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Play List 10/13/2011 1-3pm

October 13, 2011

Schumann, William – A Free Song – University of Illinois Chorale and Oratorio Society
Mackey, Steve – It Is Time: Marimba – So Percussion
Paul Muller – Dark Sunset – Dark Sunset
Custodio Castelo – Homenagem a Paredes – The Art of the Portuguese Fado Guitar

Fall on Your Sword – Bob the Robot – Another Earth
Plaid – missing – scintilli
J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science – Space and Time – Under Cover

Feldman, Morton – Trio: finale section – Aki Takahashi, Rohan de Saram, Marc Sabat
Van Brink, Matthew – Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano – Noah Getaz, Andrew Simpson
Heinick, David – Mantis – Christopher Creviston, Hannah Gruber

Florent Ghys – Phase Parisienne – Baroque Tardif
Oscar Peterson – medley – Unmistakable
David jahson – King of Kings Dub – Mysteron Killer Sounds

Harrison, Lou – Double Concerto for Violin with Javanese Gamelan: Stampede – Kenneth Goldsmith, Terry King, Mills College Gamelan Ensemble

Muhly, Nico – I drink the Air Before Me: Finale

Play List 10/6/2011 1-3pm

October 6, 2011

Motor City Drum Ensemble – L.O.V.E – DJ Kicks
Mackey, Steve – It Is Time: Metronome – So Percussion
Autechre – Flutter – EPs 1991-2002

Paul H. Muller – Trade Center II – Dark Sunset
Human League – Night People – Credo
Silverman, Faye-Ellen – Pregnant Pauses: III – Corona Guitar Quartet

The Harbours Band – Koma Mosi – Nigeria Special
Dave Douglas – Solato – Orange Afternoons
Florent Ghys – Quatrieme – Baroque Tardif

Roll the Dice – Idle Hands – In Dust
Tcherepinin, Alexander – Concert Studies: The Lute – Tianshu Wang
Biosphere – Sendai 1 – N-Plants

Bach, JS – Oboe Sinfonia: Largo – Heinz Holliger
O’regan Tarik – Acallam na Senorach: The Spring – National Chamber Choir of Ireland
Mogwai – Hound of Winter – Earth Division EP

Del Corno, Filippo – Dogma #6 – Sentieri Selvaggi
Diplo – Diplo Rhythm – Mysteron Kill Sounds
mhoa  – eg blei sogen av ein atterganger – meiningslaust oppgulp

Muhly, Nico – Bright Mass: Gloria – Los Angeles Master Chorale

Sounds and Sights: Nicola Sani, HMBKR, Christian Carey, Mathias Delphlanque

September 30, 2011
I’ve been super busy putting together non-radio stuff, and here are some of the things I’ve been listening to in that time. No sights this time around,  just sounds.

Play List 9/29/11 1-3pm

September 29, 2011

Paul H. Muller – Prayer for Katie C. – Dark Sunset

George Taylor, Nicholas Goluses – Night Dreamer – Night Strings
Lukas Ligeti – A Hook in the Sky – Pattern Time
King Tubby – Fat Thing Version – Mysteron Killer Sound

Artcrime – Finale – EP
Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy – Lush Life – Rare Metals
Sun Ra- Door to the Cosmos – Motor City Drum Ensemble (DJ Kicks)

The Decemberists – Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye – iTunes Session
Brian Eno with Rick Holland – For Real – Drums Between the Bells
Beirut – A Candle’s Fire – The Rip Tide

Blanchard, Carver – Audubon: The Dauphin – Carver Blanchard
Trumbore, Dale – Sara Teasdale Songs – Gillian Hollis, Dale Trumbore
St. Vincent – Hysterical Strength – Strange Mercy

Fall on Your Sword – End Titles – Another Earth
?arcka – The Best (ft. Random) – …Never Been Arcka-ed
Greenstein, Judd – clear, dawn, dance – ymusic

Joe Mardin – Baby Groove – Fairytales Interrupted
Bedard, Denis – Fantasie – Christopher Creviston, Hannah Gruber
moha! – naaljos ljom – meininglaust oppgulp

