Friday, 9 November 2007

Silence, Morton Feldman and Friends

I have been fighting these thoughts all day and longer than that but I now feel that I have to share. Over the last few years I have been collecting the works of Morton Feldman and though I cannot check as to whether he was a Quaker in life he, to me, is a Quaker in his music. Long silences are shaped by notes. Notes are shaped by silences. It is so much like Meeting that this morning as I was making bread I listened to my latest purchase 'the viola in my life' by him. It is, like much of his music, like being in Meeting. The notes are Ministry. The silence reflection. The depth of thought so intense. There is a deep humanity in the music enhanced by a deep spirituality but all was so simple and plain in many respects.As I made the bread my kitchen was filled by silence and ministry. Silence and eloquent lyrical lines of music. Collections of notes appearing and disappearing but creating anticipation. If compared to reading a book it was like wishing to turn the page but having to finish this page and all the words on it first.FFF was on my laptop. If felt connected to something greater. A synergy. A waiting. A gathering. I was alone but part of something greater. Something I knew but like the Tao 'That which can be said in words cannot be known, That which can be known cannot be said in words'. The next time I hear it it will be different but that is like all such experiences. To Morton silence was so important which makes me wonder if though he may not have been a Friend in name he might have been so by nature.

7 comments:

Richard Pinnell said...

I can assure you that there is not a single ounce of religon in Feldman's music.

Anonymous said...

It must have sneaked in when he wasn't looking! What I find is not religion but a deep spirituality which can exist without religion. The two are related and it is possible to be spiritual without being, or claiming to be, religious.
Who was it who said
God made man
Man made religion
But the Devil created theology!
Peter Lawless

Richard Pinnell said...

If my spirituality to you mean intensity, emotion and simple beauty then yes I agree.

Who was it who said
Man made god
because religion didn't make sense without a lead character
So theology is just contemplating one's own navel
Richard Pinnell!

Anonymous said...

I believe that we are in agreement. It is the effect of these qualities upon me which resulted in my questioning blog.
Peter Lawless

Rudy said...

Can you recommend particular works?

I tried to listen to Feldman once and couldn't follow it.
I can't remember which piece; I think it was a very long piano quartet or similar.

However a New Yorker magazine article noted Feldman's great admiration for the music of Sibelius, and I can listen to that...
so maybe I can follow Feldman's musical thoughts sort of at second hand... :)

I tend to like busy music and busy books, so I might have just been too impatient for musical stillness.

Peter Lawless said...

Rudy sorry about talking a while to reply but I have had to be away from my computer for. This is in some respects difficult but I can recomend several works e.g. Piano;Viola in my Life; For Samuel Beckett; Samuel Beckett:Words and Music; Rothko Chapel; Durations.
It is difficult to know what to recommend as I feel that Feldman tends to write more silence than notes in many pieces - if that makes sense. It might be an idea to see what your local music library holds. I must warn you that he is not to everyone's taste and so therefore I would recommend borrowing rather than buying. It may also involve another way of approaching how the music is listened to but I feel that it is worthwhile. I find that he makes me listen. I have a experience similar to that of reading a good book in that I want to know what comes on the next page but not skip the one I'm currently reading - but that is my reaction and I can fully understand why people may not have a similar taste or interest.

a-g said...

Morty was a jew.