Metametrics: The Downside

Art Jarvinen weighs in on the relation between totalism and dance:

I just watched Blow Up again. Had not seen it in a long time. There is a slightly interesting moment around 50 minutes in, where the bored photographer guy and the scrawny uninteresting woman are smoking and listening to groovy music. She’s trying to move to it, and she’s really lame. He gets her to move slooowly, "against the beat." She starts to get it, and it’s a totally Totalist moment….

I always wondered why I couldn’t dance. I couldn’t dance to The Twist, or "I Wanna Make It With You." But I could not NOT dance to Captain Beefheart. "Lick My Decals Off Baby" is my disco record. I have to move when I hear it, both knees going in different rhythms, one arm not knowing what the other one is doing – until it all comes around after…a while – or not.

We understand difference tones. You talk about ratios all the time. Totalist rhythmic structures usually add up to something – a big honkin’ downbeat that is so satisfying, and that you feel coming for a long time before it hits.

Composer Paul Epstein told me the other day that the only thing wrong with my Disklavier disc was that he couldn’t exercise to it – the different tempos kept throwing him off. I had had the same experience. When working out on a treadmill I often listen to Postclassic Radio. One day Michael Gordon’s Trance was on. I almost fell off. I could not keep moving in tempo to the jerking around of all those dotted quarters and triplets fighting with each other. Wherever we totalists make our money, it’s not going to be through the sale of totalist exercise videos.



  1. says

    Never say never! One has to try first, and get those songs out with great production value and a bit of hype. But just imagine, a world in which you can go do a disco and everybody is dancing to the tempo layer of his or her choice! Some freedom there at last!