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11 July 2008

Comments

Matt Weiner
1.

This seems like a good place to manually trackback my response to your fanservice post; basically, I'm not sure how your idea of fanservice applies to improvised music; it's difficult, but I don't see that that difficulty is overlaid onto something else as a means of excluding non-fans. (I'm not caught up on my own comments yet.)

And I haven't heard much Zimmerman at all (the stuff I have heard was performed by Manfred Schoof, Gerd Dudek, Alex von Schlippenbach, Buschi Niebergall, and Jaki Liebezeit later of Can -- so it even ties in to the improvised music stuff) -- but here's a report from a guy who wasn't a fan of opera or twelve-tone (and who, come to think of it, you may well know), who appreciated it. Which makes me think maybe it isn't just a competition to drive away the listeners.

DJA
2.

I'm not sure how your idea of fanservice applies to improvised music; it's difficult, but I don't see that that difficulty is overlaid onto something else as a means of excluding non-fans.

You really don't know any improv-based musicians -- or forget improv-based... you don't know any musicians, period, who fetishize obscurity as an end in itself? Trust me, they exist. David Byrne is not making these people up.

I am not against difficult music. I think I've made that fairly clear over the years I've been blogging. I'm against wankery -- especially music that uses inaccessibility as a shortcut to signify intellectual credibility. That's crap.

I also share a lot of Phil Freeman's frustration with some of improv's hoariest conventions. After how many years does this stuff stop sounding daring and exploratory and begin sounding like a string of clichéd prefab gestures?

I have not seen Die Soldaten, not have I heard the music, so I'm not actually making any claims about the work itself. Other than that based on Byrne's report and others, the staging sounds fucking ridiculous. Then again, the production seems to have sold out, so what the fuck do I know?

Matt Weiner
3.

You really don't know any improv-based musicians -- or forget improv-based... you don't know any musicians, period, who fetishize obscurity as an end in itself?

Sure, just as I'm sure there are mainstream jazz musicians who fetishize lightning-fast playing over chord patterns as an end in itself, regardless of its musical value. In any given musical style, some of its less inspired exemplars are going to fetishize the style; in improv, that means fetishizing obscurity, breaking up any groove for no reasons.

But what Freeman and Byrne are claiming is that the entire improv/twelve-tone movement fetishizes obscurity as an end in itself. And, with the possible exception of the Milton Babbitt wing, that's crap. As I said in my post, is there any evidence that this applies to Evan Parker or to Braxton/Roidinger/Oxley (never mind that Braxton etc. don't play free improv)?

It's certainly true that individual improvisors have their own gestures and styles (and I find Zorn's gestures get mannered faster than Parker's, not too surprising since he isn't mainly a free improviser), and Freeman's entitled to dislike Parker's style (though I sure can think of improv records that in my opinion build up heads of steam, and Parker's on some of them). Everyone has tastes. But just because improv isn't breaking all-new ground every second doesn't mean it's a bunch of clichéd prefab gestures either. It can be musicians working in and even extending their own personal idiom. Isn't that what everyone does?

And the musicians involved in this don't claim that they're constantly breaking new ground either. here's Alexander von Schlippenbach saying that, after over thirty years, when he plays with Parker and Lovens they don't surprise him; he can see what they're going to play and play off of it. That doesn't make it a hoary convention, any more than any other style.

Matt Weiner
4.

Perhaps I shouldn't say that Byrne is talking about the entire twelve-tone movement, since he just says "many composers." But it still seems to me as though he's painting with a broad brush.

DJA
5.

Hi Matt,

I see you updated with a bit of a corrective, but it's worth emphasizing out that: "what Freeman and Byrne are claiming is that the entire improv/twelve-tone movement fetishizes obscurity as an end in itself" is not remotely true. That's your over-broad gloss.

Phil Freeman is a huge fan of (for instance) Cecil Taylor and Matthew Shipp (and, as he says in the linked piece, Han Bennink) -- it's just the meticulously grooveless Evan Parker/Derek Bailey approach he's mostly suspicious of (and even then, he admits exceptions).

