Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ablinger, Repetition, and Meaning

...redundancy produces information. And from here, it is not a long way to entropic noise as information in Shannon's sense. It was Arnold Schönberg who stated that variation is necessarily a form of repetition as at least something must return between variation and variation. And he thus shifted his attention from the changing aspect of music to the continuous, the repeated. Ablinger's attitude is something like the hidden, reverse secret of the same story: that each repetition is also variation, that there is necessarily always something changing—that, in other words: repetition does not exist except as an abstraction.

From "Static's Music - Noise Inquiries" by Christian Scheib

Repetition and redundancy do produce information, and information is meaning. However, this ability is not unique to repetition. Repetition is a subset of a larger meaning-producing process: the formation of relationships. I would argue all meaning comes from relations and connections; epistemology is relational. Repetition is a method of creating relations by separating similar events in space and time.

Taken loosely, repetition may be considered relation-formation in its entirety. There is a good reason not to define repetition loosely, however: we have an intuition for the "abstraction" of perfect repetition. This intuition might be defined as: multiple events produced as similarly as possible to each other, varying only in their spatio-temporal manifestation. When Mozart is performed today, it is contextualized (and thus meaningful) in relation to every other Mozart performance past (as well as many other things, including all of music history). However, these modern performances are not repetitions of previous performances — and any new performance is not a repetition of the theory and influences related to it — but it is still meaningful.

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