Sound Opinions


Artworks are never finished, only begun.

Is sound real? Some say no–rather it’s our brain’s reaction to minute changes in pressure. I guess this answers an age-old question: trees are quite mute when we homunculi are in absentia. So what, then, is the difference between noise and music? One of my favorite definitions–music as organized sound–highlights the importance of listener intent. Thought about in a different way: Is a painting still a painting when I turn my gaze? Perhaps not for me since my only control is experience. However, it might still be very real for my friend I left standing there for free gallery wine. I see we are going nowhere; let’s continue…

Until the XX century, the Western study of music and art often excluded context and extramusical factors in its analysis. I’m a proponent of the holist approach to criticism outlined in John Dewey‘s tome Art as Experience. (Eric Clarke‘s Ecological Approach to Musical Perception is possibly the musical equivalent best suited to this thought process.) To my mind, these variables are as critical to the artistic experience as the more obvious formal elements. This performative interaction is as “arty” as the object itself. Lucky for us, a confluence of disciplines bridging divergent fields and the not-always-negative white elephant of globalization, shift the question from “how” to “why” art.

It makes me smile when today’s composer sees no inconsistency adding Beethoven, Javanese gamelan and turntablism to their influences. Just listen to the Steve Reich and Jonny Greenwood collaboration premiering this week in London. This isn’t the future of classical music–it’s right now.

Jonny performing [covering] Steve

Steve covering [remixing] Radiohead/Jonny

Music is noise we choose to listen to. Is noise then sound being processed unconsciously? Maybe!

To amend a line by a long lost relative: I once was deaf, but now I hear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s