Tuesday, March 1, 2011

control! discipline! biopower!

As you may know, I am preparing for what I have termed "baby's first conference appearance." My paper involves strategies for reclamation and rebellion in the performance of eighteenth century music. The question is this: how do we reconcile historically reprehensible music? When you consider the uses and functions of eighteenth century music (control! discipline! biopower!) how can you possibly perform it? How can you allow your body, like so many other bodies before you, to operate as a vessel for these coded messages of subservience and discipline? I am working on the answer. As yet, there is nothing particularly eloquent, but my hunch is that rebellion occurs in performance, in utilizing one's own "story" to reformulate this ostensibly questionable music for contemporary performance. By positing our own identities before the traditions espoused in eighteenth century music, we assume a position of both distance and indeed, power.

Once upon a time I read a book entitled Telling Stories: the Use of Personal Narrative in the Social Sciences. The authors, advocating a decidedly post-modern epistemology, suggest that one must look first to context, accepting a plurality of (personal) truths. Furthermore, you must consider the "truth" of the story in conjunction with the context from which it arises. If one is to look at Stamitz, for example, one can consider his music as his "story," and furthermore, acknowledge its intrinsic truth in that it appropriately represents his historical moment (control! discipline! biopower!). However, this becomes complicated in repeated, historically distant performance. One can liken it to the transformation of oral histories: with each generation, each narrative vessel, the story changes. Based upon the uniqueness of both the recipient and the performer, the content metamorphoses, changing shape to reflect its performance context.

I would contend that this metamorphosis is where resistance, rebellion and reclamation occurs. If we acknowledge the inevitability of this transformation I believe it is possible to perform this music, remain faithful to intent and musical character while creating space for critique. But then the question becomes, how do we do this? I have yet to formulate an answer, but I do have some hunches. For now let me entice you with the following hints: expectation! desire! temporality!

Get. Ready.

No comments:

Post a Comment