Got a Few Hours to Kill?

May I present this video of a performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations:


And here is the related Wikipedia article, a rather interesting read: Vexations (Wikipedia)

In The Time of Music: New Meanings, New Temporalities, New Listening Strategies, Jonathan Kramer writes the following reaction:

But then I found myself moving into a different listening mode. I was entering the vertical time of the piece. My present expanded, as I forgot about the music’s past and future. I was no longer bored. And I was no longer frustrated because I had given up expecting. I had left behind my habits of teleological listening. I found myself fascinated with what I was hearing…True, my attention did wander and return, but during the periods of attending I found the composition to hold great interest. I became incredibly sensitive to even the smallest performance nuance, to an extent impossible when confronting the high information content of traditional music. When pianists traded off at the end of their twenty-minute stints, the result was an enormous contrast that opened a whole new world, despite their attempt to play as much like each other as possible. What little information I found in the music was in the slight performance variability, not in the notes or rhythms.

It seems Kramer has echoed a more succinct statement by John Cage:

In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all, but very interesting.

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