Music and interstitiality Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration
Night Shade Message Boards » Interstitial Arts Foundation » Music and interstitiality « Previous Next »

  Thread Last Poster Posts Pages Last Post
Want to try a little experiment?Robert Devereux10 12-19-04  09:35 am
A shot over the bow for musicRobert Devereux12-03-03  08:11 am
Intestitial recordings...Ellen12 02-10-04  06:59 am
  Start New Thread        

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 12:09 pm:   

There is no such thing as "interstitial arts." Anything with a name is a genre. Anything with a group of people in agreement is a genre. Anything with a foundation, for god's sake, is a genre. By the time it gets to that point, you're not in the space between things; you *are* a thing, and anyone who wants to break new ground should smile, shake her head, and avoid you.

I'm sure lots of perfectly lovely doctoral theses will come out of this, though.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

Music is probably the only interstitial art possible, that no man's land of expression transcending fiction and painting. Chamber Music like Hammerklavier, Symphonies like Mahler and Penderecki, String Quartets by Schubert ... the list is endless and the spaces in between (by Cage?) even more beautiful. Des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 02:00 pm:   

Music is great. I'm all for it. What's "interstitial" about it?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   

The space between direct expression and silence? I dunno. I was making the point that I agree with you somewhat - and then thinking what *could* be interstitial, then? - ah, yes, (unvocal) music.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 03:39 pm:   

Keith, I agree with you to an extent. Academic America has become obsessed with margins, boundaries, borders, interstices, and other nebulous non-spaces. Sometimes this has been a profitable obsession, as when they help us to a fuller understanding of the high/low heirarchies in literature and other arts. But more often this mania for playing in the intersections has merely been a tool for wresting control of social meanings, redrawing academic territories, and co-opting minority voices into bourgeois academic writing. I am no cheerleader for this latter constellation of motives.

Even when an investigation of interstices and margins is not conducted in bad faith, problems abound. These non-spaces (whether they are Homi K. Bhabha's shifting cultural boundaries, or the "nonlinear" electronic playland of hypertext theorists) are no good for perching. They are liminal, where they aren't merely rhetorical fabrications. Liminal, as a doorway is liminal. If I stand with one foot in the kitchen and the other in the dining room, I'm not between spaces; I'm in the kitchen and the dining room at once.

Another way to look at "interstitial" arts, though, is to categorize them as inhabiting a kind of shifting twilight band between other categories -- not only generic categories, but purposive categories, print-culture categories, and so on. In this sense, they reside in a permeable space of textual negotiation. A transaction is being conducted between and among categories, and it is playing out in the so-called interstitial art object. Is this new? Hell, no, it's not new. Hawthorne brought sensational newspaper stories, folk histories, popular reform tracts, and new-model pedagogy into his fiction. Was he insterstitial? If he was, who isn't?

I prefer to think of artists as being free to borrow elements from any genre with which they come into contact, and to twist, gild, mold, and punish those elements until both artist and audience are satisfied. I don't really think of this as "interstitial"; I think of it as art. It's been going on for a very long time.

Nevertheless, I second Jeff Vandermeer (on another thread in this group) when he suggests there is something in the current craze for transgeneric art which merits attention. It can't be dismissed as a fad (or as academic doublespeak) when it influences what artists choose to produce and what audiences seek to consume. In that sense, at least, interstitiality (or whatever you choose to call it) deserves investigation.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 06:41 pm:   

I'm interested, Keith, in why you posted your original statement in the music thread. Is there something specifically about music that makes you unhappy w/the concept of interstitiality? Otherwise, this seems like a general discussion of definitions, and you might be interested in checking out the "What's it all about thread?"
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 05:16 am:   

Veronica, I'll answer that question with another question. If this is about "interstitiality," why is there a separate board for Music?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 06:00 am:   

Hi Keith!

As Delia Sherman writes in her essay on the IAF website, interstitiality isn't about getting rid of categories. Without categories, interstices wouldn't exist. Also, as Eve Sweetser's essay shows, we have a natural tendency to categorize, in order to understand the world around us. There's nothing wrong with that. Interstitiality is simply about paying attention to art that doesn't seem to fit into any one category, or that fits multiple categories. Our experience is that (and here I'm using literature as an example) although some exciting things are happening in the interstices, editors and publishers find this sort of art difficult to market, and readers find it difficult to locate. So, part of the purpose of the IAF is simply to publicize works that don't fit into the standard categories, but that deserve attention. It's certainly not about trying to suggest that there isn't something distinctive about music that separates it from literature or art.

If anything with a name were a genre, then dog would be as much of a genre as a Saint Bernard, or an individual Saint Bernard named Rex. For anyone thinging about the theory of genre, I think Eve Sweetser's essay is helpful reading.

Des, you wrote, "the list is endless and the spaces in between (by Cage?) even more beautiful." Who do you see inhabiting those in between spaces? I love Cage. What about Eric Satie?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 07:34 am:   

Eric Satie, yes. But the most 'interstitial' composer (a favourite of mine since the early eighties before he was well known) is Philip Glass. I could go on...
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:18 am:   

Keith,

The answer is simple: in order that visitors to the boards may easily find the conversations that interest them. Thus, if you would like to discuss the general definition and significance of interstitiality, there is a thread for that. If you would like to discuss interstitiality in music, there is a separate thread for that. While I recognize that conversations will take us far from where they start, and I have no desire to artificially stunt such conversations, I would also request that when starting a conversation, posters start it in the thread best suited for it. That way, you're most likely to get responses from other posters interested in the topic, rather than from, for instance, posters wanting to discuss music, other visitors looking to discuss definitions can easily locate those conversations, and those wishing to discuss music have a space to do so.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:28 am:   

Cage, Satie, and Glass are "interstitial?"

And here I thought Cage was an interesting trickster, Satie was an interesting harmonist, and Glass is an overblown arpeggiator. There's nothing "interstitial" about minimalism--it's one of the biggest movements in the tiny pond that is 20th century classical music. Glass, Reich, and Reilly are its most famous practitioners. So where's the "interstitiality" here? They're the very heart of the genre.

