Sunday, November 20, 2005

Is classical music too fast? - 2

'In our cold modern world it seems that everything has to be measured - and now computers are doing it to music. As anyone with an iPod or other digital music player knows, as a song is played, a little black dot moves along the line between "start" and "finish", with an onscreen counter telling us how much time remains. Every chord takes us deeper into the song but closer to the end.

These devices for playing music and video seem to think we want to know precisely how long the whole thing is going to last, and how far through the experience we are. Yet for many people, an important element of music is its ability to take us out of a normal consciousness of time. A really good song or piece of music takes us far away from the clock that paces out our more mundane activities. As we listen, we dream - at our desk, at our sink or on the train - with no idea whether our mind has been roaming free for a few moments or much more.

Music replaces clock time with musical time, a completely different way of guiding our thoughts and feelings through an experience with its own shape, its own build-up of tension and its own resolution. Our favourite songs seem timeless in more ways than one.

So what does it do to us to be timed precisely through every second of a favourite song? More and more people download music as single tracks and listen to them on the computer through programs such as iTunes. It is hard not to be aware of that little black button relentlessly advancing towards the end of the line. It can produce a peculiar clash of sensations.'


From an excellent article in the Guardian titled Technobile by Susan Tomes, who is a wonderful pianist, member of the Florestan Trio, and author of a highly recommended book, 'Between the notes.'

Picture credit - Teachers Discount Music
Report broken links, missing images, and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
Visit Is classical music too fast? for the full story, and some audio files, of really slow music

2 comments:

bernard said...

Speed? We're in the zapping era.

Just have a look at Tzadik, a NY record label.

Fred Frith ( UK) a very distinguished UK guitar player arrived there, in NY.

He started playing the .. bass scores: just listen to - for instance - Naked City.

JJ said...

i like your comment on the digital display of time moving on. music takes us somewhere else while technology overanalyzes it. i still love listening to albums all the way though from start to finish. in this modern digital age i don't know if anyone does anymore. most artists don't even think to make albums as a whole concept anymore. record companies don't care about a whole album of good tunes. i like very fast music (electronic, drum n bass, jungle, harcore punk) and i also love slow music (death cab, modest mouse, beatles, etc). Even music in the mid-tempos can rock BUT it's all about where u r at. if u r down or tired, u don't want to listen to something insanely fats (or that might be your thing really). i don't want to listen to slow stuff when people r over. temps is all about the tempo u r at, and that is unique to everyone. cool site. nice mix of philosophy and music. that's what i try to do too.