rejecting the terms
|Since "killing" and "owning" are both activities that I engage in with trepidation, while still doing both constantly, if passively, I suppose I should feel no better or worse about playing other people's songs than any other instances of these acts, since I "must" do one or the other. Still, it's funny to learn that these are my only options, since I had for some time thought that playing music created by someone other than myself might be one of the relative few activities left to me that was not best described in terms of either the destruction or taking of property. My bad.|
But then again, how about the possibility that distinct interpretations of the same material may relate to that material in different ways that do not vitiate or one-up one another, and that it isn't "one-two-three-four, I declare thumb war" against the "major"/"original" artist. How about "sharing"? (Or is that something one does only with the work of the "minor"? Or is it that if one does that, one doesn't win?) How about reimagining criticism in such a way that it could accomodate (encourage?) the notion of relations between any entities (even abstracta, which don't even have to eat) that are not relations of competition and domination? I know, not likely; call it an unreality check.
It's very tempting to say something like, "speaking of non-hierarchical relations, I just came back from seeing Anthony Braxton at Iridium, for the first time in 13 years of listening," but after all, he is the leader, and more than nominally so. I should probably read up on his whole Ghost Trance Music thing before posting stupid impressionist descriptions, but I get the basic idea that he has a series of compositions that consist of unison (rhythmically at least) heads that sort of expand and contract in terms of note-values, from which players eventually start splitting off; then that material may get continued by one subset of the group while another interrupts ("interpenetrates is probably closer") with another relatively composed-sounding "head," which may be fairly different in tempo and texture. And so on. Beyond instrumentation and technique, what makes this music "jazz" is that it's still, at some level, written in large part to let the players' play, by giving them something of interest (not, here, a harmonic structure) as "support" (the way an art critic would use that word).
Not that this, anymore, might mean "duo" or "trio" as well as "solo" space (though the uninterrupted set did include a drum solo 4/5 of the way in, like 82% of live hard bop records). Braxton, though clearly choosing most of the directions taken, and playing 5 or 6 different reeds wonderfully, doesn't go out of his way to feature himself; I gather that cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has become a key sideman, almost a second leader, since the last time I made more than a cursory dip into Braxtonia. He (Bynum) is a monster, and despite the above note, I'm hardly not going to pretend that hotshot jazz soloing is not a practice in which a good deal of competition and domination resides. There were also some passages where the only musicians playing were 2 or 3 of his current Wesleyan students, including an intriguing guitarist named Mary Halverson, who helped me understand what might have led Braxton to take up with Wolf Eyes for at least long enough to record something (that I still haven't heard).
Totally unrelated: why have I been seeing "different to" instead of "different from" more and more often, especially in theoryish material? Is this a translation thing? What's the home language? Is some fine difference in connotation marked by the change in prepositions? (I find this immediately suspect, as the semantic contribution of prepositions to larger syntactic units is wildly unpredictable; it recently occurred to me that "argue with" and "argue against are nearly synonymous.) Is this the coming "always already" for the late '00s? (And anyway, what most everyone writing in English means by "always already" is no more and no less than what analytic philosophers mean by "necessarily" -- "essentially" having falling out of favor everywhere.)