I enjoyed our class yesterday, and although it was not a model of “efficiency,” it was great that everyone had a chance to speak their piece (perhaps not yet “peace” but we’re getting there). I had a nice long conversation with Andy after the class where we evaluated what we did and how we might make the seminar sessions both energizing and productive, in terms of our learning and delight.
As you know, the idea behind assigning chunks of Gann’s American Music (AM) and giving reports was to have everyone familiar with the compositional “roots” leading up to 1968, while lightening the reading and listening load. Although this worked pretty well, this approach does not lead to class discussion, because most of the class has not read or listened to the music assigned to one pair of buddies. This makes the learning more passive than active. Even though there is a lot of music, we have time to make sure our foundation is strong and we can move a little slower. So those who were chosen to REPORT on chapters will serve more as discussion leaders than just presenters, so that all can be included in the discussion. So, Leah and Paul will serve as discussion leaders for the rest of Chapter 6, while Charlie and Bryan W. will lead the discussion for Chapter 7. With that in mind, I propose we do the following for the next class:
From Gann’s American Music in the 20th Century
Everyone read the rest of Gann’s AM Chapter 6 (that is the part not yet reported on by Leah and Paul) and read the beginning of Chapter 7. This involves the following pages:
Gann, American Music in the 20th Century, pp. 145-152 (review, pp. 127-145 on Cage and Feldman); Chapter 7, pp. 154-172 (you can complete reading the chapter if you like, up to 184).
All of Chapters 6 and 7 should be on eReserve for MUS 702 by the end of the day (1/18), so they are easily accessible, if you do not have the book yet.
Also from Gann, Music Downtown, everyone read the following (also on eReserve)
pp. xiii-xix (Preface)
pp. 1-15 (Introduction)
pp. 293-297 (“philosopher no more,” obituary for John Cage)
These pages are CORE for us: the definition and laying out of the field of “Downtown Music,” which we shall be studying intensively before and after Kyle Gann’s visit. Also the position he assigns to Cage is a very powerful one, and it would be good for you to respond to it on the blog.
In addition, please try to do the following listening, associated with Chapters 6 and 7 of AM:
John Cage, Sonatas and Interludes, excerpts; The “Numbers” Pieces
Morton Feldman, Why Patterns?
David Tudor, Rainforest
Chapter 7: Post-Cage Conceptualism
Robert Ashley, Perfect Lives
Pauline Oliveros (in class sonic meditation)
Alvin Lucier, I am Sitting in a Room
James Tenney, Chromatic Canon
Roger Reynolds, The Emperor of Ice Cream
Andy has agreed to put all of these on eReserve for MUS 702. If he has any problems with this, he will let us know.
So you asked for some specific topics to write about and here they are. What do you think about Gann’s definition and assessment of “Downtown Music?” How about his assessment of John Cage? Is John Cage more of a philosopher than a composer? Is 4’33” music?
There should be enough in here to goad you into blogging. Also choose at least one of the assigned listening pieces to comment upon.
Be realistic. There is a healthy bit of reading and listening for this week, but it is a WEEK’S worth of work, not just a day’s worth, so pace yourself. If you cannot finish it all, be selective so that you can be informed enough to join the discussion. Have opinions based on your experience.
That’s all for now. See you on the blog!