Saturday, July 13, 2013

a taste for modern music

When I was 17, I ran with Paul, Robert, Morris, and Harper. We were "The Five." We'd drive around El Dorado, Arkansas at night in Paul's light-blue Pontiac, talking about girls and stuff and thinking up things to do: looking for ghosts in forsaken country cemeteries, talking about girls, zooming over Dead Man's Hills at maximum speed to see if we would survive the multiple lift-offs, going to the drive-in theater to watch spaghetti westerns while smoking Hava Tampa Jewel cigars, talking about girls, spending the night near the Louisiana border in a shack so we could drink beer illegally.

The first time I drank a beer, it was a Schlitz tallboy. It tasted like cold aardvark piss. But I persevered -- drank four of em almost simultaneously. Got obliterated. So it was worth it. Took a while, but I eventually developed a taste for beer. I love it.

It took me some time to get used to and then appreciate modern music. Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartók, Shostakovitch, Weinberg, Gerhard, Schnittke, Lutoslawski, Dutilleux, Eliot Carter, some others.

This was not like 18th- and 19th-century form and sound. Melody, harmony, rhythm had now gone haywire. Astringent, dissonant, atonal, kaleidoscopic. Some consider it unpleasant and musically nonsensical. A trial to endure.

But as I opened myself to this music, a new and different kind of aesthetic response happened. For me, modern music creates a hypnotic spell of fantasy and a delirium of time. As if existential puppets had come to life, breathing their quizzical, fractal, and darkly beautiful traumas into aural form.

A new substance, a new way of being-in-the-ears. I love it.

No comments:

Post a Comment