Monday, February 2, 2009
getting around to Earle Brown
Thinking about Lukas Foss and the opening-up of composition to include chance (and filling the gaps in my musical knowledge), I remember reading about Earle Brown's Twenty-five Pages - 25 pages of music scored for 1-25 pianos to be performed in any order. I don't have liner notes, but from the versions and the time signature on this record, I am guessing that the pages are handed out to the performers and the more pianos you have, the shorter the piece will be: 25 pianos gets it done in 1:13, one in 25:49, four in 14:15. The less pianos, the more quiet and contemplative the piece is, the more, or course, the more "chaotic" and confusing. I say chaotic in quotes because I think this is a great example pulling the rug out of chaos - in that there is always an order, we are just sometimes incapable of following it.
Also I like the idea of there being a limited number of ideas or thoughts to go around, that if you were the only person left in the world, you'd have them all to think through by yourself, like Burgess Meredith and his books in that Twilight Zone episode, also leading that if there was no one left to think them, there thoughts would linger around in the air indefinitely.
But of course, the vagaries of human interaction bungle the beauty of math: charting it out reveals that two people can get through a set of information much more expediently than four, something understood by anyone who has ever sat around a conference table for any stretch of time.