It seems to me that if you want to get "interstitial" about it, there should be a board called "The Space Between Music and Fiction," and another called "The Space Between Fiction and Memoir," and so on. Separating the music board gives those of us who actually do work in the space between music and fiction nowhere to talk about it.

I find the "theory of genre" to be nearly useless for actually making things, rather than theorizing about them. Genres exist so the people who work at bookstores know where to put each book, and so people who like to repeat their reading experiences know what section to buy from. They also exist because after somebody innovates, less confident or imaginative people like to understand exactly how to imitate the least important parts of the accomplishment.

> If anything with a name were a genre, then dog
> would be as much of a genre as a Saint Bernard

I'm pretty sure "dog" is a genre of "mammal."
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:41 am:   

Veronica,

Your board--your rules. But don't you think it's funny that an organization dedicated to things that "fall between" is strict about keeping its message boards strictly segregated by genre?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:43 am:   

Keith,

How do you work in the space between music and fiction? I'm interested. You didn't introduce yourself. What sort of work do you do?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:53 am:   

I agree with Keith above, in a lot of what he says, about genres etc. I've tried to convey a lot of what you seem to be about here through nemonymity -- and each Nemonymous has been both genre-less *and* intrinsically (i.e within its covers) authorless -- a necessary combination, for the full effect of what *you* call 'interstitiality', I'd suggest.

*I* see interstitiality as: slipping easily into the soul between the spaces of the thought: and Philip Glass music does that for me.
Des

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:01 am:   

To answer literally "how" is probably not possible--and "between" is arguable, despite my own use of the word. It's possible that when trying to bridge forms as technically different as prose and music, hybridization is as close as it can get.

Recent and recent-ish projects:

http://www.woollymammoth.com/ship/

http://www.journalscape.com/keithsnyder/2003-10-22-22:08

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/85/cosmic_debris.html

http://www.woollymammoth.com/nightmen/

http://www.woollymammoth.com/sellinhell
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:25 am:   

I think there's two different ways of looking at "interstitial" and "music".

One is to look simply at music that exists between the genres of music. One example is Cynic, who exist somewhere between death metal and jazz (without really being either, IMO).

The other way is to look at stuff that slips between the different mediums - music and writing, music and painting, etc.

The way I see it, this music board would be for the first, and maybe there should be a second for any cross-medium type of work (which would likely be much rarer).

Keith - I'm checking out your stuff right now.

My music, I'm not sure how interstitial it is. I don't know of any genre that I really fit in (post-rock might be the closest). It's not really between mediums, but a project of bouncing ideas off other media (music inspired by writing, and a bit of writing by Jeff VanderMeer a bit inspired by the music).
http://robertdevereux.com/
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

Robert,

Yes, cross-medium work would almost certainly be much rarer. To my way of thinking, that's because it's demonstrably more "interstitial."

I don't have a sound card on this machine, but I'll listen to yours when I have a chance.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:55 am:   

This discussion is very interesting. I've encountered many literary texts in which the words are not only derived from, but also recognize their debt to other arts. Yeats and Pynchon come instantly to mind, though they pay their strongest homage to visual arts. But aside from operatic libretti derived from folk legends or mythology, I'm at a loss to think of cases in which musicians seek in their work to self-consciously call up literary texts. I'm sure someone can help me with this -- this is not a way I normally imagine music.

Robert, I'm interested: where would you place a popular group like (e.g.) Rage Against the Machine? Hip-Hop? Rock? More to the point, with all the cross-pollination of popular musical genres, is it really possible to call any popular music interstitial? Or is it possible to locate any popular music which isn't interstitial.

I'm most concerned with how consumers and producers imagine the categories of genre. One thing I don't want to do is surrender to the common thinking that genre is all about marketing and corporate interference with artistic production. This is a sad dodge. Marketing decisions are made precisely because they more fully bring the product before the public. So when we speak of marketing categories (for music, for fiction, for visual arts), we are really speaking of economies of consumer desire.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:08 am:   

Neal,

Composers often start with a text, even when writing instrumental music. It's a way of having a structure and feelings in place, something to start with; the words themselves just don't appear in the work.

Popular music is, itself, a genre, depending on how far away you're standing. So the interstices might be between pop and classical (one of my favorite places), or jazz and industrial--though depending on where you're standing, industrial *is* pop.

> So when we speak of marketing categories (for
> music, for fiction, for visual arts), we are
> really speaking of economies of consumer desire.

Almost. We're speaking of economies that attempt to guess correctly at what that desire is, based on past performance.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:21 am:   

What about improvised music - or natural music like street sounds? They're probably interstitial.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:25 am:   

Well, in order for them to be "interstitial," don't we have to identify at least two things they're between?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:27 am:   

I'm at a loss to think of cases in which musicians seek in their work to self-consciously call up literary texts.

Besides lyrics, you could spell out some words in the musical notes. It's pretty limited, due to only having a few notes and letters overlap.

From interviews and comments I've seen, I know that Gordian Knot has some elements from the Iliad in the music, but I haven't done enough analysis to find out how.

where would you place a popular group like (e.g.) Rage Against the Machine?

I considered them interstitial, one of the first few blendings of hip-hop and metal. But then that became a genre after them.

Or is it possible to locate any popular music which isn't interstitial.

Britney Spears seems to be pretty straightforward "pop" as does a lot of popular music.

Part of it comes down to how much you break down genres. I'm a metal fan, so I often see the breakdowns as it relates to that. "That's not doom metal, it's gothic metal." But to the unfamiliar, they may sound like the same genre. So while someone intimately familiar with the two may think some band blends the two and is interstitial, somebody else may think differently.

I wonder if I listened to a lot of pop, if I would consider the pop genre differently.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:34 am:   

Well, in order for them to be "interstitial," don't we have to identify at least two things they're between?

