Monday 22 March 2010

A Quotation Because It's Been Rather a Long Time

Susan Bradshaw
'The ultimate aim of any technical system must be to establish a number of stylistic premises, sufficient to liberate the composer from the need to identify himself afresh with each new work and so to free his imagination by removing the burden of absolute choice. Or this is the theory.'
Susan Bradshaw (1931-2005) The instrumental and vocal music; Pierre Boulez: A Symposium. (pg128-129)

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Aaron Fryklund said...

So good to see signs of life here again! What a fantastic quote and so true, although I would have to admit that I also believe it to be a fine line. It can be so rewarding to establish such systems and follow one's own set guidelines, but by the same token I can't help but feel we are among a generation of composers who seek technique over music that is true. It has caused me to reevaluate my own recent infatuation with serialism...

E.L. said...

Yes sorry it's been a bit quiet around here of late. Been busy with other stuff.

Glad the quote was of use. Re your point about systems etc. Unlike composers of the past the 21st century composer has to make a choice about which techniques or systems to employ rather than falling back on 'standard practice', unlike those who composed in more stylistically/technically homogenous eras (arguably).

I think what's most important is knowing where you are going with your technique or system rather than letting the methodology lead the way, ideally it should serve the idea, or the 'what' or 'why' of the music.

Though in art I suppose, there is no 'ideal' but there are generalities worth considering, in my opinion (or course).

It seems basically the same situation that composers have dealt with for a very long time but perhaps there are so many possible techniques and methods available it's tempting to let one's choice in this regard define the art/statement too much ('I'm a minimalist' or 'a serialist' or a 'neo-romantic neo-tonalist' or whatever.)

Using serial techniques or 'minimalist' techniques or neo-riemannian theory doesn't guarantee anything and I'm often rather skeptical of people who put such information forward too readily (though perhaps our musical culture demands it too, same goes for standard biographies and press releases requiring the same banal facts, plenty of blame to go around I suppose, it's not easy.)