總瀏覽量

2015年6月12日 星期五

Wim Mertens: Struggle for Pleasure (維姆·梅爾滕斯 : 為歡樂的掙扎 )

Music is a very strange medium. It is something entirely abstract. It is abstract in that it doesn't tell you anything concrete which we normally associate with either a visual image or series of images or its representation in the form of words linked together by certain arbitrary and habitual or conventional rules of combination which produces something we think of as narrative "meaning".

Music is not visual images or metaphors or symbols of what we normally think of as "reality" . Though there's something called "programme music" or a "symphonic poem", which tries to create a supposed correspondence between sound and images, any such "correspondence" is always vague, ambiguous and merely suggestive, connotative, never specific or denotative. Neither can music tell any narrative story the way words can. If music "represents" anything at all, it "re-presents" itself, its own sound, its own sonic structures, its own rhythms, its own rules of combination, its own "form" of motion in time. 


Yet in a different sense, there is nothing more concrete than music. We hear the sound of different  instruments, each with their own textures, pitches, tonalities, specific manner of commencement, continuance and decay, either in isolation or in combination, with or without the addition of human voice(s). A violin has the sound of a violin, a cello, that of a cello, a flute that of a flute, a clarinet that of a clarinet, a trumpet that of a trumpet, a piano that of a piano etc. What can be more concrete than the notes produced by each of such instruments? Their sound is what they sound like! There is well, simply perfect correspondence between form and content of the relevant sound. Is that not why some say that all art aspires to the condition of music?

Whatever the truth may be, I have always been fascinated by sound, especially simple sounds, organized simply and even if endlessly repeated. Perhaps it is precisely such repetition that makes the quality, the texture, the nuances of the relevant individual notes or any minor changes in the pattern of the relevant series of sound stand out ? Perhaps that may be the reason why so-called minimalist music has a special appeal to me. I still remember who it was that got me interested in minimalist music. I heard a disc called by the unusual name of "Struggle for Pleasure" in a small CD shop in Central after my lunch.  It was a disc by an artist which I later learned was called Wim Mertens (b. 1953). The moment I heard it, I ceased all motion and stood in the corridor outside the shop, as if transfixed by a spell. I continued listening and asked the store owner to give me all the other discs by that same artist in his store and had a wonderful time savoring his music at home. I listened to that first disc again today. It was as if time has stood still for me for 30 years and I was listening it for the first time.

Minimalist music has been described as showing steadiness of rhythm and what's called "consonant harmony" and "gradual transformation" and reiteration of tiny units musical figures, motifs, and cells and may sometimes gradually build up the structure of the music based on the original motif etc through the addition of more or less the same patterns by other musical instruments and shifting similar patterns by beginning the relevant patterns on some slightly higher or lower notes. Apart from Wim Mertens,
Louis Andriessen, Karel Goeyvaerts, Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, Steve Martland, Henryk Górecki, Arvo Pärt and John Tavener in Europe and La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glas in America are all said to be using "minimalist" methods of composition.