The time has come for the unveiling. For the moment you’ve all been waiting for. For the revelation. For the answer to the question on everyone’s lips: “Andrea, what in god’s name is wrong with you?” Let me rephrase that. “Andrea, what in god’s name is wrong with you?” (On further consideration I decided that no rephrasing was necessary.)
I think this will be most efficient in dialogue format, since that worked for the Devienne interview. Think of it as theater.
Andrea, What in God’s Name is Wrong With You
a drama in one act
by Andrea Mazzariello, Certified Space Alien
1. Someone Who Cares Deeply About the Cause (we will call him “Andrea”)
Andrea is seated at table.
A: What in God’s name is wrong with you?
A: Could you please rephrase that question?
A: OK. I think I know what you mean. Why, you ask yourself, are you making outrageous claims about taking over the world? Why do you shamelessly promote your own music as if you are some kind of cultural icon? Why are you calling for a boycott of you-know-what? What makes you tick?
Exeunt. The curtain falls.
Now that we’ve arrived at the crucial questions, here are some crucial answers, in no particular order:
1. I haven’t really taken over the earth. I did that to get your attention.
2. The Revolution is cancelled.
3. Actually, just postponed. Or maybe gone underground. That’s better.
And now on a serious note:
There’s a danger in just saying what I think here. Shooting from the hip will doubtfully be as effective as creating a caricature, a persona that makes some pretty ridiculous claims which suggest but never actually reveal a certain agenda. I don’t think I would read a piece about the problems with contemporary music. The posture from which one must make aesthetic and somewhat political assertions often turns its critique directly at the reader – in this particular case, pointing fingers and accusing the world at large of not coming to concerts, of not thinking enough about music, of not listening carefully.
And I frankly have no interest in supporting that position, one which I find somewhat alarming. I could blame the “ignorance” of the population at large for the fact that my music and much of the music played by music students at Williams and in the Real World gets absorbed by empty seats, if it has the good fortune to be performed at all. But I simply don’t believe that people everywhere are growing more and more unable to meet the demands placed on the ear and brain by contemporary music. What seems a more accurate critique of the state of “serious” music today is the fact that I need to distinguish it from every other kind of music with quotation marks, that I cannot even describe for you what “it” is anymore.
I can fling a series of terms at you, like “art music” or “academic music,” which ultimately do nothing more than build a kind of pretension into the discussion before the discussion actually begins. We use a theoretical frame that excludes musics, that at best places them under different titles and at worst disregards them outright. Writing or performing or teaching under the assumption that one’s musical medium is wholly, unambiguously different from everything but a certain tradition and that the world at large is hopelessly inept at engaging with that tradition requires either an acknowlegment that one’s artistic voice is indecipherable, or that the definition of artist carries with it a complimentary definition of audience, in other words that one is directing their inventions at a certain aesthetically competent group.
I am trying to say, through this space, that some definitions of “aesthetically competent” might exclude you, but that many of we Music People find those particular definitions reprehensible. You don’t need a new vocabulary to go to a concert, you don’t need piano lessons, you don’t need to stop listening to the radio, regardless of the feelings of the self-proclaimed elite. I’m not sure how the discussions ever get to be on these terms, what the audience might need and what the audience might lack. No one needs me to be writing music to ensure their personal fulfillment, no one is obliged to interpret or engage with whatever it is that I happen to make available. It’s the other way around; I’m the one asking, mine is the position of lack, the position of need.
So the point, after all of this rhetorical indulgence, is that there are concerts here all the time, and that there will be concerts in the real world too; there are composers and singers and instrumentalists here, just as they are out there. I want to make it clear that everyone is invited. I can’t promise edification or even pleasure, but I can absolutely guarantee that every full seat in the house instantly transforms into a certain kind of gratitude.
Tuesday, 4:15 p.m., Piano Recital, Brooks-Rogers.
Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Student Symphony, Chapin Hall.
Next time I will be a raving lunatic again,