To paraphrase Duke paraphrasing Quantz

An increase in the number of people performing reduces the proportionately the freedom to improvise – Quantz

Quantz, Johann Joachim. On Playing the Flute. Edited with introduction and notes by Edward R. Reilly. New York: The Free Press, 1966.(First German edition by Johann Friedrich Voso, Berlin, 1752.)

Advertisements

Channeled Consciously

“The meaning for me is the truth involved in this: one artist creating spontaneously something which is governed by the atmosphere, the audience, the place (both the room  and the geographical location), the instrument; all these being channeled consciously through the artist so that everyone’s efforts are rewarded, although the success or failure belongs completely to the artist himself.  The artist is responsible for every second.

In a group this is not true, nor should it be true.  One is firstly responsible to the other players and so the cycle is not quite complete, not quite pure.  Nobody knows exactly whose fault or responsibility, failure, or success it is because of the nature of a group and the complexities involved.  One does not have the communion with the audience because one is having communion with the rest of the group.” – Keith Jarrett, from the liner notes for Solo-Concerts Bremen Lausanne

Today I bought Keith Jarrett’s Solo-Concerts Bremen Lausanne CD.  I don’t know much about his music, haven’t heard much of it.  I listened to a story a few days ago on, I think, NPR about the album of his solo concert in Cologne and then walked by the Dussmann shop on Friedrichstrasse and saw several of his albums for sale.  Couldn’t find the Köln one, so I bought this one.  Listening to it right now, the part from Lausanne.  Around 23:00 some great music happens and continues to about 29:00.  A wonderful vein that he explores.

I really like some things he says in the above quote –

  • something which is governed by the atmosphere, the audience, the place (both the room  and the geographical location), the instrument
  • channeled consciously through the artist
  • Nobody knows exactly whose fault or responsibility, failure, or success it is

What I like the most is the word consciously.  Too often, I think, people associate spontaneous and improvised with unconscious.  I have no interest in watching someone who is unconscious.

Something I don’t agree with or don’t understand is the success or failure belongs completely to the artist himself.  The artist is responsible for every second.  I do not believe that the success or failure of a piece lies completely with the artist.  The artist can’t know what the audience likes and doesn’t; knows and doesn’t know and, I would say, can’t be held responsible for the success or failure of a piece.  Well, in his or her eyes/ears/mind, yes, but not in the audiences.

But the artist is responsible for every second because s/he is the one active agent in the artist-audience relationship.  Maybe active is the wrong word.  Maybe expressive in that the artist is putting something out and the audience is absorbing it.  But if we are to take his earlier statement that the atmosphere and the audience govern what the artist is creating then the audience is partly responsible.  Though at the moment of execution, the artist is the one deciding what happens.

What cycle is Jarrett talking about in the second paragraph?  Is he referring to the cycle of atmosphere, audience, etc. affecting the artist who is then in turn affecting the atmosphere, audience, etc which then in turn affect the artist which then in turn…?  So then does the group or ensemble communion affect connection to the audience?  I would agree, and maybe this is why ensemble improvisation can seem insular or self indulgent because the artists are paying more attention to each other than to the audience.  Hmm…, but I am speaking from a dance artist’s perspective and not a music artist’s perspective.

Whatever he means, I’m going to listen to more of his music.

ps: pardon the bad syntax.

Children of Men

Music is fascinating not just for its own sake, but also for its effect on the listener. And when coupled with visuals the effect can be intense. But sometimes music is over used. Take the show “Grey’s Anatomy”. The first few (I am ashamed to say it) seasons I watched, I felt bombarded by music. Almost more music than dialogue. And intense scenes were ruined by the added music. We were not allowed to observe the naked suffering but the director had to indicate to us that the scene was sad and intense by adding the music.

Such is the case with the scene from “Children of Men”, based on the book by P.D. James. I did not read the book, but have read her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, which are damn fine. Read them. I meant to read the book before I saw the movie, but forgot that she had written the book. I do not like to read a book after seeing the movie. My mind’s eye is too influenced by the movie and I can’t build the scenes and faces of the character after seeing how the director of the film imagined them.
Anyways…the scene would have been much stronger, his agony more intense if there were no music. Too many spices spoil the flavor. Music is the MSG of movies. Instead of cooking well, directors, Alfonso Cuarón in this case, just dump in some MSG to make it good. Too often the scenes are spoiled, the emotions indicated instead of felt.