Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Solo for Voice 2

Well, I’ve been listening, but not posting so much.  I finished the First Meeting and will add my thoughts on the second part (actually, it’s all one big thing, not truly divided into parts) to the review from the previous day later.  Today I will add my thoughts on tonight’s listening and last night’s as well.  That should bring me up to speed, except I think I still have a few things from weeks ago to fill in.  

Not many works remain, but they are all long ones.  We’ve got two Europeras coming, a bunch of lengthy number works (notable Thirteen and Five3), a recording of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra, two more sets of Variations, a few miscellaneous short piano works, and a few alternative versions of works I’ve already heard, including the highly anticipated Cheap Imitation version for orchestra!  Less anticipated, at least by me, are another hour or so of A Dip in the Lake and another bunch of Freeman EtudesI...:-(

My estimation is 22 days or fewer to finish up, which puts the end sometime during the week of Febuary 8th!  

I contacted Claudia Gould of the Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (http://www.icaphila.org/contact/ ),  It was for her Music Box Project that Lullaby for music box was created.  I wanted to
  1. verify that Cage created it himself for her project (as opposed to it being a transcription of sorts made following his death) and

  2. See if she knew where a recording might be (a CD was sold at the original exhibition).  
Because I’m a complete nobody, my email probably never got read.  Directors of art instutes no doubt have better things to do than answer questions about ridiculously obscure music ;-)

Anyway, maybe someone less irrelevant could try.  Otherwise I might try writing a “snail mail” letter on the letterhead of some nonexistent John Cage association, call myself the “director,” and see if that is noticed!  Persistence is the key, and my goal in life is to get a copy of this recording,  

Actually, my goal in life is to get the prepared train recording that languishes in the Florence library.  This is a secondary goal!

This is a 1991 number piece for flute, oboe, trombone, piano, and string quartet.  It uses overlapping time brackets and single tones.  Ol’ www.johncage.info quotes the score with “Search with them for melisma, florid song,” which sends me straight to a dictionary for melisma.  It didn’t help, I’m afraid; the sentence still doesn’t make much sense, unless Cage is saying the performance should be seeking to find music suitable for melisma.  

Anyway, I don’t think my Hat Art performance is very good.  I didn’t enjoy hearing it very much; there was a whole lot of silence in spite of the decent number of instruments, which is fine I suppose...I guess I’d say that no aspect of the performance really made the music sound like anything other than “generic number piece” with single tones.  In this case, none of the tones were held long enough for intense consideration.  

In terms of the nature metaphor, I felt this performance sounded like animal noises, especially the strings which often brought to mind howling in the distance (perhaps this was because I was noticing the microtonal shifts Cage requires).  Perhaps I was just not in the right mood for enjoying it.  

Solo for Voice 2
Now this performance, by contrast, was incredible, even if I believe it to not be a very authentic version of the work.  It’s the only performance of the 1960 Solo that exists, too, so it gets special consideration!  I don’t know why no one records the two Solos on their own, considering how popular Aria is.  Anyway, this particular one is indeterminate, and the recording I have uses human voices completely demolished by electronics.  David Tudor and Gordon Mumma created it on the “Extended Voices LP” (thanks, as is often the case, is owed to Lothar here).  It’s a whirlwind of screeches and groans and really horrific sounds, but it was also completely enjoyable.  

Some of the time, you can make out distinct human voices underneath the layers of electronic modification, but sometimes it’s just near ear-shattering cacophony.  You get voices slowed down and buried in static, and some that are laced with feedback (at one extended portion of this type, I had to turn my speakers down lest someone above me have nightmares).  

To what degree Cage wanted electronics to be used in this work is unknown to me, but I’m sure the rest of that LP would be fun to hear!

This is a cello work from 1992, to be performed with a curious curved bow that allows sounds to be produced on up to four strings.  Like One9, it can be played simultaneously with One8.  The resulting sound is relatively sparse, although it does not need to be so since the time brackets overlap.  The cello sounds are especially intriguing, because I can often mentally break apart the chord being played into its constituent parts.  I think all the small number pieces also have a significant spatial aspect.  When tones are played long, it can be fun to shift my position around and hear how the note changes as I move in my room.  

I’m afraid my ability to think of a natural analog of this music is failing me (it’s always harder with the Ones, as the music is not as much a landscape), except maybe some sort of fountain with multiple streams pouring at different times.  I’m afraid it sounds a little too much like some of the other string-based number pieces to be very exciting to me.  

As a final note, the time of the work is 43’30, which is a Cage in-joke if I ever saw one...;-)    

lucier's north american time capsule on that extended voices LP is fabulous as well. i like that whole LP.
good stuff....
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