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Decomposition is a bracing, revisionary, and provocative inquiry into musicfrom Beethoven to Duke Ellington, from Conlon Nancarrow to Evelyn Glennieas a personal and cultural experience: how it is composed, how it is idiosyncratically perceived by critics and reviewers, and why we listen to it the way we do.
Andrew Durkin, best known as the leader of the West Coastbased Industrial Jazz Group, is singular for his insistence on asking tough questions about the complexity of our presumptions about music and about listening, especially in the digital age. In this winning and lucid study he explodes the age-old concept of musical composition as the work of individual genius, arguing instead that in both its composition and reception music is fundamentally a collaborative enterprise that comes into being only through mediation.
Drawing on a rich variety of examplesBig Jay McNeelys Deacons Hop, Biz Markies Alone Again, George Antheils Ballet Mcanique, Frank Zappas While You Were Art, and Pauline Oliveross Tuning Meditation, to name only a fewDurkin makes clear that our appreciation of any piece of music is always informed by neuroscientific, psychological, technological, and cultural factors. How we listen to music, he maintains, might have as much power to change it as music might have to change how we listen.