Before you start thinking I’ve really gone off the deep end and have turned into some sort of crank synaesthesiologist, read me out.
Ben Johnston talks about the aesthetic dilemmas of contemporary music and his own pioneering work in extended intonation, as well as personal encounters with John Cage, Harry Partch, Milton Babbitt, and others—topics which all figure prominently in his newly published collection of writings, Maximum Clarity.
If there is a larger relationship that music and food both share on an immediate, visceral level, finding out might tell us something about why certain people gravitate toward particular musical styles.
We really don’t have a decent word to embrace every possible musical creation, but perhaps I should get over my aversion to the phrase “piece of music.”
To my thinking, the painter Brice Marden (who is currently the subject of a major MoMA retrospective) shares a lot of aesthetic common ground with composers as diverse as David Borden, Gloria Coates, Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski, and Charles Wuorinen; yet I doubt there’d be lines around the block to attend a concert assembling any of their lives’ work.
I guess it’s time for me to throw out all of my books and free up several walls, but I’m already way behind my purging the walls from CDs and LPs I allegedly should have emptied in previous resolution cycles.
Since the old year is ending and a new year is about to begin, it seems an ideal time to voice a concern about how we parse old and new.
Last month, Time magazine published yet another list of the 100 greatest albums of all time; but virtually nothing on their list exists outside of the sphere of the pop song.
Do composers overall tend to care more about the way things sound than what they mean?