Sunday, December 18, 2005

 

Cheap Imitation, for violin

Tonight I decided to waste some money, so I bought crab to go with my noodles.  My food-related frugality usually makes me feel OK about spending a little extra for the bucket of crab every month or two.  I ate too much though :-(  

My cold vanished in about 24 hours.  I think this is sufficient evidence to prove that I am basically immune to all disease, so I’m not going to bother with any hygiene practices from now on.  

Ah, spending all day at the apartment, stepping out the door only twice all day, has left me incredibly lethargic.  I have nothing in particular to accomplish right now, though I need to head back to Alabama before Christmas, obviously.  Probably Monday or Tuesday, I guess.  

So another note about the Allmusic “top composers” list.  Why is D. Scarlatti there?  I didn’t think he did much besides compose like 500 keyboard sonatas.

Ooooh...too much crab...

Cheap Imitation, for violin
This is the violin version of the Cagean manipulation of Satie’s Socrate from 1977.  This time, it’s a little more alive.  Cage’s playing in the piano version I heard was completely dead, but the violin with its longer tones makes it more pleasing, and there’s even a little bit of variation in dynamics.  Still, I’m just not getting a lot out of it...I feel like the music is being played, as with Cage’s piano performance, in a style more appropriate for the chance composed works, rather than in a style appropriate for Satie.  The last movement has a whole lot of squeaking from the violin too; I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, because it is not so prominent in the first two movements.  The very end features a repeated low note that to be honest sounds as if it’s coming straight out of a wind instrument.  Neat.

Child of Tree
This is the one-part piece for amplified plant materials, usually including cacti.  A pod rattle is required.  It becomes Branches if there are multiple performances; each performance lasts 8 minutes.  The score, such as it is, was made in 1975.  The sound is subtle, and this recording (the only one) is performed in some kind of highly resonant dam, so there’s plenty of reverberations to really bring out the quiet sounds of amplified cactus pluckings.  There’s also some dripping water-like sounds, whose origin is uncertain...Perhaps those are cactus, too!  

In a lot of ways, this music is like Cartridge Music, especially in that not seeing the sounds being made makes it a little less interesting for me.  However, since I have a pretty clear idea of the parameters (and can identify the pod rattle, at any rate), it’s still a lot of fun.  Most of the sounds are scraping and popping noises, but others include curious clanking and crunching (possibly leaves being torn) and the sound of wooden objects rubbing together.  

When I bought this CD off a fellow on eBay, he said, “I hope you enjoy your cactus music!” I certainly do.  I’ll say a more when I hear the full Branches performance later on (a review all by itself!)

Trio
I feel like I have reviewed this before, but maybe not.  It’s for three percussionists, playing woodblocks, tom toms, bamboo sticks, and a drum.   The first part, Allegro, consists mostly of stick tapping.  These sound like woodblocks; the rhythm is not as obvious as in the March movement that follows, which also brings in the bass drum.  I could see a marching band performing this, in fact.  Well, with some serious amplification anyway.  The bamboo sounds seem lighter than those of the woodblocks.  The third movement, Waltz, has a waltz rhythm, but played on percussion it sounds a little strange.  I believe only the woodblocks participate in this part, which is quite brief and not really all that interesting.  

As a side not, the music lasts about three minutes, so it’s strange johncage.info describes it as a twelve minute work.

Comments:
I don't think I'm spiritually mature enough to appreciate Cheap Imitation. Still sounds grating to me. Maybe in my next life...

Robert Gable
http://rgable.typepad.com/aworks
 
It's hard for any violin music to sound grating to me after the Freeman Etudes...
 
i like the cheap imitation version for orchestra.
the orchestral color variations make the piece really amazing.

zac, what cd is that child of tree from?
id love to hear that. ive been thinking of recording/performing that piece for awhile.
 
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