Ionian vs. Athenian, Dionysian vs. Appollonian
"In the space of a single month...a long and convincing article [chronicled] the demise of the classical recording business. It appears that classical music accounts for only 2.9 percent of sales. Recording contracts are being broken and new recordings are not selling. And there is no turnaround in sight.(..) To make matters worse there were a number of bitter strikes in American orchestras, notably in Philadelphia and San Francisco. The Philadelphia strike was related in part to the continuing loss of recording work experienced by American players. At the same time, private philanthropy for music is in danger in America, since the considerable new wealth held by individuals is in the hands of a generation for which classical music is not the least bit important. Needless to say, public funding continues to decline. And with each passing year the situation in Europe, although better, is beginning to look more like that in America. State support for the arts in England and on the continent is being scrutinized and cut. We are beginning to read about concerns that the European audience is also getting older and that fewer young people seem to be going to concerts. It is clear that record sales abroad are not sufficiently strong to compensate for a poor market in America." [Botstein, Leon, "The Paradoxes of Doom," Musical Quarterly, Winter 1996, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 563-5664]
"Twenty years ago the conventional wisdom still held that the classical canon occupied a special place in American society because it was Art--something finer, deeper and more worthy of support and preservation than the 'merely' popular or commercial. But since the 1980s, that notion has been breaking down, particularly among younger people. A recent NEA report confirms the continuing decline in the number of baby boomers attending live classical concerts. While 15 percent of 32-year-olds attended concerts in 1982, only 10 percent of 32-year-olds did so in 1992. The evolving tastes of younger audiences, based on the ever-growing availability of music of all genres, have led to a widespread rejection of the notion that the classical canon represents the ultimate expression of musical art." [Sanders, Linda, "Facing the Music," Civilization, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1996, pg. 37]
"In the early part of the 20th Century, much American concert music had a unique nationalist flavor, a sound which came to fruition in the music of such composers as Howard Hanson, Virgil Thomson, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Samuel Barber. Then, in a scant period of some 10-20 years, this style all but disappeared from American concert halls to be replaced by a dry, intractable, inaccessible, overly-cerebral music.
"Our main musical problem as a young nation was that we mistrusted our native talent. Young musicians who were seriously bent on careers in classical music went to Europe to study. Our orchestras were directed by European conductors and our concerts were filled with European performers and composers. The development of atonality and the 12-tone system by Arnold Schoenberg had further ill effects on American music. As these styles and their offshoots fained favor with musical academics, we all but abandoned our growing national musical identity in favor of other foreign sounds. The byproducts of these primarily-European developments were that the ideal of beauty became passe and the only notion of worth became one of doing something new-- so the rise of total serialism, of aleatory, of intellectual exercises in noise-making, of the jettisoning of music with melodic interest or easily audible construction.
"In the patronage of the universities it became incorrect to write msuic with melody or positive emotional content. Young composers who could write such music were discouraged from doing so by their mentors. Veering away from this party line could result in the denial of degrees, publication, grants, or jobs, and the reception of criticism of even ostracism from the composerly community." [Deussen, Nany, "The Return of Tonality and the American Sound," 20th Century Music, March 1995, vol. 2, No. 3, pg. 32]
"Are contemporary composers elitists? In sentiment probably not... But in the practice of their art, there is little doubt that most composers are elitists of the Platonic variety. 'Serious' composers are immersed in an academic musical culture which tends to bifurcate the world into two camps: those who appreciate new music, and intellectually blighted unforunates. Ha sanyone who attended a graduate pgoram in composition sicne 1960 not been made to read Babbitt's 'Who Cares If You Listen?' In how many seminars has the anecdote of Schoenberg turning his back on the audience been told by admiring theory professors to glassy- eyed graduate students basking int eh warm rays of their own cultural superiority? How often have you seen the word 'accessible' used as a pejorative term in a new music review?" [Rice, William, "Who Cares If You Starve?" November 1995, Journal SEAMUS, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 22-23]
In this moment of tectonic upheaval and extraordinary crisis in modern music, we once again confront the origins of music. This is an old process. Western music (and each Western art) periodically renews itself by returning to its womb, re-examining and re-creating itself. Like Kronos, the Western arts must eat their own offspring and are in turn destroyed by them. Snakelike, Western music every few decades must slough off its skin, making itself new in a process of convulsive rebirth. In this essay I propose to discuss the two radical opposites of Ionian vs. Athenian and Dionysian vs. Appollonian. These two diametrically opposed extremes define Western music-- but more than that. They shape Western thought in general-- indeed, Western culture.
