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  • Kevin Volans

This article is a reflection on aspects of the compositional practice and aesthetics of the American composer Morton Feldman (1926–1987) as viewed from the perspective of a fellow composer. Writing as a colleague immersed in Feldman's work for more than three decades, Kevin Volans discusses Feldman's concepts of time and form; his approach to touch on the piano, and to instrumentation and tone colour generally; his relationship with the visual arts; his notational practices with regard to pitch and rhythm; his anti-conceptualist standpoint, and much else.

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1 All quotations from Feldman, unless otherwise stated, are from my memories of conversations with him.

2 By this I mean something very similar to what Suzanne Langer calls an ‘unconsummated symbol’, a symbol without fixed significance, where the assignment of a particular meaning to a phrase is never actually made. See her Philosophy in a New Key (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), p. 240.

3 Feldman, ‘Vertical Thoughts’, in Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman, ed. Friedman, B.H. (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 2000), p. 13.

4 In the same way the 3–4-minute length of ‘popular’ music had something to do with the length of a 78 rpm disc. Interestingly enough, since the advent of the CD, the length of ‘serious’ and especially electronic pieces is tending downwards to 10 minutes, while the more ‘serious popular’ music is heading up to meet it.

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  • ISSN: 0040-2982
  • EISSN: 1478-2286
  • URL: /core/journals/tempo
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