Eclectic I

Friday, March 16, 2007

Forum week 3

And the forever prominent question within music technology was raised once more. What defines music as music? Usually we discuss the nature of music and what it comprises of, only to reach a point where people establish which side of the fence they sit on. This time David got us actively involved. We were all given our parts to perform his piece "will insert title when I remember what it was." As homage to Cage (David really likes this guy) it was a free form piece with very little structure. There were no rhythmic durations, only a series of notes, percussive hits, or readings to be done within a given time frame.

What was the result? Well first there was the nervousness of people not willing to let go and stand out amongst the group. People were waiting for someone else to begin and then all rushing in at great crescendos of sounds. Then great periods of silence where people had exhausted there input within there set time. I recall David Harris saying that his favorite parts are the silences. I have to disagree. The silences were good when used creatively, rather than a moment of waiting for the next person to make a noise. But for me the highlights were the people who took it as an opportunity to express their part to its fullest.

There were three people that stood out greatly in this area. As abstract as this piece was, they all had impeccable use of their instrument and sense of timing. A cymbal crash at the end of a crescendo of voices, various vocals which accentuated the sounds (or lack of) within each moment of the piece, or clever use of distorted guitar to create moments of an almost ‘prog rock’ feel. I haven’t actually spoken to them as to whether they personally enjoyed the piece or if they thought it was a joke, but that is irrelevant to the obvious sense (conscious or subconscious) of adding texture and variety to the sounds around them.

For me this was an exercise in interaction with the sounds in your environment. It was about texture of noise and expanding creative potential through freedom of structure. I personally have no desire to write any music like John Cage or David Harris. I want to compose with strict control over what music is made and played. But the understanding of sound through the compositions of people of Cage's ilk is a brilliant foundation to creative freedom and potential. Even if it is something I’d never go out and listen to or purchase on CD.

On a lighter note, there were some incredibly funny choices of poetry within David’s piece. Was this an intentional choice to encourage people to stay actively involved to listening to the piece, even if it was just to catch the next excerpt of a poem? After all isn’t that what Cage (and therefore David’s piece) all about? To engage the listener (whether it is the musician or audience member) in such a way that they partake in the combinations and textures of sound instead of sitting back and letting it wash over them with no effort.


Harris, David. Music Tech Forum Wk 3. "cacophony of sound" Level 5 Schultz building University of Adelaide. 15 March 2007.

Pic References

Schwartzenberg, Susan. 3 November 1995. "John Cage" Archive of silence (17 March 2007).


Blogger John Delany said...

I write this comment over 24 hours since publishing my own forum critique. And I have to say I was in no mood at the time for being nice about Johnny Cage, however your writing has reminded me that, yes, there were some nice moments during Thursday's performance. I also enjoyed the combined vocal effects and occasionally brilliant dissonances that would last but a second. In other words, my favourite parts of any Cage-ian piece are normally fleeting!

I found myself very "limited" by the score (my blog expands on that) and thought the distorted guitar contributions, if I could even term it as such, were somewhat out of place. But then, everything was out of place and context really.... so.... Nonetheless, if there was any interest maintained for the performer, it was in deciding how to play a note, given that dynamics and duration was already indicated on the score.

12:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home