The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 27, 2017

Bad Music

   I was the Dreamer, they the Dream; I roam'd
Delighted, through the motley spectacle

  - Wordsworth, 1805 Prelude *

A realization:
I am not afraid to play bad music.
I am a fake, not a musician at all. I work with music,
with the foundations of music & the musician, I play
not with time signatures, but with temporality; I work
not with scales, but with building-blocks of rubble,
& somewhere within them, architecture emerges. I cannot
sing a note. I am increasingly careful about tuning and
its austere occupation. But I cannot play a tune for
long; I get bored, count my good fortune among the
polytopes of desire, not the tropes of musical acumen.
What is the long reach of a piece played with real-time
reverse reverberation; what is the habitus of sound
played as fast as possible, with speed an overarching
parameter. What happens to the body with repetition
moved to the slightest comma of transformation.

* We found a 1916 Martin parlor guitar for $40 today;
it needs heavy work (new bridge, back repaired). Around
1930-1940 it was badly repaired in order to handle
heavier metal strings. The neck's still straight, but a
tailpiece was added, the original bridge removed. This
has to be fixed. Small nails were also used to reinforce
the back for no reason whatsoever. It came with three
1930s-40s strings (the rest were missing), and frets
out of alignment. So the task at the moment, here in
Maine, was to make music with it. The strings were tuned
extremely low (I didn't want to stress the instrument),
only a few frets were aligned, and here is the result.
Surely this is a music, bad or good, I did not care, I
did want to be amazed by the possibility of the absurd
tuning and condition of the guitar. It is in rough shape
but even here it sings and I identify with my badness
and hope to be better myself.

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