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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Recent Reading

posted by on February 7 at 11:00 AM

In case you missed the Seattle Chamber Players’ Morton Feldman marathon, Kyle Gann posted his talk, In Dispraise of Efficiency: Feldman, which profiles and parses Feldman’s influence on post-classical composers today: “Feldman changed what composers think, how we feel about what we think, and how we are allowed to defend our choices. He gave us a sword with which to shatter the thick shields of rationalism, professionalism, and conventional wisdom.”

Following the tradition of composer-as-writer (Berlioz, Wagner, Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Cage…and later Ellington, Braxton, Mingus, Cardew, Gann…), Feldman was a fine, fun, wry essayist. Peruse a selection of his essays here, especially “Boola Boola” - “…my father said he would give me what his father gave him - the world. The world turned out to be Lewisohn Stadium on a hot summer night. It never occurred to me to go to a University.”

Anthony Braxton

A few folks asked me about the source of the Anthony Braxton quote in “The Score” recently - “anyone seriously studying composition and making music in this current time-space needs to pay attention to what the video-game people are doing. They’re navigating a dynamic system that can go just about anywhere at any time and we can learn a lot from their solutions.” Read the rest of it here. Hat tip to HurdAudio.

I’m also enamored with Music as a Living System by Seattle composer, improviser, and SIL2K honcho Stuart McLeod: “Time is not an absolute entity but instead a ruler by which we measure the relationship between objects.” I don’t agree with all McLeod’s propositions, but he thinks big, something composers rarely do these days. It’s provocative - and essential.

I finally read the masterly profile, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese. The piece portrays Ol’ Blue Eyes at work, with his cronies, and talking about his “bird.”

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