Wednesday, September 26, 2012

what is music?

It might seem like a silly question to some folk but it does get rolled around in some of my circles and can generate significant heat.  There is a generation of guitar players out there with amazing technique who, as often as not, build compositions around that technique.  The pieces may have very little in terms of melody and could never be performed on another instrument so some folk have questioned whether they are really music or not.

A recent discussion/argument on a guitar forum got me remembering...  In Jr. High one year, I had a student teacher in music who was a flautist.  One day she performed for us, playing a piece by Varese called Density 21.5.  I had never heard anything like it.  It certainly didn't fit any definition of music I knew, all formed by listening to folk music and the Mills Brothers at home and James Brown on the radio.  It opened my ears, my imagination, and my future and likely played a significant role in my development as a musician.

Here's a video of a performance of the piece by Laura Pou.  As I understand it, she takes some liberties with the rhythm of the piece and "sings" it a bit more than Varese intended.   I find it a wonderful performance - I love watching her body language - and the piece still makes me perk up and listen.

What do you think of the piece?  And does the performance move you?  Finally, is it music?

No comments: