I’m a writer. I’m snobby about literature, because I know just enough about craft to be dangerous. Where films and music are concerned, I operate more on emotion than technical understanding. My weekly classical music DJ gig in Second Life has been a miracle for me — not only because it’s a delightful challenge to attempt to weave together a two hour playlist that will (hopefully) entice and enchant an audience but because of all the great new music I’ve found in the process.
Not such a big secret I guess, that I usually structure my playlists chronologically, starting with a baroque “bouquet”, then slowly moving into the more romantic or operatic. Where music is concerned, well classical music anyway, I prefer the omnivore approach. I love it all. I resist preferring any particular era of music to another. I think it’s my strength as a ‘curator’. I can’t tell a diminished fifth from a doughnut, but I respond to certain music and I try to play only music that sets off that ‘gut’ vibe.
What I like in music is a good sentence. A good piece of music, as in writing, has structure. It’s got plot: a beginning, middle and end. And just as in writing, the phrase or the sentence is where the rubber meets the road.
So this is my unschooled music theory — I like to listen to the sentences in music. I love the well articulated musical thought. Chopin’s got ’em – I swear I can almost hear the words. OK, I’ve even tried to graph them out and write words to his sentences, but they would be long ones. Mahler now, (this post WAS going to get to Mahler) he keeps starting sentences and then changing them midstream. It can be frustrating to hear some glimmer of a beautiful thought and before it’s developed, he’s taken another turn. Was Mahler a bit ADD, musically?
If this idea/metaphor has merit, I might apply this analysis to some more composers.