Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Til the gin ran out

In the second Reading the Maps blogcast Sinologist, travel writer, and muso Michael Arnold talks to Muzzlehatch and Maps about the Olympics, the Mandarin language, the minimalist rush, and the problems of mixing music with politics. The quality of the discourse declined noticeably after we ran out of beer and switched to gin. Listen here, if you don't believe me.


Blogger Richard said...

Interesting to hear Michael and his view of China and the language and translation etc

I could never really get "into" Glass or Reich although I perversely used to play Gavin Bryars "Jesus Christ Never Failed Me Yet" over and over...noise interests me as promulgated by Muzzle...but silence also. Silence I love over music...

But I can see the interest in minimalism - I just grew tired of hearing it.

But I'm not a great fan of such as
Schoenberg - he (some of his music but more his IDEAS) does interest me. Before him came Charles Ives who pre-empted Cage even. Ives is perhaps my favourite contemporary composer.

[But there are some pretty interesting contemporary NZ composers - I hear Thorin - great-interesting music! - I remember him! But there is a "composer" in Wellington called John Cousins - does some crazy stuff - starts by interviewing himself and things like that...

I read a book about contemporary music and listened to many of them (especially about 1995-1997) - Adams was one - but also Berg and Webern (he - like the minimalists -requires very intense listening as Michael talks of...)

For me it was the structure, or my "take" on the structure, of the music (the ideas of Cage and say Varesee or Xenakis or Stockhausen (I recently listened to his Helicopter Quartet which is interesting)) and others - and the ideas of the many musicians that fed into my own ideas of poetics I suppose rather than one group of musicians being "better" or more beautiful than any other.

It is frustrating finding certain music - for example I read about Elgar's apparently very interesting music based on The Dream of Gerontious - but all one hears is his Violin Concerto over and over.*

I'm out on (most) Tuesday nights but there is some fascinating stuff played on Tuesday in the Sound Lounge on the Concert Programme (when I do listen to it)-

and in that regard - in regard to "free sound" music the guy playing piano in the old school room sounds interesting. What I heard of the Dead C is great also...

I have some Glass (possibly some Reich) here might give it a whirl having heard Michael's comments on minimalism..

*Its' worth listening to the music of Benjamin Britten - he is very great composer. Also there is an Opera by Enescu that I heard a long and very interesting talk about but never got to hear it!!

Where BTW is the elusive Hamish Dewe?

1:14 am  
Blogger Skyler said...

though this post was "posted" by me it was actually posted by Maps :-)

9:11 am  
Blogger maps said...

Ooops sorry about that Skyler.
Michael is a very good guide - well, I have found him so, anyway -to modern classical music, even if he a bit severe at times ('John Adams includes too many irrelevant emotional outbursts in his pieces...Steve Reich is at his best when he avoids politics, and indeed all content' etc)

2:03 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Strictly speaking "Classical music started only with say Haydn - pior to that we had all over the world - music from (anywhere in the world) that was often atonal - that returned in the 20th C - Bach wrote music (contra Handel his music is slightly "atonal") that at the time he wrote it was considered "outmoded" and was thus neglected in favour of his sons' music always trying to be "getting through to the end" Glenn Gould (but his music is not like the classical music* of say Beethoven etc (although Beethoven studied his music intensely) - it bridged the polyphony of earlier near enharmonic forms - from Vivaldi and Geswaldo etc (and distantly back to Chinese, Indian and African music etc) - by modern classical you (or people mostly mean) mean contemporary "serious" music rather perhaps than say jazz and pop etc but today the boundries are less clear - they were never that clear - the music prior to Classical music was Boroque.

All of the - or virtually all of the - 'major' "Classical" composers improvised at the piano etc (Beethoven did entire sections of ocnerts this way - this practice was routine - his "imporvised concerts" were often felt to be greater than his laboriously composed music but that is not certain - Reich is more perhaps thus more conservative in that sense than Beethoven - "noise muic allows for variance and involvement by all(theoretically) who want to get in and make something (I used improvise extensively on the piano myself) - as it should be
the minimalists I see as somewhat composed and rigid and also imposing (sure they have a subtly and a power that is quite wonderful or can be) - composed and imposed (yet there is also an almost phenomenal freedom in the sense of the "ongoingness" which has some parallels in Bach's music) - and also the serialism of "The Vienna School" of Schoeneberg, Berg and Webern is almost as "rigid" - some jazz (Daniel Barenboim studied with Schoenberg for a while) is almost now too "sacrosanct" -
almost hallowed....

But where can people get involved? - probably in sound groups such as Muzzle's etc and his organ (I mean his strange musical organ! THAT organ!) etc with everyone high or drunk or happy...

I got a bit bored in the end with Glass and Reich - I like the iconoclastic Stockhausen etc ("9/11 is the greatest work of art of the 20st Century" !

But The Dead C are great and so is Bill Direen - these guys and their kind are "open to experience"...and involvement..why cant we all get involved in making things?

* One feature of it technically is thus of the main scales as we know them now but also the use of modulation from key to key...

12:21 am  
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6:38 pm  

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