Thursday, January 02, 2014

This page (comma) Renewable Music (comma)

This page, Renewable Music, has now been around for nine years and some 1760 items.  It began in Budapest, soon moving with me to Frankfurt, with occasional postings from places more exotic: Crete, Kathmandu, California, Mississippi among them.   Though the original idea was to be a group blog, said group didn't materialize and instead, it's been the notes and marginalia of one Californian expatriot composer, a public assembly of writings incidental to a composing life, including many of the small messages I typically write myself during the work on a piece of music.  While straying sometimes into literature, food, the movies or politics (or musical politics in particular), it's been mostly about music, new and experimental mostly, although over the course of these years, those terms have come to carry weight I'd rather not haul around and I've come to the conclusion that The Radical Music is the most apt descriptor — radical, as in "getting to the roots; relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough" (the obligatory manifesto is here) —, into which many tributaries stream, among them the minimal (the best definition of which remains, btw, "the elimination of distractions".)  Most of the items posted here are autonomous, but there have been a couple of serial projects, including an Alphabet (e.g. U is for Umbrella),  and one thirty-day month of a Diary (made urgent, I thought, by Occupy, and modeled formally, unashamedly, on Cage's Diary: How to Improve the World (You'll Only Make Matters Worse), beginning here (and whether the world is any worse for it, who knows?)) and other series on topics including rhythm and confessions to sonic pleasures (including fluttering kites, bowed metal, bowing on or near bridges, passing trains, distant horns, drones, and moving water) and many more cryptic items like a quartet of items in homage to Lévi-Strauss's Mythologiques I–IV (starting here).  A list of pieces which have been critically important to me, my personal Landmarks, is listed in the sidebar.  (In principle, the list is open-ended, without restrictions, but in practice, I've resisting going much beyond fifty (on the principle that you make acquaintance with a lot of music but that can't really or responsibly know more than about fifty pieces at a time; I have also avoided duplicating composers in the list, but three names in particular (Berlioz, Ives, Cage) have made that particularly hard.  I have tried not to fall to often into ordinary prose, which may sometime read as indulgent, when not actually lapses of taste, as in some limericks about the aging of Elliott Carter.  Yes, Renewable Music has often been about my constant rediscovery of passion for language, if only through the medium of my own awkward idiolect.*  There have been infrequent postings of single images from my own scores (some written specifically for this blog, to illustrate some thing or another then thought urgent), and links to other, whole pieces (like this set of 100,000,000,000,000 Pieces for Clarinet), but also two series of pieces: a set of twelve small preludes, on each of 12 tonics, based on the premised that a prelude was a cadence elevated to an epiphany (here's the one on Eb), and then, in October 2007, the project of composing one whole piece a day for a month and publishing each score daily, at the least, an exercise in time management.

Let me, note, finally, three projects sponsored here, of albums of sheet music for solo piano (A Winter Album), for melodica(s) (Melodica!), and for solo recorder to grounds from The Division Flute (The New Division.)  A lot of great music by interesting composers, much of which has established a lively presence as music for home, study, and concert.

* The other day, I thought that I ought to know more about English new music.  I listen to lots of it via Internet broadcasts, but I can't honestly say that I know what's going on it, particularly with regard to continuity: I just don't follow.  So I listened to a number of online lectures and interviews by or with famous English composers (from P.M. Davies and Birtwhistle to Ferneyhough and Finnissy to Barrett and several others.)  All the time, I had this nagging sense that it was not just that I don't talk about music in the same way these people do and that this seemed to signal that I didn't, in some fundamental sense, think or make music in ways that really overlapped with any of these musicians, but that the sense of separation by a common language was much deeper than I had ever suspected. I've been wondering ever since if this was something I should be concerned with. My provision answer is no, but only provisionally so.

1 comment:

Lisa Hirsch said...

I would love to hear more about your responses to the new music by English composers.