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 Forum index » Discussion » Schmooze
FREE MUSIC
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seraph
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:52 pm    Post subject: FREE MUSIC
Subject description: by Percy Aldridge Grainger
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Percy Aldridge Grainger wrote:
Music is an art not yet grown up; its condition is comparable to that stage of Egyptian bas-reliefs when the head and legs were shown in profile while the torso appeared "front face" - the stage of development in which the myriad irregular suggestions of nature can only be taken up in regularised or conventionalised forms. With Free Music we enter the phase of technical maturity such as that enjoyed by the Greek sculptors when all aspects and attitudes of the human body could be shown in arrested movement.

Existing conventional music (whether "classical" or popular) is tied down by set scales, a tyrannical (whether metrical or irregular) rhythmic pulse that holds the whole tonal fabric in a vice-like grasp and a set of harmonic procedures (whether key-bound or atonal) that are merely habits, and certainly do not deserve to be called laws. Many composers have loosened, here and there, the cords that tie music down. Cyril Scott and Duke Ellington indulge in sliding tones; Arthur and others use intervals closer than the half tone; Cyril Scott (following my lead) writes very irregular rhythms that have been echoed, on the European continent, by Stravinsky, and others; Schoenberg has liberated us from the tyranny of conventional harmony. But no non-Australian composer has been willing to combine all these innovations into a consistent whole that can be called Free Music.

It seems to me absurd to live in an age of flying and yet not to be able to execute tonal glides and curves - just as absurd as it would be to have to paint a portrait in little squares (as in the case of mosaic) and not to be able to use every type of curved lines. If, in the theatre, several actors (on the stage together) had to continually move in a set theatrical relation to each other (to be incapable of individualistic, independent movement) we would think it ridiculous, yet this absurd goose-stepping still persists in music. Out in nature we hear all kinds of lovely and touching "free" (non-harmonic) combinations of tones, yet we are unable to take up these beauties and expressivenesses into the art of music because of our archaic notions of harmony.

Personally I have heard free music in my head since I was a boy of 11 or 12 in Auburn, Melbourne. It is my only important contribution to music. My impression is that this world of tonal freedom was suggested to me by wave movements in the sun that I first observed as a young child at Brighton, Vic., and Albert Park, Melbourne. (See case I)

Yet the matter of Free Music is hardly a personal one. If I do not write it someone else certainly will, for it is the goal that all music is clearly heading for now and has been heading for through the centuries. It seems to me the only music logically suitable to a scientific age.

The first time an example of my Free Music was performed on man-played instruments was when Percy Code conducted it (most skilfully and sympathetically) at one of my Melbourne broadcast lectures for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in January, 1935. But Free Music demands a non-human performance. Like most true music, it is an emotional, not a cerebral, product and should pass direct from the imagination of the composer to the ear of the listener by way of delicately controlled musical machines. Too long has music been subject to the limitations of the human hand, and subject to the interfering interpretation of a middle-man: the performer. A composer wants to speak to his public direct. Machines (if properly constructed and properly written for) are capable of niceties of emotional expression impossible to a human performer. That is why I write my Free Music for theramins - the most perfect tonal instruments I know. In the original scores (here photographed) each voice (both on the pitch-staves and on the sound- strength staves) is written in its own specially coloured ink, so that the voices are easily distinguishable, one from the other.

Percy Aldridge Grainger, Dec.6, 1938


arrow http://www.obsolete.com/120_years/machines/free_music_machine/index.html

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Too bad he didn't in our time. He would make noodles and give up writing prose.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Too bad he didn't in our time. He would make noodles and give up writing prose.


I'd love to hear those noodles as well, did a bit of searching but could not find any music examples online.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Historical foot note: Many years ago William Hoskins related to me a lecture he gave some time in the 40’s at the “Kozybski Institute of General Semantics” in NY where he presented a varient of this same idea below.
:

Quote:
But Free Music demands a non-human performance. Like most true music, it is an emotional, not a cerebral, product and should pass direct from the imagination of the composer to the ear of the listener by way of delicately controlled musical machines. Too long has music been subject to the limitations of the human hand, and subject to the interfering interpretation of a middle-man: the performer. A composer wants to speak to his public direct. Machines (if properly constructed and properly written for) are capable of niceties of emotional expression impossible to a human performer.


Bill believed that eventually there would be a direct mind-instrument link and that music is both an emotional and cerebral product. Not thirty’s but still ahead of his time.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don't quite get all this about the problem with the performer. I thing music that has performers has an advantage. When done well, the composer can write music that a performer can complete and enhance. We can get machines to play Mozart but I'd rather hear Alfred Brendel play it.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agee and I don't recall bill criticizing the role of the perfomer. Only promoting the idea of the technology.

Edit:
Made a sentence.

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Last edited by bachus on Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, when you get into the realm of electronic music it gets pretty hard to find good performers and even harder to come up with ways to compose music for them that they can perform.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That sentiment about performers is something I would love Oskar to see! Does he still come by this way?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Dovdimus Prime wrote:
Does he still come by this way?

he does every once in a while, Oskar are you there?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:29 pm    Post subject: General semantics and Hoskins music theory
Subject description: Still available from the Institute of General Semantics archives
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bachus wrote:
Historical foot note: Many years ago William Hoskins related to me a lecture he gave some time in the 40’s at the “Kozybski Institute of General Semantics” in NY where he presented a varient of this same idea below.
:

...
Bill believed that eventually there would be a direct mind-instrument link and that music is both an emotional and cerebral product. Not thirty’s but still ahead of his time.


General Semantics Bulletin Nos. 6 & 7 (1951) - "On General Semantics and Music" by William Hoskins can still be ordered from http://www.generalsemantics.org/store/general-semantics-bulletin/95-general-semantics-bulletin-nos-6-7-1951.html
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for that link, I just ordered it.
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