Friday, September 30, 2011

From a Diary I:iii

Statement from GEMA, awarding me five cents for two performances of a piece in the US. Can't figure out why one performance was worth two cents, the other three. But at least those are Euro cents! Norman O. Brown: The dynamics of capitalism is postponement of enjoyment to the constantly postponed future. Tonality is likewise about postponement via diminution, prolongation; sustained dissonance, functional cul de sacs, harmonic misdirection: musical capiscum, the pain that makes the suspension of resolution ever more pleasurable. The dynamic of tonality is in large part masochistic, like a good mole or curry, a mixed succession of pains and pleasures. Cadences — see Cage/Thoreau on syntax and armies marching — are a settling of tonal accounts. Graeber emphasizes the role of violence (or implied violence) by the state in reinforcing the payment of debts and, yes, musical sound — pace Girard, Violence and The Sacred — is a violence done to silence. But consider cadential resolution, the final reckoning, whether in a stretch of music, an accountant's ledger, or in an act of state-controlled force: is perpetual suspension actually worse than the alternatives?

2 comments:

paulhmuller said...

The use of harmonic progressions to build tension - and then resolve it - is music that suggests itself as a sort of journey. The phrases have a beginning, middle and an ending - it starts 'here' and goes 'there'. Kyle Gann wrote on this a couple of years ago and suggested that such music is the child of modern angst: it reinforces the notion that we are trapped between a past we cannot change and a future we cannot control.

What music can do - as with chant and, say, cathedral bell-ringing, is to bring the listener to a transcendent state. And maybe that is just better.

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

I can't help to but to constantly consider what one loses when one leaves something behind. What tonality and like traditions elsewhere in the world give us an opportunity to do. [The history of this far exceeds any notion of modernism, The Greeks at least] Jung pointed out that there is no life without tension. The breath of experiences is not something we should toss out, because of some promised utopia that after a half century seems too often trivial, if not superficial. Other cultures have dramas that go on for durations that one might never hear or witness it all in ones lifetime. Often the passages of greatest movement are the most transcendental.