Writing a blog entry (I can’t find it in me to do the work that needs to be done). I’m writing a texture piece in the spirit of Ligeti’s Atmospheres but I’m allowing for harmonies to crop up and since the transitions between different sections are meant to be subtle and messy it’s got a little bit of a Reich-like sound. I’m using big chords though, entire scales really, so it’s still essentially a texture piece. It should be cool. You will come and hear it and that’ll be good.
I got fucking sunburned yesterday, but then I took a cold showerfollowedbybath like three times and it made me well. I drank a beer and it put me right to sleep but not before I put on Aloe. Now I have a tan. It was ninety yesterday. It’s going to be ninety today. I can say, without a doubt, that I find this to be the most perfect weather in existence, fuck all y’all west coast people with yr insistence on “dry heat.” It’s not that pretty. I like being wet. So do you (I know it). It’s awesome, and the sky looks dense and filled with things, there are many more beautiful clouds and the soft haze that floats above the city and the fields during the golden hour makes me feel like I’m in a movie about the future or an alternate dimension and Tim Burton’s doing the set design. Anyway I had to lay around with little clothing. It made for a happiness I cannot explain even though I felt like a vain douchebag.
I’m gonna write. When it’s finished, sometime tonight, I will post the sheet music and you, web denizens, will be able to see what things look like.
Ever since around middle-school when precociousness set in and a few John Cage texts fell into my lap, I’ve always struggled with my working definition of post-modernism. Back then I didn’t want to betray my lack of comprehension with straight-forward questions: what is it? Though when I did explicitly ask the answer sailed over my head. The best clue until recently came from my sexology/cultural studies teacher L. Lewis who told me that “the existentialists passed the ball to the post-modernists.” Phenomenology and existentialism hold a lot of currency in my intellectual Rolodex of ideas and I can see how their efforts to reduce and locate this event in space-time ultimately crash into the wall of Sisyphean ‘to-be-or-not-to-be’ angst. Thus post-modernism.
But I think I’ve broaden my understanding to include a more satisfying and illuminating range of ideas. I’m reading this text called Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture and it’s made me realize that post-modernism is about a new level of process-orientation-awareness. The pre-modern era, in the mythology of Kant and the Enlightened, is little child, lacking self-awareness. Modernism is realizing agency and taking an active role in the processes and patterns that human beings come to see as describing their behavior; in a way, self-awareness. Post-modernism, then, is becoming aware of and affecting the patterns and processes describing our way of becoming aware of and affecting the patterns and processes describing our behavior. I see a parallel in mathematics and physics in the idea of rates. The mind in the pre-modern era is about inertia, matter; in the modern era the focus shifts to constant speeds, velocity; and in the post-modern era it is about acceleration, or speed at which speed changes, the rates of rates of change.
It’s easy to see why so much of the literature comes off as convoluted and abstruse. It’s weird, highly referential way of seeing things, but it is a higher level of reality inasmuch as it’s a valid and logical representation of things, grounded ultimately in common-sense facts about the world. When I read this kind of high-minded literature I get sucked up into the myriad junctures of ideas at levels of abstraction at which I’m not used to thinking about things. All this language is a network of patterns extending human knowledge outwards, all of it constructed from base kernels of logic that seem innocent and unprovocative enough and yet you can blow them out to seemingly meaningless, irrelevant levels of discourse and the whole thing, the patterns of language, still maintain structural integrity.
It’s inspiring and somehow way more empowering than I had assumed to think of things on this level. The undercurrent of anti-intellectualism in this culture runs deep. I don’t know when I become affected by it. Thinking about my backyard in terms of process makes obvious what my top gardening priorities should be. This approach makes even more sense in music. I guess I wasn’t heavily influenced by the dogma of theory until recently, but I realize what a flawed paradigm it is in that it limits the motivic range of music to something unduly formal. Music takes on new meanings all the time! It’s deeply involved in and influenced by its environment! I should embrace the flexibility of meaning in music given context by looking to anticipate any and all environments into music. My next artistic priority: music with sophisticated mobility.
Art in its most primitive state is a simple imitation of nature. But it quickly becomes imitation of nature in the wider sense of this idea, that is, not merely imitation of outer but also of inner nature. In other words, art does not then represent merely the objects or the occasions that make impressions, but above all these impressions themselves, ultimately without reference to their What, When, and How. Inference of the original, external object is here perhaps of only secondary importance due to its lack of immediacy. In its most advanced state, art is exclusively concerned with the representation of inner nature. Here its aim is just the imitation of impressions, which have now combined, through association with one another and with other sense impressions, to form new complexes and new motives, new stimulil. At this state, inference of the external stimulus is almost certain to be inadequate. At all stages the imitation of the model, of the impression, or of the complex of impressions is only relatively faithful. This is true, on the one hand, because of the limits of out abilities; on the other, because, whether we are conscious of it or not, the material [the medium] in which the imitation is presented differs from the material or materials of the stimulus, so that, for example, visual or tactile sensations might be represented in the material of auditory sensations.
–Arnold Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony, p. 18
Wow. If there’s one thing that never fails to satisfy me in the extreme, it’s the succinct, concise technical writing of an expert. To read someone summarize an activity into which I endlessly pour myself is as mystifying as it is illuminating.
Last summer I had some ambitious plans. I was convinced that my band was going to take off, we were going to record some quirky, beautiful songs that people could dance to. We were going to take all our cues from Zazen Boys. Mark and I listened to them religiously back in those days. We even learned to play a few of their songs, namely “HIMITSU GIRL’S TOP SECRET” and “This is NORANEKO.” Sadly, plans alone guarantee little. My ambitions were not shared and I was being naive anyway. You can’t make people be in a band, or in your vision of a band, especially if their your friends. Maybe if you can force money-making-music out of them, that works, but even then, they can’t be your friends. After a year of inactivity and reminiscence, this has come to make good sense. So I will only collaborate now if there’s shared enthusiasm about the idea of making music, about the process by which we make music, and about the direction that the music is going in.
Still, we had a lot of fun, I think that we came up with some decently interesting, cool-sounding stuff for a couple of highschoolers with high ambitions and no expectations. I’m posting the stuff we last worked on when the steam ran out.
Pandas are Totally Cool
These were recorded in GarageBand which I hope I will never have to rely on again, since I got ProTools 7.4 a little less than a month ago. (A post on that program is in the works.) I somewhat doubt it, but some of these might be rerecorded for an what will someday be a record. “Pandas are Totally Cool” is actually fine musically, it just needs to be remastered. Unfortunately the computer that I had all the GarageBand files we made was just one of many casualties of a lightning bolt that hit the apartment building behind my house in Hackensack, NJ. Remastering will be tricky, but I’m sure there’s a way.
Posted in band, production
Tagged ambient, band, Bronxville, free mp3, free mp3s, GarageBand, Hackensack, indie mp3, indie mp3s, indie rock, mp3, mp3s, our band, Zazen Boys