Writings About Music

Transpicuous Nebulosity

Key to recent classical music in the West has been the influence of Indian raga forms upon the tendencies termed, perhaps unfortunately, Minimalism, which largely adopted the modal tonality and rhythmic ostinati proclivities of Hindustani music almost exclusively, including a seminal composer who helped mentor me, Steve Reich, by way of John Coltrane.

My personal preference has been to go beyond such beginnings, tapping into actual melodic and rhythmic through-composed development as opposed to relying solely or mostly upon repeated patterns. Thus, tamboura drones and percussion ostinati provide a setting for melodic and rhythmic elaboration deeply touched by the expositional natures of both Indian classical music (Hindustani and Karnatic) and modern jazz, the latter transformed by Hindustani music influences in the sixties, as alluded to above.

Rain-Mist speaks for what I’m writing about here, combining perhaps the most ubiquitous instrument of classical music in the West, the acoustic piano, with South Asian percussion timbres, and dance music elements of our time, too.

My title here, Transpicuous Nebulosity, bespeaks an aesthetic ideal of music that possesses complexity and clarity at once.

- Michael Robinson, February 2016, Los Angeles


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Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer.