Friday, September 14, 2007

The coalface of creation

Hah! I'll translate latin later. Today I'll talk about my music

Responding to Hooverific's comment on "More bike stuff"
I appreciate your comments about my music.
I try to avoid obvious structure.
I try to write "organically". The "bones" are there but I strive not to hide them but to integrate them into a unified whole.
What I want to achieve is musically that reveals itself slowly over the course of it's performance.
One could argue that the length of performance is structure enough and that it's the listener's duty to find music in whatever is presented.
This is nonsense, of course, there is much more to communication of music than just listening to 5 minutes of whatever sounds happen to your ear.
Yes, the music is contained in the noise, but it is the composer's duty to find and make available his own idiosyncratic insights.
Otherwise, who needs him?

Consider all your most inspired music played at once, it would be "noise" but it would still contain all your most inspired music.

Imagine all nine and a half Beethoven symphonies played at once.

The deeper into this unknown I can trick you into following me the better.

I don't remember where I read the comment about "the coalface" but it is a perfect visualization of the creative conundrum. How to make something that has never existed sound like an obvious truth.

It's also similar to being in the crow's nest of a sailing ship searching through the fog for something of significance. Is that a whale? A rock? Another ship? A reef?

Where was I? Oh yeah, structure. There is some buzz on other sites concerning Beethoven's 33 Variations on a theme of Diabelli. The Diabelli waltz is rigidly and obviously structured. Beethoven takes it to the further edge of that structure without actually losing same.

Now we return to the tonic of this post by talking again about MY music.
"Nightmare Prelude" which I have linked for your enjoyment and education, is the first of my "36 variations on a theme of Diabelli" (anything Beethoven can do, I can do more of)
Diabelli's original structure is still there, but it is buried in the melodramatic fullness of the chords.
The gunshots, sirens and screams are not my doing, but I am more than pleased that I could inspire that kind of creative participation.

As long as I have your attention here, I want also to tell you that the piece is modeled on Chopin's prelude. I don't know the opus number, but you should be able to recognise it.

Also, I have to admit that it is a bit of satire, poking fun at the pompous march that opens Ludwig's set.

Foof! Trying to be serious is work!

For other posts about my contretemps with the SSO, search for "Chutzpa" and "Talvi Agoniste". I am interested in your opinions. Have I ever told you about the copyright infraction I claimed again the SSO?

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8 Comments:

Blogger butch said...

I love it, sir, more vocabulary building. Coalface; not in Webster's, but so what?

Noun 1. coalface - the part of a coal seam that is being cut
face - a vertical surface of a building or cliff
coal seam - a seam of coal

These services are right at the coalface,' McCartney said, 'but they need more resources.

at the coalface (British & Australian)
someone who is at the coalface is doing the work involved in a job, not talking about it, planning it, or controlling it. You sit in your office looking at consultants' reports, but it's the men and women at the coalface who really understand the business

Or to put it another way,"If you work at the coalface, you are dealing with the real problems and issues, rather than sitting in an office discussing things in a detached way."

So I would assume that when you compose music, you are tuned into the music of the spheres, that introdimensional vibe that connects us cosmically to all the other alternate parallel universes, to every entity, every form of energy and/of life throughout the many layers of consciousness, right? It is like that 5 year old boy I heard of that just sat down one day at a piano and starting playing Mozart and Bach --where the hell does that come from? Something off a toilet seat, genetic memory, spill over talent from a past life? Yes, probably, and it is hard to pin down, and even harder to know.

Some Techno music gives me that feeling of what you are describing, a lot of overlapping melody all played on one band, with individual characteristics lost in the melay. I just relistened to the 1:40minutes of "Nightmare Prelude", and I must admit it baffles me. The music sounds "out of focus", atonal at first, and then it clears up, and somehow becomes cohesive, and just as we feel that we are hearing something we could understand or be receptive to, the gun shot makes us jump out of our skin, and the sirens make us scrunch down, and pull our profile out of the windows. When you write "organically" does that mean we can feel it more than we can hear it, or that there is no pesticides on it? Doesn't structure connotate style and type of music? Blues sounds like blues, unless it is attacked by and augmented by rhythm. A polka make one hate the tuba and the accordian, umpaa umpaa; and remember that mama's got a squeezebox and Daddy don't sleep at night. Rock can have strings, percussion, horns, or just the nakedness of the human voice --but it ain't shit without a drum, proably a snare drum, with the tinkle of the odd cow bell. One thing is absolutely clear to me, and that is that you have "idiosyncratic insights".

