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Jon Giusti (M, 36)
Immortal since Jan 26, 2007
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Chief Grand Cherokee
A Fashionable Disease
´©˙ƒçÔGÔ®� ´TYR„Á´‰ˇÍÔ:"∆˚¬H JGKÔ˙©¬HJGˆø¨� iuyRtyreytr´Á´‰ˇÍ´‰ ßyrtesTYRDTUYRDffuYGˆ¨Ó¨˙ˆ∆ˆøÔˆ ØÓÔˆ˝Ó˘˜Â˜ıÇı◊Dz∫√ç≈ghrdRTή� DJ ¨Á˝Òˆ¨ÓUYRTUR´¨ˇ‰ÎÒ¨Ó and i like the dirty south codeine cough syrup chopped and screwed purple mixtape scene a whole lot recently.
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    final paper for contemporary music history:

    Noise is my passion – it’s what I feel. Even though I do truly admire music based traditional harmonic contexts, and certainly every situation in life has any number of exceptions, my devotion to the unknown terrain of the infinitely vast sonic cosmos will always be what guides my true musical ambitions. I hear music in all things, everywhere, and strive to bring noise-consciousness to the human mind through the expression of sound, amplified and improvised. For this assignment I chose to read Derek Bailey’s “Free Improvisation” and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Electronic and Instrumental Music”, in that order. I also read Ornette Coleman’s “Change of the Century” and Masami Akita of Merzbow’s interview The Beauty of Noise, two shorter pieces, as afterthoughts.
    Both testaments (all four) agree that as we learn about music and expression we find ourselves with more and more unexplored musical landscapes within our grasp. Derek Bailey’s essay, as expected, regards the emergence of free improvisation, its social implications, and its important musical attributes. Bailey, in one sentence, acknowledges the obvious link between the emergence of free jazz and the “profusion of sociological, philosophical, religious, and political explanations” in society, but leaves any speculation of deeper notions and connotations to writers “with the appropriate appetite and ability”, which is just as well. Bailey makes several points certainly worth mentioning, but the theme of his piece regards practicing and expanding the ideas of spontaneous and free improvisation to keep music alive, interesting and important.
    “Once a vocabulary … is assembled … material can be included … from any source. And that’s essential because the need for material is endless. A feeling of freshness is essential and the best was to get that is for some of the material to be fresh. In a sense it is change for the sake of change. Change for the sake of the benefits it can bring.”
    -Derek Bailey
    Improvisation is the key to enlightenment. The act of improvising will, given enough perseverance, expose unconscious musical intelligences that aren’t accessible during periods of still, analytical thought. Derek Bailey’s essay pays homage to the irrepressible spirit of frontier within the collective human soul, and calls for mankind to progress. “Free Improvisation” is as much a manual for advancing beyond the biases that have dictated the vast majority of the world’s documented music history, as it is an account of Bailey’s own transformative adventure through creative enlightenment – his transcribed encounters with proponents of improvisation, his attacks on those who hold “the concept of form as an ideal set of proportions which transcend style and language clung to with such terrified tenacity”, and the development of his own free improvisational band, Joseph Holbrooke, to which the performance standards and structural ideals morphed constantly, as a reflection of Bailey’s own musical realizations.
    All of this is, though, is merely a facet of the breadth of the future of music. Bailey briefly comments on the role of traditional instruments and their timbres, but does little to substantiate a discussion of unaffiliated sound, the premier distinguishing factor of noise music. Luckily, the ten-page Stockhausen piece, written in 1958 - only five years after the very first electronic sound experiments began – unequivocally possesses the appropriate material and attitude for the hope of a noisy future.
    “Regardless of how electronic music may presently be judged: its necessity already consists in the sole fact that it shows the way for radiophonic music production. Electronic music no longer employs tape and loudspeaker for reproduction, but rather for production. The listener at the loudspeaker will sooner or later understand that it makes more sense that music coming from a loudspeaker be music that can be heard only over a loudspeaker.”
    -Karlheinz Stockhausen
    Essentially, Stockhausen is asking humankind to realign our perception of the world, and calling us to pay attention to the nature of the sound. In this age of technology, in fact quite a bit more so than when “Electronic and Instrumental Music” was written, humans continue to alienate themselves from the physical realm and maintain more of an electronic ‘cyber life’. The musical discrepancy occurs when our tangible referential music becomes so removed from its habitat that it begins to lose the precious meaning it earned relating to that physical world in the first place. The existence of music that is native to this floating, invisible, amplified world brings hope for a world without physical limits, where our bodies become as needless as the death they incite, where humans will fly.
