Monday, February 24, 2014
31. When one shews someone the king in chess [chord symbols on a lead sheet] and says: "This is the king" [This is a Dom 7 chord], this does not tell him the use of this piece [chord]--unless he already knows the rules of the game [playing chord changes] up to this last point: the shape of the king. You could image his having learnt the rules of the game without ever having been shewn an actual piece. The shape of the chessman corresponds here to the sound or shape of a word.
One can also imagine someone's having learnt the game without ever learning or formulating rules. He might have learnt quite simple board-games first [The Ramones], by watching, and have progressed to more and more complicated ones. He too might be given the explanation "This is the king", --if, for instance, he were being shewn chessmen of a shape he was not used to [C7 as opposed to C Dom 7]. This explanation again only tells him the use of the piece because, as we might say, the place for it was already prepared. Or even: we shall only say that it tells him the use, if the place is already prepared. And in this case it is so, not becaue the person to whom we give the explanation already knows rules, but because in another sense he is already master of a game.
Consider this further case: I am explaining chess [playing chord changes] to someone; and I begin by pointing to a chessman and saying: "This is the king; it can move like this,...and so on."--In this case we shall say: the words "This is the king" (or "This is called the 'king' ") are a definition only if the learner already 'knows what the piece in a game is'. That is, if he has already played other games, or has watched other people playing 'and understood'--and similar things. Further, only under these conditions will he be able to ask relevantly in the course of learning the game: "What do you call this?"--that is, the piece in a game [chord in a song.]
We may say: only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.
And we can imagine the person who is asked replying: "Settle the name yourself"--and now the one who asked would have to manage everything for himself.
Wittgenstein, PI #31
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Now that "C E F" has grown obsolete and has been forgotten about, here's a new name for our beloved music--SETTLE THE NAME YOURSELF music. (S.T.N.Y.) music. Or perhaps, even better, MANAGE EVERYTHING FOR YOURSELF music (M.E.F.Y.).
Manage Everything For Yourself Music. Can you possibly dig it?
And I don't (ever) know about you, but the whole language game / music game construct really has given me a whole new bucket of chocolate footballs to hurl at the walls from my tire swing.
Yes, yes, Bebop, Jazz, Jass, CEF, Music as healing force of the universe, Music as cantus firmus for identity politics and shenanigans aside, it's all a GAME. Playing the "right notes" over the "right chords"--can anyone say WHACK A MOLE?
And with this new perspective, is anyone surprised when an alleged "art music" (bristling at the insinuation it's a "game") turns into dick showing, fastest gun in the West (or east) nonsense?
Remind me again of the difference between the Thelonious Monk Super Excellence Competition of Excellence and the Superbowl / World Series / PGA Masters / Russian Winter Homosexual Hate Olympics?
Did "we" want it to "play" out this way, or was this construct foisted upon "us" by those whose business (that is revenue stream) is the pitting of game-players against one another in uniquely irrevalent, pathologically spectacular settings?
Who of the three or four of you reading this would be surprised if the porta-potty capitalist figured out that watching (or listening to) people lose tonal games was the main revenue generator and porta-potty filler?
All games--even tonal games--have a winner and a loser, after all.
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Speaking of loser, when using Audacity to change your favourite songs to 432Hz, does your application suddenly shut down, keeping your music at 440hz death frequency? Anyone out there really *really* good with Audacity? Our Chakaras hang in the balance!
Monday, February 17, 2014
One thinks that learning language [music] consists in giving names to objects [playing the notes in the chord]. Vis, to human beings, to shapes, to colours, to pains, to moods, to numbers, etc. To repeat--naming [playing the notes in the chord] is something like attaching a label to a thing. One can say that this is preparatory to the use of a word [improvisation 'on' that chord?]. But what is it a preparation for?
Wittgenstein, PI #26
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But what is it (the use of a word, [improvisation 'on' that chord?]) a preparation for?
What is [improvisation] a preparation for?
Is it a preparation for poverty?
Is it a preparation for a life's work to go ignored?
Is it a preparation for your own limited edition line of soprano saxophones? How about mouthpieces?
Is it a preparation for distillation into something written and repeatable?
Is it a preparation for the creation of a commodity?
Is it a preparation for union with the creator?
Is it a preparation for focused dialectic against injustice?
Is it a preparation for a well measured celebration of the parent culture at their daughter's wedding?
Is it a preparation for sale of one's labour for the minimum wage?
Is it a preparation for giving voice to a heroic, exciting life lived?
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Cmon everyone! It's like a game! Add your own, in your favourite colour scheme!
