alan little’s weblog archive for august 2008

german sonata

4th August 2008 permanent link

Sarah quotes me on something I don’t remember saying – but can well imagine I might have said – to the effect that:

German-speakers plan their speeches more carefully than we do. Before you launch into one of those long sentences with the verb at the end you have to know where you’re going!

This doesn’t mean you have to have every word planned out in detail before you launch into a German sentence, but you do have to be confident that you can somehow or other make your way back around to that trailing verb. Something like Sonata Form in music, where eventually, whatever you do in between, you have to make your way back to a recapitulation of the original theme. As I was about to comment on Sarah’s blog, when it struck me “Hey! And Sonata Form is a quintessentially German art. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven”.

So: Sonata Form mirrors the grammatical structure of a German sentence? Why not? People talk about Janacek’s music as mirroring the spoken rhythms of the Czech language. Don’t take my views on musical structure & history too seriously though. I’m the guy for whom Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise was too technical.

Somebody who really wanted to push this “argument” to absurd limits could surely also find some analogy to the ideas of (German speaking philosopher) Hegel. Which would be silly.

related entries: Music

parr(t) two

3rd August 2008 permanent link

Going to photography exhibitions is expensive for me. Whenever I tell my wife I've been to a good one, she insists that I go again and take her with me this time. Which is actually wonderful. (I'm still jealous that she went to see an exhibition by the great Turkish photographer Nuri Bilge Ceylan last year and I didn't. Admittedly she was in Istanbul on business at the time and I wasn't) Yesterday we were at the Parrworld show at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, second time for me.

Apart from paying admission twice, the other big financial hazard of photo exhibitions is museum bookshops. As Mike Johnston says, “If you're looking for good places to find excellent photo books, check your local art museum”. This time it was Edward Burtynsky's China that caught my eye in the Haus der Kunst bookshop. (Don't be misled by the cover photo, to my eye one of the weaker pictures in the book). Buying art books in museum bookshops is equivalent to buying CDs and teeshirts at concerts, except that good quality large format photography books are a lot more expensive.

Burtynsky was on my mind anyway, since I was trying a little while ago to convince Brian Micklethwait of his merits - with some success, it would seem.

Oddly, one picture that very much impressed me on my first visit to Parrworld – taken in the P1 nightclub in the basement of the art gallery building – was gone this time, “at the request of the photographer” according to a little placard that was hanging in its place. I wonder what that was about.

related entries: Photography

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