Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sequenza 21

I finally figured out why - to me - Sequenza 21 sucks: I listened to the [scarequotes] "music" [/scarequotes] those guys write. OK. I listened to as much of it as, a) I could stream, b) iTunes would actually play, and c) I could stand.

It took a couple of tries: The first time I ended up holding my head in my hands and laughing so hard that I just couldn't do it, so I had to set some ground rules. I decided that; 1) I'd give each piece at least two minutes, no matter how I felt about it, 2) If I made it past the half-way point I'd listen to the rest of it, and 3) I'd only disregard 1) and 2) if I was truely disgusted, or laughing so hard to be in danger of wetting my pants and/or rupturing my streaming tear ducts.

Only Kyle Gann's and Steve Layton's pieces made it to the end: Kyle's because I was laughing in an entertained kind of way (Perhaps that was his intention), and Steve's because I was imagining a tension-filled scene from a movie that his piece would have been appropriate for.

iTunes would not play pieces that the time window said were "continuous" for some reason. I think I'm thankful for that: I just don't think a piece is finished unless the composer, you know, brings it to a conclusion.

David Salvage has the dubious distinction of a) Being the only [scarequotes] "composer" [/scarequotes] in the Torture Room... er... Listening Room to have two pieces linked, and b) Therefore he is also the only one to have two pieces that just couldn't manage to make my 2:00 mark. In fact, neither of his [scarequotes] "works" [/scarequotes] even made it sixty seconds. Sorry (Not really sorry; just being as polite as possible given the abjectitude of the circumstances).

There was one piece by Guglielmo that I thought was pretty good until he over-used the vibra-slap on me. I guess that instrument just conjures up too many memories of bad 60's-era rock and roll in my mind. But his piece did make 3:15, which is farther than any other piece I was forced to abandon. Good show.

Look, I know nothing I think about these guys matters in the grand scheme of things, so don't take it as a personal insult that I think everything I tried to listen to tonight was a) crap, b) quintessential examples of everything that is wrong with contemporary music, and c) a monumental waste of my time. I'm entitled to my opinion, and that's just the way I feel: Those guys are 'tards.

Back to more pleasant things.

At least I can be sure it's not a Will Grant piece she's playing. I mean, it is a musical instrument, after all (And, they don't call them musical instruments for nothing!).

I'm going to have to listen to some Bach to get this bad taste out of my ears.


Blogger Pliable said...

It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship.

Henry Ward Beecher

1:44 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrington said...

Thanks for listening Monk! How could anybody not like my BlueStrider??? ;)

6:46 PM  
Blogger David Toub said...

You didn't mention my five notes for christina fong. That could mean one of the following:

* You really liked it (and let's face it; who wouldn't?)
* You really hated it, but were too embarrassed to mention it because, let's face it, it's really a great piece
* You didn't get that far in your listening, in which case you'll surely get to it as soon as possible, because you realize that it's really a great piece


9:33 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I'm not a fan of much of the work of many of the composers who regularly post on the site. Sometimes b/c it's simply not my particular cup of tea (though I can see why others might enjoy it), and sometimes b/c I think the music is poor. But, and this is a big but, this doesn't reflect on the S21 _site_, which I think is potentially an exceptionally useful place to discuss exactly the sorts of things you object to in your post. In fact, I regularly read (and occasionally post to) S21 b/c I'd like for it to become (continue to be?) a place for open dialogue. I see little use in retreating to your own corner at the end of the day to bitch.

Why not engage the ideas/music/arguments/curiosities/etc. you have about the music on the site?

To say categorically that there's something wrong w/ "contemporary music" seems ... well, ridiculous to me, frankly, as there are far, far, far too many musics and aesthetics in that 'category' to lump it all together in any sort of effective/useful way.

Voice your opinion on the site, let other people reply, join in the debate.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your intelligent and compelling blog. I am actually curious to hear more concrete criticism on some of these pieces, and also am curious to know how these pieces are "quintessential examples of everything that is wrong with contemporary music."

Walter Ramsey

3:34 PM  

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