Many peo­ple who watched Andrew Stanton’s TED talk (writer, Wall-E, Find­ing Nemo etc.) were made aware of a hith­erto obscure quote by the Victorian-era drama critic William Archer, which suc­cinctly describes drama as “antic­i­pa­tion min­gled with uncer­tainty.”  It feels apt, though it has more to do with the expe­ri­ence of drama than the mak­ing of drama. For a com­poser, it prob­a­bly holds more water than def­i­n­i­tions deal­ing with char­ac­ter goals, con­flicts of inter­est, tri­umph, defeat, dénoue­ment, cre­ative writ­ing sem­i­nars… As it per­tains to music, the quote also reminds me of Robert Jourdain’s pop-science music per­cep­tion book, Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy, in which Jour­dain defines great lis­ten­ing expe­ri­ences as a process of nav­i­gat­ing anticipation—the com­poser sets up antic­i­pa­tions, vio­lates them, rewards them later.

If the Archer quote is true, you can test for the absence of drama. It sort of works: if you’re cer­tain about how the piece will unfold, you don’t feel the need to expe­ri­ence it; if you can­not antic­i­pate any­thing, you get lost. Inci­den­tally, get­ting lost is the some­times goal for par­tic­u­lar artists, but maybe that’s not drama.

Not a rule; use­ful, maybe.

Posted: March 19th, 2012
Categories: Uncategorized
Comments: 1 Comment.
Comment from edin­burg tx apartments - 3.20.12 at 4:31 AM

Neat post! Look­ing for­ward to read­ing more!