for me the issue finally comes down to being one of a shared territory with many people working within it who have varying origins, artistic concerns, theoretical backgrounds, etc, all trying to figure out what to call themselves :)

    Anyway, that was my experience as an ‘experimental composer’ who was all of a sudden talking, interacting, and working with sound artists. I felt like I ‘came’ from somewhere else and was having to make up for a lack of shared experiences, cultural or otherwise. I bemusingly realized the obvious, that I came from a totally different area of study, with my own concerns, biases, and ideas, that were almost subliminally hardwired into me as a musician, even though I was experimental. Hard to define really, but there was definitely -something- different about how I worked compared to other sound artists and I found that I had to do what many anthropologists do-be quiet and listen, and try to be culturally sensitive until I could figure out what the differences were, and how and if they mattered.

    But having said that, I understand Randy’s experience and relate closely to it. It can be quite hard to define ones practice in today’s post-“post” world where so many areas of practice have blended into each other, particularly when having to supply a bio for a performance, exhibition, commission, or grant. For myself, I always try to consider the situation that the bio is being requested for and try to determine what is appropriate to that situation. I do have a ‘standard’ bio, but I also tweak it to make it appropriate per proposal . The fact of the matter is that it’s a fluid world and when you swim in many waters, you have to be able to be responsive to each environment you find yourself in. I think we need to remember that terms like composition, sound art, improvisation, are tools that help us understand our world. They aren’t given to us, we make them up, and when they become less useful, less accurate, or even block our understanding of situations, they should be adjusted or even abandoned.

    As to myself, I simply call myself an artist now when asked. I compose, perform, improvise, create installations, build instruments, burn some of them too-so it gets a bit silly to say I’m a composer/performer/improviser/sound artist/sculpture/arsonist all the time (although my bio does read something like that.) And as to grants and commissions, I would probably say I was a one legged, striped kangaroo if it got me the job, but that’s just business not art, and a topic for a different thread I’m sure :)

    Anyway, thanks for the interesting topic, looking forward to others’ perspectives!

    Bill

    http://billthompson.org/

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/soundasart/

    ‘…of memory and dreams.’ out now on http://seventhings.co.uk

    ………………………………………………………………

    “The more you think about things the weirder they seem.” -Calvin

    Reply
  5. yáahl

    well, I think I have never turned my back to Cage, simply because I never felt Cage was actually in front of me. But this pretty inconclusive circumstance doesn’t deny that actually I cannot see myself more than a composer. Not exactly because “any sounds or noises” make music, but because I think that definitions doesn’t help myself being inclusive or exclusive in regard to music. What I do is music. It has inevitably to do with the Western history of music, whether I place myself as a “conservative” composer or a “revolutionary” one (being neither one nor the other, actually, I cannot avoid thinking that making music is a way to explore the many fields arts involve, from morphology, to cognitive, to perception thus physiology, to space, to cultural and anthropological thus evolutive, to experimental etc….). But it has to do with much more (as just said).

    All this said, I also think anyway, that “labels” are useless and useful at the same time. Contradictory as it might seem (or as it might be: I owe much to Keith Rowe and his concept of contradictoriness he expressed at “Blurring of the Boundaries” SoundAsArt meeting in Aberdeen 2006), that’s one point. Labels per sé, are just byproducts of a need for a certain comfort: to place things in smaller locations, to keep them under control. And they work this way. But also they are traps as one thing might be placed in more than one label, increasing confusion. At the same time labels are totally useless as they just represent subjective efforts to be objective. They do not work very well.

    All this said, there is always one reason, at least, for labels. And this is history. History of the label itself. Investigating the history of a label, gives a lot of chances to understand what is there represented, and how the label could be stretched to represent more (or less), if needed.

    The point, I think, is not to choose a label and decide whether it is perfect so (Plato’s essentialist approach ), but more to understand it as a process, especially an historical process, where variation is part of the label.