On a lighter note if you played one hundred songs done by THE ROLLING STONES, it would overlap almost perfectly, and it would almost just sound like one song, but if you played 100 Elton John songs, you would create a new language, and a new nation, and God only knows what would happen if you played 100 Beatles songs simultaneously --maybe it would create a seance, and we would end up with a New John Lennon ballad, music without Yoko Ono

Anton Diabeli (September 6, 1781 – April 7, 1858) was an Austrian music publisher, editor and composer. Best known in his time as a publisher, he is most familiar today as the composer of the waltz on which Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his set of thirty-three Diabelli Variations.

Diabelli was born in Mattsee near Salzburg. He was trained to enter the priesthood, but also took music lessons with Michael Haydn. He moved to Vienna to teach the piano and guitar before becoming partners with Pietro Cappi in 1818 and setting up a music publishing firm with him.

The firm, Cappi & Diabelli (which became Diabelli & Co. in 1824) became well known by arranging popular pieces so they could be played by amateurs at home. The firm became well known in more serious music circles by becoming the first to publish works by Franz Schubert, a composer the firm later championed.

Diabelli produced a modest number of works as a composer, including an operetta called Adam in der Klemme, a number of masses and songs and a large number of piano and classical guitar pieces. Among these are pieces for four hands (two pianists playing at one piano), which are popular amongst amateur pianists.

Ironically, perhaps, the composition for which Diabelli is now best known was actually written as part of a publishing venture. In 1819, he decided to try to publish a volume of variations on a waltz he had penned expressly for this purpose, with one variation by every important Austrian composer living at the time, as well as several significant non-Austrians. Fifty composers responded with pieces, including Schubert, an eleven-year-old Franz Liszt, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Carl Czerny was enlisted to write a coda, and they were published as Vaterländische Künstlerverein.

Beethoven, however, instead of providing just one variation, provided thirty-three, and his were published in a volume of their own in 1824. They constitute what is generally regarded as one of the greatest of Beethoven's piano pieces and as the greatest set of variations of their time, and are generally known simply as the Diabelli Variations.

Diabelli's publishing house expanded throughout his life, before he retired in 1851, leaving it under the control of Carl Anton Spina. When Diabelli died in 1858, Spina continued to run the firm, and published much music by Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss. In 1872, the firm was taken over by Friedrich Schreiber, and in 1876 it merged with the firm of August Cranz, who bought the company in 1879 and ran it under his name.

He died in Vienna at the age of 76.

When it comes to the SSO, and The Event, and The Story, who was embarressed, you or them? They were perhaps too moronic, too up tight to be embarressed. And we already know what a sensitive soul Lane Savant is, so I guess I have answered my own inquiry, per usual.


My 0pinions on the incident and the matter were reflected brilliantly in allegory; see the ADVENTURES OF LANE SAVANT & ANONOMANN. The fist of fury and the lance of destiny shall be raised one more time, like a dirty look, like the middle finger, and probably those fat cats within SSO who are mandated to read FFTL will feel a tinge and trickle of guilt or remorse; not!

Glenn

3:04 PM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

My take on "coalface" is that to create anything you must face the impenetrable dark of the unknown.
Turn your back on all that has gone before and try to sink the 8-ball of of your genius into the side pocket of worldly consciousness. Preferably off the end rail of recognition and around the 13-ball of criticism.
And hopefully make a buck.
Concerning "organic"; Quid de utilitate loquar stercorrandi.
Inasmuch as I was worth about a grand a year to the SSO not to mention the bookkeeping value and whatever real value my volunteer work provided them, it seems to me that the dear girl is standing firmly on her own mammary gland.
While I get to work off the frustrations of a lifetime by abusing them here. Yo! ho! ho!
Look what I've gained because of their shafting of Mr. Talvi.
Now that I think about it the coalface of my last job got my hands and face filthy, not unlike?
Eh!
David Mesler, my composition teacher once described one of my works as a "well oiled machine" not without a trace of irony.
If anonomann is interested, I also have kept copies of all the correspondence between the SSO and my little sweetheart ever since these parties started acting weird.
Sir Paul certainly knows more about the coalface than I ever will, having worked with John.
Perhaps I will copy the "Adventures" and publish them as a post. I'm assuming that you have released the copyright by publishing the aforementioned tale of unbounded bravery and nobility in the face of the ogre of upperclasstwit pretentiousness
and stupidity. If you haven't, my people will see your people, tonight 3:27 AM in the alley behind Umbertoyaki's Italian Karaoki and sushi bar.
Or if that's not convenient, how about 4:51 in a dream?
Is this the longest comment yet?
Is it time to return to the tonic?
(Schweppes bitter lemon for me)
(Can you even get that anymore, I haven't seen it in quite awhile
Mike's hard is good but sometimes you don't want to get fried.)
Is it time to resolve the dissonances? Time to wrap it up?
finding a good ending is almost as difficult as finding a salable name
How do you resolve a chord like the lemonade digression?
Some times the most appropriate and dramatic way to end is to simply drive full speed headlong into the wa

