By Robin Maconie
Gertrude Stein and thinker Alfred North Whitehead have been not going buddies who spent such a lot in their mature lives in exile: Stein in France and Whitehead within the usa. Their friendship used to be according to a mutual admiration for the philosophical pragmatism of William James and skepticism towards the ecu culture of highbrow abstraction extending way back to Plato and Aristotle. although neither was once musical, either have been best exponents of a brand new orientation towards time and data acquisition that may cross directly to effect succeeding generations of composers. via Virgil Thomson, Stein got here to steer John Cage and the hot York tuition of summary track; via his educating within the usa, Whitehead’s philosophy of time and cognition got here to be obvious in the United States and out of the country in its place to Newtonian neoclassicism, another sincerely stated within the metric modulations of Elliott Carter and Conlon Nancarrow in addition to the post-1950 overall serialism of Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
The probably not likely effect of Stein and Whitehead on Thomson, Cage, Carter, and the minimalists tells a outstanding tale of transmission inside and one of the arts and philosophy, person who Robin Maconie unravels via his sequence of essays in Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez. Maconie explores, from Hollywood to Harvard, the best way song features as a kind of verbal exchange around the limitations of language, serving the factors of exchange and international relations via its illustration of nationwide identification, emotional personality, honorable purpose, and social self-discipline. The examine of tune as a language unavoidably grew to become the item of data technology after global warfare II, yet, as Maconie notes, 60 years on, music’s refusal to yield to medical elucidation has generated a circulation of anti-music propaganda through a robust collective of superstar technological know-how writers. In a chain of associated essays, Stockhausen expert Robin Maconie reconsiders the function of track and track expertise via cautious exam of key smooth strategies with admire to time, life, id, and dating as formulated by way of such thinkers as Einstein, Russell, Whitehead, and Stein, in addition to Freud, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and Marcel Duchamp.
This foray into paintings, tune, technological know-how, and philosophy is ideal for college students and students of those disciplines, in addition to these trying to comprehend extra deeply the impact those participants had on one another’s paintings and smooth music.
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Additional resources for Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez
Every one swap of secret is a metamorphosis of scale, and every swap of scale is said to a collection of ratios of wavelength. typically of thumb, a circulate to a sharper pitch and smaller scale corresponds to the next pressure and measure of emotional solution. Modulation in song has been round in view that 1600, lengthy sufficient for individuals to get the purpose that wavelength (frequency, periodicity as timed by way of a clock) is an equation of anxiety, mass (the weight of the string), and relative size. The artwork of modulation in tune is an artwork of adjusting scale till you discover the one who most closely fits the durations you need to sing. each switch of scale implies a metamorphosis within the set of acceptable ratios, and sophisticated readjustments of the tuning of the music therefore. whilst Whitehead says “we can't outline congruence through dimension” he's asserting an analogous factor as Mandelbrot, that the sea coast isn't a similar size when you swap the unit of size although it remains to be an identical beach. equally, the price assigned to a musical be aware is sure to alter at any time when the tune alterations key, even supposing the wavelength continues to be a similar. the price is an artifact of the unit of size. Marcel Duchamp’s 3 usual Stoppages also are statements approximately relative size, string, and much more. In 1913, Duchamp minimize 3 items of thread of a meter size from a regular rule, allowed the threads to fall to the ground, and stuck the ensuing curves with a fixative to maintain their outlines. while the threads have been dry he transferred them one after the other to 3 exact wood straightedges that have been then minimize to a similar curves. the result is a collection of 3 rulers that are not immediately yet whose curved edges are all of the comparable size of 1 meter. as a consequence the name regular Stoppages is obviously a connection with the concept that of a customary size within the experience that Wittgenstein makes use of the time period “standard meter” to consult the Paris reliable degree of size. yet what Duchamp is doing is going past the in simple terms highbrow, or logical and mathematical, query of ways a customary should be acknowledged to degree itself, to the sensible fact of the way size depends on curvature of the distance within which the traditional size has extension. because the size of every thread is similar however the curvature of every is various, it really is extra right to talk in their adjustments as in relation to an analogous degree being utilized to areas of alternative curvature, than to their no longer being a similar size. while Wittgenstein’s wit is restricted to abstractions of language and quantity, from Duchamp’s instance one is ready to draw a number of additional conclusions. Duchamp is announcing, for instance: 1. “standard meter” (in the feel implied through the Paris normal straight-line degree among traces engraved on a bar of platinumiridium alloy) is an expression of straightness as a situation for size itself, in addition to for actual size (“stand up immediately, so i will degree how tall you are”). That being the case, straightness isn't really an absolute for length—given that the 3 normal Stoppages are all various, but the entire comparable length—but particularly a tradition of size conditional at the indisputable fact that house itself is uniform, that's, “flat” or “straight,” which after Einstein was once now not regarded as inevitably the case.