It was in Ionia, as A. R. Burn points out, that the Iron Age first ended and the Bronze Age first began. The Ionians reigned as the experimental scientists par excellence of the ancient world. For them, the evidence of the senses was paramount--truth could be found only by studying the world as it is. Anaximader, the first to propound that life began in the oceans and that men were descended from fishes, was an Ionian; also Anaximenes, who contended that air was the primal constituent of matter. "Had he said 'dissociated hydrogen gas,'" as Erwin Schoedinger pointed out, "he would not be far from our present view." Xenophanes was an Ionian, and the first to make recorded observations of marine fossils, and to give a correct explanation of them; also Demokritos, the originator of the atomic theory of matter. The Ionians single-handedly began the sciences of geology, hydraulics, chemistry, biology, botany, palæontology.
The Athenians distrusted the senses. They held that truth could be found only by relinquishing the senses entirely in favor of pure reason: to Plato and Pythagoras (a native of Abdera--but his greatest exponents were Athenians) and Philolaus, "truth could only be found in number." In fact, this conflict twixt sight/sound/taste/touch/smell and pure intellect goes back much farther than the Greeks. It can be viewed as the modern incarnation of the eternal religious schism twixt earth goddesses and sky gods, a schism that reaches back into prehistory and beyond.
Historically, the sky gods (Jehovah, Zeus, Mithras, Odin, Tirawa, Byamee, Rango, Xiuhtecuhtli) reside unreachably far away--these unearthly deities are typically ascetic, intellectual, remote: they stand for power, order, rationality, discipline--but also for the freedom that comes from self-discpline. Religions which worship sky gods usually espouse submission, authority, strict hierarchy, order on heaven and earth, "cleanliness is next to godliness." The earth goddesses (Isis, Ishtar, Demeter, Gaea, Cybele, Kali Ma, Coatlicue) dwell under or in the soil, omnipresent. Earth goddesses embody the sensual, the voluptuary, the rhapsodic, the violent, the abandoned, the unpredictable--they stand for excess, riot, incorrigibility, wild Bacchic frenzy, the epiphany of the unconscious, the primal howl of ecstasy--but also for wisdom and the knowledge gained through abandonment to the senses. Religions which worship earth goddesses espouse fertility, fecundity, creation, the boiling-up of order out of chaos, and they are invariably mystery religions. The ancient Eleusinian Mysteries of the Greek 5th century B.C. (whose initiation rites were kept secret) were, in all probability, mystery-theater rituals involving hallucinogens, sex, and music...the classical primal incarnation of "sex, drugs 'n rock and roll." (The modern mosh pit and the contemporary stadium rock concert are modern Eleusinian Mysteries--no laws will ever stop people who attend these things from taking drugs or having wild sex because that's the whole point.) By contrast, the initiations of the sky god religions typically involve pain, endurance, suffering, discipline and the memorization of canonic celestial law. (The modern equivalent is the bar exam and the PhD oral examination--that last, a telling Freudian allusion which betrays the Greek homoerotic origin of the rite).