Play List 9/22/2011 1-3pm

September 22, 2011

REM – Fall on Me – Lifes Rich Pageant
itsnotyouitsme – words we weren’t allowed to say – everybody’s pain is magnificent
Mike Doughty – Telegenic Exes #2 (Astoria) –  Yes and Also Yes

Fall on your Sword – I’m Over There – Another Earth
Paul Muller – Ambient Study #2 – Dark Sunset
Gill, Jeremy – Helian: IV Frulig: Ein erhabenes Schicksal – Jonathan Hays, Jeremy Gil

Brian Eno with Rick Holland – breath of crows – Drums between the Bells
McLoskey, Lansing – Prex Penitentialis: I Dwelt in Dreams – Andrea Fullington, HGNM Chamber Orchestra, BradLubman
Beirut – Santa Fe – The Riptide

Mogwai – Drunk and Crazy – Earth Division
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Senator – Mirror Traffic
Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot – Hits are for Squares

ArtCrime – The Long Road – EP
Gutbucket – 398 – Flock
Trashcan Sinatras – Obscurity Knocks – Singles

Trumbore, Dale – Snow White Turns Sixty: I – Gillian Hollis, Dale Trumbore
Clark, Annie – Proven Badlands – ymusic
St. Vincent – Chloe in the Afternoon – Strangeways

Play List 9/15/2011 1-3pm

September 15, 2011

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Fall Away – Mirror Traffic
Sonic Youth – Tuff Gnarl – Hits are for Squares
Moha! – Untitled (8 tommer A) – Meiningslaust oppgulp

Stockhausen – Zodiac: Improvisation 4 – Dominik Susteck
Autechre – milkdx – EPs 1991-2002
Eisler, Hanns – Anti-Fascist Cantata: Praludium – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

In The Nursury – Artisans of Civilization – Scarcity of Miracles
Jaksyk, Fripp and Collins with Levin and Harrison – The Light of Day – A Scarcity of Miracles
Mogwai – Does this Always Happen? – Earth Division

Dies, David – Dance Variations on a Theme by Persichetti – Christopher Taylor
Jonston, Ben – String Quartet No. 1: Variations 3-5 – Kepler Quartet
Lutoslawski, Witold – Grave – Caroline Stinson, Molly Morkoski

Sir Roland Hanna – A Story, Often Told but seldom Heard – A Giant’s Toolkit
Mike Doughty – Strike the Motion – Yes and Also Yes
Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy – My Old Sign – Rare Metals

Com Truise- Flightwave – Galactic Melt
Gutbucket – zero is short for idiot – flock
Rachmaninoff, Sergei – Prelude in E Major – Vassily Primakov

Concert Preview: Speaking of and After Cage

September 13, 2011
I'm not sure how I first heard about Allen Otte and Bonnie Whiting Smith's upcoming performance (9/24 8pm at the Stone), but I do know the more I heard about the program, the more intriguing it became. They'll be presenting a continuous hour of music written by John Cage, Otte, Fred Rzewski, Whiting Smith, William DeFotis, and Corey Dargel.

The program is called “Speaking of and After Cage: mainly music for speaking percussionists.” Both performers have a long history with Cage’s music, but the concert represents more than just their experience performing this repertoire. Whiting Smith and Otte also explore Cage’s ideas about music and language through their own compositions, and the concert also features music that followed Cage’s legacy.

New York City has a wonderfully diverse contemporary music scene, but not often enough does the diversity get squeezed into a single performance. I think that Whiting Smith and Otte do a great job of showcasing the many varieties of contemporary music. Presented as a continuous hour of music, this gives the audience an opportunity to immerse themselves in all sorts of new ways to organize sounds. I was able to ask both Allen and Bonnie a few questions about their upcoming performance, and there’s even a sneak preview of sound for you to taste.

How did you go about selecting these pieces from all of the Cage percussion music?

Allen: The concert is connected to Mode and their Cage percussion discs series, and the choices relate in part to that. Bonnie’s upcoming solo record includes 51’15.675” for Speaking Percussionist, her version of Music For 2 x 1, and A Flower, and it also includes on the DVD a ‘bonus track’ of my connecting egypt piece. The only new thing for us is the little piece from forever and sunsmell (#26 of ‘50 poems’) — we wanted to end doing something really together, as much of this is solo work, or simultaneous solo work rather than actually coming together.

