Tuesday, August 19, 2008

blue suit + brown shoes = dissonance

In the mild mental fug before 7 am every day, after having walked the dog and stood like a tree and so on, there is always a short hiatus before I get organized to nuke some porridge (I discovered this a few years ago, rather than getting a bowl and a pot dirty, 3 and a half minutes, ping: throw in some some raisins and fruit . This has subtly changed my life, but I still haven't worked out how). This brief suspension of motion within the morning usually spent leaning back in the bench, with my feet up against the porch post, drinking coffee and reading the Gruaniad. The same every morning, rain or shine, most of the year, unless the wind is dead on southerly with rain. Then, the other day, I came across an article discussing modes of thought - and in passing, it made a statement something like "...or like music composition, with its chaotic, lateral patterns..."

This suddenly popped back up, bobbing like a stupid, happy, child's toy submarine surrounded by suds, clockwork key still turning, into my head while running scales days later in the evening (admittedly while reading the aforementioned paper again on the music stand - I have always figured that if I could read the paper and do my arpeggios, I had them taped) And I then had my own chaotic, lateral search through the pile of papers reserved for Jane's firings to see if I could find the article again. Nope.

"Chaotic and lateral".. sounds like a reasonable description of my default modus operandi, drifting from one thing to another like a bored six-year-old with the remote. As I mentioned before, I always felt that there should be a deep connectedness within anything I created, but this was never the case in practice. It sprung from my early, self-taught attempts to get to grips with the textbooks Schoenberg wrote concerning harmony, structure and counterpoint - and were disciplined and scary in the extreme. I think if you are self-taught, you often tend to be following models that have already gone out of fashion, as those models have had time to be codified and become part of the canon - but as soon as that happens, they are already passe. But all of this approach is really something that's been fostered on us by a now somewhat-outmoded High-Modernist/Serialist take on what makes an artwork legitimate: the idea of an all-encompassing 'organic' approach, (taken, in a way, from the rationalist project that followed on from the Enlightenment ) that all local and global elements should be contrived from a single unifying concept.

However, what made music prior to the 20th century interesting was the manipulation of dissonance, having clashing sonorities driving the line forward. you could therefore argue that by placing dissonant objects next to each other is a way of creating interest....such as two notes that shouldn't go together make you wait until something happens. This can also be extended to entire structural elements, as Stravinsky did. Brick wall transitions between things which have little in common create a different kind of drama to a slowly unfolding 'line' beloved by the late Romantics. Imagine constellations of color that slowly move around each other, revealing new combinations with each turn; children's blocks that are constantly re-assembled.

And finally, I'm just prepping the fixie up for the yearly Mildenhall 200k tomorrow morning - I was thinking of doing the 300, but I couldn't face the 4 am start. Lots of pasta tonight, couple of cans of beer; all good carbs. Should be good; an excuse to do nothing except ride a bike all day.


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