I propose three postulates concerning music, deep music. First, music is global, with many distinct, but not entirely exclusive, classical music-cultures. Second, music, all music, is spectral, its spectral elements susceptible to significant analysis. Third, music is skeletal, as proposed first in recent history by Carl Czerny (quelle surprise!), then by Charles Seeger and, to a lesser degree, by Heinrich Schenker: fluid sonic architecture susceptible to significant skeletal analysis. Global, spectral, skeletal: creation and analysis.
The great age of music creation stretched at least from the 6th century CE (perhaps even from the Confucian/Vedic 6th century BCE) to the 21st century CE: from the oldest still-remaining notated large music, the solo qin composition Yulan (Solitary Orchid) sometimes attributed to Confucius, and the earliest remaining notated ensemble music, Etenraku (Music of the Cosmos), still present in the Japanese Gagaku repertoire; through the music of Debussy, Schoenberg, Ives, Stravinsky, Varese, Ellington, and their recent or current followers. ‘Deep’ music rather than the more fashionable ‘big music’, as in ‘big history’, ‘big science’, or ‘big data’. Music intended to last.
We may, however, be its last inheritors; its loss now would be particularly tragic and ironic, because we are also possibly its first inheritors. Never previously has such a spread of ‘deep music’ been so available to as much of humanity as now; not only in the phenomenological sense, as sounds and experience, but also in the analytical sense, with at least some means, conceptual and techno-logical, that permit understanding its vast, subtle substance: its very greatness.
I will try to suggest, from Yulan to the Study in Mixed Accents by Ruth Crawford (Seeger) the scope of the marvels and creative/analytical challenges embodied in such music; and possibly even, to model some tentative revelations. For we are, as musicians, theorists, analysts, sometimes teachers, the necessary custodians of this heritage.