Bonnie: I would also add that both of us are often drawn to works by Cage (and others) that involve a bit of creative realization on the part of the performers. Music for Four by Two and the excerpts from  51’15.657″ for a speaking percussionist fall into this category. While we strictly adhere to the parameters set by the composer, the relatively indeterminate instrumentation, non-traditional notation systems, (mostly) flexible time-structure, and Cage’s encouragement of simultaneous performance in these works have allowed us to make personally unique interpretations utilizing special collections of instruments and our own interest in vocalizing while playing.
What is the connection between the Cage pieces and the works you selected by Corey Dargel, William DeFotis and Fred Rzewski?

Allen: We’re mostly exploring the idea of different ways to deal with text — voice, breath, ‘utterance’….  Corey was a student in Cincinnati years ago and Percussion Group Cincinnati did this piece back when it was new. Also, it’s important to us to include music by a ‘local composer’ , so Corey’s piece was just right for a number of reasons.  Bill Defotis and Fred Rzewski wrote these pieces for me. Cage’s Music for ____, as Music For Three is written for and dedicated to Percussion Group Cincinnati.

Bonnie: Specifically, we span a wide range of vocalization styles: from fragments of words or phrases (Dargel), to narrative (Rzewski), to a lecture jumping from point to point according to chance procedures (51’15.657″), to non-texted speech and utterance (Music for 4 x 2, DeFotis), to sung poetry (26 of 50).
Is there any significance to the program being broken down into four parts?

Allen: Part II is the drum collection — since so much of what we’re doing utilizes extended techniques, we wanted to begin at the beginning so to speak — with just the drum, the singular most basic percussion instrument. The music involves some pretty refined and accomplished technique — there’s something about establishing ‘where we’re coming from’ before we go pretty far afield. The three drum pieces are all nearly as different as possible, and yet we have strung them together in one continuous set. Part III is the most challenging of the cage pieces. Music for 4 x 2, a construction of his Music For ___, for two players performing four parts, is nested within Bonnie’s  layered speaking percussionist piece.  The  4th set includes the oldest music, thus there is a different aesthetic feel from the preceding pieces, and it is the by far the most intimate – gentle – quiet region of the hour. My piece is of course the newest of anything, but it references older cage material.

Bonnie’s work on the program uses a text by Varèse. I asked her about its significance and how her music responds to the words.

Some years ago, when I had just moved to Seattle and started work as a freelancer, I made a series of short speaking percussionist pieces entitled . . . perishable structures that would be social events using text from interviews and writings of composers and (mostly) found instruments collected in my new neighborhood. Movement I was “Harrison”, II. “Partch” and III. was “Cage.”  I recently made a fourth movement “Varèse”, using snare drum, field drum, and a favorite instrument of the composer: a lion’s roar (also known as a string drum).

Varèse wrote and spoke a great deal about the metaphor of music as language, or as a communicative force.  In my recent work as a doctoral student, I made a piece of academic writing about the composer’s musical “utterances”; times when he actually references human vocalization in his instrumental writing. The music itself is full of fabulous material, and I found that his own writing about such things to be incredibly poetic:

“organized sound may be called on to intervene at the point where the spoken word has reached the limit of its efficacy, and where the precision of the image only tends to limit the flight of the imagination”

“the best definition of music is the corporealization of the intelligence that is in sound.”

The rhythmic material of all four pieces from . . .perishable structures is generated from the natural speech patterns inherent in the texts. Sometimes I speak the text aloud. Sometimes I “play” the text, and other times I do both simultaneously. This particular movement also uses quotations from some of Varèse’s snare drum writing.
Allen created a mesostic and combined with music from Cage’s For Marcel Duchamp and Variations II. He is calling the piece Connecting Egypt to Madison through Columbus OH, Cage, and the History of the American Labor Movement, and he was kind enough to offer an excerpt of it:
I asked Allen to describe the origin of the mesostic, as well as talk about his use of mesostics in general.

