25 November 2008

Imani Quintet: Synthetic Homelands, Statecraft & Hierarchies of Belonging

Imani Winds

S   tandpoint theory’ … asks: could you do science [, or computing, or music or other of the arts] differently if you did not ‘erase’ [disenfranchise] those people outside the [conventionally-enforced] institutional representation? ... Women in science can more sharply expose [science’s] assumptions because they are not party to the prior agreements [of the prevailing Establishment authorities]. And precisely because they are not part of the prior agreements, they may freely prioritize other agreements, including agreements about strategies for dealing with the actual world that are different from those used by institutional science [or institutional music, etc.]; strategies with a different understanding about power relations between the observer and the observed and generating different kinds of knowledge.”
  —  Lynette Hunter, Situated Textualities, p. 163.
E   verybody thinks that classical music is the music of the European canon. But when you go to children [in public schools in the U.S.] now, they don’t know what ‘classical music’ is, period.”
  —  Toyin Spellman-Diaz, Imani Winds oboist, quoted in Vivien Schweitzer NYT 14-NOV-2008.
A  nd so those kids are growing up not imagining that these musical ‘homelands’ exist. They are growing up not knowing that they ‘belong’ and have the possibility of a home within the many communities of classical music including chamber music. Community outreach programs to address that problem are tremendously important, to the kids and to each society as a whole. The Imanis are wonderful ambassadors—Secretaries of State from what, to those kids, are unknown (and what, once they discover them, are revealed to be exciting and congenial—) ‘lands’. Thank you, Imani Winds, for all of your efforts to de-mystify chamber music through your community outreach programs!”
  —  DSM.
The ‘Thanksgiving’ U.S. holiday seems to me a perfect occasion to point out the recent, festive performances and recordings of the wind quintet, Imani.

  • Valerie Coleman, flute
  • Mariam Adam, clarinet
  • Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe
  • Jeff Scott, French horn
  • Monica Ellis, bassoon
M embers of the Imani Winds ensemble all have graduate degrees from conservatories like the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. But, prior to their illustrious achievements in those settings and subsequently, each of them attended public schools in the U.S., and experienced the limitations that that generally entails. With that as prologue, the ensemble and its members do now perform pro bono and ‘community outreach’ work as a focus of many of their programs. Their own personal experiences in this way inform and propel their natural, generous response to the still-unmet, ever-more-unmet needs, especially for music education opportunities for underserved inner-city kids. This aspect was covered in Vivien Schweitzer’s article on the Imanis in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. It is inspiring and truly wonderful to see the Imanis ‘giving back’ in this way. Please be sure to thank them and acknowledge their efforts. (And, of course, one way of tangibly doing that is to attend their performances and buy their CDs.)

Have a listen to a couple of MP3 clips from two of their recent recordings:

    [50-sec clip, Imani Quintet, Ástor Piazzolla, ‘Fuga e Misterio’, 1.2MB MP3]

    [50-sec clip, Imani Quintet, ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ traditional carol, 1.2MB MP3]

The Piazzolla is especially characteristic, I think, of the Imanis’ chamber music ‘fusion’ interpretive approach. In his chamber compositions Piazzolla notoriously ‘borrowed’ elements of jazz (esp, its harmonies and dissonances)—plus elements of tango, baroque counterpoint, and a variety of other idioms. Essentially, he created a ethnomusicological ‘country’ or ‘territory’ in which to ground his own individualism. The Imanis make a ‘home’ out of it. In fact, they make every sonic-space they enter their ‘home’.

Piazzolla’s—and the Imanis’—style transcends all of the borrowed influences: they don’t merely ‘appropriate’ the influences or ‘reference’ them. For example, the passacaglia form with its circulating continuo line entraining/entrained-in a recursive harmonic sequence was idiomatic for 17th and 18th Century baroque music, but it’s also fundamental to jazz progressions. Another example from baroque composition idioms is the complex and often virtuosic counterpoint that epitomizes formal, collectivistic fugal gestures but which in Piazzolla/Imani Winds incarnations becomes a vehicle for individualistic discourse by each chamber artist in turn.