And if David Byrne is painting with a broad brush, it's because serialism really did become a rigid orthodoxy for "serious" classical composers, and people like Babbitt and Wuorinen and Boulez really did believe that anyone who was not a total serialist was useless and morally inferior. During the period that Zimmerman wrote Die Soldaten, 12-tone music was mandatory. There's nothing the least bit subversive about writing a 12-tone opera in the late 1950's/early 1960's. (That doesn't mean it's a bad piece, it just means that it is by no stretch of the imagination "radical" or "innovative," at least insofar as its pitch structure goes.)

Sure, just as I'm sure there are mainstream jazz musicians who fetishize lightning-fast playing over chord patterns as an end in itself, regardless of its musical value. In any given musical style, some of its less inspired exemplars are going to fetishize the style; in improv, that means fetishizing obscurity, breaking up any groove for no reasons.

And that's not a problem? Both of those things are excellent examples of the kind of fanservice I am complaining about. I am not singling out improv or serialism by any means, as you can see.

And the musicians involved in this don't claim that they're constantly breaking new ground either.

Well, actually, for the most part, they do, as do the majority of fans and critics. The Bailey-Parker-inspired wing of the improv world would lose a lot of its cachet if people didn't believe it was a hardcore radical shit-disturbing convention-smashing scene after all, and was in fact just a musical style like any other, to be judged on its merits instead of its distance from the conventions of popular music.

Matt Weiner
6.

To begin with, I don't really have any brief for Boulez/Babbitt/Wuorinen; I don't know much about that wing of composition, I haven't liked what I've heard, and it really did seem to have a dominant academic position -- which is something that you can hardly say about British improv.

Anyway, fair point about Freeman's exceptions (you mean the post where he talks about Bailey and drummers?), but he it really is a wholesale dismissal of British improv wholesale with one or two exceptions -- he literally says that everything by Parker and Butcher is worthless. (Which is particularly strange, since he purports to be giving advice to Simon Reynolds, who already says that he likes Butcher.) That's still a big swatch of music -- and where's the evidence that it's all fanservice?

And that's not a problem?

It is, for those musicians. But what's that got to do with the musicians we've been talking about?

The Bailey-Parker-inspired wing of the improv world would lose a lot of its cachet if people didn't believe it was a hardcore radical shit-disturbing convention-smashing scene after all, and was in fact just a musical style like any other, to be judged on its merits instead of its distance from the conventions of popular music.

Are you really saying that fans of improvised music don't judge it on its merits?

Matt Weiner
7.

And I don't mean to get too much in your face about this -- I'm working on a paper, I'm a little bored with my computer games, the Pirates game doesn't start till 7 and they're mediocre anyway, so I'm particularly psyched for online arguments as a procrastination device. Glad the gig went well.

DJA
8.

But what's that got to do with the musicians we've been talking about?

Well, I haven't actually criticized any individual players, so if you have specific complaints on that front you'll have to take it up with Phil Freeman and Simon Reynolds. I'm not them and I don't endorse all of their opinions. I just used Reynolds' original post as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion. My fanservice posts were not exclusively or even primarily about improv.

However, since you asked, I will say that I do get the feeling that improv that has a pathological aversion to any kind of sustained groove is (or at least, has become) something of a tic, and often feels both arbitrary and alienating to me. I'm not really interested in listening to music that precludes even the possibility of the merest hint of some kind of regular pulse. This doesn't describe the entirety of British non-idiomatic improv since the late sixties, but it does describe a lot of it.

I do like Evan Parker's playing on Kenny Wheeler's Around 6.

Are you really saying that fans of improvised music don't judge it on its merits?

Let's look at that John Butcher quote again:

This music is here in opposition to other music. It doesn't all co-exist together nicely. The fact that I have chosen to do this implies that I don't value what you're doing over there. My activity calls into questions the value of your activity. This is what informs our musical thinking and decision making.

