[NetBehaviour] On Music

Annie Abrahams bram.org at gmail.com
Sun Feb 28 12:30:40 CET 2021

Dear Allan

you are a master
in thinking with whatever


On Sat, Feb 27, 2021 at 7:23 PM Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

> On Music
> http://www.alansondheim.org/esaz.jpg
> https://youtu.be/RtY56tQJcBU
> I don't consider myself a musician, by which I mean I don't
> identify as such. I took a few piano lessons when I was young and
> was told I had no ability. I have a hard time discerning
> intervals unless I'm playing them or playing with someone. Years
> later I took a classical guitar lesson from a woman in Israel who
> told me I was holding the guitar wrong (blues-style). I ended up
> giving her a lesson. My parents hated the music. Before my father
> died I asked him what was wrong with it, he said 'boom boom boom'
> - that it was all one beat. I realized he had never listened to
> it, just as he had never read the books I wrote or appreciated
> the art I gave him and my mother (after he died, I found my art
> in a corner on the basement floor, moldy and unsaveable). But I
> began playing after hearing Lightning Hopkins and then found a
> voice. Then I lost that voice and didn't play for years, after
> recording for a couple of labels. Then I found my voice again
> and have played since. Then I thought I should go in a direction
> of potential ugliness, that I owed nothing to anyone. Now there
> are maybe twenty albums (cds, online, records, even cassettes),
> most out of print. I play with a few people or solo or with Azure
> who sings. I listen and know a number of jazz players; they never
> seem to listen or comment on my work. We get almost no reviews,
> one only on Plaguesong (ESP), the last. I don't play classical or
> jazz or folk or world music. As a result, there's almost no
> audience either. I'm grateful for anyone who listens and even on
> occasion supports what we do, what I do.
> I'm not comfortable playing, but that's comfortable, that
> discomfort. I'm used to it. I don't consider myself a "musician"
> but I don't consider myself a theorist or writer or new media
> theorist or performer or any other category. I seem to be an
> outlier which is an interesting and frustrating position. I'm the
> first to admit I'm the master of nothing.
> Whatever else I do, I write, do research, practice daily. I'm
> limited. I'm very very lucky to have a few people around me who
> do understand what I'm doing.
> I can always do music; it's just the matter of picking up an
> instrument and playing it. Writing is very hard, especially if
> I'm writing theory; I feel the academy breathing down my neck,
> thinking I've got it all wrong. I assume I've got it all wrong,
> which is why I've written about defuge (early on), and the
> fundamental concept of failure (which seems somewhat absent from
> theory, or rather theorists might theorize failure, but it's an
> object, not the internal abject and problematic effluvia that I
> think it really is). Much to my serious horror, I practice my
> thought on myself; I never escape.
> Here is an older piece that relates; I've isolated it for another
> potential publication:
> "(in the mountains, 4)
> Tendenz
> What does it mean to tend the net, to tend to it? What is tending
> something, tending-to something, in general.
> Tending-towards is a falling, tending a vigil.
> What does it mean to be vulnerable, open, to dream oneself into
> someone else?
> Vulnerability is a failing, foreclosing, the drama of
> displacement.
> What does it mean to transform objects, spaces, trajectories,
> textualities?
> Transformation is the remnant of magic obliterated by the
> counting and accountability of step-wise procedures; spaces are
> their domains, trajectories the ensurance of repetition, and
> textualities, their betrayal.
> To hold a step accountable: to construct it by rules and
> repetitions from the previous step, but also to find it whole,
> intact, within the previous step. To find it whole, not by
> parallelism, but by fragments of logic, micro-domains.
> Tending-towards is the vigil of the parallel, tending falls
> towards the object which has become the subject.
> But vulnerability is also an opening towards tending, reversal of
> foreclosing towards foreopened, replacement by the parallel,
> empathy, the drama of the other, the subject, not transformation.
> Even here, even within all of this."
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