**********
Well, much improvised music and stuff for prepared instruments and avant garde 'use' of natural sounds etc are all between, say, Beethoven and my dustman making a noise on Wednesday mornings.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:38 am:   

I'm at a loss to think of cases in which musicians seek in their work to self-consciously call up literary texts.

~~~~~~~~
del tredici and alice in wonderland
http://kalvos.org/deltred.html
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 10:41 am:   

We should start a Beethoven/Dustman board.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 11:18 am:   

I will on my DF Lewis Board below here. des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 11:19 am:   

On 2nd thoughts I'll put it on Nemonymous.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 12:11 pm:   

Keith: "Almost. We're speaking of economies that attempt to guess correctly at what that desire is, based on past performance."

This conception doesn't take into account the power of marketing to create desire, or the power of desire to snowball once the product enters the category of the "popular." Since the 1850s, for example, one proven way to sell a book has been to market it as "best-selling." And who would deny that sales projections of music not only attempt to guess the desires of the public, but also condition those desires by underwriting heavy promotional campaigns?

Also, it's interesting that "popular" is used as a generic tag in music. I'm not sure what to make of that. Over a short span of time, I suppose it makes sense. But over the long term, it seems to me one must do some serious squinting to lump together artists as diverse as, for example, Frank Sinatra and Britney Spears. So I'm wondering to what extent "Pop" fails as a generic identity.

Des -- When my dustman makes noise, it's more pleasing to me than twelve-tone or Renaissance Faire recorder solos.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 12:49 pm:   

Neal, quite true, "pop" does change over time. However, if you ask somebody now to name some pop artists, they'll likely pick contemporary ones. I doubt Sinatra's name would come up.

This is a good example of how genres can shift over time. Where once Sinatra was called pop, now he might be called "traditional pop" or "soft rock". Pop has shifted and now refers to "dance-pop" or other styles.

Another example is "heavy metal." The term was originally coined to refer to Jimi Hendrix. It shifted during the 70's to refer to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and again during the 80's and 90's. Now, most 70's metal would be called "hard rock" and Hendrix isn't even associated with metal.

So how are interstices affected by these fluid definitions of genre?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 01:11 pm:   

Genres can shift over time - good point, Robert.
Indeed how *can* there possibly be interstices in universal, uncompartmentalised, wholly accessible language of sound commonly known as music.
As you can extrapolate to literature, painting, sculpture: (an interstitial sculpture?), theatre, etc.
There are no interstices, only pauses for breath.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 03:41 pm:   

Robert -- I fully agree that genres are conventional. We twiddle and tweak them all the time. But we can't frob them, or they break. A serious alteration or evacuation of generic elements changes the genre, and we have something new to name.

Myself, I tend to think of "pop" less as a genre and more as a sign of cultural hierarchies of value, and one which often situates a product so labeled as somehow lesser than... what?... "unpopular music"?

Des -- If we're talking about genres of music, there are plenty of ways a person could produce transgeneric work. (I don't know so much that a truly interstitial anything can be produced.) I'm not a musician myself, but it occurs to me that certain time signatures, chord progressions, and instrumental arrangements are often the hallmarks of certain kinds of music (4/4 time with blues and rock, for example). Several artists produce music which partakes of the elements of diverse generic influences.

As for the visual arts, I suppose if one is determined enough to see interstitial art, one can find it. An installation using televisions playing old MTV clips in a three-dimensional display becomes "art in the interstices between sculpture, music, and film."
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 06:55 pm:   

This conception doesn't take into account the power of marketing to create desire

Why does it need to? We were talking about what "genre" means. We can't go off on tangential paths productively--thbe power of marketing, for instance--until we nail that basic thing down.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 06:56 pm:   

Des, I don't agree that music is a "wholly accessible language of sound." If it were, we'd all understand every piece of music more or less identically.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:14 pm:   

Please forgive my ignorance of music here, but what about music composed for ballet? Or is there ever music composed for ballet? I know that lots of ballets are choreographed to pre-existing music, but if music is composed for a story-ballet, would that count as music that is inspired by and consciously seeks to evoke another medium? Or does that never happen? (Something I should go ask my mother, the ballet expert.)

I must agree w/Keith about music not being a universally accessible language; I speak as someone who has found much music impenetrable.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:46 am:   

I must agree w/Keith about music not being a universally accessible language; I speak as someone who has found much music impenetrable.
**************
Unvocal music of all possible genres and trans-genres, for example, constitutes, I believe, a plateau of sound in your ears - either perceptively pleasurable or not. People may listen differently, have different tastes as to harmony and disharmony, may listen even with varying attention spans and depths ... but 'impenetrable'?, I fail to see how this word can be applied to music.

My own definition of 'classical music' (as an example):
An inchoate area (defaulting towards an aspirationally cultural & predominantly exact art form) within the universal, uncompartmentalised, wholly accessible language of sound commonly known as music: encouraging spirituality and/or various permutations of all human emotions -- centring on and radiating from the serious deployment of an ostensibly organised pattern of acoustic sounds as produced by orchestral instruments and voices (performed normally by established or qualified interpreters/musicians, from one to very many). The question of taste and the unknowable relativities of disharmony and harmony are no part of this description, because such affective considerations differ from individual to individual. I shall tailgate any preconceptions...




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 06:33 am:   

Des,

A lot of 20th-century classical music is pretty impenetrable to even the intelligent, educated casual listener. Babbit and Xenakis may be brilliant, but they're not exactly immediately understandable.

I do think the person who said he can't listen to "twelve-tone" probably has that kind of thing in mind, and doesn't realize that "twelve-tone" is simply a compositional tool, not a style of music. I doubt, for example, that anyone could listen to Frank Martin's "Ballade for Saxophone" or "Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments" and realize that there are twelve-tone techniques in them. (And they're really beautiful, too.)

Music is like any other art, I think, in that there are things you have to learn if you want to get past the crap they make for fourteen-year-olds.

