A wonderful evening

A wonderful evening with M & M. Interligence in action, which always makes you understand things better, or more fully. For example, it becomes more and more clear to me that music as a domain is going down the drain. Theater, film and literature thrives, by and large – and that is what counts in the long run – while music is extreme and lost in two ways: In popular music we have too much populism; the former songwriters and, yes, composers, like Lennon-McCartney are being replaced by a new animal of a different color, the “hit-maker”. He cannot write a good melody or a really memorable strophe, but he knows what sells, what “hits”.

The other extreme is the so called serious composer. He is too serious, takes himself too seriously. His attitude towards the audience is typified by his back. He looks away from the audience, which in turn makes the audience turn their back on HIM. There is some great music written today, and some sad attempts at populism, but generally the dynamic thread running between audience and creator has been severed. The lifeline is gone.

Other things that came at the not breakfast but evening snack table had to do with tasting. Of course. M really enjoys wine, and has knowledge to go with it. And my experience with music tasting matches his. We tasted a bit of Franz Schreker and a Petrarca sonnet by Liszt, played by the eminent Miroslav Langer.

I am still fascinated by the carefulness and the dedication that goes into wine tasting, the passion, the enthusiasm, the nuanced attitude. One could say that broadly there are two kinds of tasters. The barbarians who only count to two: They either like or don´t like the wine, or the music. With dedicated tasters liking is really not that important. The music or the wine doesn´t has to be “good” or “likeable”. Of course it shouldn´t be trash either, but the important thing is not the division into black or white but to really experience it.

Same thing in a way with photography. When I first started pestering my photo friends it was with the question “What is a good picture?”. I am not that interested in what is “good” nowadays. Lots of my favorite hate, the snazzy, postcard-like, soft porno pictures, can be called “good”, but they don´t deserve a second look. How do you take a picture that stops the viewer in his track, that captures and draws you in? That is a better, more relevant question.

And we must remember the quote from Francis Bacon: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” Beauty is not enough, we need excellent beauty, and don´t  forget the strangeness. Take away the strange and you end up with predictable, bland beauty. So, a good picture is not enough. What makes a picture strangely good? is now the question.

Same thing with music. If you listen in the right way, not just listen with your memories and associations, many Beatles songs have strange proportions. The output of the hit-makers on the other hand is very much about taking away all that is strange, all that is “excellently beautiful”. The serious composers on the other hand are only strange. In their case one could paraphrase Francis Bacon and say “There is no excellent strangeness that hath not some beauty in the proportion.” To these people one wants to say, Don´t forget beauty, and by all means, write a melody or two from time to time. That is, if you can, for it is not given to everyone to be a melodist.

One more thing about tasting. With blind tasting, whether of wine, perfume or music, you are actually moving towards higher faculties. When you turn off your past-conditioned memories and associations you are more or less forced to live in the present. You listen to what is, instead of what was or what you remember. Music an sich. This is actually, I believe, done in wine / chocolate / cheese tasting, but definitely not in music, where associative and culturally conditioned trash is overshadowing the simple present.

Flattr this!

Harmony? Boring!

When I hear the word “boring” I think of the excellent TV-series “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch. Sherlock, as he is portrayed there, is really a character: outlandish, brilliant, weird, nerdy.

“Harmonious” is hardly a word I would use, though.

When I have something to print, which often happens, I go to a print shop run by some Arab guys. We have developed a warm feeling between us. Especially one of the boys (he can be around 30) is SO simpatico.

When I had an errand there today I noted, more than usual, his harmoniousness. It´s not like he is saintly or holy. It´s that… things are in place. There is a lack of neurosis, he has a natural and warm smile, is soft spoken without sophistication, friendly but un-businesslike (even though he is in business).

Being near him I saw myself clearer. Saw my disharmonies, how much more like Sherlock I am, complicated, complicating, looking for originality, having moments of genius but even more moments of boredom.

If you ask me: Would you like to trade lives with the Arab friend? [always a good question to ask when admiring somebody] I would probably say “no”. No. His harmony is his, and my (to speak PC-lingo) “differently harmonious” life is mine. But I am opening up to what he has and is, appreciate it more, not saying “boring” about it.

Complication, what a seductive quality that is for some of us! Some individuals, but also some groups and even whole domains.

I am thinking of how uninteresting and even prohibited harmony has become in the domain of modern music. Disharmony, dissonance, augmented fourths and major sevenths, clusters, etc. have all become normality. I suspect the same goes for modern poetry, though I have little contact with it.

Generally, in modern art disharmony and complication are not only more interesting but somehow also finer and on a higher level than harmony. Going astray is “better” than never leaving your home, to be alienated is more “cultured” than being happy about the world.

Oh, how I recognize myself in this. Now I begin to see that I am actually trendy, in harmony with this disharmony – though tiring of it.

I need to print more documents to get near that Arab friend and have some of his niceness rub off on me.

Flattr this!

Thank you for the music

Another day, another song – this time a setting of a poem by Dan Andersson. Three hours is all it takes.

Since I compose so seldom I forget what it´s like to be in the stream and flow of inspiration. The wave carries me…

A happy feeling, this. It calls for thankfulness. Thank you, muse (both the earthly and heavenly kind).

I am nothing special, in fact I´m a bit of a bore.


Flattr this!

Return of the muse

[Return, as in returning from the kitchen or bathroom. My muse has never been away for long.]

Yesterday I wrote a song, which has not happened for a long time. A short melancholy poem  (by Edith Södergran), 2-3 hours of work, and it is finished.

I am reminded of the rather bitter composer Allan Pettersson who complained in TV that if people had let him come closer to a piano more often, he might have turned out a Lied collection worthy of Schubert. Well, that´s hard to prove, but I recognize the sentiment. In my case, however, there is no lack of piano, rather a lack of fire and energy.

However, one song can lead to two, then three, and who knows where it ends? To paraphrase the underrated and often cruelly mocked Barry Manilow (to get very far away from Pettersson): all it takes is one song.

Flattr this!