Between these two polar opposites western music has oscillated throughout recorded history. And it is vital to understand--in this moment of supreme crisis and transformation in music--that both these extremes are necessary for a living vibrant western music. The post-war hyperrationalism of the Darmstadt school proved a sterile dead end because it represented the total victory of the Appollonian ideal. Total order and absolute discipline won. End of story. Wasn't it?
No, because there is a paradox here... One extreme always leads to its opposite. Throughout Western history, it has always been true that "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom," as William Blake put it. Boulez and the other Appollonian acolytes of pure Platonic rational idealism in music discovered a strange and disturbing fact: by forcing music into a condition of extreme order through total serialism, they paradoxically produced a music which sounded utterly chaotic. As Iannis Xenakis so thoughtfully pointed out 40 years ago, the effort to force music into a crystalline state of perfect reason led to complete disorder as far as the listener was concerned. The musical effect of total serialsm (in which rhythm, timbre, dynamics, pitch were all treated as serial rows and ordered accordingly in extensions of the Schoenbergian RIPM sets), and the sensory effect of this hyperrational total serialism was a statistical and random-sounding dispersion of 12-tet contrapuntal lines into pointillistic events. Such music impinged on the senses as a statistical enemble, like rain on a tin roof or pixels of white noise on a television screen. This should have come as no surprise.
The twin extremes of Ionian vs. Athenian, Dionysian vs. Appollonian are umbilically linked. Boulez and Stockhausen forgot the myth of Actaeon, whose crime was not merely to dare to gaze upon supernatural beauty but to dare to do so without being possessed by or possessing it. For this crime Actaen's own dogs tore him to pieces. As the Tao te Ching says, the only way to master desire is to yield to it. David Gelertner has pointed out: "After a bit of reflection it becomes inescapable that you don't think just with your brain, you think with your body too--this holds in the sense, roughly speaking, that a violin uses its strings to produce sound; but take away the sounding board-- the instrument's bridge and its body--and the sound you wind up with is a thin parody of the real thing." [Gelertner, David, "The Muse In the Machine," Macmillan Inc., New York: 1994, pg. 47]
Modern physics has shown us that when we push the ultra-rational methods of quantum mechanics to their logical conclusion, we find that rationality itself dissolves and pure chaos comes boiling out. If we look at the universe at the Planck length, 10^-33 meters, space-time disintegrates into a riotous frenzy of virtual particles and antiparticles which procreate and self-annihilate "while nature blinks." This seething maelstrom of chaos is all around us--it is literally at the ends of our fingertips, it fills the space between nuclei, it boils out of the emptiness that constitutes 99.999% of every atom. And so modern physics shows us that when we look closely enough, the universe corrodes away into a frenzy of quantum foam, wormholes and chaos. This is the snake eating its own tail--this is the 21st-century manifestation of a duality older than recorded history, and with which 21st century western music must come to terms if it is have any hope of regaining its ancient and sacred status.
I mention this last point because, as Jon Appleton so wisely stated, in most cultures throughout most of history music has been synonymous with magic. There have not often been attempts to analyze music, or dissect it in rational terms--for most of recorded history music was a primal event regarded in the same terms as sex, magic and religion. The western application of pure reason to music that began with Galileo and Kepler and really gained steam with Mersenne and Rameau and reached its full expression in the work of George Biddell Airy, Hermann Helmholtz, Lord Rayleigh and their modern equivalents Jean Claude Risset, Max Mathews, John R. Pierce, John Chowning, David Wessel, Xavier Rodet, Wiliam Schottstaedt, Chris Chafe, Perry Cook, Julius O. Smith and Paul Lansky... This application of pure reason and the scientific method to music is something radically new. The enthusiastic explosion of psychoacoustic and acoustic and mathematical discoveries that erupted from CCRMA and Bell Labs and Columbia-Princeton during the 1950s-1980s represented the bright side of this hyper-rational approach to music. The dark side was the pseudo-scientific jabberwocky of Darmstadt and Boulez, the sterile attempt to neuter music and flense it down to set theory and permutations and moduli and rotations and inversions...to abnegate all the dark wild Dionysian frenzy of the primal musical experience (as opposed to the acoustic experience of music, which can be usefully analyzed but only in terms of physically quantifiable elements-- frequency, amplitude, sound pressure levels, phase, energy, time, space).
