Links for the week

Dial “M” on those recently rediscovered Bach manuscripts, and what resonance they can have for all musicians today;

The newly discovered Bach manuscripts are snapshots of a unique moment of a unique individual, but they also resonate with an experience universal to those who devote their lives to music in any capacity.

Kyle Gann is magnificently back on his soapbox – plus additional comment. From a European perspective it’s not always easy to follow Kyle’s characterisations (re. the perceived conflict between liberal/leftist politics and post-serialist New Complexity – this position is a tricky one to maintain, sure, but you can be damn sure it’s absolutely intentional, and besides, it’s from such apparent contradictions that much of such music derives its vitality and force), but they always make compelling and thought-provoking reading.

WFMU has a collection of rare, seminal German synth music from 1979-1983 available for download.

And in the news, UK musicians are set to lobby parliament over the recent strict tightening of hand luggage restrictions which currently require instruments such as Stephen Isserlis’s 1730 Stradivarius cello to travel at the tender mercies of the chuckers baggage handlers and the luggage hold. UPDATE: Apparently children’s authors, however, can carry on whatever they wish.

5 thoughts on “Links for the week

  1. “it’s not always easy to follow Kyle’s characterisations”

    Hasn’t Finnissy rejected the term ‘new complexity’ bcz he thinks that apparently simple music can be complex too, which, on reading Kyle’s first post, you could read it as an acknowledgment of the paths opened up ’64 – ’79 minimalist activity?

    It would be interesting to immerse in ‘totalist’ music for a while..it sounds like KG does think that ppl would’ve gone for it at one time, even though when he links Matthew Guerrierri concluding his big blog post saying that ppl don’t have as much tolerance for rhythmic fuck-ups (a characteristic of totalist music).

  2. Absolutely. More and more I’m beginning to think that ‘New Complexity’ is less a loose association of similarly-minded composers (I emphasise the ‘loose’ here of course) and more a straw man, in the way that ‘Elliot Carter’ has become in so much current American music discourse (and how ‘John Cage’ was to many critics about 30 years ago). What Finnissy, Ferneyhough, Barrett, etc do individually is so much more nuanced musically, politically, emotionally, aesthetically, than is often given credit.

  3. I just love Gann’s vague insinuation that Milton Babbit and Charles Wuorinen like to dress up in SS uniforms and goose-step around their basements when they’re home alone. It’s all that trying to be rhythmically and harmonically complex at the same time that fills them up with Bad Chemicals.

  4. Taking what Finnissy said and the talk about like-minded composers (and not heard his music for a while but) I’d say that Christopher Fox – although his music is quite ‘simple-sounding’, and that it tends to move at a slow pace – would also be a NC-type composer. So would much of the music released on ed.wandelweiser label that happens to be a more direct link with New York School (which KG likes but to me is part of an old complexity as much as Boulez/Babbitt). I ws just looking at the Cutting Edge concert series and saw (apart from a FINNISSY WEEKEND among other other things) a concert with ‘Wandelweiser’-type music.

  5. Also someone younger like Bryn Harrison, who’s music sounds to me like a halfway house between Feldman and Ferneyhough (and yes, I do like it!).

    Thanks for the Wandelweiser tip; I don’t know much of the music released by them, but I’ll endeavour to get down to the Cutting Edge concert.

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