FRANK J. OTERI:Well, what’s so interesting if you look at the 20th century; now we can actually get a little distance from it and say the 20th century as a unit, as a time in history… We began with this notion where pre-recorded sound mediums, first the cylinder, then the original gramophone spinning 78s and 33s, where before that people would play music in their home, and then all of a sudden you have this object that was the embodiment of other people playing music that you then listen to, by people who were allegedly better than you. So people stopped playing music. Then at the end century people realized that the very tools that can reproduce music were musical instruments in their own right.
CARL STONE:Cage was a very important part of that realization when he began to use turntables and radios, etc., as musical objects, as instruments in the Imaginary Landscape pieces and so on…
FRANK J. OTERI:Which is what your own radio show was named after…
FRANK J. OTERI:Right, because things no longer have a fixed beginning or an ending. You listen for as long as your ride is, and if you are in the middle of a song or in the middle of concerto it doesn’t really matter.
CARL STONE:Well it may have mattered, but it certainly changed the way you perceive music and eventually music itself changed to take into account the fact that people listen differently. I mean people stopped working in longer forms, not stopped completely of course, but the shorter forms grew up, I think because of that, in the same way television has changed a lot since the invention of the remote control.
FRANK J. OTERI:I would also dare say that with the longer form structure, they’re developmental in a much different way. There’s no longer a narrative development going on.
CARL STONE:Well, we have to be careful not to generalize too much because obviously there are still people working in these narrative forms, and I think actually to an extent that I do that too in many of my pieces. My pieces these days, although they may be sectional, work over a longer time frame that is not particularly appropriate to radio as most people listen to it now. But the other thing about radio is that not only that time has become compressed but also the circumstance of listening is so variable now. I mean we don’t know when a piece is broadcast on radio how people will hear it. Will they listen by their bedside, will they have a super duper 5.1 stereo system that they listen to in their living room, will they be washing up the dishes, will they be in their cars, etc., etc. And so music that may work in one way may not work in another and when I’ve done pieces for radio I’ve tried to find a way so that they can work under a myriad of circumstances.
FRANK J. OTERI:Washing the dishes…
FRANK J. OTERI:So this change from foreground listening to background listening… We talked about the functionality of music, of course music has always been around with people, both as foreground as well as background.
CARL STONE:That’s true.
FRANK J. OTERI:Music accompanied ritual, religious ceremonies. At any kind of political thing, it was almost always there. And I think that when we as a culture started emphasizing this foreground method of listening with western art music it became sort of detached and removed from everyday life to the point where it became a specialist form for a lot of people, not only for players, but a specialist form for listeners as well.
CARL STONE:True, although not necessarily an elite form. You really had to carve out a portion of your day in order to have a musical experience by going to the concert hall, or wherever. That’s true. But at the same time music could co-exist in other circumstances when you listened even in the 18th, 19th centuries you wouldn’t have background music in the mall but you could have musicians in the 18th century equivalent of a mall. And then when stuff like the pianola came out that also changed the way music functioned in our society.