M ore obviously ‘democratic’ and autonomy-related are the improvisational elements. Improvisation might nominally be borrowed from jazz, but in practice it entails different tonal and rhythmic palettes that, despite how extensible and varied they are, do stay within the boundaries of the ‘homesteaded’ sonic territory.

  • Property rights;
  • Autonomy and equality;
  • Enfranchisement;
  • Social justice;
  • Decolonizing the colonized;
  • Becoming anti-colonial musical activists.
Yeah, all of that. Thankful are we, for these beautiful and interesting real worlds and virtual worlds.

Our notions of ‘belonging’ and nation-ness may have mutated in these recent years of globalization, but the issue of belonging is no less important than it ever was—and the Imani Winds sound reminds us of that fact. Thanksgiving is a holiday (in the U.S., Canada, and other places) that is associated, perhaps more than any other holiday, with concepts of nation and family and unity and equality. But it’s also an occasion for remembering and celebrating difference—for affirming the stories that we hold in common with each other, and for remembering and meditating upon the narratives that make us diverse or that, for better and worse, still separate us or colonize us. The Imanis cross genre boundaries as though they weren’t there—one big borderless E.U. as far as the performing arts are concerned.

Shall I put one of the Imani CDs on to play when my own family assembles to celebrate this Thursday? In think yes. The group or family forms a focus for our sense of belonging—and how we move our sense of attachments and identity from place to place. Members of my own family live far apart and travel abroad frequently; we don’t have opportunities to see each other very often. Our processes of ‘identification’ aren’t constant, and they surely aren’t frozen in-time as they once seemed when we were not all so far-flung. The processes are renewed and altered at times of holiday celebrations; they are contingent and fleeting, expressed in relation to our group and its customary holiday foods, and music, and other cultural genres and artifacts. We ‘transcend’ whatever our identities may have been in the past, as we create new experiences together. In a way, Imani Winds is ‘trans-national’ and ‘contingent’ as much as it is transcendent in its repertoire and interpretations. And it is so in much the same way, I think, as what I believe families do, including my own.

All of us are, in the process, avoiding artistic ‘essentialism’ and artistic ‘determinism’ or passivity—and instead actively migrating into or creating new areas. Or at least that is what listening to the Imanis makes me feel.

Their warmth and exciting virtuosity are captivating. To hear Imani Winds perform is to want to be(come) a member of their family...

Upcoming Imani Winds performances include the following:
  • 01-DEC-2008 19:00 at Borders Bookstore, 461 Park Av, New York NY
  • 02-DEC-2008 20:00 at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, New York
  • 09-DEC-2008 19:00 at Borders Bookstore, 3700 Torrance Blvd, L.A.
  • 10-DEC-2008 20:00 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles CA
  • 12-DEC-2008 20:00 at the Performing Arts Center in South Orange NJ
Imani Woodwind Quintet



20 November 2008

What Rameau’s Chamber Servant Said: Gutman & Historicity

 Stephen Gutman

T o remember something is to ‘remake’ it in [one’s own preferred] image.”
  —  Christian Jouhaud, Directeur de recherche au CNRS Centre de Recherches Historiques, ‘Anxieties of Genre’.
I would like to take you into the history of seventeenth-century France through a narrow door—a door that is not only narrow but hidden. Why should we struggle to squeeze through this passage? Well, there are at least two reasons. First, it is an attempt to experience a disorienting perspective on a landscape that we believe we already know completely; and second, the narrowness of the path underlines its particularity and in that way elicits a comparison with other paths elsewhere. This narrow passage is a text, perhaps an insignificant one, written by a seventeenth-century author. After making a few observations concerning its mechanics, I will use this text as a model to interpret something else, to understand it as something that stimulates thinking about historiographical hypotheses: as a convenient tool to shake up the political history of seventeenth-century France. In other words, I propose to utilize literature as a hidden door in order to enter the arena of political history, where we usually do not find any door at all. Deux histoires en une, or Two Stories in One, is a brief text by Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, a work of uncertain status...”
  —  Christian Jouhaud, Two Stories in One.