Also, it occurs to me that although he's at the very center of the very well-established and documented "minimalist" genre (or "movement," or whatever), Steve Reich's "Different Trains" is very much in the area "between" music and speech, both in its compositional approach and in the listener's experience. And it's an amazing piece of music, too. (And a good example of how reading the CD liner notes can make a great listening experience even better.)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 06:53 am:   

Babbit and Xenakis may be brilliant, but they're not exactly immediately understandable.
***********
Again - as with 'impenetrable' - I cannot understand how anyone can call any music un-understandable. What is it but noises you either enjoy or don't enjoy. I can get on with Babbit and Xenakis, but prefer Penderecki, Dutilleux, Per Norgard more.
**********
Steve Reich's "Different Trains" is very much in the area "between" music and speech, both in its compositional approach and in the listener's experience
****************
I very much agree. A *great* interstitial piece of music, if any music *can* be interstitial. Prefer: 'straddling' or 'groovy'.
des


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 07:40 am:   

Keith: "We were talking about what "genre" means. We can't go off on tangential paths productively--thbe power of marketing, for instance--until we nail that basic thing down."

First, I was responding to your contradiction of my claim, so I don't accept responsibility for this "tangent."

Second, it's hardly a tangent. Until we clarify what genre is not (i.e. marketing categories in the publishing industry), we can't get at what genre is. The two are all too often conflated, and clearing the air is an important first step at achieving some kind of consensus, don't you think?

As for what genre is, we might look back as far as Aristotle's Poetics, wherein we find his genres based upon an analysis of a work's causes: formal (the shape a thing takes), material (its composition), efficient (how it is constructed), and final (the purpose for which it is constructed). For Aristotle, works were part of the same genre if (and only if) they shared the same causes. Aristotle refused to accept general terms like "poetry" or "drama" as names for genre precisely because these terms were undefinable within his system -- individual works within the groups did not have all four causes in common. Tragedy, on the other hand, was an Aristotelean genre because all tragedies held the four causes in common.

Later critics broke with Aristotle's rather stilted methods.

These days, most college texts which concern themselves with genre at all, do so in a limited and simplified way. Beatty and Hunter, in The Norton Introduction to Literature, offer a three-level scale: genre, subgenre, and kind. According to this scheme, genre (in print) would include terms such as fiction, poetry, and drama. Subgenre would take us within a single genre to examing smaller, more precise groupings, such as novel, novella, and short story. And the literary kind is a still more precise grouping, such as the initiation story. These kinds, subgenres, and genres are identifiable by their salient elements, from rather obvious formal causes (to return briefly to Aristotle) to less obvious tonal elements such as the aura of dread expected of a Gothic story.

Two things which should be obvious from this account are (first) that genre emerges from formal and tonal qualities of a work which identify it as being related to other works with similar formal and tonal qualities, and (second) that there is a scale to genre, reaching from the broadest categories (poetry, fiction, drama), down to the narrowest (initiation stories, animal fables, space opera). Much can be made of this, I think, but I'll take a breather and let others respond or challenge, if they care to.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 09:16 am:   

I stand by "impenetrable" as a particularly accurate description of my inability to understand what many forms of music are doing. I use "impenetrable" because it's not just that I don't like the music in question (I don't particularly like heavy metal as it's constituted today, but I'm not at a loss to understand what makes it appealing to some people or how they enjoy it) but because I can't understand how one begins listening to such music, or why, or what it is that the music is doing that's interesting. That's not necessarily a judgment on the value of the music either--I'm perfectly willing to admit that music is not my strong suit and that the failing is most likely mine.

But it does mean that music is not universally accessible, because much of it does not seem at all accessible to me.

As an analogy, I don't like legal thrillers. The genre isn't impenetrable to me; I just don't like them. I understand what they do and why they do it and why it's interesting to some people. I'm just not one of them. But I can't read German; a book in German is impenetrable to me. I've never studied cellular biology on the graduate level, and I'm sure that a scholarly research journal on cellular biology would be impenetrable to me. It might be good, it might not be good, I can't tell. I could learn to read German, and I could study cellular biology, just as I could put in the time and learn to appreciate classical music, but life is short and I haven't done either. So German, and much of classical music, is impenetrable to me. Not because of any inherent fault of German or of classical music, but because I don't understand.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 09:23 am:   

Acclimatisation, Veronica, is perhaps the key word, if you feel it worthwhile, of course. Having acclimatised myself to many forms of modern classical music, I have gradually found them very enriching and imaginative. At first they sounded like noise. But I enjoyed the noise, too! I don't mean this in a condescending way, but it is difficult to sound like that when talking in these terms. Sorry.

I still feel that - logically - music (especially unvocal music) cannot possibly be incomprehensible or impenetrable (in their dictionary senses); perhaps it just feels like that. ;-)

It is more a question of taste. How can noises be understood, as such?
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 09:43 am:   

I don't take it as condescending at all! I think you're right--it's a matter of acclimatisation--that's what I meant by "learning to understand" how it works. Alas, ars longa, vita breva, right? And I'm on deadline, apparently for the rest of my life...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:03 am:   

I don't agree about 'learning to understand', Veronica. Acclimatisation is different, in my view.
I literally know nothing about the technicalities of music. I am just an avid listener.
I just listen to the noises - (hedonistically?) enjoying them (or not) -- without fear or favour as to whether I'm understanding or misunderstanding them.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:20 am:   

Veronica: "But it does mean that music is not universally accessible, because much of it does not seem at all accessible to me."

I second this, and I offer twelve-tone as a prime example. Students of music can regard a piece of twelve-tone as an open book (though many may still find it unlistenable), while to someone like me, unversed in music theory, it is little more than noise.

Des -- I think Veronica is using "accessible" in a way which doesn't mean "enjoyable," but rather something closer to "understandable." I enjoy Native American flute music, but I understand almost nothing about it, intellectually; therefore, I cannot access it in the same way I can access (e.g.) epic poetry or Gothic tales.

