Monday, June 16, 2008

Snippet of Dialogue with John Voigt.

A few years ago, I researched and worked on a book about Jazz Biz, how the artists made money and a living over the 20th century. But it was for an academic press and the money sucked and it was a handful.

There were to be two volumes, one of the story and one of oral histories of various artists. including John Voigt. So I share this fun segment about melodic context gyrations over time and one of the eternal it 'art' or entertainment or what?


"The big bugbear question is the art/pop designation koan. Why not apply a bit of Whitehead or Russell to the problem and work out a basis like this: Pre-Renaissance views of music in Europe organized form into the secular and the sacred. The Modern era saw this redefined as Folk music and Art music, Casual or Formal?"
"Now, if one is willing to work with this model as a sorting tool it gets more useful examine the relations between the two areas. For example there have long been migrations of context in musical forms. Something that was a sacred melody in a work by Dufay wanders over the centuries into its ghost in a Cajun folk song."
"Sometimes a shepherd's melody wanders into Mozart or Bartok runs around the Backwaters with an Edison cylinder recorder to find melodies that four centuries prior belonged to the kings court and were reworked by the peasants after they fell out of court fashion".
"The point is that this sorting demon is just that and not intended to decide whether casual or formal is good or bad. The advantage of a folk music is the wealth of invention and discovery in contexts less hidebound by orthodoxy".
"The advantage of an art music it that it is often accompanied by systems of thought that assists the evaluation and configuration of these discoveries in the folk area through the provision of notation systems, music theories and analytical tools. It gives the helpful elements of orthodoxy".
"What's weirder is we're stuck with this because the church once threatened to burn you at the stake if you used whole tone melodies. The bastards sweated poor Palastrina and probably helped drive Gesualdo crazy".
John Voigt: "The tri-tone as well--same as bop's flatted fifth."
Me: "So the precious rationality of western music is built on the most preposterous swamp of irrationality, of superstition. But the consequences for a decent human world were even worse outside of music."
John Voigt: "It exists as a cultural elitist racist religion of keeping the power with the current power-holders. That is why the widows give their robber baron dead husband's gelt to the conservatories and symphony orchestras."