In response to commenters on previous CMT posts about Baroque keyboard performance practice, I want simply to recommend the recent writings of Christian Jouhaud at the CNRS in Paris. While his books and journal articles do not directly address historically-informed musical performance per se, they do I think offer a useful and relevant perspective as concerns historical authenticity and integration of various types and qualities of evidence in a manner that does not foreclose interpretive options and multi-vocal discourse.

Consider Stephen Gutman’s recordings of Rameau and, in particular, his rendering of mordents and other ornaments.

 Rameau, Suite No. 2 in E minor, Tambourin, mm. 34-37

    [50-sec clip, Stephen Gutman, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Suite No. 2 IX, ‘Tambourin’, 1.2MB MP3]

Stephen Gutman is one of Britain’s most innovative interpreters of modern music. He studied at the Royal College of Music and was subsequently awarded first prizes in the Brant Competition and the British Contemporary Piano Competition. He has given the U.K. premieres of works by Birtwistle, Ligeti and Schnittke among others. He has commissioned new compositions from Julian Anderson, Michael Finnissy, Simon Holt, Luke Stoneham, and others. He is a Professor of Piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London. His recordings of Baroque and other early music are instructive.

Gutman excels in constructing a plausible and well-evidenced but still animated account ... something of the sort that Jouhaud analyzes admiringly in regard to “diaristic” and narrative first-hand historical evidence his recent book. We hear Gutman’s sensitive, agogic prolongations of mordents that aim to guide our attention, before he moves on to the next statement. In these stylistic choices, he creates a distinctive, ‘first-hand account-like’, narrative quality that takes the pieces well outside the conventional bounds. The effect is quasi-diaristic, expressed in a way that evokes a “direct-witness” sense of having actually “been there” in 1724 at the time of these Rameau pieces’ first performance.

At any rate, I imagined that you and other CMT readers might find Christian Jouhaud’s ‘meta-history’ writings of interest. Stephen Gutman is simply one performer whose interpretive decisions seem to embody some of the points that Jouhaud makes in his analyses. Enjoy!

 Jouhaud book
L es monuments historiographiques peuvent-ils transmettre autre chose qu’un patrimoine à célébrer ? Le Grand-Siècle et ses solennelles majuscules sont un terrain idéal pour poser cette question. Ce livre cherche des présences vivantes du passé en s’intéressant de préférence aux lézardes sur la façade du monument. Il le fait à partir du ‘journal’ de Marie du Bois, valet de chambre de Louis XIV, et de divers écrits d'historiens consacrés au XVIIe siècle. Il procède d’abord à une inversion de places: le témoin direct de son temps est traité en historien, alors que les écrits des historiens sont considérés comme des témoignages sur l’action de rendre le passé présent. Dans les deux cas, l’entrelacement du passé et de l’écriture qui le restitue est saisi comme l’événement d’une rencontre. Une telle rencontre advient dans des ‘lieux’ historiques qui constituent les différents chapitres du livre: la vision, la commémoration, l’enfance, l’envers et l’endroit, l’action d’entrer, de construire des espaces, de poser des frontières et de les subvertir.”
[Can historiography transmit something else for a heritage to celebrate? The Grand-Siècle and its solemn capital letters are an ideal occasion for asking this question. This book looks for living presences of the past in itself, which is interesting alternative to the ‘crack on the monument façade’. It does it from the diary of Mary du Bois, chambermaid of Louis XIV, and of various historians of the 17th Century. It proceeds first to a place inversion: the direct witness is treated as historian, while the manuscripts of the card-carrying historian academics are considered as testimonies on the action to return the past present. In the two cases, the intertwining of the past and present and writing that restores and revisits the past—are seized as the essence/event of an encounter. This happens in ‘historic places’: the vision, commemoration, childhood, the towards and the place, the action to enter, to construct spaces, to establish and subvert boundaries.]
  —  Christian Jouhaud.
I nterpretation is the beginning and end of all musical understanding. Whether as performers, theorists, or historians, we are constantly interpreting sounds through time. The varieties of musical understanding range from the recognition of patterns (clues to the intentionality behind a musical work) to the reconstruction of a style; from the processing of musical relationships to the adducing of their expressive correlates; from the kinetic energy transmitted by a performance to the abstract speculation occasioned by the contemplation of a work... First, since it is impossible ever to ‘prove’ a given expressive interpretation,can one nevertheless establish an interpretation as highly plausible based on mutually supportive evidence drawn from inside and outside the work? Second, if consensus cannot be reached on particular labels for expressive meanings, can one nevertheless explain the consistency with which one correlates musical structures in a style with expressive meanings? The first inquiry demands a hermeneutic approach; the second demands a structuralist accounting. Each approach depends on the other.”
  —  Robert Hatten, p. 9.
 Schueneman book


