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Peter Ablinger:
The Superfluous 

Inverted Perspectives

Composers who, like me, have to deal with their work being regularly branded with labels like "experimental," "conceptual," "sound art," et cetera, have undoubtedly also developed a hyper-sensitivity to the undertone that often accompanies such labels. An arbitrary quote from the culture section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "Some artists never moved beyond the experimental phase." (FAZ from 30 November 2007) "Experimental" here means, essentially, "he/she/it is still practicing." The term is used to characterize something as "not completely valid." It's no different with the word "conceptual." It means something like "made up," "constructed," "not 'properly' through-composed." These terms are meant to signal: "This is just not music. At best it's a premature stage of music, if not an outright aberrance from it."

This schema of terminologies and connotations took shape against a backdrop of the classical-bourgeois-academic music establishment, presided over to this day by its subsidiary, European New Music, and its auteurs. (-and therein lies a marked difference between this system and that of the visual arts).

These terms are thus intended to marginalize, to force out anything that might form the centerpiece of a relevant acoustic art-that is, if comparable criteria were applied to sounding art as those used in visual art. These terms serve, then, to keep something at a distance.

But what could benefit most from an attempt to clarify its terms is the very thing trying to distance itself. What needs a name is that which would seem to occupy the center, in Munich, in Germany, in Europe, in the form of "mainstream new music."

from: Peter Ablinger, The Superfluous, lecture at musica viva’s “Kunst und Experiment” Symposium, Munich, 2008. Full text published in: NOW, writings 1982-2021

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impressum \ this page was created by Aljoscha Hofmann \  last edited 31.01.2009 CET