Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ashley and Ritual

In this post over on Kyle Gann's blog, he pastes in a long passage written by Robert Ashley. Here's a section of that passage:

We have lost the idea of the rituals that remind the people who come that what is happening is only a small part, a "surfacing" of the continuing musicality of everyday life.

Actually, those rituals do not exist, except in television and probably in sports events. Everybody plays baseball or football or basketball or soccer or hockey (or wishes they did or thinks they do) so the game is only a "version" of what is part of your life. You are emotionally in it. That is what I mean by ritual. Everybody does not go around singing Mahler or Ives or Feldman or Palestrina. The music is foreign to you. Interesting, maybe, but foreign, like the gamelan. You are not in it.

The whole point of my project of creating musical materials "for the rest of us" is to enable folks to play music just like the sports Ashley mentions. Right now, most music available is for particular instruments, in particular keys, with particular technique requirements. If music making continues on its current path of more and more specialization, with more and more people having zero experience of making music for themselves, it seems to me a lot will be lost to society at large, and that professional music making might become an increasingly isolated endeavor.

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