17 November 2008

Konstantin Lifschitz: Situating Performance & The Politics of Location

 Konstantin Lifschitz

I was born in December 1976 in Kharkov, which back then was a city where everyone spoke Russian, but today my birthplace does not appear on the map of Russia. The coincidence of my birth in this ‘myth’ town has left me with a debt of explanation to non-Russians that I am not Ukrainian. It is mythological to me because anyone connecting me to this place has left it, including my parents, family and all of their acquaintances, dispersing to different corners of both this world and the next one. Now Kharkov appears in my consciousness somewhere between Chagall’s Vitebsk and the Tamara Gardens in the Nabokov novel... Music as a performing creative art on the piano did not begin for me with Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin, but with Rameau, whose ‘Tambourin’ I played for my very first concert as a four year-old. And it also began with J. S. Bach. [Eventually], I realized that my diction was a poetic one, but its intonation was not so much lyrical as it was ‘Virgil-like’, ‘remote’. In spite of (or because of—) the fact that fate has granted me encounters with a lot of eminent Musicians, I have always been on a search for my own plasticity as well as my own tools of expression.”
  —  Konstantin Lifschitz.
T  hese works need special consideration from a player who has been trained in a different norm of notation and performance. But there is as much latitude for interpretive variation in earlier music as in music of the 19th and 20th Centuries—in fact, there is often more.”
  —  Richard Troeger, Playing Bach at the Keyboard, p. 259.
Konstantin Lifschitz will perform on Friday evening in the Master Pianists Series at Friends of Chamber Music in Kansas City. In a program that also includes Beethoven Sonatas there will also be a generous helping of baroque:

  • Frescobaldi: Three Toccatas
  • Bach: Two Ricercars from The Musical Offering, BWV 1079 (Ricercar a 6; Ricercar a 3).
Lifschitz gives his playing intensely personal interpretations, “like a sort of self-revelation and eavesdropping” as Boston Globe reviewer Richard Dyer said of Lifshitz in a 14-JUL-2000 review. In that regard, Dyer and others have noted that ‘stile recitativo’ has prominent lyrical elements—“It was originally a lyrical form, not just declamatory like it is today.”

Originally, ricercars were ‘open-ended’. Baroque composers emulated Renaissance style for ‘stile antico’ effects. The ricercar began as an early proto-fugue with a slow opening. But it didn’t stay that way. Further permuting and stretching the ricercar idiom, in ‘A Musical Offering’ Bach gave the name ‘ricercar’ to pieces that have ‘galant’ or even later features.

