The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, March 25, 2004

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Meanwhile, Kyle Gann is an American abroad, disappointed by the Old Europe music scene - and rightly so.

He also picks up on some of the spectral music he heard, but I disagree that what Murail et al are doing is related in anything more than a superficial sense to the American microtonalists - Partch, Riley, Gann himself etc. I think what is crucial to approaching spectral music - as I've mentioned on these pages before - is the sense of history within the music: it is a reaction against serialism (as well as a further refining of compositional scientism), and that sense of freedom is one of the strenghths of the music. It is also possibly because it is a reaction against a much-maligned past that it has won such popularity in European new music circles. American polytonal composition, by contrast, seems to me a reaction against a less-defined past, and one that in many circles is still widely appreciated. So maybe the reaction is less welcome? I don't know the American scene well enough to comment properly, but this is a hunch.

Also, anyone wanting to escape the serialist hegemony of European music should probably head down to The Warehouse near Waterloo for genuinely new music composed and performed by the very best of the new British experimentalists, and more besides. The Cutting Edge series - which starts up again in September - is not to be missed.

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