A Parallel Idea

Because in serial music gestalt is the result of ordering made prior to its creation, the freewheeling inspirational invention of “themes” is virtually impossible, which also eliminates the concept of “development.”  Thus the perception of serial music rests upon different premises.  The interest it evokes emanates from what it has to offer at any moment rather than from a context that may be followed intellectually by the listener’s retaining in his memory musical shapes and profiles to be recognized later on.  It is therefore, contrary to common belief, intellectually much less demanding than traditional music.  Whatever structural features the listener seems to observe is a product of his own mental processes.  In this sense it requires more imaginative participation than the old music, but it probably also stimulates the imagination to a higher degree.  I realized that the “athematic” quality of serial music was for the younger composers perhaps the strongest bait when they were caught in the serial net, because serialism was the most secure way of preventing relapse into traditional routines…

Bolding and italics by me.  This statement reminds me a great deal of Rochberg’s essay The Concepts of Musical Time and Space.  Where as Rochberg spent about 60 some pages describing how certain serial musics, the densities that inhabit them, the ways to listen to them and how the musics are fundamentally different from the “rhetorical” music that preceded the spatialmusic, Krenek hazily summed up the entire difference in about a sentence.  I am curious now as to whether this idea of describing a fundamentally new way of composing as emotional-spatial music is one that was widespread amongst composers of the day or something unique to these two composers who never fully committed to arch-modernism.  I suppose it’s back to the stacks with me to rustle up some Boulez, Webern, Schoenberg and maybe some Babbitt!

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