Life, Death and Philip Glass

When we begin talking about music in this day in age, it holds a sort of weight to one’s character or essence, once their tastes have been learned.  With new sub-genres coming out almost every week now it seems as though music is ever moving forward towards the horizon.  What of the content of this sonic aesthetic that we hold so dearly, when you begin to ask that question you begin to see a completely different answer.  It all sort of fades off into the grey, recycled beats and chord structures we’ve been using for millennia now.  American folks songs, turned jazz, converted to rock, and then the latter, however, most unfortunate, is chopped up into sound bites and mashed together.  Now I’m not going to say that I don’t appreciate the music of say Girl Talk or RJD2, but once one takes a peek at the man behind the curtain it brings to light what I feel is the most important question, where is it taking us?  Are we supposed to believe all there is for mankind now is recycled fragments of music?  To forever be overshadowed by the creation of MIDI?

“I don’t know what I’m doing and it’s the not knowing that makes it interesting”

-Philip Glass

Cue Philip Glass, the year is 1970 and he’s just released Music With Changing Parts, though today his taste has moved far beyond this point this was the beginning to something completely different.  A sort of dance between chaotic complexity and organized simplicity.  Though today Glass is known with some renown throughout the classical community, it didn’t always use to be that way.  Many were not understanding of the changes this was bringing to the musical world, and it was viewed as the music from a broken record by many, he also recalls during different live performances he would have eggs thrown at him by the audience.  However unfortunate, it is the treatment of those trying to bring new concepts, need I remind people of the treatment of Copernicus?

What this music brings to us is perhaps a new deeper level understanding of our connection to nature and the music that ties it together.  Where when many would think to works like Beethoven’s 6th symphony, or the Four Seasons by Vivaldi.  While I cannot disagree that these pieces can help paint the perfect mental picture of nature at its essence.  What happens when we zoom down the microscopic level though or look at the bigger picture through omnipotent eyes?  Well, that is where all the structuring we all have grown accustomed to begins to fall apart, or does it?

The question then quickly revolves around, how can music possibly become more three-dimensionally coherent?  How can we possibly begin to create music that reflects the true wonderment that is the human mind and the new complexities of the microbial or even universal sized phenomena that we’re now beginning to understand?  The answer is full utilization of polyrhythm, which in layman terms is basically the composition of simultaneous conflicting time signatures for the same piece.  What you start to perceive is something that could be likened to something of the same composition that the planets follow around the sun.  Eventually, things line up to a moment of clarity before beginning their next cycle of chaotic nature.

Only once you begin to start composing music that gravitates towards resembling the known universe will you truly be starting to create music that speaks to human mind, for the more we learn more of this cosmic womb we swim around in, the more we notice its mirrored to almost that of brain cell activity.  I feel as though Philip Glass has helped propel us down that path into an age where we can begin to write music that speaks not just stories, but novels through the ever prevalent power of sound, and that is why I feel his music is worth sharing with the Garden of Knowledge.

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