DIDEROT, BRECHT, EISENSTEIN (1973)
Spectacle/theater/geometry/representation has been used to trump music/mathematics for 2-3 millennia. Yes.
Theater defined by delineated tableaux, by laid-out shots. Created by process of cutting out. Analytical. Figurative. Representative. Perfect instant.
MUSICA PRACTICA (1970)
Distinction between music you play and music you listen to yes, my god, yes. This is a great framework for my discussion of music in LA, where ‘played’ music takes a backseat to ‘listened music,’ even among players. Dominance of the visual, the spectacle. Yes.
Played (“practical”) music is more physical, ergo sensual. Traces to aristocracy, then bourgeoisie, then guitar pop. Needs to read Attali, learn that practical music is the root of all music.
Passive music has become the music, thanks to radio, concerts, records.
Amateur/first actor >>> interpreter >>> technician
Beethoven = prototype of Artist who changes over time, struggles with himself to find ‘truth’
The function of Beethoven is to render amateurs unable to play music – not because they lack the skill, but because they lack the code and the resources. Beethoven is orchestral, and the player can only see himself as a conductor. This is very important – ideology of structure contained within aesthetics. Beethoven implies hierarchy, professionalism, organization, etc.
Later Beethoven (after deafness) turns to an aesthetic that requires reading, structural thought. This is also practical music in a sense, but the praxis it leads us to desire is utopian, and unattainable. Whoa.
THE GRAIN OF THE VOICE (1972)
Language is bad at interpreting music. It can only be described through the use of adjectives, because it has no subject.
Focus on the “grain” of a voice, that aspect of expression where the voice and language meet.
Determined to move beyond value judgments (I like vs. I don’t like) through focusing on physical relationships to singers, as instantiated in the grains of their voices this is an elegant, if unconvincing, solution to the value problem in music.
Barthes’ ‘grain’ is similar to Braxton’s ‘itness’ I think – in that it can be perceived but not codified.
Grain exists in instrumental music as well, and renders traditional genre distinctions largely irrelevant. Another route around genre. Wow, he hits the value problem and the genre problem in one fell swoop.
“Pythagorean space has been somewhat repressed . . . thus is founded – against music (against the text) – representation” (69)
“How could art, in a society that has not yet found peace, cease to be metaphysical? that is, significant, readable, representational? fetishist? When are we to have music, the Text?” (77)
“the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (148)
“There are two musics (at least so I have always thought): the music one listens to, the music one plays. These two musics are two totally different arts, each with its own history, its own sociology, its own aesthetics, its own erotic; the same composer can be minor if you listen to him, tremendous if you play him (even badly)” (149)
“the body as inscriber and not just transmitter, simple receiver” (149)
professional musicians today = “the technician, who relieves the listener of all activity, even by procuration, and abolishes in the sphere of music the very notion of doing.” (150)
“the fundamental code of the West, tonality” (152)
“rather than trying to change directly the language on music, it would be better to change the music object itself, as it presents itself to discourse” (180) that’s audacious.
“the ‘grain’ is that: the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue” (182)
pheno-song: “everything in the performance which is in the service of communication, representation, expression . . .” (182)
geno-song: “having nothing to do with communication, representation (of feelings), expression . . . where melody explores how the language works and identifies with that work” (182)
“the whole of musical pedagogy teaches not the culture of the ‘grain’ of the voice but the emotive modes of its delivery” (183)
“what is produced at the level of the geno-song is finally writing” (185)
“the ‘grain’ is the body in the voice as it sings, the hand
as it writes, the limb as it performs” (188) this is a pretty good song lyric.
"under the pressure of the mass long-playing record, there seems to be a flattening out of technique" (189) technology >>> aesthetics