31 Braxton

Introduction to Catalog of Works

Anthony Braxton (b. 1945) is a composer, reed player, and musical philosopher who became well known as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. His work has been influenced equally by jazz history and the compositional methods of Cage, Brown, and Stockhausen. His compositions often graphical in nature, consisting of abstract diagrams and number-letter combinations, open structures instead of constrained melody, meant to be improvised upon.

  1. "All compositions in my music system connect together" (202)
    1. "All compositions in my music system can be executed at the same time/moment" (202) - Any portions of these works may be performed simultaneously. Though the author is confident about the fulfilling nature of this unity, I wonder how this might sound.
    2. "Shorter works can also be positioned into larger works — into any section of a given 'host' composition" (202) - This makes sense and is done in many musical settings.
    3. "Isolated parts from a given structure can be positioned into other structures — or one structure — as many times as desired" (203) - As stated above, this is not unheard of and even useful in today's popular music.
    4. "Any section (part) of any structure can be taken and used repeatedly by itself or with another structure — or structures" (203) - Seems to be becoming a bit repetitive…
  2. "All instrumental parts in my group of musics are autonomous" (202)
    1. "All instrumental parts in these groups of compositions are changeable — that is, any instrumental part can be used by any instrument — or instruments" (203) - In other words, each piece of the whole transcends its need to remain stationary, because it maintains its relationship.
    2. "A given performer or group of performers can take any part of any composition (or compositions) and use that material as solo or combination material" (203) - A performer may pick and choose structures from other compositions to in effect create their own to interpret for any type of music.
  3. "All tempos in this music state are relative (negotiable)" (202)
    1. "All tempos in my music system are relative" (203) - The initial given tempo is only a default, a single option among a multitude of possibilities, a "point of definition" (203).
    2. "Every composition in this music world can be executed in any tempo" (203) - Once again transcending traditional boundaries, freedom to interpret is a vital part of this compilation.
    3. "Each composition contains open duration spaces where time/space adjustments and parameters can be treated creatively" (203) - Make the space your own. What has been given is meant to be the framework.
  4. "All volume dynamics in this sound world are relative" (202)
    1. "All volume dynamics in this universe of music are relative" (203) - I didn't quite understand this concept, but Braxton explains that "volume adjustments can be made when two or more given instrumentalists perform (execute) different compositions together" (203).
    2. "Each person can respect his or her physical and vibrational particulars when dealing with the physical demands (and challenges) of the music" (203) - I assume this means that the performer is as much tuned in to the sound around him as the sound he or she is performing.
    3. "Performers are encouraged to look for 'affinities' and 'composite sound states' based on the collective dynamics of the ensemble" (203) - Keep in mind the uniqueness of every ensemble and take advantage of this when shaping the music.

Overall Braxton encourages experimentation, improvisation, imperfection, creativity, looseness, and fun!

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