Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tasty Tunes

A comparison between food and music isn't really groundbreaking, Soho did a bit on composer recipes a while back and the Dial M gents are compiling a collection of musicological cocktails. My attempt won't be as clever or utilitarian as either of those, but I got thinking when I read a blog post from chef Bob del Grosso about an article from the Guardian's art critic. (I guess British papers get to still have those.)

Jonathan Jones, the Guardian's critic, argues that food isn't art because it doesn't have the freedom to disgust the way that other artforms do. Del Grosso counters by saying that it wouldn't be hard to find someone more disgusted by Ferran Adria's aerosol spaghetti than Damien Hirst's preserved cows. Of course both of them are right, cuisine is an artisan craft. As is so often stated on Top Chef and such shows "food is for eating". Once a dish abandons that, it turns from cuisine to sculpture from edibles.

However more important, and more applicable to music, is Bob del Grosso's response that this is sort of a bullshit definition for art. Shouldn't it be more along the lines of discussing something as opposed to being able to discuss everything? Placing the line of legitimacy at the point of repulsion does undermine the merit of things that are, shall we say, "pretty". It's a rather sophomoric stance (i.e. the one I was taking about a year ago). You'd think even with the pluralism of the times and the minimalism movement being now in the post-post stage or whatever that consonance would be okay, but the composition studios in both of the schools I've attended often treat it as something to be poked with a stick. Even the BSO's premieres for this season, all three came from composers (Wuorinen, Saariaho, Schuller*) who work in angular voices of varying densities. Yes, I realize I've given the BSO shit for being conservative but I think I was more giving the audience shit.

So, cuisine might not be able to discuss the horrors of Abu Ghirab or something similiar, but I could see a perfectly edible dish become a discussion of nationalism. You know, like a lot of music has been.

* Did that Schuller ever get performed?

No comments: