David Byrne reviews “Die Soldaten”

02008-07-13 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

David Byrne Journal
The playbill refers to the piece as both a monument and a tombstone, since music in this genre couldn’t really develop any further. With this opera, the end of the road had been reached: like a Finnegan’s Wake of classical music, an aesthetic and formal investigation was carried to it’s logical — and some might say ridiculous — extreme. Joyce’s novel is just about as unreadable as this music is, for many, almost unlistenable.

And later he writes this:

Having closely observed the behavior of New York’s downtown, avant-garde music scene for a few decades, I can say that this impulse is not limited to academic classical composers. There are many musicians and composers of experimental works who seemingly compete for the title of most obscure and most difficult for the listener, and even record collectors like to play along. In this world, any trace of popularity, however slight, is distasteful and to be avoided at all costs. Should a work become unexpectedly accessible, the artist must then follow the piece with something completely perverse and disgusting, encouraging members of the new, undesired audience to walk away shaking their heads, leaving behind the core of pure and hardy aficionados. This is elitism of a different sort.

I think this is not limited to musicians and composers of experimental works. In the sixties Jazz began a movement called Free Jazz that had audiences leave the Jazz Clubs and return to their LPs of Swing.

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