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There is a considerable freedom in this music -- no two performances will be identical. But there is also something a little ruthless underneath. Each player is 'required' to maintain a steady tempo -- or at least stay within certain tempo limits. Gann suggests that silent metronomes be used to maintain the three different pulses for each of the players. There's something mildly dictatorial about this. Yes, there is freedom on the overt level, where each performance is different, but at the individual level each player is constrained.

This strikes me as having political overtones. North America is the home of the free, but we all (or at least far too many) wear jeans, eat at fast food joints, watch TV and maintain a certain degree of political ideation (left, right, centre) and these days sing the siren song electric of web based You-tubery.

Genuine (what is that anyway?) freedom could hardly exist. We are force-fed our information by a controlled media and opinions even remotely out of the ordinary are suppressed. (Remember the Dixie Chicks?) Instead of being on the right or the left, what if we insisted on the nature of the up or the down? Could we go to a slow food joint? What would happen to our brains if we switched off the grid?

Well, anarchy for one thing. Some rules, some order, some parameters seem needed if life is to be lived and music is to be made (as opposed to just happen, I suppose). Anarchism (as the absence of imposed law, not the use of violence) does make for problematic living and messy music.

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Copyright © 20 October 2007 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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