Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Got Rhythm, You Got Rhythm

I enjoyed a fantastic conversation today with a music theorist, of all improbable occurrences.  Our conversation about Schumann was prompted by my inquiry as to whether he would enjoy being part of an informal evening of men's voices plus four horns (three of them natural horns !!!) doing a cycle of hunting songs, a late Schumann opus.

This set off an impassioned exchange as each of us became increasingly excited about the depth and astonishment of Schumann's music.

I have been involved in preparing Vol II of the Tonal Refraction series, on Schumann's Forest Scenes.  I found myself describing how Schumann switches from the rhythm of the story teller to the rhythm of the ogre hiding behind the trees, to the rhythm of the frightened listener, all without warning, without transition, simply discernible by fundamental non sequiturs.  You just have to be paying attention as you play and you have to be willing to admit that you don't have a clue what is going on.  It all looks so normal.

There is a rhythm to listening, but it isn't the kind of listening you learned in MuzAp, nor is it what MuzAk encourages.  It is listening to fairytales, which fascinated Schumann.  I have no doubt whatsoever that he incorporated into his music these various sorts of listening rhythms, not confining himself to the rhythms customarily relegated to music.

Far out.