    In this sense if I am (or when it occurs that I am) associated with sound art I don’t get despaired at all. I never thought of it, and usually don’t think of as well, but can take the chance and whenever I have a circumstance opening possibilities, I enlarge my view of the subject and give specifications (sharing, discriminating, denying, and so on).

    This is why what can be seen as a long, sometime speculative, debate is a positively never ending dialogue. Doubts increase reality.

    giancarlo toniutti

    Reply
  6. rtanaka

    Not exactly because “any sounds or noises” make music, but because I think that definitions doesn’t help myself being inclusive or exclusive in regard to music.

    The Cageian lineage tends to lead the composer toward treating sounds as if they were objects because of its reliance on autonomous processes. You set up a system, set its course, then let it run indefinitely — which is actually fairly similar to what a painter or sculpter does in the visual arts. So the result is that you have pieces which end up being really long (Feldman did this too) or pieces based on conceptual schemes rather than say, using standard notation. Art and sound installations are mediums which come out of that tradition.

    At least for me, my definition of “music” needs a level of human intentionality and interaction for it to be considered as such. I hear sounds and noises around me all the time, but because these sounds aren’t really “saying” anything to me it’s really not something I find all that interesting. It’s not a black-or-white issue to be sure, but I think it’s fair to say that “music” and “sound art” are mediums which are moving in different directions.

    Reply
  7. yáahl

    ryan:

    If you put things that way I might even agree. But at the same time you seem to detach yourself from the context, which many times dictates some of the rules. Music is music when you apply that label to it. Something most of the time I don’t agree with. But I cannot disagree, on anthropological terms. The history of the contacts between Western societies and non-western ones has a lot of examples of travellers reporting that such and such ethnic entity “does not have music”, simply because they do not consider what they hear as music. Which is a limit from within not from the outside.

    I am not in the cageian indeterminacy or “anything goes” trend. But all the same I do think that the intentionality of music on one side comes from the author, and on the other from the listener. Certainly I am, as a composer, more sympathetic with a view where the author has a certain level of intentionality (but also here, who decides the quantity of acceptable level?). My idea of music has not much to do with the acceptability of the sounds used (moral acceptability), but the articulation level. To me composing means articulating processes. Sounds are not objects as you might seem to imply (following cage) but processes. Experimental music doesn’t need to set a system or avoid traditional notation to define itself. It is part of the evolutionary process within western music that moved away from what you call “that tradition”. It is the tradition itself that moved away from itself. Only a moral attachment to it, conservative and protectionist, find it somehow “inappropriate”.

    Music and sound art may be moving in different directions. But music and music are moving in different directions as well. And sound art and sound art too…

    The separation brings back old paleontological questions regarding the definitions of the human species. I would refer to an interesting book I would suggest as a reference: Milford Wolpoff & Rachel Caspari “Race and Human Evolution” (simon & schuster 1997). There is a lot to learn from those subjects that could be applied to the idea of systematics in music and art too… It’s just variation that works.

    Reply
  8. rtanaka

    It’s true that music is just whatever we decide to label it as. I’m no big fan of labels either, but I think it helps to point out the differences that exist within the approaches normally considered “music” and “sound art”. I’m a humanist, so my definition of music includes that of non-western traditions, because it contains human intentionality. I feel considerably less guilty ignoring the incidental interactions between the river over there and my washing-machine, though. They’re just objects, after all.

    There’s a place for sound art, and I’m not really trying to discourage people from going that route. Some people I know went that way, but I just seemed to notice that many of them gradually distanced themselves from the performance art tradition. They seemed to be more interested in creating systems and have that object speak for itself rather than using the sounds themselves, and that’s primarily how they defined and defended their work.

    One person I talked to said that he wished he had taken more art classes because the direction his work was moving towards seemed like that would help him a lot more. Hes a musician, but he primarily has been getting his commissions by creating sound-installations or putting his works in gallery openings. It’s a different approach for sure — practically speaking, it would be very difficult to justify having a “sound art” work performed in a concert hall unless it was somehow embedded into a piece of music. At that point it becomes an instrument, but not a thing-in-itself.