The notion that music is universally accessible is, I think, largely unexamined. Perhaps in its broadest possible sense, the claim is true; humans in all cultures employ rhythmic and/or melodic sounds as a form of expression which can be communally enjoyed. But as soon as we descend from the broad category of "music" to more narrow manifestations of that category -- bluegrass, jazz, Japanese shaikuhachi -- the evidence for universality begins to break down rather quickly.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:33 am:   

Keith, your comments about Steve Reich brought to mind (through a convoluted logic train) the attempt by David Bowie to create a "nonlinear" musical text with Outside and its sequels. Bowie's work is instructive, I think, in that it has always incorporated sound, graphic elements, and performance. I'm not sure Bowie's individual projects are fully comprehensible if the audience has access only to the music.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 11:21 am:   

What do we mean when we say that we understand a piece of music?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 11:59 am:   

Nicholas, for me it means a familiarity with at least some of the intricate ideas which motivated the artist and shaped the work. Why, for instance, did this artist choose a particular arrangement of instruments, and why did he or she feel the music would play best at a particular tempo or in a particular key? To be more specific, why did Antonio Vivaldi cast his "Winter" movement of The Four Seasons in allegro non molto, when most of us probably envision Winter as something much slower, darker, and more melancholy? In the case of Vivaldi, the answer is provided in his liner notes: "Frozen shivering in the icy snow -- Dreadful storm -- Running and foot stamping because of the cold -- Winds -- Chattering of teeth." Winter is not slow for Vivaldi; it is filled with frenetic, gusty motion. Allegro non molto thus fits perfectly, and Vivaldi's notes help me better to understand the piece.

There are other things to understand, of course, such as how Vivaldi's work differs from other contemporary works, how his work might have been done differently, what works he drew from in his process of creation, and so on. Even if I did not know any of this, I could still enjoy Vivaldi. But enjoying Vivaldi, for me, is not the same as understanding him.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:04 pm:   

Nicholas, for me it means a familiarity with at least some of the intricate ideas which motivated the artist and shaped the work.
**************
Intentional fallacy!
des ;-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:15 pm:   

What do we mean when we say that we understand a piece of music?

There are some things which are common to music across all cultures. One is emotion. People from any culture can generally figure out the emotion a piece of music is trying to convey, regardless of what culture the music comes from. Whether a musician wants to convey happiness, sadness, anger or some other emotion, people usually can tell this, even if they aren't familiar with the style of music.

With this in mind, I'd think understanding music is understanding what the musician is trying to convey. And this understanding seems almost universal.

There can be deeper understanding can be a more precise emotion behind a song, understanding how the instruments relate to each other in the piece, how the melody changes throughout the piece or maybe other things.

I can't understand how one begins listening to such music, or why

As a fan of metal, I don't understand how or why I began listening either. It just always sounded good to me.
I briefly thought it was acclimation, as I did grow up with acid rock playing in my house. But I also grew up with country playing, and I never liked that.


the attempt by David Bowie to create a "nonlinear" musical text

That does sound insteresting. I've wondered how nonlinear music could be done effectively. With writing, Harlan Ellison wrote a piece, The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. In that, the narrative jumps around and seems disjointed. Then you read the last paragraph and it all makes sense. I would love to hear some music that is like that - it seems incoherent, but then you hear the last few measures and it all makes sense. I have no idea how to accomplish this though.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:22 pm:   

With this in mind, I'd think understanding music is understanding what the musician is trying to convey.
**************
I suggest this is unknowable.
If one is hidebound by potential intentionality, one can miss a lot of stuff one can enjoy without such preconditions of 'understanding'.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:37 pm:   

Des -- You're right, of course. We can't truly know the composer's intentions. Even the composer is locked out of that particular black box, in the fullest sense. Perhaps I should amend that by saying I find the composer's statements about his or her intentions as instructive. Better?

Robert -- The reason I placed "nonlinear" in quotes is that I have never found myself fully convinced of the practicability of nonlinear art of any kind. Fragmented, yes. Disjunctive, sure. But not nonlinear. Why? You answer this question yourself: "Then you read the last paragraph and it all makes sense." It all makes sense only insofar as it becomes linear in the mind of the audience, just as it most likely began as linear in the mind of the creator.

And in his defense, I don't recall Bowie actually calling his work nonlinear. Mutimedia was as far as he went, I think. I think it was a hypertext theorist who called it nonlinear.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:43 pm:   

Perhaps I should amend that by saying I find the composer's statements about his or her intentions as instructive. Better?
**************
Yes, but even primary sources have been known to be wrong. Des :-o

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:01 pm:   

Robert: >> "There are some things which are common to music across all cultures. One is emotion. People from any culture can generally figure out the emotion a piece of music is trying to convey, regardless of what culture the music comes from.

. . . .

There can be deeper understanding can be a more precise emotion behind a song, understanding how the instruments relate to each other in the piece, how the melody changes throughout the piece or maybe other things."

I agree with you. I am not a musician, and I would say that I am, at this point, incapable of having that deeper understanding of any piece of music, but the more intuitive and visceral sort of understanding is still open to me, and I am quite content to have that. I think that this is perhaps what Des means (heh) when he says that music is universally accessible. Is it, Des? I will, of course, bear in mind that as you say, primary sources have been known to be wrong. ;)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neddal
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   

Q: How do you know you're on a board full of academics?
A: When someone posts something looking to start a fight and instead inciting a chorus of "fuck you!!!" and a lot of name calling, he triggers a serious theoretical discussion on the nature of genre and the epistemology of muisc.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:20 pm:   

Good point, Neddal.
*****
Nicholas: but the more intuitive and visceral sort of understanding is still open to me, and I am quite content to have that. I think that this is perhaps what Des means (heh) when he says that music is universally accessible. Is it, Des?
*************
yes, but I'd leave out the word 'but' and 'still'.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

Des: "Yes, but even primary sources have been known to be wrong."

Sure. But they do give us clues to the kinds of conditions (both mental and material) which most likely existed at the time of composition. These can be important. So long as we maintain a degree of skepticism, we needn't draw down the literary veil of unknowing as the New Critics would have us do.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:37 pm:   