The puzzlement of the yakademics (a pejorative term I use to distinguish between the callow, ignorant pseudo-scientific poseurs of modern music like Babbitt, Wuorinen and Cage and the deeply insightful polymaths who have usefully applied the real techniques of science to those limited areas of music in which scientific investigation is fruitful--namely, luminaries like Paul Lansky, John Chowning, Max Mathews, John R. Pierce, Jean Claude Risset, David Wessel, et alii.) ...Yes, the puzzlement of the yakademics over the utter failure and collapse of modernist pseudo-science music theory is natural and predictable. It's the obvious result of pushing the pendulum to its uttermost extreme and trying to nail it there.
The pendulum cannot be stopped. Homo sapiens is neither wholly Appollonian nor wholly Dionysian, but a mixture of both. And so the pendulum swings, and its arc defines and energizes the Western intellectual tradition. This is why the sterile attempt to rationalize away the forbidden Dionysian madness which provides high-octane fuel for music as a primal gut experience will always fail. Music is both. It is both Dionysian and Appollonian, it is both Ionian sensory ravishment and Athenian pure intellectual play of the mind.
To take the fashionable postmodernist puritan American tack of shunning the senses, to claim as Milton Babbitt so blindly and foolishly does that "it is impossible to assert that an interval is consonant aurally, since it always can be notated as dissonant, and this notation reflects a possible context" is pointless. To attempt to do so is to deny the blunt facts of the way the universe works. It is an attempt to deny the existence of the chaotic maelstrom of quantum foam which unerlies space-time, to prestidigitate away the dark vortices of the strange attractors in phase space which lie at our fingertips. To claim that there is no place for the senses and the body in music and that everything is relative and contingent--thats is the supreme folly of modernist pseudo-scientific schlockmusic "theory." It's the kind of crazy bind that word-obsessed pedants fall into when they are deaf, dumb and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether the academics like it or not, and quantum theory shows us that nature is very strange indeed.. We cannot sequester ourselves from nature--which is to say, from the elemental traits of human nature embodied by the archetype of the earth goddess.
Nor can nature be nailed down, quantified into a single equation, conveniently described in any single theory--nature is characterized, (as a mathematician put it) by "the inexhaustibility of the real." Goedel's Theorem and chaos theory and complexity theory teach us that no logical formal system can prove or disprove all of the postulates which can arise from it. No computer can simulate reality completely because it would need infinite-digit precision and an infinite amount of computation time to accurately reproduce the "butterfly effect" (in which a buttfly fluttering its wings in the Amazon generates a hurricane in the Carolinas.) In short, the unpredictable, the chaotic, the imponderable, the irrational always lurk underneath the surface of any rational system--no matter how closely reasoned and no matter how seemingly hermetic the system seems.
In modern music this attempt to banish the Dionysian from the culturally approved "serious" music has led not to the elevation of pure Appollonian rationality. Contrary to all post-war expections, we did not witness the triumph of "universal music" as the predominant cultural force: post-Webern serlism, pitch-class matrix theory and its algorithmic and spectral composition offshoots never became the "official" sound track of western culture. On the contrary. This attempt to banish the Dionysian from "serious" music has simply led to the marginalization and diminution of "serious" music as a cultural force throughout the west. Instead, the delirium of the mosh pit and the cult rock guitar hero supplanted sterile po-mo "serious" concert-cum-lectures as the most potent energies in post-war music.
While Schoenbergian-Boulezian-Stockhausenian hyperrational music withered on the vine and died, pop rock kept getting stronger and stronger--because it did not deny the wild frenzy and no-limits abandon that underlies the visceral gut experience of music.
