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  • Writer's pictureAlex Huddleston

"It didn't sound as long as it was"

I've encountered some version of this sentiment many times since starting my formal education in music, if not earlier. From all sorts of people on the spectrum of musicality about all sorts of music. My own, some of my favorite composers of my generation, Thomas Tallis, etc. It's a compliment and an assessment, and perhaps the only phenomenologically centered discursive move everyone seems to agree is ok. more: it's a way to articulate the particular pleasure of concert music; again, maybe the only one that everyone seems to agree is ok. Given the fact of sitting quietly for the duration of a concert, what better way to say 'that didn't suck' than to say 'I didn't feel my freedom of movement and sound impinged upon for very long.' dang thanks, man!

I loved hearing this phrase about my own work: it seemed the ultimate magic trick. But, I'm certainly not the only one to have found that kind of music - is it the new normal? There's a couple pretty simple tricks. The music that encourages this response is typically slow moving, forgoing the use of meter in any meaningful sense, sounds are allowed to do their thing. one almost isn't listening to music so much as sounds. "What's the difference?" bruh, if you need to ask...

This compliment is a more earnest and informed version of "it was interesting." A nice thing to say and virtually without content. It's also the clichéd phrased developing around a soon-to-be-if-not-already clichéd music.

Anything good takes the edge off the time it takes to occur. But does anyone say that a movie doesn't feel as long as it was? a book? a meal? a conversation? a relationship? Why has this phrase glommed on to concert music recently?

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