Some passages from John McDaid's brilliant story "Keyboard Practice, Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals" [Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jan 2005]
"At this level, once technic rises to awareness, it falls to bits. A true Zen emptiness is called for when engaging a repeat, which requires subtle yet significant shadings of difference, spliced into a flawless reproduction of the just-lived performance. 'The unconscious,' as Jacques Lacan said, 'is repetition.'"
(the voice of an AI piano, commenting on a player's failings in executing a repeat in a performance of the Goldberg Variations )And avant-garde leaders are often --perhaps necessarily always-- misunderstood by those not avant enough to appreciate the larger karmic rightness of their vision. Everybody likes a fat, smiley Buddha; not so many are down with Kali. (73)
Want to really inhabit a future generation's mind, gotta really do something. Preferably salacious or exothermic. (80)
You have to remember a mere hundred-odd years ago, music could only be heard while it was being performed. [The Goldberg Variations] was not a canonical work --it was considered technically rococo and unremittingly cerebral. Unless you could play very well indeed, until 1934 when Wanda Landowska recorded them, the Goldbergs didn't exost. Full stop. (81)
Human life is a canon: Mind is the theme, and the populated world an incomprehensible six billion-part modulation with physical reality as the free bass line. (82)
These tools are all writen by programmers driven by frightful agendas: lobbying memos from marketing, quarterly marching orders from managers, apologetic memos from engineering VPs descriing overblown promises made to analysts by desperate CEOs, pet peeves, side bets on Easter eggs, crank theories, smoldering resentment over midyeareviews, bad habits from college programming courses, and the numb, looming horror of fixed ship dates. It's a wonder any of this stuff works. Ever. (87)
Bach was the first master of sampling. Canons, in a sense, are an acoustic approximation of the delay loop. Imagine the compositional challenge of developing a melody in real time --an interesting one, not just a technical exercise-- while playing, listening to, and riffing off a time-shifted doop. (88)