Those serious composers who have survived the test of time and whose reputations continue to grow--composers like Conlon Nancarrow and Harry Partch--understood this. They explicitly embraced the power of intuition and ritual in their music. There is a strong element of the irrational, of the magical invocation, of the unseen presence of nameless frenzy, behind Conlon Nancarrow's middle and later piano studies and in all of Harry Partch's large theater pieces. It is in this context and at this culminant crux of music history that I have made my case for a combination of both the Dionysian and the Appollonian extremes in music.
Consider, for a moment, the contemporary German government's policy of prohibiting neo-Nazi groups from registering on the ballot. What the Weimar government of Germany never understood in the 1920s is that there must be limits to freedom in the sense that there cannot be freedom to oppose freedom. The modern German government understands this, to its vast credit. If the German government had arrested Hitler and his cronies and shot them in 1928, we might never have had WW II. There cannot be liberty to oppose liberty. There cannot be tolerance for an official policy of intolerance toward any who do not march to some prescribed party line.
The essential reality remains that music cannot flourish if intolerance for diversity is tolerated. And true intonational diversity--as celebrated in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in the Hellenic Mediterranan--has been banished by the callow and shallow minds which hold sway over "serious" music nowadays. This must end. There cannot and must not be freedom in modern music to oppose freedom of intonation. Yet this is the unstated official program in every concert hall, in every university music program, in every prestigious music journal throughout the western world. I repeat: that's an attempt to crucify music, aniling it down at the Appollonian extreme, and it will fail.
It has already failed.
Dionysian chaos is boiling up from the musical underground despite the best efforts of the musical establishment. Microtonality has alwasy been a part of Western music, since before the Greek enharmonic genus with its built-in microtone, since before the Montpelier Codex with its microtonal motets, since before Costeley wrote his chromatic chanson in 19 tone equal temperament in the 1560s. Yet where, throughout academia of the so-called "serious" music journals, will you find this information?
This, ladies and gentlemen, in what happens when composers and music theorists confine themselves to the repressed, sanitized, anal-retentive world of the WASP ruling class. The gobbledygook of "source sets" and "vector projections" and "hexachord inversions" might play big in the fluorescent- lighted beige- carpeted squeaky-clean walls of the academic ivory tower, but that is not where the primal power of music lurks nowadays. Wade into a mosh pit. The sweat and dark abandon and extemporaneous frenzy of the DJ, who uses digital samplers and digital effects side-by-side with two-turntable setups to mix on- the-fly the latest dance music...this is where the Dionysian power of music can be found today. Not at IRCAM. Not in Lincoln Center. In the churches where Johnny Reinhard performs with his American Festival of Microtonal Music In Denny Genovese's concerts. Not in the musty museum called the New York Philharmonic.
Academic music theorists seem to believe that humans are clockwork automatons with tiny calculators whirring inside their ears doing rational calculations to determine source sets and transpositions.
But the reality is very different. In truth we are tiny bits of frontal lobe on a huge dark blob of reptilian brain and the primal mysteries of music speak to our blood and our hormones. We are not merely moved intellectually by music, as devoutly as the Boulezes and the Babbitts of the world might wish it so; we are impassioned and brought to our feet at a gut level by the blood-rhythms of musical rite and ritual. Terror and pity, epiphany and apotheosis, are at the heart of musical experience. To paraphrase Aristotle, the rational mind isolated by itself must be either theros or theos--either beast or god. Since homo sapiens is neither, but is instead eternally destined to remain suspended between the two, we cannot approach music only by means of the rational forebrain. The hindbrain must and will out: the effort to deny its presence in music has already failed, as the spectacular decline in the audience for hyperrational modernist music so fulsomely demonstrates. There is no use in denying the existence of the mysterious, the ambiguous, the exalted, the sacred, the chaotic and intuitive in music. The dark luminance of music as a primal experience cannot be conjured away by appeals to "ignorance" or "early [this]," or "pre-[that]" or superstition" or "lack of scientific understanding." The primal beast god lurks behind every bar of worthwhile music. Music must devour its worshippers to live.
