The Rambler :: blog

Monday, August 02, 2004

Perception reception 

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Scott Spiegelberg over at Musical Perceptions has a great post on Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (which I've covered here). I have to admit that beyond the obvious similarity in title between 4'33" and 8'37", I'd never really given the Cage connection much thought - but I'll have to look into that further. There is, elsewhere in Penderecki's music, an interesting point of disjuncture with the American experimental scene, which serves I think as an illustration of how tricky it actually is when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the score to separate musical aesthetics from one another. There is - one would imagine - very little in common between Penderecki's timbral compositions of the 1960s and the work of Cage, Feldman, Wolff, et al in the preceding 10 years. Yet the closing pages of the score for Dimensions of Time and Silence (1960) - a regular grid of barlines and horizontal staves, with notes acting as points within this grid - could almost be mistaken for Feldman. Almost, but not quite, and Penderecki's score retains a strong connection with traditional notational convention that is almost completely absent in Feldman's graphic scores. The relationship is intriguing - more so perhaps if these two related notations had emerged independently - and I have idly thought about exploring the relationship between the Polish and American avant gardes. Not a relationship of direct influence of one upon the other - I suspect this would be very limited - but how the different approaches to similar problems intersect and diverge, and what that might show. Aleatory composition, for example, and a focus upon the performer's role in the work, are features of both streams, but it is rare to see either compared side by side.

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