Does that sound like he is encouraging people to judge his music on its own merits? Or does it sound like he wants you to give him Brownie points because what he does is extremely dissimilar to other, more accessible forms of music?

josh s.
9.

Hi Matt and Darcy,

Just to weigh in briefly here, I have to express a bit of confusion. Darcy, when you talk about 'fanservice,' are you talking about the artist or the fan? In other words, is the phenomena you're talking about someone liking something simply because it's obscure, or an artist producing something in the hope of alienating most human beings? I think these are two different things.

I've experienced more than my share of the former and I just shrug it off. I honestly don't have time to discuss concepts like "selling out" because I honestly don't think it's a real phenomena.

I can't say I've witnessed much of the latter. Yes, I have been to shows where while listening I would think to myself, "What in the world goes on in this person's head?" This doesn't tell me anything about the artist's intent, it's just my personal, subjective response. Sometimes I can make sense of the "alienating" music, plenty of times I can't and simply have to return to it for multiple listenings (and sometimes that doesn't work either).

I've met several artists who are classified as "out" or "avant-garde" or "non-idiomatic", etc. and almost none of them expressed interest in actively alienating people. Some would say things to the effect of "if people don't understand what I'm doing, then fuck 'em." but even then, the AIM was not to alienate, just a byproduct of the experience. Plenty of times these same artists would talk about how much they wanted people to like what they are doing, they just didn't feel a responsibility to MAKE THEM LIKE IT.

And as far as Reynolds comments re: Evan Parker, he's entitled to his opinion. I just wish he'd express it better. Just because HE doesn't hear any groove in Parker's playing (to which I can only say "what the fuck??!!") doesn't mean squat about Parker's intentions. It just says something about what Reynolds himself hears (or doesn't hear).

josh s.
10.

And I'd just like to throw in here that I think Butcher's quote is more of an exception than the rule to what I've witnessed. It's helpful to remember regarding Butcher that he was well on his way to becoming a physicist when he heard Evan Parker and decided to change vocations. Just because he started out as an obscurantist doesn't mean the same for everyone who plays with him.

DJA
11.

Hi Josh,

when you talk about 'fanservice,' are you talking about the artist or the fan? In other words, is the phenomena you're talking about someone liking something simply because it's obscure, or an artist producing something in the hope of alienating most human beings?

I am taking about the artist making aesthetic choices designed to stroke the ego of the type of fan (or critic, or academic, or authority figure) who privileges certain insular, often obscure conventions above all else. It's art that exists to make the in-crowd feel good about knowing all the codes and conventions and unwritten rules, enabling them to feel superior to well-intentioned neophytes. Again, there are lots of examples of this that have nothing to do with improv.

And I'm sorry, but I do think the attitude that "if people don't understand what I'm doing, then fuck 'em" is toxic. I also think that it is your responsibility as an artist to MAKE US LIKE IT, or at the very least, to make your artistic intentions clear to us. Art is fundamentally about communication -- if the people you are playing for don't get anything out of what you're doing, then clearly somebody has failed... and it's a bit too convenient to always pin the blame on the audience.

There's this bit from Rzewksi that I'm always quoting: "it seemed to me there was no reason why the most difficult and complex formal structures could not be expressed in a form which could not be understood by a wide variety of listeners." Do you disagree with this?

Matt Weiner
12.

Well, I haven't actually criticized any individual players, so if you have specific complaints on that front you'll have to take it up with Phil Freeman and Simon Reynolds. I'm not them and I don't endorse all of their opinions. I just used Reynolds' original post as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion. My fanservice posts were not exclusively or even primarily about improv.

Fair enough. About Butcher, I think some artists are going to take that iconoclastic attitude -- that their own work destroys everything that comes before it. If fans are going to be disproportionately into what makes their favorite genre special, that can go extra for artists, right? I once heard Sean Landers talk about his work -- stuff like this (that spells out "GENIUS") -- and he said, "If I didn't really think my work was the best stuff ever I couldn't do it." That's more the vibe I get from that Butcher quote.