I write these words at the end of a long period of Appollonian excess in western culture. This failed attempt to exalt rationality above all else led at least in part to two genodical world wars, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Marxist- Leninist dialectical materialism, and forty years of nuclear balance of terror. Elevating the forebrain above the hindbrain produced nigh on a half-century of existential angst, thermonuclear nihilism, and behaviorist dehumanization. Now that chaos theory and complexity theory have toppled the neat edifice of Newtonian mechanics, and now that the science of neurochemistry has revealed the dizzying complexity and total un-computerlikeness of the human brain with its witch's brew of neurotransmitters, and now that the distinctly Eastern-philosophical tenets of quantum theory have exploded the causal certainty of classical physics, music must catch up.
This will take some work. Modern music has always lagged behind the curve. Quantum theory was 30 years old before musical relativism and psychoacoustics started to take hold in modern music; doubtless it will be another 30 years before the tenets of chaos and complexity theory and the anticausal implications of Hawking-Penrose quantum thermodynamics begin to filter into music.
With the rise and subsequent collapse of ultra-rationalist "isms" in the 20th century (Communism, behaviorism, modernism in the arts, etc.) students have been left rudderless and adrift. The Dionysian will out. It cannot be denied. All of us (however unwillingly) pay homage to the transcendent, to something beyond ourselves-- this is most of all what makes us human. And so the collapse of modernism and rationalism has left the young music student spirtually bereft. Only by understanding modernism as a valid and temporarily useful substitute for religious belief can one understand Stockhausen's notation in his journals that he would "rise, eat breakfast, work hard all day, pray to God and go to sleep."
To the generation born in the 1920s and 1930s who saw God die in the smoke of the ovens at Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, science and the reasoning capacity of the disciplined human mind became the new religion. But this program was ultimately doomed to failure. Odd as it sounds for someone trained in physics, it behooves me to point out that Goedel's Theorem and chaos theory place sharp limits on the sphere within which the forebrain can usefully operate. Terror and pity, always the white-hot core of music, cannot be dissected rationally: no equation will ever predict the next bars of a kickass blues. And so the young are stuggling today with a spiritual vacuum. Modernism has collapsed: the pendulum has swung to the uttermost edge of Appollonian rationality.
The Dionysian elements in music are beginning to re-emerge...Harry Partch effort's are of a kind with the primal frenzy of the mosh pits and the "summer of love" wildly celebrated throughout Britain in the rave festivals of the late 1980s. (To which the Thatcher and Major governments over-reacted with such bizarre excess that they merely increased the impetus of the movement.) Music students hunger for an acoustical feast but the music schools continue to serve them a diet of ashes...the dessicated nihilism of Cage, the sterile double-entry bookkeeping of Babbitt and Forte and Boulez. Everything exalted and ennobling, every hint of transcendence and epiphany and apotheosis, has been befouled for today's music students by their 12-tone-obsessed music professors--few of whom deserve the name "teacher." These so-called professors are uniformly ignorant of the vast breadth of musical history--they have nary an inkling of the Dionysian power and sweep of the many intonational traditions which energized Greek and Babylonian and Renaissance musics.
Nonethless, this will change. Despite all the efforts of the current generation of 12-tone-obsessed academic music theorists, the sacred 12 tones are already losing sway over music. History proves it. Intoantion has changed many times throughout the course of western music, and it will change many times again. Time and again one particular tuning has been proclaimed as "the end of musical history." Yet time and again, that tuning was wswept away by the currents of history. Just intonation, Pythagorean tuning, meantone, and now 12 tone equal tempermaents. The old outworn ideals of modernism have been cast off by today's composers. Audiences, with overwhelming unanimity, have rejected late modernist thoeries and compositions. Today music exists in a state of chaos, waiting for a new paradigm to be born. Microtonality might be part of this renascence (not to say renaissance) of post-modern music, or it might not.
