Monday, July 8, 2013

Magic in a Single Tone

I am preparing next week's recitals which include a Rondo (V:2) by CPE Bach.  Why is his music seemingly incomprehensible to those of us who studied music theory and analysis? 

Perhaps because our attention was never drawn to the limits of those disciplines.  Just as certain novels were deemed too risque for American consumption (think Ulysses or novels by D.H. Lawrence).  Teachers of traditional theory would have been flummoxed at the thought of presenting as serious works in which silence figures as powerfully as sound, and in which completely unprepared juxtapositions of chromatic tones give the lie to organized modulation as the only viable compositional principle.

Poor lambs.  What they are missing.  What we have been missing.

It has taken John Cage to wake us up.  Better late than never.