Monday, February 10, 2014
But how many kinds of sentence [songs?] are there? Say assertion, question, and command?--There are countless kinds: countless different kinds of use of what we call "symbols"[musical notation], "words" [pitches], "sentences"[phrases? lines? songs?]. And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence [like so-called "free jazz" in the 60's], and others become obsolete and get forgotten. (We can get a rough picture of this from the changes in mathematics.)
Here the term "language-game" [tone-game] is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or a form of life.
Review the multiplicity of language-games in the following examples, and in others:
Giving orders, and obeying them--
Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements--[hip hop]
Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)--[Syrinx?]
Reporting and event--[Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?]
Speculating about an event--[Sundown?]
Forming and testing a hypothesis--[of all of these, perhaps the closest to Bill Dixon's work]
Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams--[Anthony Braxton?]
Making up a story; and reading it--[Les Mis?]
Play-acting--[the "Young Lions"?]
Singing Catches--[Mostly Other People do the Killing?]
Making a joke; telling it--
Solving a problem in practical arithmetic--[Laurence Welk?]
Translating from one language into another--
Asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying.
--It is interesting to compare the multiplicity of the tools in language [improvised music] and of the ways they are used, the multiplicity of the kinds of word and sentence, [harmonies, phrases,lines] with what logicians have said about the structure of language. (Including the author of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.)
Wittgenstein, L. PI # 23
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of course my nonsense is in the [ ]'s
Are there countless kinds of phrases/songs/improvisations? Are they all equally available to "us" at the same time--or can "we" only assimilate a narrow selection of them at any given time? What would the Daughters of the American Revolution (ca. 1932) make of Charles Gayle (ca. 1993)?
Why wasn't there a Charles Gayle trio (ca. 1993) in 1932? Why didn't that music exist then? Could it have existed then?
LANGUAGE GAME. Love that! Dave Douglas, you can exhale! I now pronounce C.E.F. an obsolete, forgotten thing of the past. Music, and not just Crazy Experimental Freedom music shall now be known as TONE-GAME.
Further, from her on, clubs and venues, like The Stone, shall now be known as Tone-Gymnasiums--places where TONE-GAMES are played.
How perfect is that? How totally awesome and complete perfect is that as a description--a democratizing and demystifying description of music?
Over there at the Lincoln Centre Tone Gymnasium, they are playing tone-ringette, at the Iridium Tone Gymnasium, they are playing tone-curling, and at the Stone Tone Gymnasium, it's a tone-3-legged race.
Seen in that light, the logic behind broad swipes of better than / high art / low art censorship/bigotry wither.
Would 3 legged races be more or less popular with the kids (and municipal sports programs, and the schools, and the clubs) if the National 3 Legged Race League had the Ringette League's money, merchandising and press machine?
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New [Tone-Games] coming to the fore while old ones becoming obsolete and forgotten.
Anyone remember the Pascal computer coding language? Don't worry, neither will your kids, or their kids, because it is obsolete--like the buggy whip.
Quaint, well constructed, much beloved, no longer manufactured or consumed except for people in the historical re-creation/creative anachronism field of entertainment.
Provided "we" can draw a "linguistic" boundary around free jazz like an amoeba, how long is it before our free jazz amoeba is dead and forgotten?
And what "life functions" of the musical language/tone-game called "free jazz" need be present in order to deem it living?
When will the day come when no one remembers how the tone-game "free jazz" (free improvisation, CEF of old, etc...) was played?
Is "free jazz" a noun, an adjective or an adverb?
When the noun dies, will adjective and/or adverbs live on?
Will the owners of the tone-game Mozart ever allow it to be played by any of the rules of the tone-game Charles Gayle? Will Wimbeldon ever allow anything other than entirely white clothes on their courts?
speaking of language is part of an activity, or a form of life.Producing specific tones is most certainly part of an activity. Is it a form of life?
Do I have "life" right? Life as in organism, or life as in the thing that's between birth and death?
"Music is a form of pellican" or "Music is a form of occupying the time between birth and death"?
Is one form of life better than another?
Is one language better than another?
Is one music better than another?
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Video is fun!
Big thanks to the word-game contributors--some of my most favorite writers and people in the world. Please don't think less of them.
Blaise Kearsley, Nick Skrowaczewski, John Crouse, Wyatt Doyle, Seymoure Glass.
Stay tuned for more visual sausage!
Sunday, February 02, 2014
19. It is easy to imagine a language consisting only of orders and reports in battle.--Or a language consisting only of question and expressions for answering yes and no. And innumerable others.----And to imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.
Wittgenstein, L. PI, #19
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Is music a language?
And to imagine a language [music] is to imagine a form of life.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Whiffenpoofs of Yale
I guess the big question is regarding the word "form". Is it the imagining of a "form" of life or is it the imagining of a way of life?
Jugglo's and Wiffenpoofs. Different forms of life or different ways of life?
