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A born native music speaker isn't really in control of their musical philosophy; it's inbuilt, it's their autonomic shadow, it reveals a lot more about their musical soul than they think they're allowing for in their heartfelt statements of it as  ingratiations, their  propaganda. Self-aggrandizing but devastatingly self-revealing: your idea of what's ingratiating gives you helplessly away; your strenuous conspiracy to control the identity of your presence is totally out of your control, turns out it controls you totally, reveals everything about you by what it shows you think will make a good metaphysical alibi to cover your ass with glory. I notice: wow that isn't what I would say if I wanted to look good. So your philosophy, that is to say your mortal soul, is pretty much immutable: Prokofiev jumped back to the Soviet Union (the Mexican League of music culture) and played goodboy Socialist Realist - total reversal right? Except that his Stalinist music was like an x-ray of all of his previous music, his scintillating modernist dazzlers, smoking out their inner dancehall floozy under their smashing take-no-prisoner surfaces. (The First Violin Concerto and the Classical Symphony escape because they never pretended otherwise in the first place.) The same way that in a huge geological context atonal/twelve-tone music rather than displacing tonality brings out that the soul of tonality rather than fading through its fabled dissolution is actually retro-universalized, revealed as not the whole megilla of a self-contained language but a particular interpretation of the exploded total pitch-intuitive universe all along, special within it, but undeniably sharing all of its determinate-feel-making DNA. You could have known that from Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, had you been free to think or possessed of ahistorical hindsight.  Wouldn't have needed Mahler to provide the deep end for Schoenberg to jump off into.

A guy is a solipsist. Can't imagine communicating with another soul. So of course he runs endlessly off at the pencil spilling his mindgut explaining this to anyone who might listen. Yeah. Sure.

No of course I don't care if you listen. But to stay aware that I need to.

There is reasoning back from experience.

There is reasoning forward to experience.

Reasoning back: beginning from everything, filtering everything selectively to refine focus interpret reassemble anew always residues of unprocessed phenomena...

Reasoning forward: building experience projectively experimentally preemptively testing empirically against feedback assemble always containing all and only its own content wholly processed...

Are the fruits of either to be despised?

Can be done reductively or expansively.

Can be done ideologically or analytic/critically.

Is a report of experience necessarily an assertion of preexistent attitude; or can an attitude arise in a feedback loop with experience, descriptive/explanatory/analytic/hermeneutically?

But theory always needs to be retroactive to be in touch with experience - and it always is in formulation but loses it in application.

So either first it is there and then you think it; or what you hear is what you have thought. Depends on whether you want final clarity or endless expansiveness, lucid thought or elusive mystery.

Benjamin Boretz
Benjamin Boretz
Benjamin Boretz

Benjamin Boretz has spent most of a lifetime writing music and words mostly about music, while also looking for ways to create meaningful social/intellectual contexts for these expressive practices (by teaching, starting publication projects such as Perspectives of New Music and The Open Space Magazine, writing public commentary as Music Critic for The Nation, instigating the formation of the American Society of University Composers, developing the music learning community at Bard College known as Music Program Zero, collaborating in these and other communal musicmaking and thoughtsharing projects with such close friends as J. K. Randall, Elaine Barkin, Kenneth Gaburo, Dorota Czerner and Robert Morris). Along the way, awarenesses about musical experiences and thoughts materialized in the form of writings like the book-length Meta-Variations, its compositional inspiration Group Variations, and other fusions of thought and expression, in verbal and nonverbal languages, including the spoken pieces If I am a musical thinker; Language ,as a music; music/consciousness/gender; Black /Noise III; The Purposes and Politics of Engaging Strangers, and I/O.  Performances and texts of these and other pieces are recorded and published by Open Space ( 

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