Why do you want to know the mental and material conditions that existed at the time of composition?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:53 pm:   

Robert: >> "There are some things which are common to music across all cultures. One is emotion. People from any culture can generally figure out the emotion a piece of music is trying to convey, regardless of what culture the music comes from."

Actually, I think I'd disagree with this. I remember my mother taking me to see a flamenco performance when I was a kid that involved an onstage musician whose singing I denounced as incredibly nasal and whiny--that was all I got out of it, and not because the musician was incompetent, but because the style was alien to me and I couldn't "read" it. That's what I mean by "understand"--that there are many types of music whose emotional intent I don't get.

Jazz is one of them, sadly. So is much, though not all, classical music. I've gone w/my grandfather to the symphony sometimes, and I really don't understand or "get" the emotions being conveyed, though I *know* that he and my stepfather find it very moving. Similarly, I'm almost positive that my stepfather is never going to be able to participate in my emotional connection to punk rock (or any kind of rock, actually--my mom took him to two shows recently, one Lou Reed, and one Eric Anderson. To him, they sounded exactly the same). I think that one thing acclimatisation can do is to help a person learn the "language" of the musical genre in question--after listening for a while you begin to pick up how different emotions are conveyed in this genre. And that's what I mean by "learning to understand."

But is understanding emotion even the same thing as understanding music? After all, I can usually tell when I overhear people talking whether or not they're very angry, whether they're speaking in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, or Cantonese. But that doesn't make language universally accessible.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 02:30 pm:   

Nicholas -- because fiction is not produced in a vacuum, nor does it leap full-grown from the forehead of genius. Fiction is always created within a particular set of historical and cultural conditions. Sometimes, understanding those conditions helps us more fully to understand the literature they help to produce, and to make more truthful claims about the workings of literary production.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 02:39 pm:   

Sometimes, understanding those conditions helps us more fully to understand the literature they help to produce
**************
I suppose the task is to understand the conditions - but these conditions are fed down to you via various filters.
I find that background leads to misunderstanding, rather than understanding.
And, Veronica, you listening to symphonies and not 'getting' them has really affected me. Nobody has actually said it like that before. I can empathise with you enjoying punk, can you empathise with me enjoying a symphony. If you can, that's halfway to acclimatisation and a joy you will never (currently) believe. And me with punk or rap or whatever, too. Let's not allow 'understanding' to stand between us.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 02:41 pm:   

Weren't we talking about music rather than fiction? Is the answer different then? I wish to clarify this before responding further.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 03:19 pm:   

Veronica: Try to read the study by Balkwill, L.L., & Thompson, W. F. (1999). A cross-cultural investigation of the perception of emotion in music: Psychophysical and cultural cues. Music Perception, 17, 43-64. Here's the abstract for it:

A model is put forth suggesting that expressed emotion in music can come from universal, psychophysical properties in the music as well as from cultural norms. Western listeners were then asked to listen to East Indian music and to identify the mood being expressed. Listeners properly identified joy, sadness, and anger, even though they were unfamiliar with the Indian tonal system.

Another one to check out is

http://www.musica.uci.edu/mrn/V2I1S95.html#accurate

Other studies mirroring this effect can probably be dug up. My own experience has been similar - even if I completely hate a piece of music, some emotions of it are completely obvious.

But is understanding emotion even the same thing as understanding music?

I think this depends on what you expect to get out of music. Many people use music almost like a drug - they use it to alter or enhance a mood. For this use, understanding the emotion conveyed by the music is enough understanding of the music.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 04:18 pm:   

Interesting studies--I'd like to say that I'm likely to check them out, but I'm happy to take your word for their contents as well. As I said, I was just relaying my own experience w/emotional content in music.

Des, I can absolutely empathize w/other people's love of classical music--it's just a capacity that I have not (yet) developed. I think that's one of the most important things people can do, to be able to understand how important and affecting something is to another person even if I myself don't feel that way about it. I'm pretty sure that my stepdad can empathize w/my feelings about punk rock too--not 'cause he wants to listen to it, but because he's listened to me.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 11:11 pm:   

Keith,

Personally insulting other posters is unacceptable. I have deleted your previous post. You're welcome to re-post your views in a way that expresses disagreement, but does not insult other posters.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 12:39 am:   

Veronica, if Keith doesn't return, can you please paraphrase his post as I've been in my UK bed all night, i.e when it was posted and deleted. des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 01:29 am:   

Nicholas -- Sorry, yes, we were talking about music. But my response remains the same.

Des -- "I find that background leads to misunderstanding, rather than understanding."

How tragic. How do you find this? Do you also find that dictionaries lead to misspellings?

Anyway, I'm starting to confuse myself, introducing elements of literary genre into a music thread. I've done this on at least two posts now, so I obviously have literature on the brain. Occupational hazard, I guess. I think I'm going to back out of this one, though I'll keep reading.

Cheers, all.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 01:34 am:   

Neil, much background (biography, history (i.e. past primary sources)) is tendentious or plain wrong, based on the evidence of primary sources regarding things I know about.
So I prefer the thing-in-itself, the sculpture of a story, or a symphony. The noumenon. This sounds pretentious, but I've thought this through over 55 years. Sorry, that sounds even more pretentious! ;-)
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:02 am:   

As a poster: The debate over background and non-background seems to me to echo two schools of study in academia: New Historicism, which is very much in vogue in Renaissance lit studies, and involves placing a piece of lit alongside historical documents and events in order to understand it, and New Criticism, which held sway over lit crit for many decades, and in which no background was admitted, only hermetically sealed analysis of the text itself.

I'm not a fan of either approach. I think it's important to have a sense of the historical context for analysis as well as to acknowledge that historical context does completely determine the piece under study.