In Lifschitz’s Bach and Frescobaldi we get a sense of the difference between ‘strict and learnèd fugues’ vs. ‘progressive and casual fugues’. He achieves a unique sort of ‘productive objectivity’—that strikes us like ‘facial contextualist’ readings of the constitution of some country that we are surprised to discover we have never visited. Maybe the place is ‘mythical’, its existence vehemently denied by the authorized political maps. I have no way of knowing, but I suspect it has to do with Lifschitz’s native, now-mythical Kharkov.

Kharkov
Once upon a time (more than 50 years ago), the relationship between being, thought, and language (such as the musical manuscript written by a composer) was completely ‘grounded’. So grounded that people took it for granted—like it was ‘built-in’, a ‘given’. The total and obligate ‘contingency’ of all human discourse—including discourse in music—wasn’t appreciated. Even piano technique was less diverse then than it is now.

Then came post-modernism and deconstruction and other influences, and discourses were suddenly thought of as existential acting-out by the subjects, who disclose their personal engagements with the world and reveal how they are ‘inscribed’ by the world right back. Questions about what is ‘real’ center today more around inner conditions of human consciousness, and less around external reality. Transcendental subjectivity...

Liftschitz swoops in like a great Russian owl, an irruption of natural Kharkovian alterity... beautiful polysemy... Kharkovian heterodoxy right here in this American concert hall...

In piano, like in any language, there is an ethics of communication—one must try always to say what one really means to the other, to understand what the other really means (meant) to say, and to communicate in good faith—with some genuine preparedness to be persuaded by the other. This patience and good will... this receptiveness to endless undecidability... this eschewing of any rule-governed, static response is partly what is so admirable in Lifschitz.

M   ore than any other composer, except some contemporary ones, Bach leads me on these highly exhausting but simultaneously rejoicing quests. Even though I don’t feel particularly content with my Bach playing, for some reason my Bach recordings of the 1990s received some lofty international critical reviews... I am trying to transmit to the listeners a ‘pantheistic’ perception of Earth’s nature with all its hills, brooks, vineyards, fields and seas... I would like to mirror such phenomena as medieval architectonics; frenzy; the immobility of Japanese theatre; and also lyrical urbanity.”
  —  Konstantin Lifschitz.
It amounts to a transcendental ‘undeconstructible condition of deconstruction’, an ‘ultra-ethics’ or ‘meta-ethical ethics of ethics’. The fact that works that we love and think we understood can stand up to being taken apart by this poetic philosopher of the keyboard is... reassuring... breath-taking... unique!

 Konstantin Lifschitz
Lifschitz is a responsible imaginer... approachable, not at all elusive. Each work arises within a time and place—it always has a context—Italy in 1640; Germany in 1740; Kharkov in Konstantin’s youth; the world-at-large right now.

One could argue that it is a mistake to read Bach or Frescobaldi in anything other than formal, aesthetic terms. But to do that is to discard the hermeneutics of the work. To reduce them to notes and ritualized performance practice is to refuse to understand them; to hear but refuse to listen. Just as reducing paintings to paint is to ‘see’ but refuse to ‘see as’.

The post-modern Louis le Brocquy studies of the head of Samuel Beckett call into question who is gazing and who is gazed-upon. So, too, the baroque performance style of Konstantin Lifschitz calls seriously into question ‘who’ is playing/saying and ‘who’ is listening. It is truly beautiful in any case—and it is ‘mind-blowing’ as well, if you decide to allow it to be that.

le Brocquy, 6 Samuel Beckett Heads

Kearney book


15 November 2008

BMOP: Always Lots New to Say

Martin Boykan, Robert Erikson, Elliott Schwartz, Ken Ueno

I  think of the concerto in terms of a musical narrative … [unfolding] as a dialogue between the individual (represented by the solo) and the crowd.”
  —  Martin Boykan, notes for Concerto for Violin & Orchestra, 2003.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project BMOP presented a concert of new string concertos (plus Schoenberg’s 1933 concerto for string quartet and orchestra) last night at Jordan Hall in Boston, conducted by BMOP Artistic Director Gil Rose.

