responses, change, embodiment

A few things have caught me by surprise since my book was released. One of them is the recurring question of how (and in what circumstances) to respond to relevant discussions. I’ll probably be too withdrawn at some times and too engaged at others, and I can only hope to learn from my mistakes. The second surprise should have been predictable. There is a gap between a release date and a point in time when people can respond to anything more than a brief perusal of a book. Two weeks after the release is definitely still within that gap.

So I was very interested to see that James Saunders had finished reading it already and posted a thoughtful response. What was most compelling to me was his signaling of “a point of change” going on generally within the field of experimental music, a new emphasis on music that “uses strategies such as framing, embodying and repurposing the everyday to create tangible connections with the world.” It’s a brilliant way of casting a net that catches the sort of fish we’re both talking about. I’ve been thinking about this issue lately in terms of non-metaphorical music. A behavior isn’t being represented in the abstract but is actually occurring. The most immediately relevant material in the book is the discussion of experience and change in chapter one, but I think it’s pervasive in the structure and details as well.

Saunders puts it another way in his recent MusikTexte article, “no mapping.” He speaks about an approach that “makes direct connections with the world as the material of the work. It connects music with the tangible everyday. It embodies the world rather than represents it.”

This is a good moment to mention two books that were hugely important for me in the writing process and remain so: The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music, edited by James Saunders, and Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation, co-edited with John Lely.

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