I wonder if some of the difference lies in different kinds of understanding, analysis vs. enjoyment. I don't think I need to know historical context to enjoy Chopin's Nocturnes (remember how I said *most* of classical music left me cold? Not Chopin's Nocturnes--I love 'em), but if I were going to study them and analyze them, I would feel kind of irresponsible if I didn't get at least a grounding in how, when, where, why they were written, what the influences were, etc. I don't think analysis is necessarily superior to enjoyment (not a great word, but I can't think of another) or necessarily inferior. But it is the difference in how I read the materials I'm reading for my dissertation and how I read the latest Pat Barker novel.

As moderator: I appreciate your desire to take Keith's remarks into the larger conversation, but I'm not going to be responsible for translating/summarizing inappropriate posts. It's make-work for me, puts me in the position of putting words into somebody else's mouth, which I don't like to do, and it's really the poster's own responsibility to make his or her views known in a way that does not personally attack other posters.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:15 am:   

Chopin's Nocturnes are indeed beautiful and I sense if I knew more about their technicalities or Chopin's life/intentions, I'd find them less beautiful. I think the Intentional Fallacy ("the error of assuming a text means what its author intended it to mean") applies particularly to music (this thread) and, in part, at least, to all other art forms. imho.

Veronica, I understand completely what you say about summarising a post I've missed because you've deleted it.
Des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

Keith's post basically took issue with the notion that people "don't know" what genre is, since clearly people do know what genre is, as they write, read, buy, and sell with a recognition that genres exist. The fact that genre and marketing categories are not identical in all case does not mean that genre is unknowable, or that what people generally call genre is divorced from what genre might "actually" be. As an example, he made the point that crime or mystery fiction and fiction featuring characters who wear blue socks could both potentially be genres, but in reality, only one was.

Incidentally, I didn't see one personal attack in the post; I saw an attack on academic obscurantism and an attack on the notion that genre is some unknowable thing, but not a personal attack. Human being are not their ideas.

Of course, it is the AIF's board so they can run it however they like. The choices AIF have made so far, in my opinion as a long-time observer of online fora, show a rather passive-aggressive distate for challenges from people not already vetted by the AIF. I certainly won't be participating on these threads anymore for that reason.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:06 am:   

Thanks, Nick.
Re your last point - I must say I am rather bemused by all these threads. Did they suddenly appear or has there been a lot of forward planning of this IAF? Rhetorical question.

I do agree that the administration of these threads seem to be a little heavy-handed.

I prefer more loose-limbed affairs. (Still I've got someone talking off-topic about Bush on one of my Nemonymous threads at the moment! - so perhaps IAF have a point).

"Music is an interstice
Threading life's ambergris."
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:47 am:   

I'm sorry Nick decided to absent himself, and that I did not get to read Keith's post. The argument Nick paraphrases seems to be one from common sense, and these are sometimes fun to play around in so long as no party is being deliberately obtuse.

Veronica, I think the notion that New Historicism requires a deterministic view of literary production is oversold both in and out of the academy. It really does no such thing, however much individual New Historicists might paint a deterministic picture of their subjects (mostly through over-dependence upon Foucault). All N.H. must do is move us away from the central conceit of New Historicism -- that art transcends its historical moment and its material means of production. That notion has proven time and again to be indefensible, and yet it keeps being taught to schoolchildren generation after generation.

Okay, this is literature again. I'll shut up now.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:54 am:   

What you say is interesting. Why don't you start a new thread?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Keith Snyder
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 07:11 am:   

If anyone would like to argue with me someplace where the primary interest the attempt to understand the materials we actually work with when we write, not just the mouthing of theories as though they're the slightest bit useful, all it takes is googling my name. You can even swear at me and call me names, and I won't delete your post.

As for art being unable to "transcend its historical moment and material means of production," that's the job description. Without it, all you're making is Franklin Mint home decor.

See you.


Keith
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 03:10 pm:   

I'll take that as a disinvitation.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

EllenKushner
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 06:14 pm:   

At the beginning of this thread, Keith objects, "Anything with a name is a genre." Yes, indeed - but what we're trying to support in the IAF is stuff that is nearly impossible to name easily: an album, for instance, that includes medieval chant and Bob Dylan and electronics and a Swedish lullabye - I should say, *successfully* includes, not as hodge podge but as a discrete work of art - I'm thinking, for instance, of Rinde Eckert's brilliant first album, "Finding My Way Home" of which Pulse Magazine wrote: "His songs range from pop and country to Celtic Blues and medieval chanting and the eight pieces [of a mini-opera] hinge on the metaphor of a physical and spiritual pilgrimage." Where do you put that (or find it) in the record store? How do you describe it to your friends when you're trying to convince them to listen to it? It partakes of the known genres of Classical and Early Music and Folk [subgenres Celtic, Country & Blues] without in fact being any one of them - it transcends all of them, and, except for die-hard fans and their good word-of-mouth, is likely to go completely unnoticed: fallen between the cracks.

I hope that helps. It is easier, sometimes, to have concrete examples to refer to. In a matter of weeks we'll be launching a 95-page website that will be rife with examples and definitions and personal essays and resources.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Ellen Kushner
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 12:33 pm:   

Dammit, yesterday I wrote all about World Music as being Interstitial until it became a marketable (and locatable) category, but something ate it and it didn't appear here! I'm out of time - anyone else want to run with this?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Neil A
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

Almost on topic, might be of interest to any UK posters (Des), Faking It tonight (C4) is about a classically trained opera singer attempting to convince as the frontwoman of a punk-rock band.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 12:45 pm:   

I was just about to watch it, Neil. Looks fascinating. On in ten minutes.

Hey, my vote for most interstitial music - Philip Glass, i.e. his string quartets, operas, film music, songs...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 06:39 am:   

The posh choir girl in that TV programme was intended to fake it as a 'rock chick'! She couldn't fully let herself go - she could not escape from her virginal and non-alcoholic tendencies - so fell between the cracks! And she failed.
In fact, the programme used those very words: 'falling between the cracks'!

