Periodization Theory and Peak Performance Exemplified Through Extended Techniques
III. A Work Ethic Against Mediocrity
The effort that is required to grasp new music is not one of abstract knowledge, nor is it the acquaintance with some system or other, with theorems, much less with mathematical procedures. It is essentially imagination, what Kierkegaard called the speculative ear.18 Søren Kierkegaard’s reference is made about dualities of emotion. Music, however, need not remain in mere dualities. In order to perform Brian Fer- neyhough’s music, one does indeed require knowledge of mathematical procedures. Ferneyhough remarks that music “is not based on an exclusive ‘either-or’ but a ‘both-and.’”19 The speculative ear, however, is a vivid idea that speaks to how we listen. We can differentiate between how we listen, how we actively interpret a piece of music that we intend to perform and how we coax an audience to listen. Must listeners comprehend music before it is appreciated? Comprehension is an act of the mind. Appreciation takes place when the listener is personally engaged. New music’s circle is notoriously small. We tend to think that new music is for the intellectual musician only. However, Adorno asserts that to grasp modern music what is needed is essentially fantasy […] He points out the ways in which […] subjective capacity that would enable individuals to grasp modern music, i.e. the speculative ear and appropriate ways of paying attention or concentrating, are made difﬁcult by that society’s life condi- tions.20 Now we are even more distracted than when Adorno was still living. In contrast to the bombardment of advertisements and 24...
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