Friday, March 2, 2012

i forgot my point(s)

(- title of my damn autobiography, that could be...)

it's true, in the end it took so long to write that last post out that i forgot one of the basic points i wanted to make in the first place. what i meant to say was... - and once again i'm repeating myself here! - that b's music is all about possibility, not necessarily actuality and certainly (*1) not about finality. rather than bring to us a new set of (ego-based) statements, he comes to the meeting-table with new sets of questions, or rather the latest exotic variations on the same basic (that word again) sets if questions which he has been asking over and over, all this long (short) time. he is far less concerned with control than many other composers have been (*2), much motivated by the perpetually-curious mindset which wonders, each time, "what will happen when we ask these questions in a live environment?"

- hence the endless joy of collaging one's own compositions, and also of composing in such a way as to leave vast areas of personal and interpersonal freedom, guaranteeing that no two "results" (crystallised-realised time-limited potentialities... oh boy *3) are even remotely close, never mind the same. terms like "mileage" (which apply usefully to high-end free jazz, for example) become pathetically small-minded in this context. parsecs perhaps, rather than miles.

or perhaps such distances of musical-conceptual space could be termed braxtons ;-)

anyway, that's about it - except no it's not, i need to add a second, very important, point which i omitted from the previous post (!): i have mentioned zappa on so many prior occasions that i'm not even going to bother linking to any of them, they are all over the place whenever b's orchestral music is under discussion; but one crucial difference between the two men (n.b. not just "two composers") is precisely the willing lack of control in braxton's philosophy. fz was famously an exacting taskmaster who demanded almost slavish obedience from his players (and is roundly disliked by many as a result). b. is pretty much known to be the opposite, yet his music requires an even higher degree of virtuosity in order to engage with it fully (it's possible to engage with it less than fully at considerably lower levels of musicanship - arguably another difference, although... etc *4). it is no coincidence that fz famously had terrible experiences* getting orchestras to play his stuff properly... whereas those who work with our man have driven themselves to exceed his and their expectations, time and time again, and have done so (i believe and understand) freely and joyfully. there's a message there for all of us, right?

* see comments (inevitably)
* see second comment!

(- three textual emendations, last para, 19/4/12)


centrifuge said...

proper t-shirt weather today :) and a day off, with more music. still in ulrichsberg... anyway...

1. worth mentioning for the benefit of any readers whose first language isn't english that "certainly" means one thing in english and something very different in many other european languages... in english we use it to mean "definitely" in most if not all contexts; in french, german etc the equivalent word is used in everyday speech to mean "perhaps"

2. bit of a sweeping generalisation here, but hardly out of the blue for all that... conductors also are known for this kind of thing... so, "masters of music" generally

3. in danger of creating my own philosophical language-constructs here. we're not quite at that stage, yet ;-)

4. not everyone who played with fz was a virtuoso... enthusiasm goes a long way in these situations, though it does have its limits of course (and such performances often only suffer by comparison with others)

centrifuge said...

see, i *still* forgot something... this post, unlike the previous one, was squirted out v. quickly... the story with fz ends happily in that regard, with the celebrated "yellow shark" concert and recording. there is an amazing photo of frank in the booklet, smiling into the camera totally unironically for probably the only time in his adult life. finally he had met a group of committed and dedicated musicians who were actually eager to engage with his work on its own terms, and to give up their time in order to get to grips with fiendishly-difficult charts which they had themselves requested from zappa's arrangers... but it really was a one-shot deal and it did only come at the very end, when his grip on life itself had already gone... if nothing else, b. has had far many more positive experiences and only a few duff ones, usually early on (snubbed in paris, short-changed by the london tuba ens., etc) - again, this is a measure of the man and his commitment to empowering leadership (as opposed perfection, zappa's own gold standard)