Re: Source, Observances, etc

Subject: Re: Source, Observances, etc
From: pal (
Date: Sat Jul 31 1999 - 12:05:43 EDT

KEVIN AUSTIN escreveu:

> pal <> continued:
> >KEVIN AUSTIN escreveu:
> >
> >> Electroacoustics education faces the same challenge: how to help the
> >> student (aren't we all students?) cease hearing the 'symbol' of the
> >> object, and seeing 'what is really there'. Enter into the two dimensional
> >> world where there is no 'cause and effect', there is only "is".
> >Shouldn't be so difficult for someone trained within Western tradition:
> have we >not been taught that semantics = syntax
> I may be too old to remember clearly, but I can recall only one of my
> teachers talking about semantics or syntax ... a brilliant woman who
> insisted on examining Bach chorales, starting from the setting of the
> text. (Lauretta Renshaw as I recall?)

I was referring to the fact that 'pure music', which is or used to be deemed the
highest form of musical art --- or perhaps of art tout court ---, implies the
superiority of 'organized sound', 'musical architectures', 'sonic architectures'
or suchlike over the anecdotes of the symphonic poem, and that therefore we are
expected to judge for instance Beethoven's *Sixth* or Chopin's *Fourth Ballade*
not so much in terms of its story or of the relationship between its story and
its sound organization but in terms of its sound structures (more often of its
note organization, unfortunately). It is in this sense that semantics (the
'meaning' of the piece) equals syntax (the 'laws' that govern the sonic
organization), or nearly does. We have thus been trained, for the sake of music
analysis, to consider the events as something ancilary, extra-musical, even if
we do not stop hearing them and if they also contribute towards the musical
sense we make.

> >> A recent question from very skilled and highly gifted visual arts student
> >> focused me (back) into the 'how' of teaching the art of 'seeing what is
> >> there' (or rather, hearing). To hear the ocean and not think water.
> >
> >IMHO, this is an existential exercise. However, when it comes to musical
> >listening, sure the water counts!
> Agreed about part 2 ... but I have some difficulty fully embracing part
> 1. In the Beethoven 7th Symphony, the oboe counts, but I'm not sure that
> I can express (in words) what it means.
> A typographer learns to look at curve and line of letters over and above
> their (verbal) semantic value. I do not feel that this is an existential
> exercise: it is, IMV, another facet of perception which students need to
> be strongly encouraged to encounter.

Agreed about point 2, ça va sans dire. I was thinking about point 1 in the
following terms. In the early days of musique concrète, to use the remnants of
an organ destroyed by the bombings was an act of love towards a certain past,
and also the tacit acceptation that such a past was no longer possible. IMV,
musique concrète gradually evolved from an art of making music to an art of
listening to sounds. At a time when the whole world can be destroyed by the
pressing of a button, everyday things are as important as 'works of art'. To
perceive the 'sound organization' behind sonic objets trouvés is to turn
listening into an 'art'. To be able to listen to any sound whatsoever for the
sake of the analogic, causal and conventional relationships it engenders, and to
be able to switch --- anarchically? --- from one kind of relationship to another
is an exercise that prepares one not only for the creation of new musics, but to
make the experience of sounds, images and life in unexpected and more meaningful

Is this terribly obscure, or somewhat irrelevant?

Best wihes,

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