I'm still a ways off from getting a Cage writeup, focusing on the
Number Pieces, together.... But I expect that'll happen this year.
I'm going to write a new (but shorter) Feldman discussion "soon."
Just to sharpen a few points & recommendations.
But I'm also going to be writing a Tenney discussion sometime in
between those two -- just finishing up some final impressions of
some pieces etc. the next few weeks...
One thing I've needed to do as I've gotten more into this (what is
for me a "retro") project, comparatively (or sort of, because I was
reasonably current with the recorded Cage discography in 1992, but
not subsequently), is to recondition my responses to material &
instruments, such as piano, to be more authentic for c.1990. So
I've been "thinking more straight piano" & enjoying those pieces
more than I was tuned for when I started -- in part because people
like Cage & Tenney wrote music that needed more tones than the piano
has, and that's where I'd gone too. (I'd needed a more piano-friendly
approach in my earlier survey of Feldman anyway.) And this ends
up seeming like the era of the last straight piano music of any
import, but I'm sure that's as hasty a pronouncement as any proves
Anyway, one late piano piece by Tenney that I thought various people
on this newsgroup might enjoy, considering it seems to be a relatively
piano-centric group, is _To Weave (a meditation)_ (2003).
It's 11' long as available played by the pianist who commissioned
(I would not recommend another recorded interpretation that I heard
The piece opens almost like the start of a Bach fugue, stating a
simple theme, but then a small alteration, and... before you know
it, you're hearing multiple voices within what remains a rather
stark texture (with no obvious entries). Some of Tenney's pieces
impress via surprise, or striking sonic effects, but this one is
more subtly rewarding.
Beyond the interest in other tunings & microtones, which interested
me from at least c.1990 as well, Tenney's interest in the psychoacoustics
of melody also yield a variety of intriguing material (tracking
subtly into his interest in the vertical dimensions in the piece
above) -- and, in fact, in the line of the "dissonant harmony" of
the US "ultra-moderns" as perhaps most eloquently expressed in the
works of Ruth Crawford Seeger. I thus turned to hearing Seeger's
_Diaphonic Studies_ & _String Quartet_ (1931) in order to pursue
these ideas in Tenney -- who himself studied them with Carl Ruggles.
I don't know that Seeger or the ultra-moderns ever made much of an
impression on me while passing through whatever survey that may
have been at the time.... So it was interesting to hear them as
specifically relevant to this contemporary music-making, and in
particular the way that their notion of "dissonant harmony" came
to imply a *melodic* abstraction that's actually suitably applicable
to linear-melodic scenarios involving infrachromaticism (or, rather,
open diatonic structures, continuing to proceed along "just" intervals