And I'm in total agreement with Josh S. about Parker's groove -- I almost always find Bailey's rhythm to be the opposite of arbitrary, too. De gustibus, though. Have you heard the Spring Heel Jack live album with Evan Parker, Shipp, William Parker, Bennink, and J. Spaceman?

Matt Weiner
13.

Cross-post -- I think I do disagree with Rzewski. Or at least, I think the structures can be expressed in an accessible way, but I don't think they have to be. Or at least, inaccessibility doesn't mean wankery.

josh s.
14.

"...and it's a bit too convenient to always pin the blame on the audience."

I expressed myself ineloquently and I apologize. But let me be clear(er), my feeling is that if someone doesn't understand what I'm doing, then I don't blame them (and I think plenty of times the other artists I'm thinking of feel the same). I simply think that despite one's best efforts, things can still be misunderstood.

MAKING SOMEONE LIKE IT to me is a separate issue from MAKING ART. I'm not saying the activities can't (or shouldn't) be combined, but for my own work I have to treat these as separate issues. Being liked/not-liked is what I would term an 'editorial decision.' That is, it's something I'm thinking about after a thing's been made. If I think about this issue while I'm making something, then I get distracted and lose concentration.

I agree with the Rzewski quote, but again, I think making a structure is one activity and expressing it in a widely-understood form is another. I don't think it's the job of an artist to communicate (unless they want to take on that job). I think making art that is restricted to "communicating" can be severely limiting. That limitation might be energizing for some people (artists and audiences alike), but it can be crippling for others.

DJA
15.
Or at least, I think the structures can be expressed in an accessible way, but I don't think they have to be.

And we're back to me not understanding why, if an artist's ideas can be expressed in a more accessible way, with greater clarity, without compromising their integrity, said artist would instead choose to express them in a deliberately inaccessible way.

Lots of Rzewski's music is extremely thorny and difficult to listen to -- he's even written his share of 12-tone stuff -- but, as a listener, I always get the sense that Rzewski is at least making a good-faith effort to meet me halfway. I have basically no patience for music that does not even attempt to do that much.

DJA
16.
I don't think it's the job of an artist to communicate

Josh, I am genuinely perplexed by this. Why bother to make your art public, then, if it's not supposed to communicate anything to other people?

Matt Weiner
17.

What I mean is, one version of the same structures can be expressed accessibly and another can't. Obviously in some sense you can't separate the structure from the expression -- structure supervenes on expression and vice versa, just as form and content supervene on each other. But if you're talking a general kind of structure like twelve-tone or free improvisation, then maybe what one person wants to do with the structure can be expressed in an accessible way and what another person wants to do with it can't. If, say, Webern's twelve-tone stuff is less accessible than Rzewski's, or Butcher's free improvisation is less accessible maybe than Steve Harris's (or whoever you think is accessible), that doesn't mean that the less accessible people are being deliberately exclusive; they may just be trying to say things that can't be said accessibly.

It's like, some analytic philosophy can be written up in a way that's relatively accessible to lay readers or even to non-specialists, and some can't. It doesn't mean that the people writing the latter stuff aren't trying to communicate (though sometimes they aren't), it might just be that they need the formal systems or specialized jargon to make their point.

I'm also not quite sure what you mean by making a good-faith effort to meet you halfway. Take Cecil Taylor; some people might listen to Jazz Advance or Jumpin' Punkins and say, "Well, he obviously can play over a relatively steady bass and drum pulse; why doesn't he meet the mainstream jazz listener halfway like that all the time?" But the things that he's wanted to express since then can't be expressed over that kind of rhythm. That doesn't make them not worth expressing, and if he had felt obliged to stick to more accessible stuff we'd be much poorer.

In other news, "mediocre" was extravagant overpraise for the Pirates.

