Dan Asia strikes again

In January, the Tim Rutherford-Johnson of the Rambler took to task some guy called Daniel Asia for writing a completely idiotic article on John Cage for the Huffington Post (well, the Rambler referred to it “frankly embarrassing”, but let’s call a spade a spade).

Asia is back, and this time he’s written an article called “Carter is Dead”, in which he breaks down exactly why he thinks Elliott Carter is an objectively bad composer. 

It’s not worth taking this apart line-by-line, because it’s basically all wrong. It seems to me, at least, patently absurd that Asia’s primary criticism of Carter’s work boils down to the accusation that it is “chaotic”. To my ears, at least, (most of) Carter’s music is (in a sonorous sense, not just a “precompositional” sense) immaculately planned. In fact, the amount of sense that Carter’s music makes is the main reason that I, personally, can’t quite love this music in general (as important as a handful of individual pieces may be to me).

In fact, I actually wanted to use this article as an excuse for a brief meditation on ‘relative listening’ in Carter, which Asia brings up as a way of criticising the final movement of the Cello Sonata, but seems to have forgotten about completely by, like, two paragraphs later when he wants to criticise, like, the exact same thing in other pieces, but from the polar opposite direction. But Asia’s point is too self-contradictory, too riddled with false analogy, even to use it as a springboard to write about something else.

The article has, however, spawned #DanAsiaArticleIdeas on Twitter, so it’s not a total loss.



ExplorEnsemble. Sdraulig. Hush.

The debut concert of ExplorEnsemble is happening tomorrow night in the Parry Room at the Royal College of Music (details at bottom). They’re playing what looks like a fairly killer trans-generational programme. I’m not familiar – yet – with some of the younger names on the programme, but Charlie Sdraulig‘s Hush for cello and harp (featured as the first entry in The Rambler’s Contemporary Notation Project) will be receiving its premiere.

The musical implications of Hush took a dump in my brain (in the good way) have been turning over in my mind fairly constantly since I first read through the score several months ago. It promises to be a genuinely striking musical experience, and at the advertised price, it’s one that you, dear reader, have no excuse to pass up. Unless you’re not in London. Like me:




Details here.

Get involved.

The Rambler

My hat goes off to Tim Rutherford-Johnson and The Rambler – easily one of the best new music blogs on the web – for his 2010 initiatives.

Focussed, at this point, around Invisibility, the ELISION concert at King’s Place next Monday (if you’re in London, please go – this is not to be missed), Johnson has initiated a series of composer interviews (read the one with Evan Johnson here) and round-table discussions (involving ELISION director Daryl Buckley, trombonist Ben Marks and composers Evan Johnson, Richard Barrett and Tim McCormack).

This strikes me as the perfect way of blurring the frequently- (and annoyingly-) insurmountable boundaries between the practice of ‘informal’ musical commentary and the engaging in real discourse about the meaning and purpose of what we do. TRJ has succeeded in creating a space where these discussions can take place publicly, rather than being restricted to an ivory tower or (more often) a pub.

How strange that the idea of a bunch of musicians talking to one another about music on the web should seem somehow revolutionary…