Re: Source, Observations, etc

Subject: Re: Source, Observations, etc
From: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (
Date: Fri Jul 30 1999 - 21:02:11 EDT

At 12:02 AM 7/30/99 -0700, Eric Lanzillotta wrote:
>Oh, about Dennis and software 'controlling' people's composing. No, there
>is no devil in there, but when you give people so much of the same
>equipment with so many similar built in choices, then tend to fall in the
>same direction. Downside of technology. How many people really cook a
>meal now with microwaves and instant meals now? A lot, but many people
>have gotten pretty lazy and eating the same thing as everyone else. When
>you had to build all your own equipment as you were relating, it meant
>everyone had a different set up, whether they wanted it that way or not.
>When you standardize equipment, you standardize results.

Point well taken. Though I built my own equipment for years, I *wouldn't*
want to go back to those days! It was cool to see David Behrman's KIM-1 and
laugh through the Cage/Lucier "Knobs" part of HPSCHD and marvel at the
Columbia-Princeton studios, but it's more gratifying for me to be able (at
last!) to hear *past* the technological innovation to what's actually being
done with all that technology. No sameness of tools will undercut their
imaginative application -- but it will reveal the naked would-be emperors
that could otherwise hide behind technological coolth/cloth.

Indeed, I hear enough original music made with cookie-cutter software that
I'm delighted (I've had some really great cookies made with cookie cutters,
for that matter). I'm not so blasť as the PAE jury, I guess. To me, there's
always a great deal to be discovered in new music, even (especially?) music
created with commercial software or patches or samples that I recognize. I
can be pretty dismissive myself, but with each year I hear more interesting
work, not less, in part because this week's technological triumph can no
longer disguise the inept.

At first I was startled when I played part of one of my pieces for Clarence
Barlow last year, and his initial reaction was, "Ahhh, that's..." and he
started identifying techniques and technologies. Typical Clarence, and he
knew he was being naughtily provocative ... but he let the music play long
enough for me to realize he wasn't brushing it aside for those reasons, but
rather playing one of his friendly one-up games.

I bring that up because I wonder: Isn't it possible that there's a goodly
portion of tongue-not-in-cheek
"oh-yes-I-recognize-that-software-do-you-huh?" wrapped (one-)up in the
jury's tale? A competition of disaffection?

As you can probably tell, I'm still really, really disturbed by the Eshun
defense. If this *was* an accurate portrayal of the situation (I fervently
hope it isn't), it seems to me that the jury was self-indulgent and engaged
in a hipper-than-thou contest. In simple terms: I don't hear truth in those
words, I hear cleverness.


The Transitive Empire
Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar
Erzsebet The Vampire Opera
The Middle-Aged Hiker

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