Thursday, June 18, 2009
keeping the party going
morton feldman is simply one of the most precise composers of the late 20th century & the music is aleatory. how can these two seemingly contradictory facts exist together in a description?
when you enter into a feldman sound space your ear must be on guard, each sound will demand its own attention w/o needing contextualization. this is not how we are used to listening to anything, much less music. the precision of the composition of each note within the whole holds the structure together.
i remember robert morris, the great american artist, talking about having john cage engage w/one of his early works, a box with the sounds of its own making. the piece was exactly what it claimed to be & its making took over 3hours. cage sat w/the box on morris' living room couch for over 3hours listening to the work. morris said that cage was the only person to do so. i imagine feldman might have also.
i prefer feldman to the guys who came along after him, reich & glass. they worked more w/rhythm & harmonics. i prefer the tyranny of sound, the imposition of one note after another after another w/o logic, w/o sense in a reasonable world. it's real sense was totally & absolutely auditory. it's all about the ear & what & how it hears.
about rothko, feldman wrote, "There's a space all round the edge of his paintings. But a composer can't do that, he is concerned with keeping the party going."
about his aesthetic, he wrote: "I've got to teach them how to hear. How do you do that? It's just one tyranny replacing another. The tyranny of sound is replacing the tyranny of logic."