Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-04 - 3:02 p.m.
I went to see Charlie in Tooting on Saturday afternoon to discuss what we will do next Saturday in Cambridge. He had selected a Jobim tune that I wasn’t familiar with – but it was quite playable. It reminded me how each Jobim tune has its unique character even though there are family similarities. This one is a bit like Insensitive - ABAC in form in the minor lingering in the flat supertonic major – major seventh – then normal seventh before the half dimimished and dominant at the end of B section. In the C section it moves up from the subdominant minor to a full diminished chord a semitone up then a 6/4 on the tonic and the flat sub-mediant before the final close and I suppose it is this which helps give it is character – plus the way the melody is built on motifs – and not scared to linger relatively static on chord tones. I suppose it’s the ensemble – the harmonic movements and the melodic trajectory that combine to make it a meaningful whole.
I discovered a new harmonic idea prompted by this – a tonic pedal with the minor seventh chord on the dominant as a suspension. This then moves up a half step over the continuing pedal and then up a minor third from there. It’s a kind of elaborated II7 chord. Sometimes I think there isnt anything left in tonally based harmony.
Dylan’s interview reproduced in the Observer was good value – especially what he had to say about the distinction between making recordings and writing songs.
James survived internal airflights in the Ukraine and is back at his studies in Odessa after his weekend in Yalta.
I started to think about the impressionist/expressionist polarity in music – simple things like ‘expressionism comes after impressionism’ and ‘impressionism is more to do with outside and expressionism with interior.’ It seemed to me that they could both be examples of non-schematic realism in music.
I also started to read a collection of essays I bought in Boston on emotion in music. It seems to me that to get clear about emotion in music you have to get clear about two other topics – emotion in other things generally and the locus of perception. I have been dabbling with a Ms S Siegel who has just been made a philosophy prof at Havard and she seems to have discovered independently that perception is partly ‘out there’. She says rather coyly that people are saying to her that Husserl came to the same conclusion. She seems to open up the analytical possibility that when we hear the music, the music is actually outside rather than inside – at least some of the time or in some respects. The harder part is getting clear about the different places that emotion can be located eg an angry sky vs an angry spouse. Obviously impressionism has more to do with an angry sky and expressionism an angry spouse – but they can both be species of realism – emotional realism.
Once, driving from Goodwood in Sussex to leantown - under an angry sky - I heard a R3 programme which suggested that in the 18C audiences tended to hear music as mimetic. So they would praise a composition because it did the babbling brook well. This suggests some amusing possibilties in post-concert discussion: 'yes I thought they did the MINI ever so well but I wasn't convinced by the square root of minus one.'
More seriously, there seems to have come a point towards the end of the 18C when audiences suddenly began to hear music as emotion rather than simple copying or re-presentation.