Ordinary Music Vol.35: TEXTURES (for creative ensemble)
First of all this piece does not really meet the standards of a composition; the score is rather a working basis for a creative musical process, providing both musical and extra-musical signs, along with a range of loose instructions on how to combine them.
The term “creative” however refers to the Braxtonian term “creative music”, which is somehow rooted in a Jazz tradition, but allows for a wider range of artistic means; in particular those that have been developed in western avantgarde music over the course of the 20th century, including a-tonality, noise production, non-thematic development and not least graphic notation.
The agreement upon a predefined set of materials enables the ensemble to create homogenous or heterogeneous sound-textures, while a conductor can influence the process, by inducing changes of tempo, register, timbre or even source material at any moment. The score’s basic function is actually to prevent free improvisation, in order to deliver the ensemble-sound in its consistency, i.e. regardless of individual inventiveness. The latter embraces both the selection and combination of instruments (almost an aspect of composition in itself) and the musicians’ collective attitude towards the interpretation of compositional guidelines.
In terms of the western classical music tradition, the only legitimate attitude for an interpreter is devotion to the work; i.e. the musician’s individuality is supposed to stay outside the process. “Interpretation” means to fulfil the composer’s intentions to the best of one’s knowledge and belief. On the other hand in Jazz the demands are quite contrary: the interpreter regards himself not as the composer’s instrument, but as a creative artist himself. In this case however the conditions are quite the opposite: the composer is almost a mere service provider, since the composition by itself is basically a medium through which the performing artist expresses his individuality by means of his own sound. The term “sound” again is virtually a synonym for an interpretive style, embracing not only the individual approach to the instrument, but also a great deal of improvisational self-expression.
My approach is to eliminate both composition and improvisation, in order to deliver the sound itself; however neither as a physical phenomenon, nor as sensual experience, but as an artistic form of expression. Therefore I ask the musicians to perform the most basic exercises.
Each of four tracks on this album is centred on (and named after) a single sign, indicating the source material, which is always being modified in its parameters (in correlation to other signs): track 1: “drone” (a static orchestral chord); track 2: “loop” (any sequence to be repeated a.l.); track 3 “absent minded” (simulated unintentionally); track 4: “moments” (alternation of sounds and silences).
These basic patterns, which are more or less familiar from avantgarde music of the past fifty years, serve to provide for a before/after comparison on the basis of which the ensemble sound can be explored under ever changing conditions, while it always reveals the parametric modifications on its surface.
Since my creative agenda matches neither with New Music nor with Modern Jazz, or any other form of contemporary music, I have decided to select my own generic term “Ordinary Music” which is founded on the recognition that music by itself is not necessarily a form of art. First of all it is only a medium. Similar to spoken language, music for the most part is engaged in merely functional ways, including information transfer and rituals of interaction. That is to say, art is not to be found within the music, but rather within that which is performed through the music. In order to appreciate a work of musical art, the listener must be able to separate the artistic components from the merely functional ones, more or less in the same way as one, in order to appreciate a piece of poetry, must have a command of the language in which it is written.
Since I intend to emphasize the performative elements of the music, I consequently must reduce the functional ones to a minimum, so to speak, to the lowest common denominator of an audience that cannot be expected to be musically educated; in fact this also includes myself. My approach as an autodidact is to transmit the process of my own self-education through the medium of music. In other words: I provide a model for the listener to educate himself and create his own music.
Nikolaus Gerszewski, 28 February 2015