Tuesday, September 14, 2010

random note (postminimalism)

In the 1980s, Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu once joked about why American composers tend to write in Minimalistic style, Europeans tend to put a lot of dissonance like in serial music, and Japanese slow and depressive one with a lot of pauses. Of course he was talking about those who have academic background. His assumption was that it had something to do with their childhood experiences, especially punishments at school. American children who didn't do their homework had to write "I'm sorry I didn't do my homework" one hundred times on the blackboard, so they would get this repetitive style. European children were spanked, so they would get this sado-masochistic tendencies. Japanese children had to stand still alone in the corridor during the class, often holding two buckets, which are filled with water in them, in the hands, so they would become depressive and sad.

Last week American composer Kyle Gann criticized two points about American young composers writing in Postminimalistic style: one is that use of vocal in opera is ineffective; the other is that too many are trying to be a John Adams. Especially the latter appears to prompt many responses. He is not opposed to a young composer imitating John Adams as a career start. What he worries about is that those excellent young composers are becoming indistinguishable. Nico Muhly appears to be a bit irritated not by what Gann says, but by many comments easily appreciating Gann's post. Galen H. Brown is trying to analyse the systemic problem of academia.

They are talking about music probably not the way I talk about. They often talk about how to be effective. They brilliantly analyze how a certain piece is structured. They talk about "American tradition." Then, they make me think.

Though I don't go further today, I feel writing about what I liked may sometimes be good.

I haven't developed any style because I haven't written a good amount of music. Also I think a style cannot be developed only by a composer, but also by the audiences and the players. I haven't developed this sort of relationship. I think Woody Allen's quote, "90 percent of life is just showing up," is not merely an irony depicting a superficial life. Showing up is important.

I have listened to many kind of music. I have always been curious how those composers and performers make music, and why. Probably "why" is what I've been more interested in. It is probably because I've been a slow learner.

So, I tend to think like, "What's behind atonal music? What makes them to write that way?" And I imitate it, just writing several pages, and then I stop it since I have no intention to write this as my own work. And then I marvel at some books about aesthetic, history, and philosophy of the time. Not that I want to know the cause and effect like the pseudo-Freudian joke I mentioned. It is more similar to the way a child learns how to desire from the others.

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