the cadenza, from Mozart to John Mayer

by richibi

"Dancing Senegalese Figures" (1967) - Gerard Sekoto

Dancing Senegalese Figures (1967)

Gerard Sekoto


ain’t no sunshine since you’ve gone,
I wrote Apollo, who’s been in Mexico
for already nearly two weeks, turned
my yearning into thereby something
groovy, listen

again I was reminded of the role of
art in our lives, to not only entertain,
inspire, but to even comfort, heal,

note the Classical structure of the
, a driving and inflexible
rhythm, repetition of the theme, a
tonal melody, something you can
sing along with, Classical music’s
foundational Trinity

except for the cadenza, the solo
part, now described as a riff, but
which was already part of
concertos even by Mozart, which
is to say the late 18th Century,
listen to his 20th piano concerto
for instance, with cadenzas by no
less than Beethoven – between
11:50 and 14:15, then again between
30:05 and 31:30 on your time strip –
characteristically deep, intensely
personal and probing

the cadenza allowed the soloist in
a concerto to extrapolate, take
off in any direction singly,
sometimes written in by the
composer, but just as often not

in his cadenza, John Mayer breaks
two of the Classical imperatives,
tone, repetition, his cadenza is one
unrepeated riff, no repetition at all

but his rhythm remains unswerving,
categorical, Classical, get your cue
from the dominant drums,
irrepressible here as clockwork

for atonal similarities compare
Berg’s Violin Concerto throughout

for music, in other words, we’re still
reacting to the Classical framework
established by Haydn and Mozart,
variations on these rules are still
what we think of as music, we’re
standing on their shoulders,
working according to their
parameters, only the instruments
have changed, the guitar has taken
the place of the piano

but that’s another story