Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-30 - 8:55 a.m.

I have discovered the piano version of the introduction to So What in a book of music by Gil Evans which I bought in that music store on the corner of Times Square and I have started to transfer the stuff to the guitar – So What is one of the few guitar solos I keep on the go. Last night on the drive back to Gfd I listened to the 1962 Bert Jansch in Glasgow CD esp Angie and Blues Run the Game – and earlier this week they played Davy Graham and Ms Collins on Late Junction.

I have been thinking about a 5 note quartal chord – say from the botton g,c,f,bflat,eflat. And the way you can give it a specific character by shifting the notes a semitone. For example raising the root makes it Ab major, raising the c makes it an Eb9, lowering the eb makes it a So What chord on C, lowering the root makes it a D Hendrix/Davis chord. Miles was annoyed that the signature chord that Hendrix used in Purple Haze was one he used eg in the turnaround to On Green Dolphin Street several years earlier . Actually you get to a similar place lowering the c or the f.

The other inflection rather than keeping 4 notes constant and shifting one is to keep one constant and shift four. Quartal harmony is funny stuff – there are passages in Berg’s first piano sonata for example which I think may have come from Schoenberg.

I listened to Paul Wheeler’s Sea Changes on the drive as well. Paul initially produced a kind of retro-review album and then SC followed that. Then there was very experimental follow up which I also liked a lot and a further shorter set called Brighton Airs a few months back. At one point I produced some demos of the SC material. I cant help hearing Sea Changes through Modern Times – in the way it obviously connects to tradition but isn’t traditional. It occurred to me that SC is now about a passed world – a globalised Clinton world. There are some astonishing songs on it. I like its blue-ness which to me seems to link up with Robin’s Blue Flame.

Another exchange with James on Adorno and software. Schoenberg was really pissed off with Adorno claiming that music is really philosophy whereas for Schoenberg it is really music – presumably that means thematic development which has a glorious history from Bach after Cicero anticipating Silicon Valley through Mozart’s confession that he just pulled developable themes out of the air etc. There's a review in today's Guardian of the Takacs 4tet recording of 2 Schubert SQs which says they are the hottest crew around these days - how lucky I was to catch them doing the Dissonace 4tet in June along with Shostakovich.

Somewhere in my mind is a chain which starts with Brian Smith and his book about software objects – the case where these objects are musical objects. Smith points at Bruno Latour and the idea that there are participative networks where there are active artefacts as nodes. Suppose that these musical objects in software are such active artefacts – but that the activity has a strong philosophical component. I suppose one has to say that the activity can have a philosophical component because clearly when most people engage with music they aren’t actually doing philosophy.

As far as the Schoenberg-Adorno debate goes we have to remember that at one point S didn’t know what he was doing and that was the point when Kandinsky wanted to join the game and K was doing philosophy.

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