Favorite Music from 2011

My residency with David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts was an important part of 2011 and its effects trickled into the rest of (and best of) the year. I heard some great recordings as a result of the residency, namely:

Various Artists: Music for Merce (box set)
A massive collection that celebrates the musical legacy of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Great work by Christian Wolff, Pauline Oliveros, Takehisa Kosugi, Maryanne Amacher, John King, David Behrman and especially David Tudor. It’s astounding (and initially a little frustrating) that even with 10 CDs, many of the pieces are presented as excerpts. But hearing applause at the end of the live recordings reminds me that the pieces often lasted until the dance was over, and then they were over, too.

Ensemble vocal de Girokastër: Albanie – Polyphonies Vocales du Pays Lab
Mesmerizing choral music from Albania.

Otherwise, 2011 was the year of some exceptional music by many of my musician friends. Their work easily stands up against many of the releases from more established labels. In some cases, the work appears on established labels. In any case, the distinction between DIY and “signed artist” seems increasingly irrelevant. So I’m not hesitant to trumpet this work at all. I’m more concerned about leaving out some deserving recordings simply because there’s so much new material to consider. If we’re friends (I hope we are) and I don’t mention your work below, it’s probably because I haven’t listened to it yet. We’re still friends–I can’t wait to finally catch up on what you did in 2011 and hear what’s to come in 2012.

The Black Drumset: The Black Drumset
The crunchiest breakfast cereal.

Brent Fariss: Four Environments…Collapsing
Spooky action at a distance.

Matt Weston: The Last of the Six-Cylinders
A richly textured and surprisingly elegant electrified junkyard.

Jefferson Pitcher: Now the Deer
The quiet surface of a deep deep pool.

Bob Gluck / Joe Giardullo / Christopher Dean Sullivan: Something Quiet
My favorite kind of heterophony.

Here are a few other recordings that left their mark on my ears this year.

  • Various Artists: Music of Indonesia (multiple volumes) Daedalus Books has these on sale. I bought them all.
  • Michael Nyman: Decay Music
  • King Creosote and John Hopkins: Diamond Mine
  • Various Artists: The Friends of Old Time Music (box set)
  • Little Richard: The Georgia Peach
  • Kepler Quartet: Ben Johnston: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4 & 9
  • Laura Viers: July Flame
  • Dave Douglas: Keystone

Atlantic Center for the Arts Concert Videos

Videos from this spring’s residency with David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts are now online. All the videos from the “Live Listening Party” concert we presented can be seen here, including beautiful work by David Bessler, Klara Schilliger and Valerian Maly, Laura Cetilia, Matt Sargent, David Behrman, Zachary Fairbrother (also performing Valerian Maly’s Electric Guitar II) and Nomi Epstein. To close the concert we all performed together as The New Smyrna Beach Weather Report All-Star Free Will Gospel Choir.

Below are the videos of my solo performances.

This version of “Blackjack David” served as the basis of the performance with Matthew Carefully heard here.

The audio recording of “Everyone Looks to the Sky” was previously posted here.

Everyone Looks to the Sky

Photo: Diana Cooper

Here’s a recording of a new piece called Everyone Looks to the Sky.

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Everyone Looks to the Sky

I made the piece and the recording during my recent residency with David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The work is for any sustaining instrument with computer (here, I’m playing the soprano saxophone). The computer produces a gradually rising tone that matches the first note of each gesture (see the score below). The result is–yes, more glissando music–and a curious kind of interactive piece that always ends the same way.

Here are the juicy bits from the score:

Gesture 1
• Play 5 notes in an ascending series, beginning near the lowest note on your instrument.
For a performance lasting 10 mintues, each note should last 7 or many more seconds. Each note should be separated by a rest of approximately 7 or many more seconds–at a minimum, allow enough time between notes to perceive the computer’s pitch rising. For longer performances, adjust the durations appropriately.

Gesture 2
• Play 4 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 1.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 3
• Play 3 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 2.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 4
• Play 2 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 3.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 5
• Play 5 or more notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 4.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1, with a few notes or rests lasting shorter than 7 seconds, if desired.
Repeat as needed until the piece ends. The last 4 or more pitches played should be near the highest note on your instrument.

Back from the Atlantic Center for the Arts

The view of the Florida scrub outside my window

I’ve just returned from an energizing and productive residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts where I worked with David Behrman and an inspiring group of fellow composers and performers. We shared our time there with an outstanding group of visual artists led by Diana Cooper and a delightful gathering of writers led by Victoria Redel.

Here are some signs found around the beautiful ACA campus. I’ll post recordings (and hopefully video) of the work I did there soon.

ASAC Presents DEEP FREEZE

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective presents their first concert of 2011 with performances by some of the Capital Region’s most exciting experimental musicians including Century Plants with Matt Weston, Holland Hopson, SoundBarn and Insect Posse.

DEEP FREEZE: Experimental Music for Snowy Times
Saturday, February 19
8:00 pm
Upstate Artists Guild
247 Lark St.
Albany NY
$5 suggested donation

This will be my first Albany show of 2011 and my last performance before heading to the Atlantic Center for the Arts for a residency with David Behrman (more on that later…). I’ll be performing a set of music for soprano sax and computer. My current plan includes a piece using a DIY plate reverb as the primary electronic sound source.

More about the artists after the jump…

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