Monday, November 7, 2011

Recorded Music as Object (and Process)

1. When I play music with another person, at my best I have only one goal-- to play with them. It's the same with an instrument, which has its own unique properties that suggest rhythms, melodies, forms, etc. It's the same with all objects in all situations-- everything essentially functions as a collaborator. Anything can always surprise us if we allow it to-- love the collaborator and whatever surprises it might bring.

2. Recordings are used as functional objects in the lives of listeners; in practice, this diminishes their intrinsic meanings and elevates the meanings of whatever it is that they're being used for. To play a recording is to play music. There are no good recordings or bad recordings, only good or bad playings-- everything is useful in some context. (Everything is useful in every context; with all objects and in all situations, anything can be listened to, reacted to, played with).

3. Brian Eno explained an idea of his somewhere-- over the course of our whole lives, we as individuals only ever listen to one piece of music, a composite of everything we've ever heard. A long time ago, the sections of an individual's "one piece" would likely have been made up of mostly "complete" pieces of music-- an entire concert, an entire recording, etc. Now, most sections of our individual pieces are made up of musical "fragements"-- surfing the internet to find something to our liking, walking in and out of environments with music playing in the background, excerpts of music used to accompany other media, samples, etc. (In practice, fragments and repetitions).

4. Recordings are used as functional objects in the lives of listeners; how we play with a recording is more important than the recording itself.

5. Music software is lowering the barrier of entry to making music. Already, applications exist that give "non-musicians" expressive control of musical materials without their needing to practice a technical craft. One particular craft is still necessary, though, as it always has been-- one of focused listening

6. Sampling is a process of playing with recordings as materials: one-way, asynchronous improvisation. At one point I felt that the most important use of this process would be an answer to the question "how can these I use these samples?"; now, I prefer to ask "how can these samples use me?"

7. How we play is more important than what we play and it doesn't matter how we play as long as it's play.

8. A long time ago, the sections of an individual's "one piece" would likely have been made up of mostly "complete" pieces of music-- blocks-- and most perceived meanings would have emerged from the completeness of the blocks themselves. Composers would have had a different experience, tending to listen to blocks on lower levels, the "complete" pieces as composites of smaller blocks, musical materials (instruments, compositional devices, etc.). Now that "complete" pieces have themselves become blocks, "nonmusicans" can become composers with focused listening and loving responses to the blocks at hand. The composites (pieces) which musical materials of the past have produced for us have become our own musical materials.

9. Now we can organize recorded materials, whatever they are, in such a way that both respects possible uses implied by their forms (to love our materials and the ways they surprise us), and respects our own inclinations, our own musical responses to the unique places we occupy in our "one piece".

10. (amor fati, "love of fate")

No comments:

Post a Comment