  • Martin Boykan: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Curtis Macomber, violin)
  • Robert Erickson: Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra (Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello)
  • Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concerto VI: Mr. Jefferson (Charles Dimmick, violin)
  • Ken Ueno: Talus, Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (Wendy Richman, viola)
  • Arnold Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra
Gil Rose, photo © Liz Linder
This exciting program reaffirmed that the concerto continues to thrive as an expressive idiom even today. These ingenious composers continue to find new ways to match the timbre and rhythmic and melodic capabilities of a solo instrument to the sonorities of an orchestra. The virtuosity of a concerto soloist always fascinates us; our appetite for soloists is boundless.

But it’s de rigeur in western cultures to focus on the soloist. What about the orchestra (vis à vis the Boykan blockquote above), the ‘society’ in which the soloist appears?

T here’s nothing wrong with interpreting concerto form socially. That’s not too subversive, interpreting this music in the context of these composers’ social views … Schwartz’s postmodernism; Erikson’s veganism; the inconstancy of Schoenberg’s quantum Judaism and regard for apocalypse; Boykan’s fascination with the textuality and temporality of everything; Ueno’s cheerful anarchism that considers anarchy as a ‘greenfield enterprise’.

Ueno says “Should justice and love not be observed also toward a stranger? The answer is that this, too, is according to a ‘just’ principle of public order, that regular citizens and subscribers are honored beyond outsiders and strangers, lest everything be uniform and ridiculously equal.” Honor the concerto soloist, then, but not in a topsy-turvy way that does injustice to ‘regular-anybody’ else.

There are indications in the music served up last night that each of these composers considers (and that the BMOP considers, as a matter consequent upon its charter and founding principles) the figuration of the orchestra in Ueno-ian conditional-egalitarian terms. (The Schwartz piece, explicitly ‘Jeffersonian’, in fact.) Their conceptions of the orchestra do not have to be understood as ‘representational art’—as literal depictions of contemporary society. Instead think of it this way: our social structures and story-telling processes come from certain habits of thinking, our predispositions, our political and moral stances. These habits and social processes and their consequences are (partly) what the composers—what these concertos—reveal.

I don’t imagine that these composers (or BMOP as sponsor-provocateur) advocate or foresee ‘revolutionary’ action against contemporary social hierarchies any more than Bach anticipated or agitated for revolutionary social justice with his concertos in Leipzig. These concertos are not tame, but they are accessible, listenable. But there can be little doubt that in last night’s concert Ueno, Schwartz, Erikson, Boykan, and Schoenberg ‘reminded’ the listeners and performers—of lively issues in controversial/revolutionary relations between the individual (‘soloist’; or, in Schoenberg’s case, ‘quartet’) and the society (orchestra) as a whole.

T he Ueno piece, for example, has toward the end of it a beautiful section where the viola part becomes immersed in the orchestral waves, and then the texture of the orchestra parts becomes progressively sparser until the solo viola once again emerges, pure and whole. This ‘restoration’ was elegant and convincing—indicating the resilience of the traumatized individual, so long as there is an effective social support network in operation, plus a modicum of good luck and good protoplasm that’s able to heal.

Reminded whom? These engaging concertos are works designed mostly for fellow new-musickers. Not historiographic time-capsules addressed to unknown future generations, nor narratives for audiences desiring to be told comfortable musical stories they already know oh so well, nor urgent pleas put in bottles and set afloat on distant seas against the improbable chance of discovery and rescue by somebody, anybody. No, these concertos are manifestos for the parties pro-tem, powerful incantations for new congregants already here.