    Reply
  9. yáahl

    This is not meant to oppose your opinions, but only to present a variation.

    It seems like you have a need to defend a position. I am not working in “sound art”, if I have to supply myself with a definition. But at the same time it seems to me not necessary to trace a line between what I do and sound art. The point is not, at least in my view, to express differences, but to share them. So as a composer the choice of using a system to create a sound space, being intentional, in your definition it is music. And as a listener if I happen to listen to “incidental interactions” of sonic phenomena, as you imply, I might do that with my listening background as a composer and might articulate them as a temporary piece of music for myself. Which certainly being limited and subjective, I wouldn’t need sharing it with others. But it is not because, as you say “they’re just objects”. I admit I cannot follow you in this object vs. subject opposition.

    That said, it seems I have no objections on what you say, because it seems to be rather distant from a problem, to my view. It looks more like a speculation over a question of pertinence, more than function. And personally I feel more inclined to see functionality as relevant, while pertinence relegated to a “moral” judgement of actions. Which seems rather useless or almost useless in activities related to art.

    giancarlo

    Reply
  10. rtanaka

    I don’t think I’m necessarily disagreeing with you either — I’m just stating my reasons for taking a certain approach. Although theoretically maybe the two might be compatible in some way, these divergences tend to emerge pretty clearly when you start looking for venues for your work. There is definitely a difference in mentality, at least in my experience.

    Although what I’m the most tired of are accusations of “close-mindedness” against people who might dare question the “all sounds as music” idea. It’s frustrating because the issue is often framed in such a way that if you happen to disagree with the idea above you’re automatically labelled as being fascist or authoritarian. You very rarely ever get a productive discussion especially when you’re dealing with some of the more radical ones, and I think this has contributed to the negative perceptions of the avant-garde.

    Aside from its disingenuousness, the accusation is also a fallacy based on the anthropomorphization of sounds — as if the sounds of nature or the sounds of machines were the same as someone playing an instrument. Some people also tend to equovicate clarity in presentation and doing heavy edit-work as being dogmatic, which comes from a similar mindset. (Anthropomorphizing the notes.) Most people can tell the difference between human and non-human sounds quite easily, although ironically as of the late it’s musicians who seem to be having trouble making a distinction.

    To equovicate incidental sounds to the refined skills of a musician is also an insult to the latter, since it attempts to negate their efforts at surviving for something that merely exists for its own sake. Although perhaps in many ways that’s the whole point of it — the existential notion that nothing really matters in the end. But I think that point of view is somewhat self-centered and in some cases it tends to reveal the artist’s contempt for humanity.

    Reply
  11. yáahl

    If I have a problem with what you say, is that it seems you are taking a position. I cannot think of a dialogue in simple terms as taking positions. Perhaps I agree with frustrations one might receive from people who think of others as “minority” or “less-anything”…
    I cannot avoid thinking that if we are dealing with music, and if music nowadays thinks about itself also in terms of “non-intentional” sounds (as you might label them…), this is a product of its culture. And it is rather dangerous to think in terms of degenerate cultures. Any “culture” has a meaning and this meaning brings consequences. What’s the point is accepting (and knowing of course) such consequences.
    The other questions are part of the dialogue not the combat between two or more “positions”.

    Coming to the personal side of this: I don’t think “all sounds are music”. I don’t think “the sounds of nature or the sounds of machines were the same as someone playing an instrument” but I also do not think they are “morally” different. They are simply different things; which doesn’t mean there is a moral hierarchy behind (and sometimes you seem to go that way, perhaps I am wrong in this??). And being different things where is the reason behind using them or avoiding their use in music?

    Personally I think my reasons lie in the quality (timbral, material, sonic etc.) of the sounds and in the motivations for the music I want to compose (formal, morphological, structural, historical, sonic, musical, conceptual, anthropological etc.).