7:00 PM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Ahem..."Myself, the SSO, and my little sweetheart"

7:09 PM  
Anonymous hooverific said...

You asked for it dept.:
I HAD located the stuff about being asked for money while at the same time being banned from the property in my previous attempts to find out what all the fuss was about.

But I don't recall having seen Talvi Agoniste before though I had read Borchert's Weekly piece about it. I've long thought he did a good job of criticism of the symphony (chiding them about the lack of Washington composers when they do program modern music for example but applauding them for good programming choices) but since the shakeup he's been quiet. The Weekly itself was co-opted by a larger media outlet so maybe that has something to do with it. Side note: I can't stand David Diamonds stuff. Junk. Bad modern music; horrible posing but heavily promoted by Swartz and co. Self indulgent opinionating on my part but I wonder if this isn't part of the institutionalism that has victimized you and Ilkka Talvi. Much as I like the sound in Benaroya, and the killer organ, and the really great sound of the smaller recital hall (the sound in Soundbridge sucks) I'm not sure I can agree with the use of the admittedly paltry 40 million or so in public funds used to build it. It's a smaller version of the twin stadiums debacle with only slightly less myopia: the music loving public is, like the football loving public, a subset whether we like it or not. While I would die without music this is not true of everyone. Insert huge debate about public funding of the arts here: I dunno. It defies my love of black and white. But even with Swartz at the helm after the thing was built it seems to me that the Symphony itself immediately got less adventurous though there have been lots of cool shows by other groups. Reminds me of a lot of church building funds: the real religion is for the edifice. Natural enough since that's something one can really do, but when we wrap it up and call it 'faith' we end up with stuff like David Diamond's "classical" music: something not honestly represented that might serve the needs of the builder but not necessarily the poorer attendees. But repeat often enough "this stuff is good for you" and a certain percentage of the group (sometimes to their credit and sometimes not) will try to make it work. This is often called 'fundraising' and works best when it offers an attractive identity of some sort to the participant as Diamond's work does and as the work of the Seattle Seahawks does. Diamonds music is 'classical' and "Eastern" in the same way the Seahawks are 'Seattle's team' and 'contenders'.

Too bad the symphony goers don't wear facepaint and foam rubber fingers. Too bad Seahawks fans don't knowingly discuss the programs in hushed tones. Too bad they both piss in the alley after the show. Too bad we don't have clean public toilets as abundant as handouts to Paul Allen.

And not to say all promotional work is bad: my understanding is that Stravinsky was a relentless self promoter. Good rock bands create their own scenes and so do a lot of good musicians of many stripes in Seattle (why I live here).

But even well intentioned institutions tend to be institutions: the word has never augured well for individuals, aka musicians and artists, who by nature do not fit easily into the boundaries of generalization formed by the institution. Institutions, aka groups of people, tend toward hierarchy: the late great Lawrence Peter demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that hierarchies seek to perpetuate themselves at all costs (as if it wasn't obvious to the average music lover or anyone who has ever held a job). So what has this to do with Ilkka Talvi and Doug Palmer? I believe that the threat to the institution / hierarchy easily holds greater sway in the minds of the 'music lovers' that run the symphony (and other large organizations) than the importance and meaning of actual music. The solidity of the institution shelters members from uncomfortable thoughts about meaning and holds the promise of at least some compromised power, otherwise unobtainable. The sword that musicians and other artists often fall on is their loveable but naive belief that their art will ultimately triumph somehow, that surely we're all after the same thing in a different way; after all what is a symphony supposed to do if not promulgate the greater good through sound. But this ignores the nature of hierarchy and its desperate need to preserve itself. Thus when it lashes out surprise adds to the injury inflicted.

