Friday, November 7, 2008
beer chair observations, part 2..
A somewhat different beer chair view, this. And I promise, I'll dig out my photo of the beer chair, scan it in and upload it. Soon...
Following up the previous post's analogy of garden stepping stones, I was struck that , while reading Nishihara'a Patterns for Living, it would seem a good a way of conceiving of ideas of structure within an improvised texture. In traditional Japanese design, there is an interest in balance within irregular natural structures, and the relationship between strict symmetries at an extremely local level of individual elements of plants or crystals, and the sense of wild freedom expressed when these things are played out across the scale of a forest or mountain range. The word for this balance within irregularity is hacho , which has been translated as "imperfection" or "aversion symmetry" or aesthetic aversion" I'm going to string this meaning out a bit and suggest that what we have is a form of aesthetic dissonance, where the exuberant possibilities of surface structure create perceived irregularities of balance. It is from these disjunctive textures that any object both reflects nature and creates interest. And like this, in music it is dissonance, in the largest sense of the word as used by composers such as Ruth Crawford Seeger, that shapes music into patterns that can fascinate us. There is little less riveting than a series of over-sweet major triads moving in rhythmically locked whole notes reiterating a tonic (unless, of course, you are La Monte Young; and he only uses perfect fifths, and that's a whole different thing again). Even with cakes, I always discard the frosting.
In traditional garden design, one of the first steps is the initial placing of a few stones by a method called fuseki. This word comes from the game of Go, but has come to mean the preparation for future possibilities when any real knowledge of the approaching situation is unknown. Once the stones are set, to allow for focal points such as trees or water, the designers, like Go players, must then work between them as the situation develops. I suppose, when first reading about this, there was a feeling of recognition in the way I was trying to create structures that would evolve in real time, moving with the poets reading of the text. The stones, thrown out in hope, are like the throwness of the players; now placed in real-time situations to which they must react mostly on instinct, not having the luxury of reflection. These stones, set in irregular patterns to approach a Chashitsu, or Tea-ceremony house, force the entering participants to have to look, slow down and connect with the environment around them, rather than just unthinkingly striding across an open space. The same with the small gestures that act as fuseki that make up each piece.
And (once again) to move in my usual 'chaotic, lateral fashion' and mix my analogies even more, there are, in a game of Go, more than one player; perhaps we could design structures to allow several individual paths through our garden, setting out their own fuseki, and allowing the text and/or music to merge and diverge?
These reflections started after showing some of my scores to a musically literate but non-improvising friend, I was struck by their puzzlement when faced by 3 or 4 distinct gestures surrounded by blank space and a few lines of text. These composed moments were something that the group as a whole, through various cues, works away from or towards over the course of a piece.
And on a somewhat more mundane note, this is just to say a sincere heartfelt thanks to geeks and the Internet. Guzzi-related operations had ground to a complete halt when I realized that I had a 20 year-old electronic ignition on the slightly larger (1000cc) noisy lump I was installing on the 30 year-old T3 Guzzi in lieu of the original 850 that had gone the way of the buffalo. I was faced with a group of six connectors with no clues as to how they went into the wiring loom. Who would think that someone had sat down and uploaded all the various variations of a lucas-rita set-ups for 70's models?
It's just a matter of time, I have no excuses left.