From what I understand, these are the areas of my aesthetic exploration:
All boundaries have fallen in music. We call music those sounds we wish to call music. Short of ethical concerns, the causing of death and destruction or the irresponsible use of the sounds and images of the suffering, all things are acceptable. The 20th century was the great epoch of transgression, of the willful destruction of boundaries, a struggle to become free from the tyrannies of historical directive and assumption, of the overcoming of the limitations of pedagogy though radicalism. The musical landscape of the west is very broad now, and while scattered about are the living continuances of historical rigidities, they are also as easily escaped. The question is not whether we have freedom in music, the question is what we do with that freedom.
That we need a living, evolving art to co-exist with our living, evolving society is self-evident. However, the legacy of the 20th century has also created certain blocks to those who seek the continued exploration of aesthetics. Transgression now often becomes an end in itself, a superficial grasping at what is "new". Yet newness, in these contexts, is often defined as "that which transgresses." The purpose of previous transgressions, to escape and explode previously codified and institutionalized assumptions about what defines music, is forgotten. True newness emerges from a serious engagement in necessary aesthetic concerns, and yes that newness may explode or dismiss previous assumptions, but transgression is not its purpose; it is the by-product. In contemporary art, transgression should not even be considered as a factor. Transgression for the sake of transgression is the imagined echo of an imagined past amplified by the shrill voice of market driven ideology.
The creation of art in an era of freedom brings with it the responsibility to engage in one's aesthetics with both the acceptance and rejection of history. For music, the latter half of the 20th century in particular saw the necessary rejection of history. Yet that rejection is now itself historical, a codified practice no longer in reaction to a previous tyranny. At its worst, it is a tyranny itself, narrowly defined and willfully ignorant of its own shortcomings. Yet we cannot ignore the important ground covered, the expansion of the aesthetic realm it generated. The technical skills involved in a credible engagement with history now provide the most valuable tools for escaping its potential tyranny. We can examine historical artistic constructions as cultural products of their environments, and discover those aesthetic concerns that connect these products despite disparate geographies, ethnographies, and historical periods. And then we can ignore them. To be more specific: the acceptance of history is to define, know, and control. The rejection of history is to seek unknowing. We come both to bury history, and to praise it.
The greatest threat to creative engagement in contemporary aesthetic concerns are not the historical artifacts and techniques themselves, but rather the acceptance of institutional and economically driven definitions of those artifacts as a self-evident truth. The word "define" comes from the Latin definire, to limit. There is danger in the limitation and circumscription of an aesthetic, a mode of expression, a technical process, or a work of art by an exclusive definition. Yet without them we cannot perceive our actions with any degree of clarity. The use of ":definition" to create clear exclusive categories is contrary to the flow of meaning and creation. A "definition", on the other hand, is useful when seen as an arbitrary focus or gravitational locus against which a particular instance or manifestation can be plotted. It is to be remembered these same definitions are as alien to creative investigation as the notion of a seven-day week is to the turning of the earth.
We do not know what music is, or why it is here. All human societies have some form of musical expression. Musical instruments have been around for 20,000 years, music itself most likely existed far earlier. There are indications it may even pre-date us as a species. Whatever its origins, it clearly exists as a basic human need. For the artist, we must have fidelity to that need, to the urgency of expression. The complex, often formalized languages of music require a complex engagement to expose and escape its rigidities, but it is only a clearing away so that the need can itself emerge. And once in emergence, it will itself create a relationship to the complexities of musical and aesthetic environments. This is the flowering which becomes the work itself.
We do not know why, we only know it must be.
As nearest I as I can glean, my work is dedicated to exploring those relationships which, through their subtly, simplicity, and complexity, revel in our inability to grasp them. Only when we accept our unknowingness can we begin to appreciate the depths of beauty of that which struggles into existence.
The relationship between texture, timbre. rhythm, melody, and harmony,
The relationship between technique (physical sound production) and formal direction.
The relationship between contemporary concert music creation and historical forms.
The relationship between the specifics of listening circumstances and the work itself