Concerning Music Technology
As I've already observed, within the logic of technological determinism,
music technology would be the context-independent power of rational thinking
in the service of the musician's context-independent imagination and creative
will. Both technology and making music would be contextless, autonomous
domains - two separate spheres of human action, reflecting a Cartesian,
dualistic worldview: material vs intellectual world; matter vs form.
So far I've argued that this is to neglect the hermeneutic aspects of technology.
But I believe this is also to misinterpret music composing. Primarily an
activity of design meant to model experience, composing entails decisions
about one's own social and cultural environment. Musical form and
musical material are both historical, culturally bounded notions
determined by a multiplicity of social and cultural constraints [Adorno,
1970/1984]. Therefore making decisions about them is taking a particular
position in the cultural context. Also, making decisions about materials
and form is acting upon them, i.e. it implies a knowledge of how to act
upon them. In short, it requires a technology. Therefore the strategies
and techniques by which one acts upon materials and form are as significant
as the audible results of the action.
This accounts for the claim that the methods and techniques by which a composer
works and operates on materials and forms is a nonnegligible domain for
an insight on her/his art. A composer's tÈchne captures a way of
understanding art. We cannot put it aside if we want to analyze and
characterize the musical objects thus created. The musical tÈchne
captures how a composer models her/his experience, reflecting
her/his aesthetic position and a more general worldview.
The questionable view conveyed by a simplistic, narrow approach on music
technology is that compositional ideas are born independently of any particular
technical substratum. This contradicts the important assumption that the
work of art is always created by creating the methods of its making. Artistic
concepts are born while acting upon materials and designing the techniques
of art. Acting within and upon the available or specially designed tools
may even dissolve pre-existing concepts or ideas: moving to the technicalities
unveils the unreal, metaphysical purity of a given musical idea, as well
as the very theoretical assumptions behind it. That is the way composers
question their material and, hence, enrich their language.
In composing, concepts do not (always) preceed percepts. I regard the dynamical
relationship between the conceptual and the perceptual as the very realm
of the method of knowledge known as art. An artist's tÈchne is the
medium where this relationship is worked out time after time. It is an ever
changing medium, always transformed by the composer and transforming her/him,
i.e. forcing her/him to interrogate experience.