Monday, March 3, 2008


So it occurred to me last year while crying and shuddering at the horror that is Pierrot Lunaire that Schoenberg is not unlike cummings. After formally studying it (by "formally studying" I mean "taking Music Civ which featured"), I have a vague appreciation for atonal in the context of the broad overall history of Western music. And that is a huge step for me. The first time I saw/heard it, I curled up in my seat in the closest to a fetal position as I could manage and tried to repress it right there on the spot. But then sometime later, I realized that this must be how Austin, the most classic of classic-loving men, feels about 'avant-garde' or free-verse poetry such as cummings. Whom I love. A lot. And when Austin told me of the pain of his soul upon reading cummings, I almost took personal offense. But now, although in completely different media, I see what he's saying. And I'm sorry, Austin. For not understanding, and then for titling this crazy thing the verbal equivalent of music which has no key or tonal center, and in which all notes are equally possible.

Atonal music is like socialism. It sounds like a cool idea, equality and all, but then when it actually happens, it's more awful than you could have imagined. Man, if I just inadvertently compared cummings to socialism, I'd be really really upset with myself. But in defense of anyone who likes cummings or Schoenberg, or classical for that matter, I learned last year that it's impossible to explain why you like something. You can only give objective facts about it as attempts at reasons, but there's no way to say why something (anything! or anyone!) is wonderful. Here's to you, Plato!

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