Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dissonance

Barbara Hurd writes an article in The Sun Magazine called, Dissonance [regrettably you'll only get a portion of it online]. Here's a short extract which appealed to me, particularly in the light of my recent post about Lilburn and Whitehead:

"'For now we see through a glass, darkly,' the Bible says. For me, it's more like 'Now we hear through a thick wall, barely.' How much do I miss? How much cluck and chirp, woof and trill, burrowing, gnashing, and last breaths go on while I walk oblivious among it all, preoccupied with this or that, intent on listening only for the sweet melodies? The answer is 'plenty,' though I am hearing more these days than I used to. Maybe the biggest challenge now is to expand my notion of harmony so that it includes even the unlocatable creaks of the dying, the screeches of healthy discontents, the cacophonies of want, all the unnerving sounds that accompany so much of our jostling attempts to make sense of life."

"What seems to be leading me these days is a wish to move, ear first, a little closer to what surrounds me, to close my eyes and hear how dissonance can agitate the spirit and widen the spectrum."

I suspect that anyone who really listens to music will have opened their ears increasingly over their lifetime. Quite apart from the fact that even popular music doesn't stand still (let's not say that it's going backwards at the moment - that would make me sound like some old reactionary), music in general is in a constant state of flux: what was wonderful last century may now be old hat; what we couldn't bear to listen to a decade ago we may suddenly find we have ears for.

Certainly there are composers in the contemporary classical scene whose music didn't appeal to me a few years ago, and which I've grown accustomed to, as Freddie grows accustomed to his Fair Lady. And, as I wrote in that recent post, even Lilburn is starting to register better with my ears. Whitehead has a little way to go.

Which is a bit like dieting: there's always more than a little way to go, and products that claim you can burn fat, build lean muscle, and re-define your body merely by popping the pills are likely to be a waste of time. Which is the value of pages like
oxyelite pro reviews. There's some sense there that these products may not be all they're claimed to be.

What's that got to do with music and composers? I think, even though our ears may become accustomed to music we didn't at first like, there will also always be composers who have somehow got themselves into prominence and whose music is really no more than faddish and pretentious. The proverbial Emperor's New Clothes approach, in other words. It applies to all the arts (see this article on Dane Mitchell, for example), but only time will put these people in perspective.
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