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Re: [microsound] article on music and politics

On 12/7/06, Paulo Mouat <paulo.mouat@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I think the Luigi Nono section was somewhat insightful, where the
> author states, "By changing a title, one becomes a political
> composer... For Cardew, I suspect that would have meant doing
> precisely what Nono's apologists fear: allowing the bourgeois to
> 'simulate horror but keep their distance.'

The changing title applies to Penderecki's Threnody, not Nono. Nono's
work is inextricably linked with political and social ideas. Even if
the text is changed beyond recognition, the message is remarkably
clear from the music itself. It is not simply a matter of title.
Furthermore, Nono's music needs to be heard live; the sheer drama and
emotion are positively overwhelming.

It is unfortunate that the article has some blatant inaccuracies,
perhaps in the name of accessibility and generality. The conflation of
Boulez, Stockhausen and Nono is typical of a "transatlantic outsider",
especially when their music is characterized as gratuitously dense,
opaque and (to commit the ultimate capital sin) serial. "Invites
explanation"? Does everything need to be explained? Just listen and
let it move you--but you have to leave your baggage at the door.

I want to add, I LOVE Nono's music (more than Boulez or Stochkausen), but I've never heard it live. I've never seen it on a program anywhere. Being in the US, and only in a large city (Chicago) within the last three years, I guess that's no surprise. Especially because serial and post-serial music seem to have become "politically incorrect" after things took a postmodern/neo-whatever turn.

And to be clear, I don't mind that music took a turn away from
serialism, but I'm bothered by this need to viciously attack and
discredit anything that was rooted in the earlier
post-serialistserial/post-serial practices. One senses a strange
paranoia, as if anything rooted in any kind of rational and modernist
principles is going to give rise to some sort Stalinist
totalitarianism; even when it's just a work of art! Interestingly,
this turn happened at the same time that everyone gave up on the
project of creating a liberated, rational society, and instead bowed
down before the magical powers of the Free Market and the Invisible

Regardless of all that, I still think in the broader sense the author
has a point about the politics of titles - even if Nono himself was a
bad example.


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