Tuesday, December 13, 2005



Well, I’m back.  Another semester is completed and now I’ve got a week or so to kill before heading home for some holidays.  I will remember to bring the correct music this time!  Soon I’ll be done with all academia; if I ever become outrageously rich, I’m going to hire a composers to create new music for every product launch or life event.  It would just be an excuse to pay someone to compose, under the theory that great music shows up when people compose, regardless of why they are doing it.

I borrowed two books from the library, John Cage’s Theater Pieces and Conversations with Cage.  Both are highly enjoyable, although Conversations could really, really use an index.  I tend to just open it and read wherever I happen to be.  I didn’t realize I got to keep them for such a crazy amount of time, upwards of 3 months.  Good grief.

I finished up the two missing reviews below (Four4 and the stuff from yesterday) and will be ready to get back in full gear.  Tonight’s selections are below and I shall fill them out tomorrow.  But just to whet your appetite...

I’m thinking about putting the performer and album for my reviews in the index, since I’ve had some (exactly one) request for that information.  I honestly just don’t keep track of names very well, which is why I hardly ever mention them.  

Music Walk
This is an indeterminate quasi-theatrical work from 1958 in which the performer plays the piano and makes other sounds according to the score he or she creates.  In my performance I believe I hear that duck whistle that’s also used in Water Music.  Otherwise, it’s mostly a collection of thumps and bumps.  Oh, and a very nice siren.  I think the work is theatrical but less so than Water Music where the performer plays cards and makes other actions that I just can’t see.  This one is more focused on the sound, and thus is significantly more listenable.  

Nocturne for Violin and Piano
In this Nocturne Cage tries to make the violin and piano become one, apparently, but without much success in my mind.  It’s from 1947. To my mind it seems a little like a proto-Dream or In a Landscape.  The music is very sweet, soft and meandering.  The title is appropriate, since the piano mostly plays soft chords and brief, quiet glissandos.  Although the piano’s notes are often spaced far apart, the violin holds them together and gives this work a sense of quiescence.

Two6 is f violin and piano.  No other details seem readily available though, except it was quite a late work, April 1992.  The tones on the piano seem to uniformly move up the keyboard when they are played close together.  My suspicion that there’s many groups of upward-moving tones in the score.   The violin plays mostly sustained tones, but sometimes they shift into a different tone, but never in a very sudden manner.  It’s quiet at peaceful, overall.  I’d say it’s quite a bit like One that I heard yesterday, as in, like a view of the night sky, but with a chill wind blowing.  I might say this because that is precisely what I experienced about 10 minutes ago when I took the trash out...

Variations I
This is the cello version by Uitti, which is good for an example of a Variations performed by a single person.  The score is a set of dots and lines superimposed.  How to interpret this?  That’s pretty much up to the performer.  Uitti provides some intriguing noises with her cello, my favorite being a loud,  “boing” noise when she plucks a string.  But it doesn’t sound like a normal string pluck because it goes on for longer.  Some of the other sounds are rattling or tapping on the body, and various methods of playing the instrument, probably with different tools than the bow (the scraping seems to come in several flavors).  I guess the Variations are a lot like Cartridge Music, but even more free since you are not restricted to the sounds of objects with contact microphones.  

Fontana Mix
This is the Max Neuhaus “Feed” version, although Cage originally created a version for magnetic tape.  This score is also highly indeterminate, using miscellaneous transparencies with points and a grid.  It seems like there’s exactly one photo of this score, and it shows up in almost every Cage book I read!  There’s also some curvy lines.  It’s a lot like Variations but there seems to generally be a preference for performing this work with some kind of electronics.
I have both a tape version and this Feed version, and I think I prefer this one.  The other, well, sounds pretty much like a longer Williams Mix but with a different gamut of sounds.  This version is actually rather scary, with some very low rumbling tones that sneak in.  The music seems to be glowing.  It’s produced presumably from various tone generators, though most of them seem to be in the high rather than the low range.  The particular file that I have is in very bad shape, and I’m not sure where it came from.  Full of nasty blips...unless those are intended!  Sometimes you don’t know with this sort of thing ;-)  I’ve heard this mentioned before as a very great version of the music, and I agree.  I really like it a lot; it’s a big deluge of shifting, sometimes frightening tones.  


Yes, Kostelanetz' book needs an index, and larry Solomon made one:

like i said before, itd be great if you mentioned the performer and label of the version of the piece. since there are many versions out there for many cage pieces. and they can vary widely.

also, if you get rich, please consider hiring me as a composer. my bank account hit an all time low today. very depressing.
there is a whole cd of neuhaus performing fontana mix - feed on the alga marghen label. its six different live performances of the piece.

from what i gather, neuhaus' version is based entirely on feedback. and the phenomenon of acoustic feedback i think.

the cd is really raw and nasty. its great.
you should check it out.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?