MUSICALLY MISCELLANEOUS MAYHEM

Musicological Musings with a smattering of Miscellanea

Saturday, November 12, 2011

AMS San Francisco 2011 Saturday, November 12

What a pleasure to attend an entire session and to enjoy all four papers! The Cage and Friends session was very engaging and I enjoyed the recollections of Gordon Mumma, who served as the session's co-chair. He requested that the questions be kept concise, that they should actually resemble questions, and that the answers should likewise be kept short. I'd love to see these rules printed on a banner and posted in every session. People observed these guidelines for the most part, and the net effect was that I rather enjoyed the Q and A portion of each paper. See my previous post for a list of the papers.

The session also worked well because there was a fair amount of cohesion, making for a rather lovely academic symphony. The outer movements, if you will, were papers by Brett Boutwell and Phil Gentry. What I enjoyed most about these two papers is how they addressed larger issues within musicology, using Feldman and Cage as examples. Boutwell explored the genesis of Feldman's Projections, and how Feldman transmitted and attributed a variety of influences on his work, and his ideas for graphic notation. Phil Gentry's paper on Cage's famous book Silence, adressed issues of autobiography and how we may be too quick to dismiss interpretations of these works with which their original authors might have disagreed. The paper looked at the "covert values" of Indeterminacy in Cage's "narrative" and most importantly, noted the lack of focus on 4'33" within the book. What writings Cage chose to include or not include is perhaps as much a part of the autobiographical narrative as the work itself.

The two inner movements were also very fascinating, and I appreciated the humble confession by You Nakai regarding his slight nervousness presenting in front of Gordon Mumma, who entertained with numerous yet relevant anecdotes about the creation of these pieces and Cage's life in general. Richard Brown's paper taught me much about Richard Lippold, a sculptor about whom I knew little. Most intriguing was his investigation of curatorial strategies and their impact on art, particularly the reception of the artist.

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