Day 67: Tuesday
Good morning Zak,
One thing my studies in Italy have been teaching me is how much of an American I really am. I mean as a composer. You see, in contemporary concert music, American composers have a huge indebtedness to European traditions. All told, it’s probably a lot bigger than the National Debt.
But there are some trends that originate directly from American concert music. One thing America brings to the table is it’s large open landscapes. Zak, I know you have a special appreciation for this. So does composer John Luther Adams.
“My hope is that the music creates a strange, beautiful, overwhelming – sometimes even frightening – landscape, and invites you to get lost in it.”
Adams lived in Alaska for about 35 years.
It’s easy to feel nostalgia for the ‘golden age’ before modern cities. Especially while you’re sitting in a little room in front of a computer… surfing the web.
It’s funny we call it surfing. Makes it sound a lot more exciting than it really is…
Anyway, Zak, you asked me a question:
Do you think that the amount of language has proliferated?
I once had a composition teacher who told me that if you sit down a child of the modern era in front of a piano for the first time, they’ll take one look at all the keys and ask you one of the most instinctual and automatic questions in contemporary society: how many are there?
It’s an interesting question, and probably not the first one that would come to mind a century or so ago. There are 88 keys on a piano. How much language is there in the world? I guess it depends how you count. This blog post has 435 word. But it’s gonna show up on, I don’t know, ten different computer screens. Three people will read it. So how much language does that count as?
My intuition is that people individually put out about the same amount of language at any period of history. But there are more people in the world today, and it’s a lot easier to make copies of written and spoken language.
The strange and frightening thing about the internet is that it’s much bigger than any of us. It’s like one of John Luther Adam’s endless open landscapes. For better or worse, it’s easy to get lost in it all. Or to disappear.