Today, as many commentators have already noted, Morton Feldman would have turned eighty.
In the past, a number of my colleages had told me few of my pieces (particularly Black Stream for string quartet and Resonances for solo metallic percussion and electroncs) had a certain ambiance that resembles Morton Feldman’s music. While writing those pieces I had always enjoyed the little I heard of Feldman’s music but never loved it the way I have during the last nine months. Ironically, this has occured while I’ve tried and push my musical vision further by writing a piece that that is more active and, if you’ll pardon the cliché, complex.
While trying to clear my mind from the distorted phasing patterns, cyclical timbral constructions, and the polyrhythmic tonal flux that predominate my thesis Time Fixtures, there have been few things that can calm me down more than listening to some of Morton Feldman works. There is something about the slow transparent and sumptuousness of pieces like Patterns in a Chromatic Field, Piano and String Quartet, andPalais de Maris that allows me to reflect on my own craft and designs better. A particular experience that stands out, was the night of sleep where I seemed to inhabit Feldman’s contradictory time conception after listening to his remarkably succint (anti)opera Neither for the first time.
What seems to me to be the greatest gift in Feldman’s music is its ability to clearly display the folding and unfolding of itself. In Feldman’s music, I am reminded of Mallarmé’s explanation of life as “pli selon pli” (fold upon fold) far more than in Boulez’s music (who has favoured this esthetic since writing Pli selon Pli). It may just be a matter of taste, but I don’t think I see life in the same shattered manner as Boulez.
Addendum: Here is an interesting artifact of the endless arguments between too much/too little and too complex/too simple – a conversation between Morton Feldman and Iannis Xennakis.