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Concert Preview: Nono Muchmore Warp(ed) Festival

September 9, 2011
* I’ve decided that concert reviews are not as useful as concert previews. I mean, sure, musicians have good reason to value reviews, but for someone considering how to spend their Friday night or Tuesday afternoon, I think a concert preview is much more effective. So, I’m going to try and do these with some regularity. When possible, I’m going to talk to someone involved in the concert and even some sounds for you to aurally chew on.*

The last time Pat Muchmore was on my radio show he told me he was working on music for a concert featuring composers with funny names. I didn’t believe him. I mean, I believed he was working on music for a concert, but who would host a concert featuring funny names? Turns out, Pat was on the level and the Nono Muchmore Warp(ed) Festival is a real thing. Only in New York, right?

The necessary details: the concert is being hosted by the New Spectrum Foundation on September 17 at James Chapel (Broadway and 121st Street in Manhattan).  You should pre-announce your attendance via the facebook event page.

As the New York representative of the composers, I asked Pat if he could answer a few questions about the concert and the music.

You speak about creating music with multiple musical languages, which implies some of your Fracture pieces. What are you hoping that listeners take away from the diverse musical ideas.

That’s definitely true.  But unlike those pieces—which have many colliding genres and styles centered on the same motivic ideas—the “languages” being intermixed are actually entirely different ways of communicating musical ideas.  For instance, there are a few movements which actually use Ancient Mesopotamian notation alternating with Ancient Greek notation.  Renaissance notation provides an occasional cherry on top.  My hope is that listeners will come away with a sense not only of different musical styles, but of different musical conceptions.  The sounds that can be expressed in Babylonian notation are exceedingly different than those in Ancient Greek or Renaissance music.

Do you write music any differently when you are the lone performer?

I tend to write fairly differently, if for no other reason than that I have to write much easier music for me to play since I’m a fairly crappy player.  I’m also more likely to leave in awkward or annoying things since I’m slightly less likely to snatch the music off the stand and throw it into my own face.  Slightly.
You recently wrote on the NYT’s Opinionator about the score as a form of visual art. How do you explore this in your music, and in what ways can listeners engage with that aspect of your art? (okay, that might be too much to bite off)

Visual notation often inspires the structure of my music.  For instance there are several pieces in this concert that were composed partly with visual expressions in mind.  I try to make all of my scores available for free at my website in PDF form (, and I’d love it if some people were to check a few out!

Beyond the funny names, do you see any common threads in the concert program for attendees?

I know that each part of the concert will involve at least some amount of electronic accompaniment.  Richard Warp makes amazing timbres, and the Nono piece is an early example of surround sound electronic music.  My electronic pieces are fewer in number, but represent an important part of my output.

Do you have proof that your last name is, in fact, for real?

Yes, but I refuse to cave into the Tea Party by providing my long-form birth certificate.  Because I have principles.  Palin can decry me all she wants—the Ancient Mesopotamian notation speaks for itself.

Thanks again Pat! You should all check out Anti-Social Music’s album of Pat’s music on Bandcamp, you know, and come on out September 17th.

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