One tendency defining the American works could, I think, be fairly labeled ‘classicism’. The ‘turn’ to traditional concerto form is a kind of classicism, and these works do each display a strong retrospective awareness, an historical consciousness. But they display this as Schoenberg did, believing in “Art as a profound instrument of ethical transportation and moral transformation”: we can_has futures that are really new, and we can go places really different from the past.

Now in its 13th year, BMOP provides a valued public service by aiding and abetting new, notorious, transportable and non-transportable things. What a wonderful start to the new 2008-2009 season! Bravo!

The next BMOP event is a Club Concert on 09-DEC-2008 (Tuesday, 19:00) at the Moonshine Room at Club Cafe Bistro & Lounge, 209 Columbus Ave, in Boston.

I  n the spring of 2006, my friend Wendy Richman fell off the stage at MassMoCA during rehearsals for a David Lang opera, ‘Anatomy Theater’, and broke her ankle (the talus, tibia and fibula bones). [The opening of the concerto begins in a most surprising way (which I will not divulge here), before Wendy addresses her viola with the bow.] When Wendy sent around a jpg of her foot x-ray [by email to her friends], the horizontal lines of the bolts in her ankle immediately suggested harmonic possibilities to me. Some of the harmonies in this piece are, in fact, generated from spectral analysis that I did of the digitized x-ray. Seeing Wendy’s courage as she worked to recover from this severe injury reminded me of my mother’s courage during her recovery after tearing three ligaments in her knee from a skiing accident (I deferred a semester of college to take care of her during that time). My mother was determined go back and ski down the same hill in Park City where she was injured and accomplished this feat in two years’ time. A spectrogram that I made from the jpg of Wendy’s ankle x-ray is here:”
  —  Ken Ueno, interview with David Bruce, CompositionToday.com, 29-OCT-2008.
Ken Ueno’s digital spectrogram of digitized x-ray of Wendy Richman’s ankle, ca. 2006, the basis for Ueno’s composition ‘Talus’
A  major focus of my work has been trying to reconcile the grammatological distance between ‘transportable’ and ‘non-transportable’ sounds. Transportable sounds are those elements that usually comprise the grammar of western music: rhythm, melody, and harmony. Non-transportable sounds are those sounds that have to be produced on a specific instrument in a specific way, which, in the West, have often been labeled as noise. Takemitsu’s compositions have helped to convince the world of the validity of non-transportable sounds, in that they are beautiful and worth listening to ... silence as expressive of the Japanese aesthetic principle of ‘ma’... I hope to have prepared the listener to focus on a [really] wide rubric of timbres.”
  —  Ken Ueno, interview with Brian Sacawa, 2005.
T he history of music from Haydn to Mahler, via Beethoven and Wagner, was a narrative of obfuscation. The logical conclusion to all this was Schoenberg’s: harmonic form ceases to function, and the diatonic scale is no longer a reliable reference point. Each note is as important as the others, and this ideal is ensured by prohibiting the resounding of a pitch until its eleven colleagues have been allowed to speak. The Galileis, père and fils, are circumscribed: we’re out of orbit, we’ve escaped the pull of tonal gravity, we’re in the floating, directionless heaven of Schoenberg’s beloved Swedenborg. That was in 1908. He had converted to Lutheranism ten years before. He fled Christianity and returned to Judaism in 1933, when he composed the peculiar ‘Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra’— the same year as he fled Berlin for Paris and, finally, Los Angeles.”
  —  Joshua Cody, ‘10 + 5 = Gott’: Die Macht der Zeichen, 2004.
T he thesis of ‘violin in the age of shopping’ is that musical— ] content as a recognizable idea has anymore ceased to exist because all ‘the content’ has become interchangeable: it doesn’t matter what is going on, provided there is evidence that something is going on—a merely quantitative world of mass copies and fakes. All music—whatever its origin, status or supposed function—would now exist in a digital ‘dreamtime’ that the originators of ‘muzak’ could never have imagined.”
  —  Jon Rose, Violin in the Age of Shopping.