    Stepping back: Stockhausen, like Bailey, includes a balanced mix of theory, practice and speculation, only regarding new sounds as opposed to new technique. He addresses the issue of synthesizing “traditional instrumentarium” or “familiar sounds and noises”, insisting that “it would be unfunctional to generate [them] synthetically: [they are] recorded where [they] can most easily be found”. This suggests and encourages an entirely new musical vocabulary for humans to become acquainted with. To compliment the vocabulary, Stockhausen offers several suggestions as to a new order in its organization. For example: Tonal music, in reality, has a sparse possibility of potential combinations in the overtone series when compared to all of the noises that can exist with more chaotic and therefore more probable harmonic spectra -“vowels and consonants—sounds and noises” – there are less vowels in language and they are generally used more frequently than each consonant, but only for the sake of linguistic functionality. Music operates in a different dimension than language and there is no valid abstract reason to deny ourselves these musical vocabularies. If it were possible to pronounce the sentence, ‘pttr nhkjrwr brvvfkvn prs qwcf’, I would.
    And if I could practice enough to adlib vowel-less poetry I would do that also. It would help me make my point. That point being, music is a real tangible link to that impossible, intangible world. It is a vehicle for complex emotions that cannot be explained through speech or text, and as our emotional depth expands, our quality of life suffers if our musical depth doesn’t expand alongside. Taken hand in hand these articles offer the key to exposing the delicate soul of the machine. As the elements of electronic music and free improvisation combine, a third element of instrumental symbiosis arises, and the machines involved in the experience will speak an unheard language as their control slips into the subconscious of the human controlling them.
    When we record, sometimes I can hardly believe that what I hear when the tape is played back to me is the playing of group.
    -Ornette Coleman
    The artist’s reaction to hearing and attempting to understand recordings that they made while in an unconscious improvisational state bears testament to the validity of free improvisation as a valid form of musical expression and serves to add to the mystique of this hidden musical treasury. Coleman’s concept, when expanded to the vast sonic palette of electronics, proves the epic significance of the music drawn from this mysterious well of intangible musical inspiration, as now both the nature of one’s playing and the nature of one’s instrument draw from uncharted sources, and the limits of potential sound compositions reach galactic heights. Today, recordings are quite literally less than a dime a dozen. Aside from any initial costs, which will continue to become less and less as time marches forward, there become a lack of a reason not to record practically every sonic event worth remotely worth capturing (if you can think of any). This particular revolution will carry noise improvisation to unparalleled heights. Picture miles and miles of tape, stacked roll upon roll, placed in a room next to an eighty gigabyte iPod storing at least one month’s worth more musical information than the tape. As the production and storage of these noise recordings become less and less of an issue, the continuous soundtrack humans condition themselves to will eventually become as varied and futuristic as the technology that delivers it.
    Curiously enough, Stockhausen barely discusses electronic music in its performance aspect, and Bailey merely glances at the subject of new instruments, yet, taken in pair, the themes of the two pieces compliment each other surprisingly well. For example, Stockhausen splits the worlds of music into music so precise that “musicians [become] sort of a machine substitute” and should therefore be performed by machines, and music where “the performer is granted fields for free, spontaneous decisions, to which machines are not amenable”. Stockhausen is in full support of both worlds, but fails to see the future where these worlds blend such that they become indistinguishable. Even Derek Bailey, who wrote his essay in 1992 shows a surprising lack of enthusiasm for electronic improvisation, insisting that the fathers of electronic music “shared, it is fairly safe to say, a deep antipathy to anything remotely connected with improvisation” yet, in the same paragraph states that “very clearly differentiated changes of timbre which characterized some early electronic music was the sort of thing which could assist in assembling a language that would be literally disjointed, whose constituents would be unconnected in any causal or grammatical way and so would be more open to manipulation”. Both artists have the key on the tip of their tongue but neither of them puts two and two together to reach a unified theory of unknown musical intelligence.
    “I found the forum for mixing these influences into pure electronic noise. I was trying to create and extreme form of free music … I had a very conceptual mindset. I tried to quit using any instruments which related to, or were played by, the human body … The effects of culture are too much noise everywhere. I want to make silence by my Noise.
    -Masami Akita
    Merzbow is, perhaps, the pinnacle of purist noise, at least concerning the breadth of Akita’s body of work and his dedication to the art of noise. Merzbow, by playing these anti-human sound machines free and with unconscious intent, manages to access the ‘machine unconsciousness’ by way of his channeling the improvisers spirit into the machine to extract every iota of robotic unconsciousness from his work. Akita’s music transfers the responsibility of interpretation to the listener and forces his audiences to actively hear music for its sonic properties and, in turn, hear sounds for their musical properties – the seed of the sonic revolution, sewn.

    I picked to read these articles because I know and respect each author and happen to own recordings of their work. By reading their writings, I have been intensely inspired and have a refreshed exhilaration regarding the soundtrack to the future of the planet. The academic world has got me on my knees, I need to go out and make the vision.

    Tue, Jul 3, 2007  Permanent link

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