    The two parts of the problem speak to each other and I am the “steersman”.

    It really seems you are defending a position. I have no interest in defending mine. I am both a musician, a composer, and many other things. But do not think I need to identify with such labels. That’s why I have no interest in identifying music with other labels (avant-garde vs. classical; composition vs. sound art; etc. etc.).

    Sounds are the core of music not the composer, not the musician, not the instruments. Sounds, wherever they come from, and whenever they have a semantics behind. Semantics might be induced by “cultural biases” but it is also induced by “anthropological universals”.

    Maybe there are other reasons behind. But can’t see their relevance. My limit. All in all I am just a man.

    giancarlo

    Reply
  12. rtanaka

    Labels become relevent when you present your work to the public — I had similar reservations about doing this at first, but the issue eventually forced itself on me when I started planning and looking for gigs to play around town. (The recent article by Alex Shapiro explains part of this process very well, I think.) Every definition will, by default, remove some information from the original material and I don’t think anybody here will deny that. But it often becomes a necessary evil because it helps to guide potential listeners toward your work.

    Improvisors tend to view notation more or less as a map, which is where my perspective largely comes from. If you look at a lot of improv charts, many of them are scribbled out, instructions are ambiguous, and the titles are often silly and incidental. It’s because they’re not really all that interested in the notation but in the act of performance itself, and if you generally know your way around town then you often don’t need detailed instructions. The map is not the territory, but it simply points you in the direction that you may want to go.

    I think the same thing could be said about these “labels” in general. This is a very practical, business-oriented point of view, but I think it’s important for musicians to be able to articulate what they are doing or trying to do, or at least be aware of the ideological conceptions behind the styles that they’re employing. I personally don’t think that leaving things “undefined” makes the artist any freer or more capable of being “outside of the box”. In order to be outside, if you have to know where the box is to begin with.

    Reply
  13. yáahl

    Sorry but your approach to things with a X vs. Y is not what I can follow. I cannot think labels vs. “undefined”.

    Your problem seems to be linked to your own experience and that’s great. But that’s not mine and I think it’s great as well.

    All in all, maps are conditions from the territory, labels are conditions from the authorial identity.

    I have nothing against labels nor undefinitions. The point is exactly this. You reduce I do not.

    This doesn’t mean I stay out of the box, nor that my universe is so silly or complicated.

    Simply it is not that simple.

    Difficult to say more.

    giancarlo

    Reply
  14. rtanaka

    The process of abstraction in itself is a process of reduction. Maps reduce territories into charts. Notes reduce the sounds into symbols. History is world events reduced into words. Even as I type this I know that not everything that goes on in my brain is going to come through just by these words. And I know that everything I read here is only a small glimpse of who the person on the other side might be. But words are just tools and can be useful if used effectively — hence the idea of the map. I’m not talking about a dichotomy between labels and non-labels, I’m just talking about the fuction that abstractions have served (pretty consistently) throughout human history.

    I think that acknowledging this is important, because in the end reductive decisions eventually come to reflect the priorities of the composer. Out of all things that could be written, he or she decided to write this, which shows what their beliefs and priorities are. If you compose, you reduce. It’s actually very absurd to try to argue the other point of view…like someone attempting to eat their grocery list or something!

    If your experiences with those mediums have been different, I’d like to hear about them. If the picture isn’t so simple, then tell us how it’s not so simple. Otherwise you’re basically just using “open-mindedness” or “it’s not so simple” as a shield to cover up your lack of argument or an alternative point of view. (The reason I don’t like a lot of French philosophers is because they often dodge the hard questions using this tactic — they accuse people of being “close-minded” or “misunderstanding” if you don’t agree with their point of view…very annoying!) Specificity is important here.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Conversation and respectful debate is vital to the NewMusicBox community. However, please remember to keep comments constructive and on-topic. Avoid personal attacks and defamatory language. We reserve the right to remove any comment that the community reports as abusive or that the staff determines is inappropriate.