Apr 27, 2008

Sadie and i were listening to Bartok's first string quartet this morning and i was trying to listen to it as if it was jazz. or rather, trying to listen to it as music or even less filteredly as just sound, rather than something that was found in and gotten from the classical section of a cd store. not as product or genre but as close to what it sonically is as i can get, not knowing how close i could get but the effort was there.

after reading all this mackey on jazz and corresponding with some other poets on improvisation as an abstraction, music has more characteristics than usual for me right now. and i get frustrated because i can't listen to all sets of them at once, i need to practice the ears and mind on that. listening to roland kirk and thinking how he could play with individual subtlty on two or three saxophones at once. not a freakshow or novelty, he needed more than one saxophone in his mouth, his mind needed more than one mouth for what was going on in there. and i want to multiply what each ear of mine can do for the analogous intake.

so bartok is so different from what you think of as improvisation, but it was seeming this morning that i was hearing how we attach the word improvisation to jazz and attach the word composition to classical, and that these words are really just sections of cd stores. i was hearing how in the activity of making the phrases in the quartet, bartok was considering other options and passing them over, very very much not at all the first thought best thought. naropa killed first thought best thought for me because i could see other students and even instructors using it as an excuse for a flaccid and unconsidered poetics, and i wanted to move toward a rigor of knowing everything that i am doing and why. i figure it is all double artifice, poetry, so i should make it completely. no judgment on such work of others, much of which i find more interesting and certainly more playful than my flattened-out work, but also let me choose my rigor and try to do it because i think i am getting something out of it. i'm not a general hard-ass, just inside my own now poetics, and always reconsidering it too.

i don't know why i just had to write a big back-off thing, but i did. it's complex, obviously.

so bartok. i was hearing each note as one chosen from a set of notes in response to, or to follow, the preceding note. phrase as made note by note, then next phrase made from last phrase, and sets of phrases whatever that chunk of composition is called made from the previous chunk. i heard these duration levels, the multiplicities inside each unit, and i sometimes heard bartok thinking in there. and it was improvisational thinking, the damn same thing that i can hear when i'm listening to a jazz soloist doing his or her thing in the middle of a piece. the scale was the same, but the velocities were very different. contemporaneity fell away from the musics and they were just musics, the sections of the cd store vanished. the instrumentations vanished. i heard more thinking than i had ever heard before, the percentage of what i was hearing was maximally thinking next to actual sound.

iris is done reading so we are going to play a bit, so i will try to later get to what i heard bartok thinking. but know for now that creation of an artifact is improvisational. composition is exactly improvisation, just offset temporally in the process from how we usually use the words about it.

Apr 25, 2008

There is no moment

The now stretches from before before through after after

Apr 24, 2008

In his Bedouin Hornbook, Nate Mackey quotes this chunk from a book entitled Sound and Symbol by Viktor Zuckerkandl (it's in Duke library but not Durham public):

The dynamic quality of a tone is a statement of its incompleteness, its will to completion. To hear a tone as dynamic quality, as a direction, a pointing, means hearing at the same time beyond it, beyond it in the direction of its will, and going toward the expected next tone. Listening to music, we are not first in one tone, then in the next, and so forth. We are always between the tones, on the way from tone to tone; our hearing does not remain with the tone, it reaches through it and beyond it.

Apr 23, 2008

David Need wrote this great thing:

Always, always look for the thing that works effortlessly and externally, whether it's the market or money for those dimwit market-fetish fuckers, or the Old Good King, or God (rushing around in back of the arras), or the "objective mind" or "reason", or the internet, or "power". It's always, always a sham. A thing Burroughs would skewer as a form of addiction.

Apr 15, 2008