Monday, February 09, 2009

Max Neuhaus



Last week Max Neuhaus passed away. During my first two years here in Santa Barbara I became good friends with Cory P Mathews who was/is devoting his dissertation to Max's work. Cory organized events, lectures and the such all to ask the question about the field of SoundArt. Watching a video about what is an installation and what is a concert piece last night I came to reflect on all that pioneers like Max Neuhaus have done for others.

Flipping through the internet this AM I was looking for something interesting and inspiring to read. Barring the fire of the hotel by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren in Beijing, before it opened, there was really little out there. I went to Sequenza21 and tapped into a discussion about the "How have notation programs effected the aesthetic of your music." I know that I should not read these things, but then again, I was also interested in flaming buildings this AM, so clearly, my mind was soft. So I proceeded to flip through the comments and while there were a couple that were insightful and helped to inspire my brain to think, the majority of them said nothing. As the conversation wound it's way through dribble about how "I am a post minimalist and computers have no effect on me..." There it lead to how synthesizers and now these programs like MAX have had an effect and then, and offhand comment,"Who is this MAX guy anyway?"

WOW! I suppose you could be writing music out by hand sitting in front of piano and have no idea who Max Mathews is. Then it began to occur to me what someone like Max Neuhaus went through when he committed "career suicide."

“But at a certain point, I started having these other ideas. I tried to do both at the same time, but … the better musician I was, the more people were convinced that what I was doing (with experiments in sound installation) was music, so to speak. So in a way, I had to commit career suicide as a musician.”
from an obit

Then I step back and I think of how a large component of his work comes from an internal monologue. Reading his website you gain a glimpse into the ideas and trajectories that he was pursuing. Most importantly, what stands out is that this was a journey he undertook out of an aesthetic conviction.

Our perception of space depends as much on what we hear as on what we see.
m.n.




2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christopher,
I do not really follow this at all.
Perhaps I am missing something.
Max Neuhaus is the only sound artist with many permanent installations. He was very thoughtful about
making sure that his work lasted.
I this is your notation or one of Max's notations?
I like it! I will be speaking in San DIego next Tuesday.
I wish I had time to come to Santa Barbara this trip.
Liz

3/03/2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger christopher jette said...

Liz,
Sorry for the confusion, I start waxing in words about how there are people who do not know Max Mathews then jump back to talking about Max Neuhaus and a couple of quotes. The diagram at the end is from M Neuhaus's website, it is his own work, I simply find it beautiful to look at and think through. Sorry I won't catch you on this trip. I am having a piece played in NYC at the Tank March 15, the ensemble is called loadbang.
Cheers~
Christopher

3/03/2009 10:10:00 PM  

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