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One afternoon in late April of 1989, Sofia Gubaidulina (The Soviet Union's great living composer) visited me in my Upper East Side studio in New York. She talked of the folk tradition of the Bayan. I talked of the tradition of non-tradition in regard to my accordion.

In America, we have the tradition of non-tradition. In a sense we have an advantage. Much like Shintos we can adopt any tradition, worship any ancestor at any time or any place. We can destruct and reconstruct our temples to suit our immediate or long range goals.

Too often we turn to other cultures for a tradition to inherit, which is okay provided that we don't make that tradition the ultimate end. Perhaps the tradition of non-tradition is the truest tradition of all. (Sofia smiled and said: "Perhaps you do have the advantage").

William Schimmel


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