Friday, January 13, 2006



Tonight I will be posting a combination of tonight and last night, since I was too tired at 3 AM to write anything yesterday.  I’m glad to say that my cold is slowly disappearing.  Die, you nasty rhinovrus, die, I say!  

I randomly found a recording that claims to be Solo for Voice 1, which has never been independently recorded.  But I might be wrong.  We shall see.

Tossed As It Is Untroubled
This music for prepared piano is from 1943.  It consists essentially of a single melody repeated with minor variations, over and over.  It’s got a great rhythm, and I find the melody to be pretty memorable.  In my recording, a clanging in the prepared piano emerges towards the midway point.  I am curious if this is intentional, or just an artifact of the way the preaparations where made (i.e., something came loose).  I’d call this my 2nd or 3rd favorite prepared piano work, the favorite being the one I have put off to the end: Totem Ancestor.  

Music for Piano 37-52
This is a confusing one, because 1955’s Music for Piano 21-36; 37-52 is considered “one work,” and yet they are sperated by a semicolon.  I can only guess that the two sets are part of one work but result from different sets of paper imperfections.  Anyway, in this recording, they are played as distinctive items.  

I gotta admit...the super sparse piano is wearing a little thin!  This music was all single tones, along with various thumping and slamming sounds, even more than usual.  It sounded more hollow than other music in the series, but I don’t know why that might be.  Ther e is much string-plucking as well.

This is a 1991 work for 26 violins, played on the OgreOgress recording, I believe.  The first one I bought!  I guess I have mixed feelings about the use of overdubbing, but having not heard any non-overdubbed performances to compare, and having some idea how the music “works” I don’t think it’s a problem.

The first thing I wrote down when I heard this music was “shimmering.”     I find it hard to consider listening to this as anything other than swimming; when I did my Cage presentation, this was the recording I used to suggest water.  I’d say it’s among my favorite Number Piece recordings of all; the music goes on for long enough for me to be hypnotized by it, but there’s enough variety in the entering and exiting violin sounds that I don’t go to sleep, and it’s not so long that my ears become tired of it.  

Actually, maybe I am not thinking of swimming exactly, but something less active.  Perhaps simply being swept into a whirlpool...

Music for Piano 3
Another in the series, No. 3 is super-sparse and very short with only a handful of solitary notes (seven, in fact).  Nevertheless, the sound is continious thanks to the sustain pedal.  All of the sounds are produced using the keyboard, and seem to occur within a fairly limited range.  It sounds best played with others in the series, I think.  

Spontaneous Earth
More prepared piano music, this time from 1944.  This one’s very tense and dramatic, another favorite of mine.  It has a lot of repeitions of the main dramatic theme, played progressively more forcefully.  The piano preparations result in a metallic sound added to most of the notes.  As I said, each repetition of the theme is played more and more forcefully, until the end of the piece, where it slowly fades out until a final long-held tone.  This seems to be a favorite effect of Cage’s.

The First Meeting of the Satie Society, part 1
I listened to this tonight, since it’s about 50 minutes long.  

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