Three new books in the Music Scores series – #3 Ritornello, #4 Melody Surplus, and #5 Motif – have been published.
"The history of Western music represents various transitions of materials. The first material might have been a single note. Musicians soon realized many notes could be played at the same time. In the Middle Ages, the perfect intervals (perfect fifth, perfect fourth) including the perfect eighth (an octave), which feel hollow because of less conflicts between sound waves, was used as the primary material. The third (sixth), considered the most ideal in harmony even until now, was adopted as the key material in the Baroque period, then prevailed in the Classical era. An experiment to depart from the third (sixth) gradually began after the Romantic period, and then the harshly colliding second (seventh) became the main material of New music. Before long, microtones (intervals smaller than a semitone such as 1/4 tone, 1/8 tone, 1/16 tone, and smaller) were widely chosen as material. As such, each change of the musical material that was favored by each era corresponds to a gradual narrowing of the intervals in the harmonic series, as if planned in advance.
Narrow intervals between notes have got so close, they almost make contact with each other, and overtone-based materials were finally used up by the mid-20th century. Since then, music seems to have expanded its research on materials in a variety of ways, from concrete sound to electronic sound, algorithm, extended technique, spectrum of sound, noise, saturation, and so-called interdisciplinary approaches. I used to think that John Cage’s “silence” was an experiment on composition technique by composing music by means of chance, which has shaken the fundamental concept of composition in music. But recently, I reconfigured my view on it as an experimentation on the new material by accepting sounds produced by chance as musical material. In other words, the material came first and determined the means to compose. (Perhaps the potential method for composition is fundamentally inherent in all materials). However, it was not easy for me to figure out what these materials were commonly pursuing. When I was a music student, I learned that sound can be categorized into three types: a musical tone as a sound that vibrates evenly with its overtones; a pure tone that vibrates without an overtone; and a noise that vibrates unevenly. Music chose the musical tone as its first main material. Thus, when I became aware that the era of musical tones had come to an end due to the depletion of new materials derived from the harmonic series, I naturally expected that the next material would be adopted out of the other two types. Indeed, the experiments conducted in the 20th century seem to have been associated with pure tones or noises. However, these tones alone are insufficient to represent the future of music.
If the most important event of 20th century music was the collapse of tonality, what will be the most momentous event of 21st century music?"
Matter and Time
Talk with Seokmin Mun (musical composer), Hanbum Lee (art critic), Yeasul Shin (music critic), Jidon Jung (Novelist), Jaelee Kim (dance theorist), Seyoung Jeong (artist), Hyeongjun Cho (choreographer)
Co-curated by Min Oh, Seokmin Mun, yeasul Shin. Exhibition-related program of Invitee Attendee Absentee
Platform-L Contemporary Art Center, Seoul, KR
(Review) What is Sound? What Does It Mean to Listen to Sounds? Written by Jihyang Kim. Published in Korean Contemporary Composers and Compositions No.18, Seoul, KR
Sulki and Min
Workroom Specter, Seoul