jeudi 17 avril 2008

Music and Chance

A relative is moving and I help her clear things out. There are relics of the eighties, ancient wine bottles and a vinyl collection. In a box about to be thrown away, I find three cassette tapes, those fossils of early postmodernism. "Take them", she says, "I haven't listened to them for years". 'Schoenberg Verkarte Nacht' I read and think nothing of it. Later I play it. Nietzsche says, somewhere, that one may not be ready for certain examples of art. And how, of course, is it possible to write about music. The first thing about it, though, is that there is no melody, or there is no repeated melody. The tune does not exist. Melodies appear, but flow, transmute and disintegrate into one another. There is no repition. The baby hates it and cries. Perhaps bored or even frightened, like she behaves sometimes with objects and people. I swap the tape for some electronic guitar music from the late eighties early nineties. The bright, sharp tunes hold her attention as they loop about themselves. Modern music is infantile. The classical was mature and thus some fall from grace is proved. But it is nothing of the sort. The dualism is inverted, it is the pop that is the adult music. Its repition alludes to, copies, even when it thinks it mocks, the mature world of travel work sleep, discipline punish obey, eat consume die. Schoenberg's music aims somewhere else. The almost frightening absence of repitition calls to mind the chaotic outline of the everyday. But even this dualism breaks down.