Brian Eno: “Not Enough Africa in Classical Music, Architecture”

Brian Eno explains to Kevin Kelly what fascinates him about Africa, in an old interview in Wired1:

Africa is everything that something like classical music isn’t. Classical – perhaps I should say “orchestral” – music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitchwise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It’s all in little boxes. The reason you get child prodigies in chess, arithmetic, and classical composition is that they are all worlds of discontinuous, parceled-up possibilities. And the fact that orchestras play the same thing over and over bothers me. Classical music is music without Africa. It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control. [...]

If you’re a composer writing that kind of music, you don’t get to hear what your work sounds like for several years [“extremely slow feedback loops”]. Thus, the orchestral composer is open to all the problems and conceits of the architect, liable to be trapped in a form that is inherently nonimprovisational, nonempirical.[Emphasis mine.]

1 In the May 1995 issue of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly interviews Brian Eno, “Gossip is Philosophy” – or rather, talks face to face, on the phone, and via email over the course of several months, and edits it into the interview format. I dug it up after reading it in Eno’s immensely stimulating diary, A Year with Swollen Appendices (where he also mentions that he managed to get paid for this interview).

The above was posted to my personal weblog on August 18, 2005. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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