Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Hyperactivity Quotient

Imagine you walk into a showroom or a used car lot. Immediately a salesperson rushes up and starts talking at a great rate, waving their arms around and throwing out lots of information: "you should check out this one; great ride, low miles, a real creampuff"! It's a bit off-putting, right? I feel the same way about some pieces of music if they start off with furious hyperactivity. I don't know what to make of it. Sometimes it resolves itself and makes sense, but often it is just an attempt to conceal the real poverty of creation. It is like a stage show or movie that relies too much on costume, quick cuts or special effects. We all know how bad that can be!

Here is a pretty typical example:

Really twisted up syncopations in the rhythm track and lots of quick cuts and costume changes. The music itself is simplistic. Classical music can do the same thing of course, but it is harder to find good examples. How about this?

Guitarists can be equal offenders:

Redundant, gratuitous profligacy is not a virtue! But simplicity and clarity can be:

There is hardly a measure in this movement that does not use the opening theme of the falling fifth. Every note counts, every note is part of the whole. No redundant notes. Well, I guess I am a classicist!

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