Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Tendrils alert

Daniel Albright, in Modernism and Music, quoting Arnold Whittal, Schoenberg Chamber Music:
When a hostile critic said of the young Schoenberg's sextet Verklarte Nacht (1899) that "it sounds as if somehone had smeared the score of Tristan while it was still wet," he provided a clever description for the Jugenstil (or art nouveau) way in which Schoenberg's melodies seem to curl themselves in continuous tendrils, instead of pausing on harmonically significant notes.

Thomas Pynchon, intro to Slow Learner:
I will spare everybody a detailed discussion of all the overwriting that occurs in these stories, except to mention how distressed I am at the number of tendrils that keep showing up. I still don't even know for sure what a tendril is. I think I took the word from T.S. Eliot. I have nothing against tendrils personally, but my overuse of the word is a good example of what can happen when you spend too much time and energy on words alone.