ject is clearly evident, and the album isnwell produced.nAt last, in Philip McCracken, we findnan artist of distinction who declines tonmount a soapbox in behalf of political—nor any other—causes. In the very briefnbiographical sketch that opens this vol­nSmashing the Spheresnby Robert R. ReillynA good deal of 20th-century “music”nis experimental sound that has escapednfrom the laboratory. Some of it is viral,nseemingly incurable. Some of it hasnserved the homeopathic purpose of immunizingnaudiences from further contactnwith modern music. Much of thisnmusical experimentation is due to thensupposed “exhaustion” of availablenmusical resources in the Western tradition—asnif we have run out of musicnmuch as we might run out of fossilnfuels. In response, some composers havenrushed madly to construct the musicalnequivalents of solar panels, windmills,nand atomic reactors.nThe problem, of course, is quite different.nAs Stravinsky pointed out in ThenPoetics of Music, the composer’s dilemmanis not due to a paucity of materialsnbut rather to their profusion, to thenbewildering question of where to beginnwith the almost infinite possibilitiesnavailable. The real problem is one ofnlimits and a basis for them. The latternhalf of this question is the modern one.nBefore modernity, the limits of musicnwere seen to be the limits of Nature.nThese were not perceived as “limits” pernsc but as natural laws. Music was gov-nMr. Reilly is with the U.S.LA. in Washington,nD.C.nMUSICnume, album really, of selections from hisnwork, he is conveyed as a warmly humannman, quite in tune with his surroundings,nwho happens to have a talent forntransforming the materials of his nativenPacific Northwest into creations ofnbeauty. The photographs of his work arenoften accompanied by the articulatencommentary of the sculptor himself.n(RW) Dnerned by mathematical relationships andnlaws inherent in the structure of thenuniverse: the ancient composer had as hisngoal some approximation of what he wasnsure was the music of the spheres.nThrough modern philosophy and science,nhowever, Natiue lost her authority,nand everything was subjected to method,nwhich was simply a mental constmctionnapplied to reality. If it worked, fine; ifnnot, on to another mental constructionnor hypothesis which would serve untilnnnsomething was discovered which it couldnnot explain. Dethroning Nature,nthough, left the arts in a predicament.nAll the arts are based upon an apprehensionnof form, another name for Nature,nor essence. Their highest goal was tonmake the transcendent perceptible. Butnif form inheres in the mind and not innreality, it must be arbitrary and what wenthought was Nature can be essentiallynchanged. Thus the destmction of formnand the elevation of method. John Cagenquotes C.G. Jung: “we now know thatnwhat we term natural laws are merelynstatistical tmths.” Systems of sounds—nnot music—are the logical developmentsnof this perspective. But in the arts onenman’s method is another man’s madness:nwhen objective criteria are eliminated,nwho can say what painting or musicn”works” and what does not? If there is non”music of the spheres” for us to approximate,nart degenerates into an obsessionnwith techniques.nAmerican composers have, to varyingndegrees, been affected by the modernncrisis in art and the tyranny of technique,naccording, of course, to their own viewsnof reality. Janet Peyser has remarked thatnone fundamental view of reality is reflectednin the works of two Americanncomposers: “Babbitt’s highly stmcturednform and Cage’s negation of form—anform in itself—have a common base:nboth are restatements that there is no anpriori order, no God-given frame ofnreference, no ‘natural’ synthesis withnmelody, harmony, rhythm and timbrenplaying their ‘appropriate roles.’ ” Suchndenatured music necessarily degeneratesninto depersonalized sounds unrelated tonanything. Lucio Fontana once put a knifenthrough his canvas and entided it ThenEnd of God; aural equivalents of thisngesture of nihilism abound from composersnembracing the contra naturumnmentality. That is, they gain what forcenthey have from the form against whichnthey work. They have nothing in and ofnthemselves, and therefore no sustainingnpower. John Cage composes music to expressnthe very idea that music cannotncommunicate anything. As E.H. Com-n• K 4 7nApril 1983n