A 365-Day Project

"We Are All Mozart"

A project to create
new works and change
the perception of the
music of our time.

Mantra Canon score pages Dennis

previous   June 25, 2006   next

Today I have just a few random thoughts, as the combination of standing in a Vermont History Expo booth all morning and building a fence and hauling bales this afternoon has patéified my mind. We got nine bales of straw, nice winter rye for bedding.


It was pointed out to me the other day that my comments about the breakdown in notation advances failed to take into account a change in music that may have temporarily stalled its Western notion of progression for a good reason: the cross-assimilation of cross-cultural influences made even more pronounced by the internet influence. So this nonpop stall in 'forward' expansion is actually a horizontal expansion, accommodating not only multiple styles and heritage but also multiple extant and invented notations. Carl Dershem said, "There's always the possibility that because of the current shrinking of the world through technology, that it will take a while for everyone to catch up to the status quo. At present, a lot of people in third-world countries are catching up to 'modern' notation and sonality and the like, and learning what those of us in western Europe and north America take for granted. A question is: Once that is done, what will those new voices add that we haven't really considered before?" I'm not sure who's catching up to whom, but the point is well taken and the question well asked.


What has happened to the skill of calling the play-by-play in baseball? I grew up with the sport, not as a participant (oh, no, far too tubby was I) but at my grandfather's feet, watching a tiny RCA television screen with announcers like Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto. On the television and on the radio, one could imagine the game in progress -- who was where, how they were moving, the pitcher's preparation, the kind of pitch made and how it was caught, the character of the swing, and the results of every play. Now anecdotes, color commentary, statistics, and prattle cover the action, as if the field were annoyance to their self-involved pleonasm. I suppose on television one is expected to watch; sometimes I do. But radio? There are times where an entire at-bat can go by with nary a play described or even the balls and strikes called.


Many folks believe I'm a liberal. If I am, it's a very disloyal kind of liberalism. Yes, I believe that any administration that has destroyed lives and freedoms as this one has should be brought down. Yes, I believe that the government does have a role in improving the lives of its citizens, and not merely caretaking their defense and leaving the rest to corporations. Yes, I am incensed that our government can hand off its role to the private sector, and then purchase from that private sector the very information the Constitution forbids it from acquiring directly. I am sickened that privatisation lets the government use corporations for its censorship, its spying, its enforcement, and its revenge. No, I don't believe in the Capitaliban. But I also don't believe in liberal limits on speech, either. I don't think that everything is okay, or that any idea is as good as any other. I believe we are entitled, even obligated, to engage in judgment in an intelligent way that encourages initiative and discussion, but not censorship. I am a bad liberal.


Hey, why am I not composing? In part, discouragement. The We Are All Mozart commissions have stuttered to a stop at fifty, and the media has continued to ignore the project. The latest is Lawrence Van Gelder, whose Arts, Briefly column effused over Suzan-Lori Park's "play a day" project, but hasn't deigned to acknowledge this one, before or after my letter sent his way. Pretty discouraging.


I'm actually tacking this on the Monday morning, as grogginess overcame my plan to mention it. We had family guests who just returned from a major multi-day music festival. Who was there? Families, crazies, music afficionados, young folks, old folks, everybody. What kind of music? All kinds. Rock, bluegrass, country, world, electronica, celtic, jazz... the list went on, full of examples of solo artists & groups & bands. Notably absent, you may guess, was any touch of nonpop. I've been brooding about that, and will have something to say soon, perhaps, though I might want to avoid the irritable old crank syndrome.

New split rail fence at twilight
The new split rail fence at twilight. It's especially nice because it doesn't fence anybody in or out. It's art. By next summer, roses should start twining on it.

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