Saturday, March 29, 2014

'Action Time', essay for The Ear Reader

My essay, Action Time, is now up on the weblog of The Ear Reader. It looks at works by various composers (including Cage, Wolff, Beuger, Werder and myself) trying to discover what an 'inside-out' view of time could look like. One where time is a function of actions rather than the other way round. And it looks at how ideas about time affect the art of composition. At the heart of it, the piece discusses the Number Pieces, b

The piece is pretty long; at the top of the article, you can find a link to a printable .pdf-version.

'In this history there are three related tendencies, although they occur in changing configurations within specific works. The first tendency is to see composition as definition of potential actions and action grammars. The second is the dissolution of compositional signature and idiom. The third is the emergence of interaction and the being-together of musicians as such as a compositional parameter. The tendencies signal a shift in how musical material is understood, a move away from material as that what is heard, to material as the internal dynamics of events, in excess of their audible manifestation and identity. Likewise, form shifts away from being concerned with sound architecture (“organized sound”) to being an operation on time types. In particular, action grammars delineate temporal fields that have a dimensionality different from that governing the ‘real time’ of performance. Yet their ‘other time’ is a virtual accompaniment to performance time, forming an indiscernible part of it, and the relationship between these different time forms becomes the subject matter of composition.'

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