Dell’Antonio acknowledges the difficulty of defining postmodernism; it can refer to an attitude or philosophy, but also to a chronological time beginning around the mid-20th century. These are some features of postmodernism (as discussed by Kramer) that apply to 'Procession', they may help to place this work a broader conceptual frame: an emphasis on contingencies and playfulness, as opposed to closed works with formal structures; the use of listening strategies in an uncontrolled environment (playing outdoors instead of in an auditorium); a ‘collage’ approach to devising scores; a focus on the quotidian and the ‘found object’; and a desire of making music that is relevant to a social, cultural and political context, as opposed to music as an autonomous phenomena. The divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ brow is also seen as more fluid; ‘Procession’ is not a work of intellectual complexity but one that strives for accessibility.
The prefix 'post' is discussed by Lehman (in Fenton 2012, p.34) in the context of post-dramatic theater, he asserts that 'the memory' of [dramatic] structures must form part of our understanding in order for those structures to be subverted'. The following quote represents this extension of practice but also its contingent nature: ' it becomes more presence than representation, more shared communicated experience, more process than product, more manifestation than signification, more energetic impulse than information'
According to Williams, postmodernism features two strands; one that embraces post-industrial new technologies and manufactured environments; and one that sits in contrast to technocratic systems, and includes environmentalism. ‘Procession’ is perhaps reflective of the latter as it seeks to place music-making as an expression of the community and place, rather than as a commoditised object. On this note, Australian musician Jim Denley asserts that ‘there is no word for “music” in Australian languages: if you see yourself inseparable from the earth, then your voice is the land singing’. For Denley, singing is linked with corporality, a belief in the body and in the community. A postmodernist attitude seems more attuned to cultural differences, in contrast to the hegemony of European and North American paradigms (Jon Rose and his criticism on the effects of Australia's 'cultural cringe' is pertinent here) The avoidance of universal approaches may be more conductive to exploring specificity of place, as well as experiences of gender, race, class and geography. The concept of a ‘Procession’ is foreign to Australian audiences, it is an ‘imported’ symbol that me as the composer is bringing, yet it does not recreate a Latin American cultural event but seeks a sensorial engagement with place and community.
According to Pearson (2010, p.9) a site specific performance involves themes of memory, brings out the past in relation to the performance, it may leave a legacy in those involved once the event is over. Pearson (p.141) outlines the nature of performance itself:
a bracketed activity: it has a clear beginning and end
special world: imposed on site, aside from everyday life
sensorium: performance works on all senses
field: constituents of performance are organized topographically
cultural intervention and innovation: place of experiment, claim, conflict
utopia: righting of wrongs
Dell’Antonio, Andrew. "Postmodernism." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
Denley, Jim. "Listening to Music in 2014 #2: Bodies - Nobody." Resonate Magazine, 12 December 2014.
Kramer, Jonathan D. "The Nature and Origins of Musical Postmodernism." In Postmodern Music / Postmodern Thought, edited by Judy Lochhead & Joseph Auner. New York: Routledge, 2002.
Williams, Alistair. "Cage and Postmodernism." In The Cambridge Companion to John Cage, edited by David Nicholls. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Andrew Dell’Antonio, "Postmodernism," in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
Jonathan D. Kramer, "The Nature and Origins of Musical Postmodernism," in Postmodern Music / Postmodern Thought, ed. Judy Lochhead & Joseph Auner (New York: Routledge, 2002).
Alistair Williams, "Cage and Postmodernism," in The Cambridge Companion to John Cage, ed. David Nicholls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). P. 227
Jim Denley, "Listening to Music in 2014 #2: Bodies - Nobody," Resonate Magazine, 12 December 2014.
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