Low Imprisonment Threshold

Alex Ross, who has a nice article on Morton Feldman in this week’s New Yorker, quotes, on on his blog, the late György Ligeti on his view of music history:

“Now there is no taboo; everything is allowed. But one cannot simply go back to tonality, it’s not the way. We must find a way of neither going back nor continuing the avant-garde. I am in a prison: one wall is the avant-garde, the other wall is the past, and I want to escape.”

I agree completely. But escaping from a room with only two walls has never struck me as particularly difficult.


  1. David D. McIntire says

    I heard Ligeti lecture at Cornell in 1993, and he used a much more apt metaphor than the “two walls” that has been quoted recently. He said at the time that he was constantly trying to steer between the two poles of what he saw as the great musical pitfalls of our time, neo-romanticism and doctrinaire serialism. I guess somewhere along the way those poles became walls. He struck me as allergic to dogma of any sort.

  2. Arthur Jarvinen says

    “…escaping from a room with only two walls…” is considerably more difficult if they are cylindrical, one within the other. Not sure this is relevant to Ligeti or music. Just thought I’d make your escape more challenging.

  3. mclaren says

    There is a solution. It’s called microtonality.
    “It will take the efforst of many people for many years to fully explore the musical resources of xenharmonics.” — Ivor Darreg, “New Moods,” 1975
    Come join us in the new edge on the xenharmonic frontier!
    KG replies: That’s certainly one of the most obvious responses.