When Less Is Not More

Was minimalism ever interesting? One of the regulars on the Csound mailing list posted a link to his new online album, which consists entirely of extremely long, sustained sine tones. Or perhaps other things happen at some point; after 20 minutes or so I gave up and moved on.

The album is on the recordings page at the Irritable Hedgehog website. I’m sure you can find it. After listening to some sine tones, I thought I’d check out what else was on the site. This may have been a mistake. I clicked on a recording of Klavierstück 2, by Jürg Frey. This is one of several albums on the site that are performed by R. Andrew Lee. I didn’t make it clear through Klavierstück 2, which is more than 15 minutes long, but I was impressed enough by the middle section (and not in a good way) to rewind a bit and grab a pencil.

In the middle section of Klavierstück 2, the genius (if that’s the right word) of Mr. Frey prompted him to write an unadorned open 4th (I believe it’s C# and F# above Middle C), in quarter-notes, at a tempo of about 60 bpm, mezzo-forte, legato, to be played 468 times. Yes, I counted. Aside from a few minor variations in loudness and speed owing to Mr. Lee’s (presumable) humanness, nothing else happened for more than seven minutes — just an endlessly repeated open 4th, in quarter-notes at 60 bpm, mezzo-forte, legato.

There are several questions that might be asked about this. One might ask, what on Earth prompted Mr. Frey to think that such a musical statement was worth making? One might ask, what on Earth prompted Mr. Lee to think it was worth recording? One might ask, how do Mr. Frey and Mr. Lee explain to their friends (assuming they have any, as I’m sure they must) their perpetual preoccupation with the aesthetic charms of boredom, weariness, and utter vacuity?

You may be able to think of other questions as well. Me, I’m going to go take a nap.

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2 Responses to When Less Is Not More

  1. Hahaha! I love reading your grumpy critical writings.

    From where my ears are at, Dave Seidel’s Csound drones are categorically different than piano minimalist drivel. There are some states of mind and listening conditions in which I enjoy Dave’s work, something I can’t say about //: deedle, deedle :// of *any* flavor.

    When my album comes out (looks like mid-April) I’ll dare you to review it, LOL.

    • midiguru says:

      I agree. I sort of liked Dave’s pieces, although I did find myself wondering whether they would be more interesting if the tempo was doubled or quadrupled.

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