The spine of the mesostic is KNOW JUSTICE KNOW PEACE NO JUSTICE NO PEACE — a chant shouted on the steps of the capital in Columbus this spring where many of us had gone on a couple of different rally days — Ohio public employees were facing the exact same anti-labor legislation that had generated the much more publicized demonstrations in Madison. I wanted to talk to my students about this – wanted to bring these issues to the conservatory classroom and concert stage, so I set about using various materials to construct such a piece of ‘current relevance.’ There was a photo of the protests in Egypt where someone had a sign saying ‘in solidarity with Madison, Wisconsin!”  — I thought of all my Arabic frame drums, and then other texts: from cage, from the history of the American Labor Movement, from the 8th Century Chinese government employee and wandering poet Du Mu, and even from a speech from my just-recently-passed-away father, who was a labor leader who had become a state senator in Wisconsin decades ago. I followed cage’s example of using chance methods and his various template scores to construct something which could brush all the parts of that disparate but connected information up against themselves, making something related but unpredictable and new out of it; literally making connections where they otherwise had not tangibly existed.

It should be a fascinating performance, but if you need more convincing here are some videos of Bonnie and Allen performing some of these Cage works. To see it live, of course, you’ll have to be at the Stone on September 24.

On spaces and communities

September 11, 2011
ASTMA at Cafe Orwell

Astma at Cafe Orwell

Bad news this week coming from all directions as not one but two of my favorite venues announced they’ll be closed indefinitely. First I heard that Valerie Kuehne’s Super Coda series would no longer be continuing at Cafe Orwell. This is really unfortunate, but I’d like to think that the projects she presents will only become more dynamic and interesting as she can find new and better spaces to explore. She wrote an insightful piece on the problems and needs for the arts in New York City that is very much worth your time on the Super Coda page.

Then in Philadelphia, the wonderful Bookspace was shut down by the city. According to the Onion AV Club article, they’re still selling books, but all events are being relocated until further notice. The space grew very quickly in a neighborhood that has a history of resisting spaces for culture and socializing.

There is something wrong with the fact that cities spend so many resources on their marquee arts centers and then proceed to view smaller venues and cultural spaces as nuisances. Tax revenues are probably similar when you compare a handful of small spaces to the city’s marquee concert halls, but there are many advantages to smaller spaces. They provide more jobs for the creative class,  increase the diversity of events in the city, and they provide neighborhood centers that can help build community.

I’m not suggesting everyone needs to put up with a loud neighborhood, but I do think that every community should have a place within walking distance where they can see cultural events. They might not be tourist destinations, but I do think they would go a long way to building better living experiences for the people within their city. This week is Philadelphia’s Live Arts and Fringe Festivals, and performances are happening in essentially every corner of the city. There’s no reason this should be a rarity, and I hope cities will begin to celebrate the benefits of neighborhood cultural hubs as well as premium spaces.

super awesome photo of Astma by IntagibleArts on flickr.

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.

Play List 9/8/11 1-3pm

September 8, 2011

Muhly, Nico – Senex Peurum portabat – Los Angeles Master Chorale, cond Grant Gershon

Swingadelic – Ready Rudy – The Other Duke
Partch, Harry – US Highball – Gate 5 Ensemble

Fall on Your Sword – Rhoda’s Theme – Another Planet
Adams, John C – Chamber Symphony: Aria with walking bass – London Sinfonietta
Mike Doughty – Holiday – Yes and also Yes

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Tune Grief – Mirror Traffic
Aylward, John – Stillnes and Change: II Stars – East Coast Contemporary Ensemble
Lyoko – Two Angels – Russian Gypsies

Rosenzweig, Morris – A Table of the Most Used Chords – Canyonlands Horn Quartet
Autechre – Laughingquarter – EPs 1991-2001
Fucked Up – The Other Shoe – David Comes to Life

Gutbucket – Give Up – Flock
The Psychedelic Aliens – Hijacking – Psycho African Beat
Mingus, Charles – Revelations –  Bill Evans and his Orchestra

Martin, Jorge – Ropa Vieja – Yehuda Hanani, William Schimmel, Arti Dixson
Beata Pater – Freedom Song -Blue
They Might Be Giants – Spoiler Alert – join us

Boyadjian, Hayg – Cassiopeia – Suren Khorozyan, Karen Kocharyan, Armine Grigoryan
Dale Morningstar – Simple Things – National Parks Project
Papandopulo, Boris – Sonatina: I – Nicholas Phillips

Battles – My Machines – Gloss Drop