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  • Alex Huddleston

Flow

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

We weave crinkly air. This is music.


Time is itself the content of music. Not tones, rhythms, certainly not meters. Simply time. To my ears, when music has begun, and when we hear all those things we learn about in aural skills, a certain image of time emerges. This image of time I call Flow. In the past, I have defined Flow as "that which is violated in the act of pausing a recording." While I still believe in a descriptive power of this sentence, the negative formulation is a problem.


What does it matter?


Meters can change at the drop of a hat, as can rhythms, as can just about anything on a piece of paper. But Flows can't. A Flow cannot simply be blocked without creating some sort of serious problem. Flows can be diverted, channeled, but must be handled carefully. Handling flows carefully is good music making.


A question - is this all you need to make music well?

nah, but that's beside the point anyway.


Meters, rhythms, all those things on a piece of paper are not the Flow, and so they aren't the music. caution and skepticism as to the technology of notation are required. Not to say notation doesn't matter - quite the contrary. Technology (of all sorts, and here the score. With that fixation, I show myself to be primarily sympathetic with New Complexity, but anywhere technology is used, so too does the question concerning it arise. So-called new music 2.0 is more focused on technology as in, like, iPhones, while Spectralism, also an important part of my musical coming of age, can seem to technologize just about anything) affords an opportunity to encounter the revealing of being as being, so says Heidegger, but it also risks the possibility of occluding that encounter. With Music, Flow is that being of the being. No matter what is happening, or how, time begins to feel a certain way, and that is the music.


Flow is not located anywhere in the triad of composer, performer, or listener, without also being in all three, and, maddeningly, in none of them. Aufhebung.


Trace the metaphorical syllogistic maneuverings of Flow above, and you see that it is both a movement of fluid (obviously), as distinct from the fluid like water or mucus, and just as importantly, an object itself. Verb and Noun. When a Flow or Flows (haven't the foggiest how we are to handle quantification) are handled carefully, the music Works. When music Works, we think of it not as a verb but as a noun - we are tricked into believing this thing (that is not a thing) is in fact, actually, literally a thing. And maybe it is.


This is an ontology, a metaphysics, and an aesthetics.


Its an aesthetic of playing with continuity as such. An aesthetic of drawing figures in smoke. The aesthetic of this website. the aesthetic of layering opacity. The ramifications spill across how music is made. In fact, there are so many ways to make music, and the methods around classical notation are only a small set of them. Another time I'll write more about the how of my music, but this here is the what. In brief: Expand the possibilities of notated music into realms of non-notated music. Blend, blurry, mix, distort the distinction - we all know there's a difference between 'classical' (in the least possible rigorous meaning) and 'popular'. We all bloody know it, don't try to exert your critical theory virtuosity to consign the thought to oblivion, it's always going to be there. The maddening thing is that to pin it down, to specify it, to say it positively. But a thought - time simply feels different in one and the other way of making music.

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 © 2018 by Alex Huddleston

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