Just how different are those two languages/musics really? Which form/way of life is more ridiculous?
Does class inform any of it? How many self identified Jugglos are at Yale? If the answer = 0.0, is that because there isn't a self identified Jugglo in the entire world capable of meeting Yale's admission requirements (well, the ones they can put in print)? Could that really be?
What about D-Beat and the Mormon Tabernacle choir? Different forms or different ways of life?
What are the chances of a former members of Disclose getting a spot in the Mormon Tabernacle choir--even if they could sing all the parts perfectly? I feel like the history of Punk Rock is at least speckled with tales of people leaving highly organized and regimented religious environments to join a punk rock band. Does it go the other way? Can it go the other way? Is it like a horse and a donkey making a mule? Is it like a mule and an alpaca making an awful mess?
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We at Not Mean If True are trying our best to work through some video technical issues. A better version of this video can mos-def be seen at Newtexture.com. We thank you for your patience, as well as your interest! Weeks into it, the three videos combined almost have 100 views! Take away my views, and we have at least 50!
Stay tuned for more fun!
Thursday, January 30, 2014
(To enjoy the 440hz iteration, please visit NewTexture!)
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18. ...ask yourself whether our language [music] is complete;--whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry [jazz] and the notation of the infinitesimal calculus [free jazz] were incorporated in it; for these are, so to speak, suburbs of our language. (And how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town?) Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various period; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with with straight regular streets and uniform houses.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations #18
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You know, the [ ] game sometimes works, sometimes doesn't (as Wittgenstein would likely be quick to point out.)
Perhaps [jazz] and [freejazz] don't really work, but the point of [music] does. Did "they" think "their" music was complete in the age of Beethoven? Could you blame "them" if "they" did? Can you blame someone who believes Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel represents the "completion" of the [jazz] language? How about those who believe that the "infinitesimal calculus" of "Free Jazz" (Improvised Music, CEF...) represents not an evolutionary step, but a fork, a mutation, such a egregious misarrangement of the "Jazz" DNA such that it shall enjoy none of the marketing teams, none of the venues, none of the retro hats, none of the Caddillac commercials, none of the perks of "Jazz" (tm). Can we blame them? Can we horse whip them?
Despite the the reactionary efforts of commodity arts-programmers, the language of music has evolved since Beethoven (within and without the realm of "Formal European Concert Music.")
At the same time, the language of that commodity known as "Jazz" (tm) has not progressed and has not evolved--at least not "for the better" sense of the word--instead it has capitulated to the larger reactionary, a-creative, capital-focused clientele's conception of all a cultural norm can and should include.
Imagine a tail sluffing off and that sluffed off tail, with the help of the military industrial entertainment industry, swimming backwards to the sea "on it's own". Then imagine a fish like thing without a tail making a go of it in a very shallow pond of stock broker urine somewhere around 1st and Avenue C.
Which would you rather be?
Not that there's anything wrong with a reactionary capital interest ossifying a once living language so it could later fiercely protect the "sanctity" of this finite codification of the language of Jazz against the unwashed huns of pan tonality. Conflict leads to sales, after all. More to the point, dead guys don't collect royalties.
Nor is there anything wrong with the view that one is to bend one's expressive arc to conform to what is "commonly understood" (by capital interests) as "Jazz" (tm).
By the same token, it is not wrong to notice that the ossification and type-casting and finally, commodification of Jazz is so complete and regimented, that the retrospective inclined mediation of creativity goes so far as to demand period costume (hats!) and language (dig?)
If that gives you a Society for Creative Anachronism feeling then you and I are having the same feeling.
Not that there's anything wrong with wearing period costume while forcibly sustaining a specific cultural iteration born in a time when African Americans used a separate entrances and water fountains, in an antiquated tongue, whilst wearing a hat, despite decades (or centuries) of new discoveries in the world of ethics, language, and fashion.
Because really, I'm not sure what good the actual "notation of the infinitesimal calculus" (let alone it's free jazz analog) has brought our day to day life. Has the notation of infinitesimal calculus been a notation of peace?
When was the last time you came into contact with or yourself used the notation of infinitesimal calculus? If the answer is never, do you feel like you have something to say, yet don't have the language to say it *and* do you suspect the language (or notation) of infinitesimal calculus is what you need?
Thus is a central dilemma for "free jazz", "improvised music", "CEF" and those who endeavour to commodify the teaching therein: just as most people can peel their bananas just fine without the infinitesimal calculus notation of CEF, most people can make regular contributions to their 401k without Lowell Davidson.
Just how much "Free Jazz" does the world need? Well, first of all, I imagine the world will let "us" know, if it hasn't already, and second, since when as the needs of the world meant anything with regards to the creation of Art (aka the personal antidote to the personal horrors of life)?
