[f_minor] Knock Knock

Robert Merkin bobmerk at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 15 13:53:46 MDT 2015

Some years ago f_minor accidentally caromed into Silence, the Alternate Bizarro Universe e-list of John Cage freakazoids. (A Silence denizen had discovered that I'd taken The Master's name in vain and that a largely uncomplimentary Cage thread on f_minor had followed.)

Around 1920, the insurance executive Charles Ives lured a great Euro maestro to his Connecticut farm to hear some of Ives' piano compositions. After a few bars, the maestro screamed "This is not music! This is NOISE!" and fled back to New York City.

Since my teen years in the previous millennium I've had a soft or sucker spot for avant-garde music. 

Which is not the same as saying I like it. Nor can you judge my feelings for this stuff by calculating the amount of money I've shelled out for it. 

My talented pianist brother once got dragged to a Philip Glass concert, and when the noise started, it grabbed his ear instantly and filled him with disgust and anger. (He was too polite to stand up and stomp out, he didn't want to offend his date.) 

I hope Phil enjoys his prize. 

And I wouldn't want to shackle the Foundation with my artificial and subjective restraints on picking recipients. 

But unlike Gould's achievements, unlike Mozart and J.S. Bach, Chopin, Byrd, Gibbons and others, this Noise will not stand the Test Of Time. (Ives' noise has stood the test of time far better.) 

So there is crap avant-garde, and there is avant-garde that rocks and keeps grabbing the ears of the future.

In Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Rufus, a time-traveller from 2688 AD, comes back to our time to help two hopeless idiot teen boys pass their high school history assignment.

Eventually Rufus explains why. In 2688 AD, Bill & Ted's recorded rock music had become Earth's most beloved and famous music, and Bill & Ted were universally worshipped.

(I once got my hands on a box of Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal. Ask me off-list how it tasted.)

GG Prize or no, this ain't going to happen to the œuvre of Philip Glass. Earth is never going to scream ENCORE! for Koyaanisqatsi.

Thanks Pat for the old knock-knock joke. You know what a sucker I am for old dumb jokes.

And NASA is never going to get a message from ET that says




  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: David 
  To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. 
  Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 11:45 AM
  Subject: Re: [f_minor] Knock Knock

  Like Gould, Glass captured the ear upon first listen. Not many have.

  Sent from my iPhone

  On Apr 15, 2015, at 10:19 AM, Pat <pzumst at bluewin.ch> wrote:

    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Knock knock
    - Who’s there ?
    - Phil Glass

    ....so, this year’s winner of the GG Prize has been announced and it is Philipp Glass. 

    As you all know, with a few exeptions Mr. Gould found that whole minimal thing a bit dull and methinkst at one point he refered to it as 18th Century Music or summet to that extent. (Personally I am not of that opinion, just for the record. What counts here are the opinions of Mr. Gould.)

    So I wonder if this was a wise choice. 

    Not that I have any grudges against Mr. Glass, far from it. 

    Yet I reckon it should have gone to someone with a more “gouldian” approach to music and technology than a former revolutionary composer from the 70s who is  past mainstream and maybe a bit antique by now. And who was parodied by Mr. Gould in one of his rehearsal tapes. 

    Or could it be that the Old Boys And Girls Network was in charge, decided to give the prize to “one of us” without any regard whatsoever for any gouldian context or the signals this is sending to the rest of the art world, be done with it, proceed to the lunch buffet, safe in the knowledge that their names will also be mentioned in blogs and articles around the interwebs together with the famous laureate ? Do I smell Politics ? A PR stunt ? Why am I wondering if dear old Pet Clarke has ever seen  or heard Koyaniswhatever ?

    At least for me this announcement has a strange aftertaste and I really dunno if Mr. Gould would be happy with the idea of giving a prize in his name to Mr. Glass. Or giving out a prize in his name in general.



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