Iris and the other players, Keiko, Gabi, Jolien and Raf, returned safely from their jaunt to Japan, where they performed at the Hamamatsu Music festival some pieces by me. I stayed at home, for these are times which more invite to ponder the big questions of (artistic) life: outside there’s less light and more darkness pervades our waking hours. Though, in about seven weeks the sun will already set at its most southern spot.
Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot. The ‘how to proceed’ has become existential. I recently refused to become member of the Royal Academy of the Arts and Sciences, for I feel like I’m a beginner again. (I think there’s no room for thinking about broad musical matters, when one turns 17 years old again :-). To me, it seems as if there are no more certainties anymore, that MY options to choose from have become each past year smaller. The little holes through which my mind is allowed to crawl seem to be are much narrower. At the same time, the digital world out there is blinding us like a pulsar.
That’s the only luggage I’m currently allowing on my back, this uncertainlty about I’ve been doing the last 40 years of my life. The music which in the recent past I produced, proved to be music mainly attractive more for musicians with a broad spectrum taste, and less so for the audience ‘out there’. (Though I have to say that the Tumbleweed concerto performed by Tom Landschoot and the Arizona University College Orchestra conducted by Jeffery Meyer apparently went very well).
Like so many composers I need committed musicians who are willing to overcome the initial reluctance of programmers, often steeped in the wild schemes of modernism, which links innovation with excellence.
I don’t believe in Darwinism in music. This would mean that Reich is ‘fitter’ than Monteverdi. Just listen to the Daniel Variation and then, please, make up your own mind.
The past isn’t better than the now either. It’s just that people should be invited to use their ears, to remain curious and open minded and allow them to refuse to be taken in by the same old tired song trying to convince everybody that music is ’emotions’ only.
Music is much more.
Music is the abstract of the doctorate of one’s life.
So, I’m currently trying to find out what music really is for me NOW. I’ve been teaching the canon, and especially the canon of the 20th century for so long, that I maybe started to believe some of the myths too. Unconditionally.
OK, the big names often ARE the best. But taste and dogmas and conventional assumptions might stifle the necessary need for endless updating. Times change, what were the big questions then might have resulted in poor answers now. It’s fun AND healthy to say sometimes nay and then be wrong again. In a different way. Due to stubbornness and hubris, Einstein lost it the last 20/30 years of his life: we don’t have to follow his example, do we?… (At least he never lost his smile in front of cameras 🙂
In music, some musicologists are not yet ready to say ‘maybe’ concerning some Big Names and their Narratives. They still believe that there is a kind of inevitability in music. As if the course of music which was once set by Wagner, pouring his -why not say it- excluding and sometimes nefarious theories in the hungry minds of people, who hankered to be for once in their life in the midst of ‘Advance’, while still being suckers for emotionalisms and complicated tearjerkers, can’t be questioned anymore.
Avant-garde attitude seems to have become a law of conduct.
And then some people think of themselves being part of the avant-garde while sitting through the never ending chugging of a Glass piece. Why is tonalism OK there and not someplace else? (Duration is a possible answer- but let’s talk about this in the near future)
Glass’s music indeed once was very fresh when all the elements of his output AND performance were connected. ‘Music in Twelve Parts’ with the raging electric organs, winds and singers, still is mind-blowing. ‘Two Pages for Reich’ too. We needed this (his) kind of tabula rasa. But do we need more operas with singers expensively clothed, singing in front of musicians getting tendinitis because of awkward instrumental writing?
Big egos become big heroes and therefore we all tend to think that their art must be big too…
Maybe it’s just not possible to tap into the Zeitgeist during a whole life. One’s sensitivities might coincide for a certain amount of time with the predilections of an era. But then, unpredictably, times change.
I agree: music might be for some people the last bubble of refuge. Music is indeed for everybody. There’s a tune for everybody. And it’s streamed around the planet in quantities never been witnessed before.
But what might music be for someone who discovers that his output mostly thrives in circumstances which rather resist change? In circumstances where music is considered to mainly sooth the pains and fears of life? Or, where music NEEDS to be this or that, and if not, threatened to be become a useless artifact, something abstract and unloved, before it even gets the chance to present itself nicely?…
Defend, again a term of war…
I’m 17 again. What do I really like? What points to the future, and might make the future sustainable?
Where are the little fields where I actually still can find seeds of longing? Where I’m allowed to plant tiny artistic shoots and seeds without being sprayed by not completely safe products concocted by culturally biased people, sometimes behaving a bit like the board of Monsanto?
And, a very personal preoccupation, is my own neocortex a viable entity, worth to be plowed and dug and made arable (again), in order to grow one day a tiny flower amidst the weeds of my real or perceived limitations?