The lady you initially encountered was a member of the hierarchy as identified by both her and symphony organization. From your descriptions my guess is that, amongst other instabilities, she was at or near what Peter called 'final placement' in the hierarchy. In addition to being somewhat "passive agressive" (sorry about the buzzword) she used her position in the hierarchy to attack and it responded like a mindless anti-virus. As a contract worker I encounter lots of people at big companies like this: its the empowerment grasped for by the person at the DOL when they make you go stand at the back of another line. It is the phenomenon of obtaining power by rigid enforcement of technicalities, intended purpose of the rules be damned, so beautifully described in the Peter Principle.

Peter and Machievelli agree that the only way to breath life into a stagnant hierarchy is an infusion of new blood at the top levels. So we are stuck with a bad symphony for a while and not because of the players ability. I've not had much use for SSO for quite some time since there is so much great music in Seattle anyway. Borchert has mentioned one aspect of this several times: at a big expensive symphony show rude people opening their mint wrappers just as the music starts abound while at small gatherings of wierdos (my hand is raised) showing off their stuff to each other audiences are often quiet and respectful. As a composer you're likely to be better off without the Benaroya bunch.

No, I don't think I've heard the SSO copyright infraction story. You could really prime the old anger-management pump with copyright stuff! @RRGh. Recent copyright legislation embodies Orwells revisionist history pretty well methinks.

I like the way you borrow from other composers work. One big advantage of modern composers is that they often aren't afraid to acknowlege that this is done and for lots of good reasons. Which flies in the face of new copyright law and hierarchies like the RIAA that are struggling for survival.

2:00 AM  
Blogger butch said...

My God, or the Jesus H. Christ Dept: Man, these comments are off the hook! Lane, you old dog, you jumped on the bandwagon bitch, and laid it all out there, warts, harpies and all, and your readers really appreciate your candor and humor.

Of course you may reprint THE ADVENTURES OF SIR LANE & ANONOMANN. I went downt to the alley behind the Karaoke joint, but all I found was the piss on the wall from the rock punks or SSO ingrates who had urinated there. No sweat. Publish and republish. I am pleased you liked the adventures.

In some ways, yes, I too spend time at the coalface of Art, the cinematic arts, digging deep into the colon of creativity and plumbing the depths of moviedom, looking for that image, that piece of music, that line of writing, that will thrill me, or blow me away.

In ways too numerous to mention, you are already involved in creating the KORNY KULTURE KORNER, and I thank you heartedly, or from the bottom, or the side of my pancreas. I do believe that if you reprinted some of your earlier work, this would stimulate you to rewrite it, or God help you, to write new stuff, plays, narrative, essays, and yes, poetry.

Hooverville, you have a rarified intellect and a vast knowledge of the music scene, and you live in Seattle. Welcome to the place where the elite gather, FFTL. Your comment printed herein, is wonderful. I didn't understand all of it, but that is just my ignorance of the subject and subjects. Lane keeps me digging and learning, and now you are at it as well.

I love that Savant closure with the tincture of libation.

Glenn

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane:
Thanks!! I'd appreciate reading your correspondence with "The Cuckucks' Nest" and one of its most exemplary cuckucks when I return to the Land of the Insane and the home of the Warmongers!!

Who really believes the SSO is "run by 'music lovers' as "Hooverific" claims?? Is "Hooverific" one of the Cuckucks??

-- Anonomann

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane:
The "Anonomann " of the previous comment returns herewith:
1) Chopin wrote more than one Prelude, so if you don't remember the number, what key was it in??
2) Your music is much more "straight forward" (thus listenable, as "LL" also believes) than your description of it in this blog.
3) LL and I send regards to you, Meredith, Keth, and Emily.

-- Anonomann

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Lane,
you have never told me (or your blog-readers?) about the "SSO Copyright Infringement". Could you please do so in a subsequent blog (or, if this might cause the SSO liars to find another ground to "earn" more fees out of SSO money that should go to the SSO players) then tell me personally when I'm again in Seattle, this interests me greatly!!! Are they secretly performing your composition(s) without mentioning your name????????????????????????
With their Las Vegas conection, there's no telling what the Cuckucks' Nest might stoop to!!

--Anonomann

3:43 AM  

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