The evolution of musical language, that happened in a radical way in around 1925 (Arnold Schönberg “Suite op. 25 for piano”) passed from an harmonic system (atonal or pantonal) to the serial one, in which the key points of tension and distension become numeric relations between a note and another, creates the first fracture between the musicians and the audience. This evolutive passage has led the composer to an assiduous search for the objective music, where the beauty was researched no more in harmonic relations in the sound but in intervallic algorithms that had to elude in any way the most consonant relations, as the octave or the fifth intervals; relations on which all the music of the past centuries had been built. This absolutist and denier phenomenon, follower of the last webernian writing, has its recognition between 1950 and 1960, during the Summer Courses for the New Music in Darmstadt (Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik), where musicians like Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Gyorgy Ligeti, Theodor Adorno would be defined Masters of the New Music. These Masters would produce a big quantity of self - referenced followers. These followers/supporters of the objective musical thinking would later become the executioners of the music or of the relation between the New Music and the user, the audience.
The consciousness of our History will always produce questions without answers. If the Western European compositive thought had followed another path instead of Anton Webern’s “punctual” way, today would we be in the same dramatic situation, where the classical music is coming out of theatres and the audience is getting older? The path taken up from the Masters of Darmstadt’s Summer Courses has created a “serial” doctrine about Music, which for several decades has been the diktat of their “followers”, who didn’t want to accept the truthful provocations of John Cage (who attended Darmstadt’s school). These provocations turned out to be premonitory under some aspects, for example the use of objects unrelated to music employed for prolification of compositive – musical material. These objects, while for Cage could be of any form or material like dice, coins, astronomic cards, pencils etc… today we can find them united technologically in the computer or more precisely in the software. Cage’s provocation was considering himself more a mycologist than a composer, maybe because he knew the creative process used to draw up a music score (because the creative act was simplified to the causality of an action and the interpreter became composer against his will in carrying out diligently John Cage’s indications). Anyway, this provocation hasn’t had success at all among the composers to whom it was referred; on the contrary they had continued with the quest for an objective “cage” that created objective and absolute music. If with the term Music we understand an artistic - expressive language, different from the word, almost certainly John Cage’s “interplay” was to let people understand that the use of technique and technology unrelated to music, produces a sonorous cacophonic agglomerate that is beyond physical-sensorial laws of sound, even if it is perfectly logical and organized with rules and algorithms. At the same time it affirms that nature’s sounds, that men consider casual, because they are extraneous to the western concept of music, produce harmony and melody themselves because they are ruled by a logic of the Universe that man defines “Fate,” unable to understand it completely.
The quest of new timbres and the invention of electric power has opened new musical horizons: from Luigi Russolo’s “Noise intoners” to software like Open Music, Maestro Genesis or Opus +, the creators of rhythmical, melodical and harmonic music sequences through stochastic process, the path has not been so long. If at the beginning the search for new sounds was useful to widen the musical timbre, software like the one already quoted were created as robots to help the composers and so becoming always more sophisticated and giving a wide range of combinations, had produced an involution of the composer himself, almost touching musical “deafness”.
Conceiving an aprioristic or artificial musical structure that can’t consider physical – acoustic changes, doesn’t mean we talk about music, because it isn’t based just on one structure even if mathematically perfect, of spaced outrelations between notes. Paraphrasing Franz Marc and Vasilij Kandinskij intuition, described in “Der Blaue Reiter” (1912), the artist, always looking for perfection and a personal technical-expressive improvement, is the interlocutor and the mediator between God and the mandkind, but what is the role of technology that translates the artist himself today?
(translator Martina Berardi)
Audio and Video:
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), “Klawierstück I” for piano (1952)
Pierre Boulez (1925), “Piano sonata n.3” for piano (1955-57/63)
Franco Donatoni (1927-2000), “Black and White n.2” for piano (1968)
Sandro Gorli (1948), “Studi in forma di variazione” for piano (1987)
Alessandro Solbiati (1956), “Interludi” for piano (2000-2006)
Yuval Avital (1977), “Sogno, ombre e paesaggi” piano sonata (2010-2011)
Inseong Beck, “Space Monkey” (Algorithm Composition ) for piano and Stella, Max/Msp, Cubase software (2011)
IAMUS Computer, “Colossus” for solo piano
IAMUS : Can machine be creative?