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HERE COMES NEWER DESPAIR: AN AESTHETIC PRIMER FOR THE NEW CONCEPTUALISM OF JOHANNES KREIDLER

Abstract
Abstract

This article seeks to clarify the aesthetic precedents for New Conceptualism generally, and Johannes Kreidler's work in particular. Pursuant to this end, I examine how Kreidler's approaches to musical and political material are ideologically indebted to his teacher, Mathias Spahlinger, whose dictum that New Music can be socially relevant without resorting to political clichés is taken by Kreidler into the digital age. Finally, by means of a conclusion, I attempt to provide a broad examination of how Kreidler's aesthetic concerns differ from – and sometimes radically conflict with – those other composers who are grouped under the New Conceptualism letterhead.

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      HERE COMES NEWER DESPAIR: AN AESTHETIC PRIMER FOR THE NEW CONCEPTUALISM OF JOHANNES KREIDLER
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1 Darmstadt's New Wave Modernism’, TEMPO, Vol. 69, No. 271 (2015), pp. 5765 .

2 This is Kreidler's term and should not be confused with the ‘Second Modernity’ of Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf.

3 Seidl offers a concise and engaging elaboration on the ideology I have roughly summarised here. See his essay Music as a Social Situation’, in Substance and Content in Music Today, ed. Mahnkopf Claus-Steffen, Cox Frank and Schurig Wolfram, New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century, Vol. 9 (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2014), pp. 151–62.

4 See his video-CV from early 2016: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5_Shkj-wnc (accessed 25 January 2016). It is almost certainly an instance of intentional irony that Kreidler states this as voiceover for a multi-screen segment where he is shirtless on a snowy roof, breathing heavily into a microphone.

5 Quoted in Peter Niklas Wilson, ‘Musik als Sprach-Spiel und Gesellschafts-Spiel: Zu drei Kompositionen Mathias Spahlinger’ in the liner notes to a recording of Spahlinger's works on the WERGO label (WER 65132). The formatting/capitalisation (here and elsewhere) are Spahlinger's; the translation is mine. I have rendered the untranslatable phrase ‘ballonmützen-ästhetik’ (literally ‘balloon-hat-aesthetics’) in a way that I believe accurately conveys the dismissive contempt and impatience of the German.

6 Quoted in The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw, ed. Innes Christopher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 110.

7 In phenomenological (if not aesthetic, as I hope to demonstrate) terms, Spahlinger's music bears a strong resemblance to many of the other ‘experimental’ works of New Music that were written in the late 1960s and 1970s in Germany: cf. Dieter Schnebel's Orchestra (1974–1977) and Diapason (1977); Klaus Huber's … Inwendig voller Figur … (1971), Transpositio ad infinitum (1976), and … ohne grenze und rand … (1977); Dieter Schönbach's Canonzen da sonar series (1966–1979); Johannes Fritsch's Sul G (1970), Sul B (1972), and Play V (1977); and especially Nicolaus A. Huber's works, including Information über die Töne e-f (1965–6), Aion (for four-track tape and odours, 1968/72), dasselbe ist nicht dasselbe (1978), and Presente (1979).

8 Jameson Fredric, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (New York: Verso, 1991), p. 215

9 Beil Michael, ‘Material Shift’, in Musical Material Today, ed. Mahnkopf Claus-Steffen, Cox Frank and Schurig Wolfram, New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century Vol. 8 (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2012), pp. 920 .

10 See Lehmann Harry, ‘Avant-Garde Today’ in Critical Composition Today, ed. Mahnkopf Claus-Steffen (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2006), pp. 942 .

11 Kreidler Johannes, ‘Mathias Spahlingers Zumutungen: Gegen Unendlich und gegen Krieg’ in Mathias Spahlinger, ed. Tadday Ulrich, Musik-Konzepte , 155 (Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 2012), pp. 2330, here p. 23. The translation is my own.

12 Rightly described as ‘Wagnerian’ by Iddon, not least because the first semantic use of language in the piece immediately complains about Wagner. See Iddon MartinOutsourcing Progress: On Conceptual Music’, TEMPO, 70:275 (2015), pp. 3649, here p. 37.

