More Light

In painting, how light is utilized distinguishes one painting from another regardless of when it was painted; while in music, how pitch is organized, from the more empirical pre-tonal era until serialism, characterizes chronologically the history of Western music. A brief breakdown of light structures adopted by painters since Giotto might best describe what I mean:

     Light from nature

     raking light: Carvaggio, Vermeer

     overhead light: Watteau, Courbet, Pissarro

     refracted light: Monet

     intellectualized light: Seurat


     Pictorial light, not from nature

     constructed light: Giotto, Mantegna, Picasso, de Chirico

     invented light: Piero della Francesca, Rothko

    nonmodulated light: Mondrian, Pollock

    light without source: Rembrandt


With the advent of Cage, one by necessity must ask questions that were previously avoided, never thought about when composing a musical composition. My preoccupation with the fascinating aspect of how painters deal with light is only because of Cage. In effect, what I am suggesting is not that music should explore or imitate the resources of painting, but that the chronological aspect of music's development is perhaps over, and that a new "mainstream" of diversity, invention and imagination is indeed awakening. For this we must thank John Cage.

  — Morton Feldman, 1982.