Because "we" are talking about "Art" here, right?
In sum, to consider the language of music as "complete" without the contributions of Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves (et. al, plus the spores growing on the compost heap they left behind) is pure Colonial Jim Crow nonsense and plumbers (no matter how shiftless and ineffectual) make around $90 an hour.
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Stay tuned for more 432 (hz) realizations from the Skrowaczewski Zappa Duo!
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Writing about Wittgenstein's influence, his pupil G. H. von Wright observes:
[Wittgenstein] thought that his influence as a teacher was, on the whole, harmful to the development of independent minds in his disciples. I am afraid that he was right. And I believe that I can partly understand why it should be so. Because of the depth and originality of his thinking, it is very difficult to understand Wittgenstein's ideas and even more difficult to incorporate them into one's own thinking. At the same time the magic of his personality and style was most inviting and persuasive. To learn from Wittgenstein without coming to adopt his forms of expression and catchwords and even to imitate his tone of voice, his mien and gestures was almost impossible. The danger was that the thoughts should deteriorate into jargon. The teaching of great men often has a simplicity and naturalness with makes the difficult appear easy to grasp. Their disciples usually become, therefore, insignificant epigones. The historical significance of such men does not manifest itself in their disciples but through influences of a more indirect, subtle, and often unexpected kind
To some extent this assessment of Wittgenstein's influence as problematic remains true. There are individual philosophers, such as G. E. M. Anscombe, G. H. von Wright, Peter Winch, Anthony Kenny and John McDowell, who have developed their own thoughts along distinctly Wittgensteinian lines. There is, more over, both a vast amount of scholarly work and interpretation and ubiquitous evidence of his indirect influence on contemporary philosophical thought. Yet one's overall sense is that he remains an isolated thinker, whose distinctively intense and individual voice is ultimately inimitable. Indeed, this seems to echo Wittgenstein's own sense of the matter:
(CV, p. 61)Am I the only one who cannot found a school or can a philosopher never do this? I cannot found a school because I do not really want to be imitated. Not at any rate by those who publish articles in philosophical journals.
Even in the philosophy of the mind, where his influence has perhaps been the greatest, there is a sense that something is lost whenever his ideas are transplanted from their native soil. While his writings have been a source of numerous philosophical insights that are familiar to ever student of philosophy, it is not, in the end, merely the ideas that compel, but the unique style of thought that is writing presents.
McGinn, Marie. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations, p. 6-7
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Do I really need to put [Dixon] next to Wittgenstein, [This Music] next to Philosophy, and so on?
For the three or four of you who read this blog, likely no.
In the off chance you are a Facebook bot, let it suffice to say that Ms. McGinn's writings about Wittgenstein cleanly parallel the Dixonian experience and the often tragic aftermath endured by those who studied with him.
Somewhere on this blog there's a Harold Bloom quote about the covering cherub strangling ephebes in their sleep, which appears to be the point of Ms. McGinn's writing on page 6-7 of the aforementioned book. Strangling, however, doesn't seem to be the right term. I prefer "kicking the shit out of."
And so it has been asked (by a noted Dixonian ephebe who, better than most, survived the Dixonian shit kicking) "Who did Dixon make? What (or more to the point, who) is Dixon's legacy?"
Anthony Braxton, George Garzone, David Leibman, and Jerry Bergonzi (to name a few) have distinguished themselves both as performers and educators in the now. Furthermore, they have set up (through various mechanisms) their own historical pensions as prince-and-princess makers in our increasingly flabby, meaningless, post-everything cultural milleau--a milleau which has only become more inane and centralized since the roaring Reagan 80's when the late Roy Campbell asserted
"I've realized over the years, to me, I think playin' the music is only ten percent of the job of bein' a musician nowadays".That Dixon's musical progeny have not, with the same degree of spectacle as with the progeny of those mentioned above, scented the lamp post of music commerce means either all of Dixon's students were (and still are and forever will be) losers--a distinct possibility--OR Dixon's smothering weight as thinker was antagonistic to commodity music's requirements AND far surpassed that of the dream team yo-cats of Jazz Pedagogy.
And so it comes as no surprise that Dixon still evades the magic wand of the NEA "Jazz Masters" identity, despite a centrality that all (the musicians) involved in the recent NEA pagent would be hard pressed to deny.
Sunday, January 05, 2014
From the Upside-Down Halloween Sessions
Recorded 10-13-2013, Minneapolis, MN
Nick Skrowaczewski - Drums
Yours Truly - Saxophone
New Computer! Well, new, 10 year old computer! Let me tell you, it's a lot quicker than the 20 year old one I was previously using.
When I brought it to they guy to get more ram and a new video card, the guy said "wow, now your computer is almost as powerful as my phone."
Raise a mug to the future!