Notes on Change

It’s snowing outside, a dim light, the sky gray… walking outside, the temperature was a little below 0 C though it felt warm relative to the -15 C a few days earlier.  It’s interesting how perception changes, for when it first hit 0 C it surely felt “cold”, but after getting accustomed to it it felt just “normal”.  When the temperature further dropped it felt “cold” again, though now that it is 0 C again it feels “warm”…

When change happens gradually and at a constant rate it doesn’t seem so different, just at some point you look at before and after and realize it has indeed changed.  Sort of like if you gently decelerate a car by braking at a constant level it feels just fine but when you brake suddenly it is quite jarring…

Stockhausen once discussed interest in music as a result not in change itself but the rate of change; that was an idea I found very interesting at the time and still do.  I remember a time when I was living in New York and attending a number of new music concerts and found that a number of pieces had flat moments in them. Even though the lines were very active and changing rapidly in a very complex rhythm, the change was constant and held too long for my taste and I lost interest in the pieces…

In music by Webern and Feldman, change occurs but on a different scale. I find that the relative degree of change to be quite large compared to music which has a lot of motion but little change in proportion to other material.  That is something I think is often overlooked in Feldman, how much things really *do* change when you look at it at the right scale…

I remember when I wrote “Four Quarters” a long time ago that there was a flat point.  In the original it went from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 quarters and then back.  I later read something by Xenakis talking about perception of density as not being linear but logarithmic, which influenced me to change the progression from 1 to 2 to 4 and back.  I think it made a big difference…

I am as fascinated by the I-Ching as I have ever been, yet feel as though I understand as little of it as I did before even coming across it.  Yet, even in the study of digrams (a part of the meditation in creating Etude), I felt there were many lessons in those four symbols of change.  How many lessons there are in thinking of the hexagrams, all possessing qualities unto themselves and differing qualities when in context to the other hexagrams…

In the end though, when one steps away from it all at a great distance, there is a great balance between all of the myriad changes… one of the greatest ideas I had learned when studying and observing Macrobiotics was the idea of “dynamic homeostasis”, that things were ever changing yet always in balance…

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