25 July 2018

Scribbling towards Intermezzo III

Discipline is never an end in itself, only a means to an end.
        Motto on the King Crimson LP (remember LPs?) Discipline

She talks to all the servants about man, and God, and law;
Everybody says, she’s the brains behind Pa.
She’s sixty-eight, though she says she’s fifty-four.
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more.
        Bob Dylan né Robt Zimmerman

Well, where to begin?  (Not that this is anything more than the most recent rambling.)  For a couple of days, as I scanned the White Nights outline, and I saw the “allocated” durations for Intermezzi III & IV respectively (which are already shorter than those for Intermezzi I & II) I half-wondered if I should trim them down.  Without getting down into the weeds, I attribute this cautionary tendency to some combination of wanting to reduce the work that is to be done, in order to achieve The Final Double-Bar, and a mild, pre-emptive nervousness, as I second-guess the person in the audience.

But I think the saner path is to presume that, if the ballet be performed in its entirety, and if in the theatre an audience there be, some of them (at least) will be engaged by the piece;  and so long as I craft each number to my own artistic satisfaction, there is no need to impute impatience to the listener.

And the more musically sensible method is to carry on consistently:  discover what I feel is the apt material, and give it its space, exult in its essence.

So, maybe Intermezzo III will run 5:30 rather than 4:45.  This mild expansion will prove to be no excess.

My first, but designedly incomplete, sketch of the low brass chorale which opens Intermezzo III was plainly homorhythmic.  Now, without denigrating a strait homorhythmic chorale as intrinsically “unimaginative” (imagination it may well shew forth), I soon felt that I wanted independent rhythmic profiles for the four voices (albeit related, as a series of linear rhythmic values), an additional benefit being, the harmonic blurring of the chorale’s unfolding elements.

To see the sketches, it is all (again) scribbled numbers (some of them subject to arithmetic, or to a set-theory operation, or both), abstracted rhythms, and near-indecipherable marginalia.  But (what is obvious to me, and to those who know much of my work) the musical result is what matters.  But if the ‘musical result’ is what matters, why all this chicken-scratch?  The chicken-scratch is part of the means, towards the musical end.

And I chuckle a little to myself, for – pleased though I am with the chorale – I could imagine a hostile listener dismissing it as “unnecessarily Wagnerian.”


Jeffrey Smith said...

Just be sure it is not unnecessarily Stockhausenian. (I suppose there is a music which might be necessarily Stockhausenian).

Karl Henning said...

You may rely upon me!