2019 April 7: Anachronisms

April 07, 2019 22:30

Allemande, Sarabande     W. Zeitler 

"If Thou But Suffer God To Guide Thee"


At least in ’classic’ Presbyterianism, a distinguishing doctrine is that our eternal fate is ’predestined’ since before the Beginning. Now I’m no theologian or church historian, and I’m certainly not going to go into the pros and cons of that view. But I’ve often wondered that we probably have a lot less ’free will’ than we like to think we do. That is, if I subtract the genetic aspect of who I am (over which I had no choice), and how so much of me was set by my parents and the culture in which I was brought up (which I didn’t get to choose either), then how much of my ’choice’ now is really independent of all of that?

Meanwhile, early in my music career, I decided to write an example of various forms that interested me: a fugue, a classical piano sonata, a jazz piece, like that. It’s one thing to study these forms from the ’outside’, but quite another to actually write one yourself — the difference between watching someone swim and jumping in the pool yourself. For these exercises I used a modern harmonic idiom even for nominally Baroque and Classical forms — the purpose was not how to write a musical sentence but how to organize sentences into coherent musical paragraphs and chapters. Indeed, using a modern harmonic idiom forced me to really think about the form itself and not just parrot existing music from those eras.

(Apart from film scores whose form is determined by the film, I’d say 99% of music being written today uses the verse-chorus-verse-chorus form (pop in all its forms, rap, folk, almost everything), with the possible exception of verse-verse-verse (e.g. blues). Learning how to write these older forms is about as anachronistic as learning to play the pipe organ! Heh heh!)

For some inscrutable reason I’ve had the impulse to share a couple movements from a ’Baroque Suite’ I wrote when I was 19. They are definitely "Lenty"!