13 Iddon, ‘Outsourcing Progress’.

14 It could certainly be argued that their creators had no intention of any such contribution. Still, I don't believe this significantly detracts from the central issue that politically engaged pieces of New Music position themselves and their critique outside the culture they are critiquing.

16 In pragmatic terms, for Haas's statement to have any sort of meaning, let alone that which he seemingly intends, a certain number of unlikely factors need to coalesce: 1) someone affiliated with the NYPD would have to directly encounter Haas's piece; 2) they would also have a working knowledge of the aesthetic foundations of the post-war European musical avant-garde; 3) they would have to read the programme note (since the snub to the NYPD would be otherwise quite literally immaterial); 4) they would have to understand Haas's exclusion of their institutional affiliation from the dramaturgy of his microtonal trumpet étude as a political act that is somehow inseparable from the sounds being generated; and 5) the combination of programme note and trumpet sounds would have to coalesce into a convincing call to action. Thus, Haas's piece is at least five degrees removed from even the most rudimentary criteria of effective political protest.

17 I find Iddon's concluding quotation about the ‘bestiality, genitalia, grotesquerie’ of the Colonial gaze perplexing and sensational. As Iddon himself previously states, Kreidler just sounds like MIDI. (Additionally, we're all men too, but this might be beating a dead horse).

18 It should go without saying that all of these pieces are virtually indistinguishable from the ‘original’ Fremdarbeit.

19 In political implications of the material of new music’, Contemporary Music Review, 34:2–3 (2015), pp. 127–66.

20 Spoken by the ‘sidekick’ character in Audioguide.

21 Contemporary Music Review, 34:2–3 (2015), pp. 127–66.

22 This title is sometimes translated as ‘128 fulfilled moments’ (e.g. in the Blume article cited in n. 23 below). I think translating erfüllte as ‘fulfilled’ rather than simply ‘filled’ assigns a purposive aspect to the piece that is not evinced by the material or its organisation.

23 This analysis is heavily indebted to Philipp Blume's excellent and perceptive article Mathias Spahlinger's 128 erfüllte augenblicke and the Parameters of Listening’, Contemporary Music Review, 27:6 (2008), pp. 625–42.

24 See Spahlinger, ‘political implications’, p. 132

25 To this end, Spahlinger positions Satie's Vexations (ca. 1894, a short piece with an indication that it is to be repeated 840 times) as the first piece of New Music (‘political implication’, p. 130. Spahlinger mistakenly identifies the total duration of Vexations as 28 hours; a complete performance actually lasts around 18 hours. See Schonberg Harold, ‘A Long, Long Night (and Day) at the Piano; Satie's “Vexations” Played 840 Times by Relay Team’, New York Times, 11 September 1963, p. 45).

26 Blume, ‘Mathias Spahlinger's 128 erfüllte augenblicke’, p. 632.

27 It may be noted in passing that Blume's opinion of serialism's legacy (‘short and inglorious’) is rather grimmer than Spahlinger's.

28 Spahlinger, ‘political implications’, p. 156

29 One of several cheeky Adorno nods (a character at one point sports a t-shirt with ‘PORNO ADORNO’ written on it in a cursive-glitter font).

30 Translated with palpable contempt by Wieland Hoban in Musical Material Today, pp. 105–16

31 ‘Style Melody’, p. 115

32 See the multiple outsider artist personae she adopts in her work, a.o. the collective Grúpat.

33 The overture, where a speaker can be heard breathlessly repeating ‘I will write my concert for Donaueschingen’, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAX69B2A4xk (accessed 13 March 2016).

34 Perhaps an additional phylum of augmented performance would be required to classify a group of younger composers whose work is deeply concerned with the bodies, dynamics and personalities of the performers themselves. Examples of this can be found in my own works and those of Maximilian Marcoll and Maya Verlaak.

35 For a more interesting and comprehensive explanation, see http://celesteoram.com/Soft-Sonic-Surveillance-2015-a-sonic-datafication-tool (accessed 30 June 2016).

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Tempo
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