But she did, to my mind, create something quite new, not quite a choir girl, not quite a heavy metal rock chick ... she was an interstitial art form.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 09:02 am:   

Are you familiar with the metal band Nightwish? They have a woman singing who studies opera. That description sounds a bit like her "not quite a choir girl, not quite a heavy metal rock chick".
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 07:07 am:   

No, not heard of Nightwish - but it has occurred to me that the nature of the 'interstice' depends on from which side of it you're coming. A choir girl becoming rock chick will be quite diferent from the a rock chick becoming a choir girl...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jetse
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 10:45 am:   

"Heavy metal rock chick singing like a choir girl": there are about half a dozen (if not more) metal bands with women singing in an operatic manner in my country (Holland) alone. (Nightwish are Finnish, BTW)

Down here it's already old hat. And fusions between classic and (heavy) rock are as old as Deep Purple's "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" from 1969, if not older.

That's probably why the whole "interstitial" thing doesn't excite me: it sounds too much like 'old wine in new casks' (literally translated Old Dutch saying)...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

Most of them are not actually singing in an operatic manner. Just because they sing instead of screaming doesn't really make it operatic. I like a lot of the bands (Tristania, After Forever, the Gathering, Within Temptation, etc.) but I wouldn't call the singing operatic. Compare the singing to an actual opera soprano and you can hear a huge difference.

In my time listening to metal, I've only heard 2 singers who I think sound operatic. Those are Tarja (Nightwish) and Rowan London (Virgin Black). And even they don't sing quite like an opera singer.

But you're right - metal and classical blending isn't anything new. The thing is most of the stuff falls firmly within the metal genre. What would be interesting is finding something that mixes the two but isn't either metal or classical. That would be interstitial. Lacrimosa comes close, but I don't think they take it far enough.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:08 pm:   

That choir girl on the TV programme was trying to be the *perfect* rock chick, with no trace of the choir girl. It wasn't an attempted fusion. She failed by 'falling down the crack'. I was wondering whether the result was interesting as an example of unintentional interstitiality?
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jetse
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:16 pm:   

Put the "operatic manner" comparison down to my non-knowledge of opera. Metal chicks singing like a choir girl is more appropriate, I guess.

Haven't heard Lacrimosa, I must admit that I'm not following the heavy metal scene that close, lately.

But what about the classical side? Are there modern composers of classical music that try to mix in a crunchy guitar riff?

I must admit I like Des's description: because the choir girl failed as a rock chick--she fell between the cracks--she actually created something new. Don't know if that's really interstitial, though.

However, while I'm certainly not adverse to some weird cross-overs, I prefer artists that try to innovate a genre "from within", as it were.

In metal I'm thinking of Voivod's "Nothingface" and Last Crack's "Burning Time". Maybe Tool, but they might be considered somewhat interstitial as well.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jetse
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:18 pm:   

Unintentional interstitiality--exactly what I was thinking, Des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:23 pm:   

Strip it of the non-intentionality by a good dose of theory from the Intentional Fallacy - then maybe you have pure interstitiality. Eureka!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jetse
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:55 pm:   

Let me see if I understand your intention here, Des: Artist from genre A aims for genre B in the mistaken belief of creating pure B, but through his/her deep roots in A fails utterly, thereby creating something both non-AB and AB?

Interstitiality as a by-product of a failed attempt? A kind of lucky shot?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 02:41 pm:   

Haven't heard Lacrimosa, I must admit that I'm not following the heavy metal scene that close, lately.

They do gothic metal with a full symphony. One of their tracks, Sanctus, is an absolutely gorgeous classical choir piece with metal guitar. Most of their other work is highly classical influenced.

But what about the classical side? Are there modern composers of classical music that try to mix in a crunchy guitar riff?

I can't think of any, but classical isn't my strong point. Tim Brady does minimalist symphonies entirely with guitars, but nothing really crunchy.

In metal I'm thinking of Voivod's "Nothingface" and Last Crack's "Burning Time". Maybe Tool, but they might be considered somewhat interstitial as well.

I view those as good albums, but not necessarily interstitial. I'm not sure they fall between genres or styles. Maybe for Voivod creating their own sub-genre of metal? I suppose this is the question of interstitial - something new, or something between two (or more) existing things?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jetse
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 10:37 pm:   

I actually meant the Voivod and Last Crack albums as an example of artists renovating a genre from within, as opposed to interstitial.

I was unclear about that, sorry.

There is a British band called Skyclad that started playing a mixture of metal and folk music about 14 years ago. They've moved considerably towards folk, I'd consider them interstitial.

May check out Lacrimosa. Actually, I'm not into Goth but will try.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 12:25 am:   

But what about the classical side? Are there modern composers of classical music that try to mix in a crunchy guitar riff?

Steve Martland?
I think Thomas Ades, Anthony Turnage and James McMillan are also on this wavelength somewhere...
and others.

To Jetse: You've got it dead right. Thanks for putting it better than I am able to do.
This is a great discovery for Interstitiality but they'll probably ignore it as they did my query about the root of the word Interstitiality (first used in this sense in a Guardian review of Moorcock in 2001 ??). ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Robert D
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:16 am:   

Des: Got any recommendations on recordings by those composers?

I still wish there was a good place to get classical music in Pittsburgh. Generally whenever I want something, I end up ordering it because no stores have a decent selection.

Jetse: I hadn't thought of Skyclad as interstitial, but I think that fits.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:30 am:   

Well, Robert, the Steve Martland I have here definitely does have electric guitars with the orchestra: and is very exciting:
Babi Yar (1983) and Drill (1987).

The other composers (although I believe they have included electric guitars at some stage), I don't think the music I have of theirs does. But my favourite pieces by each of them:
Three Screaming Popes - Anthony Turnage
Veni, Veni Emmanuel (a very exciting percussion concerto) - James McMillan.
Asyla (i.e. the plural of 'Asylum') - Thomas Ades

Scratching the surface...
des

Add Your Message Here
Post:
Username: Posting Information:
This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.
Password:
Options: Enable HTML code in message
Automatically activate URLs in message
Action:

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration