[Smt-talk] "Modes of Imagining"

Stephen Jablonsky jablonsky at optimum.net
Fri Jul 11 15:05:42 PDT 2014


Your post reminded me of the opening paragraph of my Tristan article from many years ago.

	Every compositional process is a mind game that the composer plays with himself.  Every game has an objective, game pieces, 	rules, and moves. The intellectual joy of every theorist is to postulate about what kind of game plan a certain composer may have 	employed in the act of writing a particular piece.  Few works in the canon of our music history have tempted theorists more than Tristan und Isolde, especially the Prelude and the Liebestod. I would like to believe that each one of those theorists felt humbled by the genius and beauty of this very special piece and that their explanations fell short of completely unearthing the mystery of its creation.

There are very few original games; most are extensions or variations of previous games. The composer begins his composition by deciding which elements from previous games he will reuse and which he will invent. Composing begins with a multiplicity of decisions about what to use and what to discard. The biggest decision is whether to adhere to the aesthetic of his predecessors or contemporaries, choose a parallel path, or to take an entirely new road. We call that style. It may be original to some degree or other, or conformist. Those decisions are often influenced by the purpose of the piece and who is paying for it.

Dr. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
The City College of New York
Shepard Hall Room 80D
New York NY 10031
(212) 650-7663
sjablonsky at ccny.cuny.edu

On Jul 11, 2014, at 2:17 PM, Stephen Soderberg <hyperchord at me.com> wrote:

> Here is the first of what I expect to be the final three posts in the thread "Desperately Seeking Relevance: Music Theory Today" in Essays & Endnotes. (The other two posts are nearly complete.) 
> '"Modes of Imagining": A few thoughts on rules, definitions, common notions, requests, postulates, axioms, hypotheses, and other stuff':
> -- Stephen Soderberg
>       Keswick, VA
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