How odd it is that in reading we are often brought to a sudden stop by
a notion that is obvious and almost commonplace, so much so that we cannot
recall giving it conscious thought. It happened to me last week in leafing
through the Vaughan Williams collected essays: in primitive
times the intervention of the written note between the composer and the
performer did not exist.' Yes, any fool would know that immediately. I certainly
have given conscious thought to that and its consequences in years past.
Then it drifts down (or perhaps up) to settle in the mud. That enormous
area of assumptions we continuously rely on in daily living perhaps requires
an auxiliary department of assumption thumpers ready to jab
us into conscious thought when our assumptions reach danger level.
Theres no real harm in assuming that primitive musicians went to
the nearest music shop for the latest primitive song, but it becomes absurd
to assume that written notation has always existed. Vaughan Williams went
on to conjecture a new art form in future years whereby a composer will
be in direct touch with listeners.
At this point in time, with the year 2000 only months away, may we envisage
a time when composers could transmit musical thoughts directly into cyberspace
to be picked up by individuals from such a device as the computer. Vaughan
Williams was right in declaring this facility - should it happen - a new
art requiring a new language.
I do not find myself thrilled at such a prospect!