DJA
18.
I'm also not quite sure what you mean by making a good-faith effort to meet you halfway.

Well, first and foremost, this means playing the music like it fucking means something to you, and you desperately want us all to understand exactly what it is that it means to you, because these sounds that you are making are the most important sounds in the world, and if you fail to persuade us just how important these sounds are, you'll die.

(This is the feeling I get from listening to, for example, Andrew D'Angelo.)

From a composer's perspective, this also means presenting the musical information at a reasonable pace, giving us time to appreciate each idea before it's transformed or discarded. It helps if the ideas are memorable and distinctive. It also means arranging the ideas into some kind of coherent and satisfying musical narrative. If the music is static, it should be static in interesting ways (like Brian Eno). If the music is dense, effusive, and disorienting, that low-level chaos should be in the service of some kind of audible larger structural goal. (Either that, or it should be very, very short.) It means working hard to find the most direct, understandable, effective, and emotionally compelling way to present your ideas. It means striving to express even the most complex music with simplicity and clarity.

There's lots of music that's fun to play (or write) but would not be fun for those same players/composers to sit and listen to. You can make that kind of music all you want in private. If you are playing for an audience, then I want you to at least strive to make the kind of music that would send you into rapturous ecstasy if you were listening and not playing. I don't think that's unreasonable.

I don't always love Cecil Taylor on record, but every time I have seen him live it has been magic, and the audience has been completely enraptured. Cecil definitely knows how to cast a spell on us and take us places.

Matt Weiner
19.

There's lots of music that's fun to play (or write) but would not be fun for those same players/composers to sit and listen to. You can make that kind of music all you want in private. If you are playing for an audience, then I want you to at least strive to make the kind of music that would send you into rapturous ecstasy if you were listening and not playing. I don't think that's unreasonable.

I'm not convinced that anyone does, on purpose, make the sort of music that they wouldn't want to listen to. Well, surely someone somewhere does, but I think it's very rare that someone's up there thinking "What a joke I'm pulling over on the audience; this is lots of fun for me but I wouldn't want to listen to it." Even Milton Babbitt sounds like he could hear his own music with pleasure, it's just that he doesn't care to make it comprehensible to anyone who can't aurally decipher serial structures.

DJA
20.
I'm not convinced that anyone does, on purpose, make the sort of music that they wouldn't want to listen to.

Matt, I'm afraid you are just wrong here. This is incredibly, incredibly common. Lots of musicians make music purely because making music is a rewarding activity for them in the moment, but are completely uninterested in actually listening to similar music. This is a painfully apt description of many of the musicians I went to school with.

Matt Weiner
21.

Could be. I already have to eat some of my words from this thread. Though not listening to similar music is not restricted to the avant-garde -- wasn't Coleman Hawkins well known for never listening to jazz, only Puccini?

But I'm listening to a Parker/Prevost album right now, and regardless of what they listen to off the set it strikes me that they're playing like it means something to them, and that the sounds they are making are the most important sounds in the world, and for that reason they have to make exactly those sounds. (Well, that's not quite right, because improvisation is contingent. But you know what I mean.) The concept of selling it to a skeptical audience just doesn't come into it. And both players could play more straight-ahead jazz structures if they wanted (I've heard lots of recordings where Parker does this, not so Prevost but I believe there are some out there), but then they wouldn't be playing these sounds, right now, which are at the moment the most important in the world. And frankly I don't think you have the right to demand that they meet you halfway.

In a way, now we're on a different point from the original. Is the question whether the musicians have to communicate to themselves if they were sitting in the audience, whether they have to communicate to everyone, or whether they have to communicate to the people actually listening? Because if they're communicating to their real fans -- and yes, there can be empty validation of fandom rather than actual communication, but that's not the same as refusing to change your work to meet the general public halfway -- then there's something of worth there. All things being equal it's better to communicate to more people, but all things are (literally) never equal.

DJA
22.

