Thursday, October 22, 2009

When I was in school we used to make fun of overstuffed-armchair harmony that chewed up everything in sight in an epic tidal wave of sound that I call "Val-Hallywood." The mixed metaphors make the point better than I can in just a few better-chosen words.

It's fascinating that now, in the 21st century, our musical environment seems to be once again enamored of stasis. Over-emphasizing vertical tuning we have lost the edge of a lot of music that was conceived contrapuntally.

I heard a recent recording of a mid-20th-century quintet the contrapuntal power of which still haunts me from a live performance I heard in 1972. In this more recent rendering the counterpoint is nowhere evident; the players have devoted their considerable expertise to blend.

What will it take to put life back into the line--into all five lines?