In my model, important interference phenomena arise when individual strata come into contact. These chaotic fluctuations are, I suppose, what my music is really about.
When I speak of "cycles," I am referring to lengthy intervals of relative homogeneity, if not in the resolving of problems, than at least with respect to the consistency of their capacity to productively irritate.
Sometimes one can be so closely involved with things that the larger context is lost to view.
The Western musical canon came about not merely by accumulation, but by opposition and subversion, both to the ruling powers on whom composers depended for their livelihoods and to other musics.
The past nine years in San Diego have represented such a period of questioning.
Composers dialogue - and obsessively, bitterly argue - with other composers, often over the span of several centuries.
It is still true that it is easier to compose a poem in the form of a manual for adjusting a VCR than it is to write a piece using just tuning as a symphony.
This was possible only by dint of extended periods of frequently quite painful reflection and digestion.
Certainly being in California has encouraged a sustained commitment to rethinking the nature, purposes, and relevance of the contemporary arts, specifically music, for a society which by and large seems to manage quite well without them.
So: we're all tired. Now what? Manuscripts written in Club Med?
The idea of 'machine assemblage' is, especially, very alien to my sensibility, since it suggests a relative indifference of the strata to one another during the process of construction.
I don't like listening to my music, not even new pieces. Generally, they sound pretty much like I expected them to sound, so it's what I wanted, and that's it.
I would not say that I was, these days, a 'student' of philosophy, although in my youth I was quite deeply involved with certain aspects of the British pragmatists.
I frequently compose out the entire metric structure of a piece in modified cyclic form, where each cyclic revolution undergoes some form of 'variation' much as if measure lengths were concrete musical 'material.'
In any case, the fewer boundaries that exist hindering free movement between all forms of articulate human cognition, the better.
In my own recent String Trio I attempt to superimpose two quite different sets of formal strategies, both of which, ultimately, refer back to historical precedent.
By reason of weird translation, many such sets of instructions read like poems anyhow.
I suppose that the scope and implications of such forces have rendered my personal accounting ritual pretty much obsolete. That's how things sometimes go.
Hence my obstinate emphasis on stylistic continuity from work to work rather than specific sibling relationships between the individual work and other members of its stylistic 'family' in the world outside.
If the work of art is to continue pursuing the vision of both being in and of the world but nevertheless in some fashion being more than just one more object to the mounting clutter, this is the specific point, I think, where this must be assured.
If nothing is at risk, nothing is established.
Questioning the nature and implications of liminal instances necessarily involves failure, if only in the specifically technical sense of entering spaces where prevailing criteria of success scarcely apply.
There would seem to be a limit, even for an art preoccupied with boundaries and transgressions, beyond which a work reaches its breaking point and becomes an actual failure, a mere experimentation.
When I left Europe in 1987 I did so with the thought that my relevance as a composition teacher would benefit from a certain cool distance to certain tendencies I had been observing for several years with increasing disquiet.
Actually, most things I say in public lead more or less directly to my own compositional practice, so I should be careful about generalizing lest they come back to haunt me.
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