Though not listening to similar music is not restricted to the avant-garde

Matt, you keep trying to tie everything back to improv, and I have to keep reminding you that I did not single that field out for particular criticism in either of my original fanservice posts.

And both players could play more straight-ahead jazz structures if they wanted

I don't doubt it but I don't care -- this issue is completely unimportant to me.

And frankly I don't think you have the right to demand that they meet you halfway.

Your original idea of what I meant by this was mistaken, so I just want to make sure there are no lingering misimpressions. I don't want anyone to "meet me halfway" by hewing closer to convention. I want them to "meet me halfway" by being passionate and striving for clarity and sincere communication. You're right that I don't have the right to "demand" this from anyone, but I do have the right to be dismissive of music that is bloodless, insular, and needlessly cluttered.

josh s.
23.

"Why bother to make your art public, then, if it's not supposed to communicate anything to other people?"

You can answer this several ways, but I'd like to think some of the more sensible answers would be:
- you enjoy your art
- you believe in your art
- you're not sure you can work any other job without losing your mind.

Yes, these answers imply a certain kind of selfishness, but then again "job satisfaction" is a pretty selfish concept.

But none of these answers are predicated on "communicating." If a person wants to communicate they should, but I don't feel that's a requirement for making art.

DJA
24.

Hi Josh,

Those are all good answers to the question "why would you make art," but they don't really get at the question of "why you would make your art public, if you don't intend it to communicate anything to anyone else."

If you don't care about communicating, then presumably you would get just as much enjoyment (possibly more) out of playing in a room by yourself, or playing a private session with other musicians but no audience. Similarly, if communication doesn't matter to you, then perhaps it's even easier to believe in your art if nobody else ever hears it. And if it's money you're after -- even if it's just enough to avoid having to work a non-music job for a few hours -- then it seems kind of arrogant and counterproductive to ask people to give you their money so they can listen to music that isn't intended to communicate anything to other humans.

josh s.
25.

Darcy,

I'm not talking about "music that isn't intended to communicate anything." I'm talking about music that doesn't HAVE to communicate (Actually, I'm talking about art that doesn't have to communicate). The distinction concerns the word "intended."

Why show your art to people if there's no intention of communication? Well, sometimes one is compelled to. Why? I'm not sure as that varies from artist to artist. And I'm not so interested in that reason (unless it's part of the art). Generally speaking, the compulsion to create/display art is enough for me. That is, if the artist HAS to make this thing, then I'm interested. The artist might not understand why they have to make it, but again, it's that dynamic energy (the 'how')that makes me interested, not what produced the energry (the 'what').

It seems to me that requiring art to communicate bars most ambiguous art from public display/discourse. And I have to admit a bias for ambiguous art.

DJA
26.

Hi Josh,

Thanks for the clarification, although I have to admit I'm still a bit perplexed. If someone is compelled to display their art, that suggests pretty strongly that they do actually care about at least attempting to communicate something to someone, even if this desire for communication is something the artist can't/won't admit to himself. Getting your art out there is a huge pain in the ass. If an artist genuinely doesn't care whether anyone else ever experiences their art, why go to the trouble?

I guess I should clarify, though, that my strong preference for art made by artists who are actually concerned about finding the best way to communicate their ideas in no way bars (or even disadvantages) art that is ambiguous or ineffable. I think maybe you and I have different ideas about what the word "communication" signifies.

josh s.
27.

Darcy,

Could be we're differing over semantics, but I don't think that's all of it.

An artist can put something out there simply because they themselves enjoy experiencing it. That's all, nothing more. In other words, it could be a visual art that simply stimulates your eyes, or music/sound that stimulates your ears. For me personally it's often something that makes me think "What is that? I'm not sure why I want to keep checking this thing out, but I do. What's going on?" I don't always answer those questions, but living in a time when so many things are clamoring for my attention, I really value things that HOLD my attention.

