Academic journal article Current Musicology

In Response to Intero and Canto Infinito

Academic journal article Current Musicology

In Response to Intero and Canto Infinito

Article excerpt

TO ASTONISH THE ROSES 7 e-mails to Walter Branchi

Roses #1

Dear Walter,

Since your last visit

{- when you played us a CD of an Intero episode, in a bedroom chock-full of beds, desks, chairs, stacks of books and music, bookcases, LP's & CD's, LP-cases, CD-cases, TV and stereo systems, a filing cabinet, and (says Ruth) a certain amount of dirt; and featuring a picture window with a pleasant enough view out to vegetation of the season;--and you left me a copy of your forthcoming book -}

I've been thinking and scribbling about more or less Everything, not excluding my 12+1 Liszt tone-poems, nor defunct Music Theory / History 101, nor why I Balk at your Systems-Theory superstructures.

{- but not at your music (--I'm always sure I'm with you.--), nor at your quirky experiences and inspiring visions, nor at seeing a patch of sky fully for the first time, nor at sonic integration with our environment, nor at your astonishing, perspicacious Sentence for the Ages : (born Immortal : don't fail to instruct your heirs, when they plant you in a deservedly green cemetery, to engrave this line on your principal monument) : "I write music to astonish the roses.".--}

As a result, I think I have distilled some questions on which our attitudes run skew; so who better to inflict it all on than him who set me off. You've earned yourself e-mails!

But where to start?

Well, how about here?: From all the way back to our talk in Rome (late 70's?) about a Nono piece in a car on the way home after, I've gleaned that we have contrasting attitudes toward the Drift of History, and in particular the drift of Music history. I think you think that History is Going Somewhere (or at least flowing in some direction) and that we should create for, and in response to, our Location, or Moment, in that drift.

Say I: Bullshit.

The only thing that History ever did for me was put me in the middle of it. For this favor I owe it nothing in particular. I'm happy to cherish, or deplore, or ignore its leavings, and I enthusiastically do: but we call our own shots. (In saying this, I feel very much the American Cowboy; but as Bob Sadin and Henry James both insisted, that's America vs. Europe for you.) Just as there is no God and he's my personal enemy, there is no Drift and it flows every which way. We even put Leonard Bernstein and Geo. W. Bush in charge of it for a while.

So what now? Sit tight. Roses #2 follows at my leisure.

Love, Jim

Roses #2

Dear Walter,

You asked me a striking question once--I've forgotten what I was blathering about; something future-oriented I think--namely: Was I talking about Music or about Sound? From almost anyone else, I would have assumed that the questioner valorized, as I habitually do, Music. But no, you were implying something unexpected: that it was desirable to speculate about Sound divested of "Musical". (You'll be able to judge how far I've progressed.)


Intero originates in an initially uninterpreted set of Ratios which, in composing, you interpret into the domain of Frequency, and thence into (all?) domains of spatial and temporal interest. Intero (--with all that crap in the room plus a bureau which I forgot to mention--) integrates us with our environment in a sonically driven healing to which nothing is external because everything (especially all that crap in my room) is embraced.


But how is it with my Liszt tone-poems? (I've got the whole baker's dozen of them.) I imagine I'm noticing the difference between listening to (L t-p) and listening thru (Int);--but pretty soon I balk.

It goes like this:

(I draw freely from Canto Infinito.)

My Liszt tone-poems (Haitink/A.Joo/Karajan/Halasz) are indeed oozing with thematic temporal processes: transformations of time-loaded cells, trajectories (I like that word used this way), and outcomes (logical? …

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