What’s Up…

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I am now trying to write here at least once a week; aiming for every sunday, but monday will have to do. I’m playing in a wonderful concert at The Kitchen this coming friday & saturday. The sublime cellist/composer Okkyung Lee is presenting two evenings of her work with filmaker Andrew Lampert and a quartet with Okkyung, me, Cornelius Dufallo, and Trevor Dunn. I’m very much looking forward to that. I’m sure it will be a wonderful world.

I realized I don’t listen to much music (except when I’m playing) but I did yesterday. Here’s what I’ve been listening to:
The Shaggs. If you’ve never heard them, check ’em out. They were a teenage sister pop trio in the ’70s. They don’t play in time or in tune and it’s wonderful. They were Zappa’s favorite band.

Terry Riley’s The Descending Moonshine Dervishes. One of Terry’s solo electric organ and tape delay concerts from 1975. I remember seeing him perform one of these pieces at the old Kitchen back around that time (part of a four day series with Lamonte Young, Jon Hassell, and David Rosenboom). Terry’s music is amazing, inspiring stuff. No one pulls off “minimalism,” improvisation, and sonic exploration like he does.

(By the way, that series at the Kitchen was amazing. I believe it was 1976, right about the time I started working with Jon Hassell. I must have the program or poster for it somewhere. I hear Jon just got a deal with ECM records, so maybe we’ll be hearing more from him. Check out his new site, it’s very interesting. For a while there, I thought LA had swallowed him up.)

And right now I’m listening to some old AMM recordings from the ’60s. An improvisation trio with Cornelius Cardew, Keith Rowe, & Eddie Prevost. I find this stuff to be very ear cleansing.

One more thing. I came across my (signed) copy of Lou Harrison’s Music Primer (Editions Peters) the other day. This and Cage’s Silence were my 2 music bibles when I was a young composer. Here is an excerpt that I seem to have taken to heart.

“Making an instrument is one of music’s greatest joys. Indeed, to make an instrument is in some strong sense to summon the future. It is, as Robert Duncan has said of composing, “A volition. To seize from the air its forms.” Almost no pleasure is to be compared with the first tones, tests & perfections of an instrument one has just made. Nor are all instruments invented & over with, so to speak. The world is rich with models – but innumerable forms, tones & powers await their summons from the mind & hand. Make an instrument – you will learn more in this way than you can imagine.”

Speaking of which, I am in the middle of re-building (or re-arranging) my glass harp. Should get back to it.

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