And to return the conversation, however briefly, to specific examples: if we're talking about free-form improvisation (could be the Brits, but could also be Cecil Taylor or anyone working in that vein), then I would argue that plenty of times the artist doesn't know what the art communicates until AFTER it's been created (and many times the missive isn't all that earth-shattering anyway). Great joy can be derived from the audience and artist sharing alike in this discovery-process, but yes, it can also lead to dead-ends and self-indulgent posturing. But that's a crap-shoot that I find in any art.

DJA
28.

Hi Josh,

An artist can put something out there simply because they themselves enjoy experiencing it.

Dude, I hate to keep coming back to this, but listen -- what is the difference between the artist experiencing their own work in private vs. experiencing it in public? For instance, if you enjoy the experience of looking at your own visual art, why would you then go and put it in someone else's gallery? Why not just keep it in your own studio or at home, where you can look at it whenever you want? Why deprive yourself of that pleasure? I really, really, really don't think you can subtract the audience from this equation.

I'm also definitely not asking anyone to even try to put into words "what the art communicates." That's a nonstarter. What's important (to me), though, is the act of the artist reaching out to me and trying to make me experience something that is vitally important to him or her. Certainly Cecil Taylor does that -- he's one of the greatest communicators in music.

josh s.
29.

"...why would you then go and put it in someone else's gallery?"

Because you think other people would enjoy it. One can argue that the artist is now trying to communicate the unique feeling they experience to other people. That may be, but I'm trying to address the issue of intentionality. Maybe the artist isn't intending to communicate. Maybe, at best, they're hoping that other people enjoy it.

What I'm arguing is that believing in your art is enough reason to publicize it. Is this a self-indulgent attitude? Yes. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing when done in moderation. If someone doesn't want to communicate that's fine by me, BUT they better BELIEVE in what they're doing.

This sounds like your issue of "make[ing] me experience something that is vitally important to [the artist]," but I feel this 'experience' is a subjective, private one that the audience member creates. As a work of art becomes more abstract, it becomes more impossible to take responsibility for the experience it's going provoke. I'm not saying artists should be irresponsible and non-introspective, I'm just saying that they shouldn't feel required to reach out to people. Sometimes when you make something and put it out there, you'd just like to offer an experience.

DJA
30.
Because you think other people would enjoy it.

Yes. Exactly. This it the point I've been making all along. "Hoping other people will enjoy it" is hoping for some manner of communication to happen between artist and audience, for the art to have some kind of effect on other people. Art -- or at least, art that is put out there for public consumption -- is a fundamentally social activity.

josh s.
31.

Oh.
Guess we were having a semantic argument.
But I'm still not sure I'd call "hoping for audience enjoyment" or experience-induction communication.
But that's just me.

Matt Weiner
32.

"Hoping other people will enjoy it" is hoping for some manner of communication to happen between artist and audience, for the art to have some kind of effect on other people.

Great! I completely agree with that, and I agree with what Josh has been saying throughout. But I think there's some slippage from this to the idea that there must be some uncluttered structure, that information must be presented at a reasonable pace. People can enjoy art that presents so much information that it's impossible to absorb it all at once, or at least impossible to for people who haven't spent time working on it to absorb all at once, because they're catching some of the musical information, and because they can tell that the rest is there even if they can't absorb it all. To rule this out is to depend on another idea of communication, I think, which is much more like linguistic communication.

To get down to examples, I think Ascension presents information at an unreasonable pace, and I think Charlie Parker does too, and that's part of what's so great about them. Definitely both of these took me a long time to get into, because I couldn't absorb all the information flying by. I had to work at it. Or, to go back to the original example of comic books, take Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth; that compresses a ridiculous amount of information onto each page, which can't all be absorbed on a single reading. (I don't know anything about superhero comics, but it's orders of magnitude more denser than other comics I've read.) Ware could've spread out his information at a more reasonable rate, and maybe that would've in some way communicated to a wider variety of people, but that would've been a different book. And music can be the same way.

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