1.03.2011

What is Postmodern Music?



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Streminski
Exploring Silvestrov and his meta-music got me thinking about postmodernism in music. Don't go to Wikipedia for this one. There's not much to be found. Like all things postmodern, the definition defies definition. It's an attitude. It accepts all dogmas. It denies dogmas power. Kind of trippy.
One helpful and yet somewhat misleading aspect of the wiki article was its list of composers "cited as important to postmodernism." That's as close as we can get at this point in history. There I find Zygmunt Krauze. A little more poking around gets you to his Polish website where you immediately learn his claim to musical fame: unistic music. Modeled after and inspired by the unistic visual art of Władysław Strzemiński, this music avoids tension, contrast, climaxes, and eventually conventional form as a whole. The music is for the listener. If he or she needs to get up to go potty during the middle of the music (oh, don't we all), the piece can stop, wait, and begin again without any harm done to it. It can also take as long or as short as anyone wants. It is unobtrusive and subservient.
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Zygmunt Krauze
A few comments about this musical philosophy: I am reminded on the one hand of the Theory of the Affections from the Baroque era in which each piece of music presents only one emotion. On the other we see a return to the relationship between music and the listener, exemplified and championed by the concept of Rhetoric in the Classical era, but in a much different aim. With unistic music, one musical idea is presented so as to not disturb the listener, to eliminate fear, to make everyone immediately familiar and competent. The listener in this postmodern idea assumes the power over the music in an ultra-democratic/subjective way. It makes me wonder how anything can be said beyond surface simplicity. Are todays listeners really that handicapped or dejected that they can't artistically handle the imposing weight of rules, ruined expectations, objectivity?  It only chooses those aspects of the past which will not harm the audience. It seems to accept everything except any form of fundamentalism, and therefore any lasting structure or growth.Very interesting issue. Kind of a sucker punch to just talk down on it and not listen to it. Listen to some of his clips on his site. What do you think about postmodern music in particular and postmodernism in general? Hmmmmmm?

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