Monday, January 22, 2007

Food for thought

April 28, 1983

"High-tech" music is very canny, i.e., ultra-knowing and sophisticated. As sound, it tends to be "brilliant," full of spit and polish, flashy as hell, lots of fancy-footwork, if not to say also lots of fireworks and uses of the orchestra . . . as a machine which operates at high levels of physical power and ingenuity . . . But what is gained in treating the orchestra as a gleaming, 1000 horse-power piece of chrome-plated steel machinery is gained at the expense of radical simplicity, seriousness, nobility and gravity of demeanor, genuine emotional power. It results in a series of mere cosmetic effects--one more "brilliant" than the other. And mostly vacuity and hollowness of musical meaning . . . The sheer concentration on texture and color ends up by the 80s in complete extrusion of any possible solid values so that everything becomes surface--glistening, shining, polished--and superficiality of gesture and manner--in fact, all gesture and manner . . . "High-tech," I suppose, had to be when you consider there is a kind of talent in the world today that finds only the surface of things available to it: such talent can't go below the surface, it dies there. But on the surface of things it dances and prances, prates and pirouettes; it trades simplicity for fake complexity; . . . it loves the trivial, the obvious, the sure-fire, or goes in for a kind of fake seriousness--which is to say it is full of pretension and gaseous material.

-George Rochberg, The Aesthetics of Survival