The persistent efforts of all too many of the predominantly male predominantly verbal predominantly right-brain predominantly rationalist hyperintellectual susbcribers to this tuning forum are a bad omen. Alas, all too many composers still seem hell-bent on turning microtonality into the same sterile hyperrationalist desert of numbers and theories and crabbed callow critiques of critiques of critiques that modernist 12-tet serialism turned into... Kiddies, this numbers-ueber-alles effort in microtonality is just more of the same. Just another effort to nail the pendulum to the end of the arc of Appollonian hyperrationality. We've had enough of that. 40 years of this kind of denial of the darkly mysterious and the primal, of the frenzied and the elementally Bacchic in music, is more than enough. Been there, done that. It's over, kiddies. Toast. Stick a fork in it: it's done.
The rebirth of music from the sterile gloomy Mutual-Assured-Destruction Balance of Terror nihilism of modernist 12-tet theory is beginning worldwide, everywhere. Denny Genovese's World Music ensemble celebrates the primal mysteries of music; as do Dean Drummond's recreations of Partch's "corporeal" spectacles. Warren Burt's explorations of the mysterious patterns which lurk inside the transcendental number pi and Julius O. Smith's and Chris Chafe's deconstruction of string instrument synthesis into recirculating digital filter theory and self-similar IIR physical modelling paradigms are of a piece. Pierre-Jean Croset's celebrations of the harmonic series on his lyra instrument and Franz Richter Herf's breakthrough into a new world of sound based on 72-tone equal temperament are part of the same joyous kicking-over of the modernist musical chessboard.
The stunted and monochromatic minds who have carried on the dead musical tradition of Boulez and Babbitt, Cage and Stockhausen have forgotten a crucial fact. The Enlightenment, which gave birth to rationalism and the modern scientific method, was never meant to imprison the soul, but rather to liberate it. The ability to tread the ridge between the Dionysian and the Appollonian is a skill which has been lost. Harry Partch's music theory and his compositions revived this skill with nonpariel power: while Harry's sensual dramatical/musical spectacles celebrated light, color and movement, his musical system celebrates the Appollonian play of pure number and permutation on a 2-dimensional utonal/otonal diamond. Rock 'n roll by itself is not the future of 21st century music: the purely Dionysian cannot sustain itself any more than the purely Appollonian. Complete abandon leads to madness and self- destruction, as Euripides pointed out in The Bacchae. The most famous rock stars die young, and most rock bands are one-hit wonders. Neither pure reason nor pure sensualism is by itself adequate for a living vibrant music: western music in the 21st century demands a combination of both. This interplay between the Ionian respect for the senses with the Pythagorean/Platonic worship of reason is all too rare in modern music. It is rare because pushing music to the Appollonian extreme amputated its soul and instead of lifting music to the stars, mired it in a tarpit of cold deaf numbers. Because North Americans and Europeans live in a culture dominated by the puritanical anal-retentive sky god ethos, rediscovering the primal mystery of music will not be easy. Some of you will balk at this. It might seem indeed a bizarre irony that someone trained in physics would espouse such a thing: but learning to solve nonlinear partial differential equations does confer the knowledge that the frontal lobes are sharply circumscribed in their capacity to encompass nature.
Large Reynolds Numbers are the "grand challenge" of computation-- Reynolds Numbers above one million, in which laminar flow gives way to nonlinear chaotic turbulence, characterize most of the natural processes around us. Big Reynolds Numbers and primal chaos are what most of the real world is about most of the time. Long past time we plunged back into this primal tumult and started surfing it--albeit with some rational discipline--as composers, theorists, and microtonalists.
fetched 8/10/06 from http://www.microtonal.freeservers.com/mclaren/post198.html