Musique d'art

Composer: Simon Martin
for saxophone quartet

Alongside the many fields of philosophical inquiry (language, ethics, science, the nature of existence, history, etc.), art music could be considered the philosophy of sound. All music creators are responding, often unconsciously, to questions that are philosophical in nature (What are noise, sound, music?; What is the relationship between sound and time?; What are rhythm, beat, duration?; What should our relationship be with sound—pure joy, social code, moral prescription, mystical contemplation, mood, accompaniment for dance? etc.). In this context, art music can be characterized as the result of critical reflection whose aim is to express these questions consciously, and answer them according to a given approach.

For me, musical composition represents a place of conciliation between human beings and matter. Once each one’s space has been well defined, sound emerges as a physically quantifiable mechanical vibration, and everything else as arbitrary and contingent. These contingencies—which lead the composer to arbitrary choices of content and form—are a function of the physiognomy (nature) and conditioning (culture) of hearing, as well as the psychology of the subject and the desires that stem from it (interpretation, expression, remuneration, seduction, etc.). The finality of art music is symbolic: the work is performed as a poetic representation.

Simon Martin, Montréal, 30 September, 2010

Commissioned by Quasar, Musique d'art was made possible with the financial support of the Canada.Council for rhe Arts