A while ago I was doing some editing with sound files and thought it may be an idea to try and create some electronic music for first time.
The result was a brief electronic tone poem that was eventually entitled “Bathtub Mock-ups,” coupled with an old sketch I did years ago and placed delicately onto The youtube.
It was a curious experiment which has led to the creation of two other short pieces. I figure I may as well explain what it’s about as it won’t take long and I have other things I should be doing.
Basically, it was just layered original sounds, modified extracts and voices, mixed in together with no regard for the outcome. It gets its name from the opening quote by Glenn Gould … semi-meaningless and a joke in context. But retrospectively it seemed to reflect an argument for ‘jazz’ being taken as ‘serious’ music. It takes these rather-out-of-context fragments by (American Composer) Aaron Copland explaining (over a mechanical/etherial background I guess) that he was anxious about creating an ‘American’ sound in music, before putting in the disclaimer that however “we had done it in the jazz field.” All the while a jazz motive breaks out and repeats. Then enters Duke Ellington rebuffing this categorisation with: “We don’t use the word ‘jazz.'”
At this point the background music grows more complex and dissonant, until it suddenly reverts to the simple jazz motif and Copland lamenting that an American sound hadn’t yet been achieved in the ‘kind of serious music’ he was interested in. Again Ellington rebuffs as though to say: “Yes we have!”
It closes with Tim Page, in conversation with Gould, referring to ‘celebrated brouhaha’ which seem to me to plague most of these musical identity crises (particularly in Australia). In today’s universal, possibly over-influenced world, the concept of nationality in music has gone way beyond blurred, like the bread I soaked in a bucket of water for a month in ’97. America can definitely (totally) claim things like Jazz as part of its original voice, but nowadays the moment any Western composer attempts to create/discover/define and impose a style on (and only on) a nation they are really engaging in the futile, if for no other reason than even if successful there’s very little stopping it’s spread past the geographical boundaries before a nationalistic label can be affixed. Especially via the wonderful internet.
And (hopefully) ironically, this little piece which happened about American national identity* is in itself not the outcome of nationalistic identity.
* …and how American composers sometimes neglected to seriously acknowledge the ((more successful)) identity efforts of their own fellow Americans!
I could close with a nice heart-warming rhetorical sentiment like “And that makes the world a little bit more interesting… don’t you think?).
But that is too typical of blogs, and I don’t mean it anyway.
I’ll add irrelevant pictures now.