By Andrew Durkin
Decomposition is a bracing, revisionary, and provocative inquiry into music—from Beethoven to Duke Ellington, from Conlon Nancarrow to Evelyn Glennie—as a private and cultural adventure: the way it consists, the way it is idiosyncratically perceived by means of critics and reviewers, and why we hearken to it the best way we do.
Andrew Durkin, top referred to as the chief of the West Coast–based commercial Jazz staff, is singular for his insistence on asking difficult questions about the complexity of our presumptions approximately track and approximately listening, specifically within the electronic age. during this profitable and lucid learn he explodes the age-old inspiration of musical composition because the paintings of person genius, arguing in its place that during either its composition and reception song is essentially a collaborative firm that comes into being basically via mediation.
Drawing on a wealthy number of examples—Big Jay McNeely’s “Deacon’s Hop,” Biz Markie’s “Alone Again,” George Antheil’s Ballet Mécanique, Frank Zappa’s “While You have been Art,” and Pauline Oliveros’s “Tuning Meditation,” to call just a few—Durkin makes transparent that our appreciation of any piece of track is often knowledgeable by way of neuroscientific, mental, technological, and cultural components. How we take heed to song, he keeps, may need as a lot strength to alter it as song may need to alter how we hear.
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Extra resources for Decomposition: A Music Manifesto
And this day, as we benefit from the merits of MIDI, sequencers, samplers, and different reasonable recording applied sciences, many musicians have redefined “writing” tune altogether because the extra instant means of going on to tape (in a way of conversing) with a piece in growth. for lots of, recording has changed notation as a uncomplicated software of composition—it has turn into a strategy of either proposal construction and revision, instead of in basic terms the way to rfile a complete paintings. Our behavior of creating the ineffable effable via writing is hence extra complex than it sort of feels in the beginning; it's not a convention all of us blithely settle for. We communicate, in any case, of writing tune “down,” as though inscription is inherently belittling. Many composers of acoustic live performance track, or any track that calls for the organizational keep watch over allowed via notation, have taken those advancements as extra proof for music’s demise cult, defined within the creation of this booklet. Richard Taruskin has long past as far as to assert that we have got entered a “post-literate” age for music—suggesting that the stream clear of notation is everlasting. yet I’m no longer confident that we're witnessing the “collapse of ‘print culture’ ” (or the “passing of a musical style,” or “the extinction of a musical medium”), as John Halle dramatically places it, summarizing Taruskin’s place. There are nonetheless those that in composition, functionality, and listening deal with the rating “piously” (to borrow Robert Levin’s term). Even with out that reverence, notation is still an enormous ability set of the pro journeyman musician. It makes it a lot more uncomplicated for her to take part in an impromptu recording consultation, for example, or to sit down in with an out-of-town ensemble. while Amanda Palmer lately attempted to complement her traveling band with neighborhood musicians prepared to play for “beer and hugs,” the ensuing outrage used to be pushed via a professionalism that assumed formal musical education, with a concomitant mastery of sight-reading, painstakingly and expensively attained via a long time of perform and examine. At approximately a similar time, Palmer’s peer Beck Hansen published a set of songs now not as a recorded album yet as a suite of sheet tune. half advertising gimmick, that stream however assumed no less than a few Beck fanatics have been notationally literate. Notation, in different phrases, remains to be with us. it really is nonetheless an effective approach of doing musical enterprise. And its sleek acceptance as a really expert language—as against the lingua franca it was once toward being for a lot of the 19th century—still offers it cultural cachet. To the present-day musical neophyte, the musician’s ability in remodeling dots at the web page into song within the air can appear nearly magical, the paintings of a priestly classification owning arcane wisdom of a sacred semiotic approach. (To the musician, this credulousness is frustratingly unconnected to monetary gift. ) And that cachet might be why written song is still a final hotel of the authenticity quest. If we will eventually dispense with the private authenticities of the person listener (as we did in bankruptcy four) and the fake binary among recorded and concert (as we did in bankruptcy 5), i think there's nowhere else for the controversy approximately authenticity to head yet into this area of musical textual content.