Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-26 - 8:22 p.m.
Suppose that Kind of Blue was really discovered around 1919/20 – 6 years before MD was born. One point would be the Lydian aspect of the Farlane in the TdC as just noted – but another would be the appearance of the So What chord in the piano piece by Stravinsky which he wrote in memoriam Debussy – I think this was in 1919. The piece becomes the Symphonies for Wind Instruments. I had a hack at it with the Dhorn on the first Highveld CD. This clustering would tie late impressionism and 1959 modal jazz to a nostalgic elegaic aspect in the 20th century and Bill Evans would be a major culprit – not least in the way he throws the idea to Ligeti who uses it in his late piano etudes right up to his death this year.
With all this bubbling I have been looking at the score of Stravinsky’s Ragtime which is copyright 1920. Like the Cage silent piece this is a score one can buy for artistic reasons – in this case it is because Picasso did the cover design. The piece is said to have been written with only scores as a source for the ragtime elements – not performances. Currently this phase in Stravinsky’s ouevre stands accused by Adorno of schizoid escapism - which may be a little harsh – after all it was written as Schoenberg was just beginning to formulate serialism and as Bartok is going right out on a limb in his violin sonatas. A better contrast is between Ravel and Stravinsky – and the jibe about watch-making shows that Stravinsky appreciates the contrast.
The last time I had a go at Ragtime it made no sense whatsover and in that sense I was with Adorno and (predictably) with Ravel and the Lydian buskers. I am beginning to change my mind though – its beginning to look like the reason Stravinsky spilled the drinks in that club on 52nd Street – I think in 1945 – was because not only Parker quoted Firebird but also because he was hearing a kind of out-harmony that he’d dreamed up at the end of the previous war. Parker famously confided - I think in 1937 - that he solved the problem of how to use all 12 notes. Did he know or care that that was what Schoenberg was working on in 1920? Or was he pulling a different thread which was connected to ragtime? (In 1937 Schoenberg was lighting the blue touch-paper on John Cage.)
I watched the ND in the 90s episode of the history of UK folk on BBC2 last night and of course I was pretty much in sympathy. I mailed PW on the subject and it emerged that he had been talking to James who is doing his PhD in Leeds on Lennon/Macca 66-71. This has to be to the good. Lucky old James also got a few thoughts from yours truly on software interfaces and the compositional craft.
I have been wondering about Making Waves. The reasons in favour include the softsymth, the quality of the tracker interface and what looks like good MIDI integration even including the dreaded XG Yamaha extensions. I see in passing that Yamaha have bought Cubase – developed by Germans, passed to US private equity and now in the hands of a Japanese trading house. Globalisation will favour the players who can afford to take the long view.