Tag Archives: New Music

DAVID LANG: THE PASSING MEASURES – CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY CHORUS, FEATURED ARTIST, MARTY EHRLICH, CLARINET

 

The Passing Measures – for bass clarinet, amplified orchestra, and women’s voices – is an ambient and emotionally charged meditation on the passing of time.

“This heartfelt, mournful piece, a wordless, 45-minute quasi-concerto for women’s chorus, bass clarinet, and amplified orchestra, is a welcome surprise from a composer whose always deft and subtle work has often seemed ironic and arch. The clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, conducted by Paul Herbert, provide a dignified performance, giving gentle life to the work’s lustrous waves of color. [This is one of the] best classical albums of 2001.”
– Russell Platt, The New Yorker

“Sits and shimmers gently, like a jeweled pendant turning very slowly in the light.”
– Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Lang has created a moody, moving 43-minute experience.”
– Bradley Bambarger, Billboard

 

David Lang on The Passing Measures

“I think one of the reasons our commercial culture likes all music to be fast and snappy is because in fast music it is much harder to recognize the passing of time. You listen to the tunes, to the catchy phrases, but you are not allowed to feel just how time slips away. Fast music is stirring, optimistic – that is why we are bombarded all day by active, energetic music that tries to make us buy things or do things or think things. Slow music, on the other hand, is good for contemplation but is terrible for business, so you don’t get much of it in your daily life. More and more I have become convinced that one of the noblest things you can do in a piece of “serious” music is to allow for an experience that can’t happen in your everyday life. The Passing Measures is that kind of experience.

My piece is about the struggle to create beauty. A single very consonant chord falls slowly over the course of forty minutes. That is the piece. Every aspect of the piece is on display, however – magnified, examined, amplified, prolonged. The soloist’s notes are impossibly long, requiring frequent drop-outs for breath and for rest. The players are all instructed to play as quietly as possible, and then are amplified at high volume, in order to make their restraint an issue of the piece. Four percussionists scrape pieces of junk metal from start to finish, as if to accompany the consonance of the chords with sounds of dirt and decay.

The Passing Measures is dedicated to the memory of Bette Snapp.

 

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CORNELIUS CARDEW :: TREATISE, performed by the Cardew Trio, maskfest, 1.12.2010

Treatise is a musical composition by British composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). Treatise is a graphic musical score comprising 193 pages of lines, symbols, and various geometric or abstract shapes that eschew conventional musical notation. Implicit in the title is a reference to the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, which was of particular inspiration to Cardew in composing the work. The score neither contains nor is accompanied by any explicit instruction to the performers in how to perform the work. Cardew worked on the composition from 1963 to 1967. Continue reading CORNELIUS CARDEW :: TREATISE, performed by the Cardew Trio, maskfest, 1.12.2010

HARRY PARTCH:: DELUSION OF THE FURY, original filmed performance, 1969, 72 min.

Delusion of the Fury: A Ritual of Dream and Delusion, A Film by MadelineTourtelot, Recorded at UCLA Playhouse 1969. Conducted by Danlee Mitchell, musician assembly Emil Richards.

Delusion of the Fury is a stage play by the American composer Harry Partch. The first draft for a new theater work for singers, mimes, dancers, and musicians, Cry from Another Darkness, was completed by Partch on December 30, 1964, and the second draft, dated January 17, 1965, was a fuller, longer, re-titled Delusion of the Fury. The work was originally conceived as a play in two acts, with a dramatic first act and a comedic second. Partch completed writing of the music on March 17, 1966. The piece employs Partch’s original system of micro-tonality, and was written for the largest assembly of his custom-made instruments used in any of his works. The instruments were an important part of the stage set.[2] Delusion of the Fury was premiered at the UCLA Playhouse on January 9, 1969, where it was recorded for Columbia Records. This remained the only performance of the piece until it was re-staged in 2007 by the Japan Society in New York. In 2013 the piece was staged for the first time in Europe at Ruhrtriennale by Ensemble MusikFabrik under the direction of Heiner Goebbels.This production toured to the Edinburgh International Festival in 2014. It received another performance in Paris as part of IRCAM’s ManiFeste festival in the Grande Salle of La Villette on June 18, 2016. -wikipedia

Continue reading HARRY PARTCH:: DELUSION OF THE FURY, original filmed performance, 1969, 72 min.

CARL STONE :: SHING KEE, 1986

 

CarlStone (born Carl Joseph Stone, February 10, 1953) is an American composer, primarily working in the field of live electronic music. His works have been performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and the Near East.

Stone studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts with Morton Subotnick and James Tenney and has composed electro-acoustic music almost exclusively since 1972. As an undergrad at CalArts, he had a work-study job in the Music Library, which had many thousands of LP records in the circulating collection (this was 1973). The collection included a lot of western classical music of course but also a really comprehensive world music collection, avant-garde, electronic music, jazz and more. Because the librarians were concerned that the LPs, many of which were rare, would soon become unlistenable at the hands of the students and faculty, his job was to take every disc and record it onto cassette, a kind of back-up operation. He soon discovered that he could monitor the output of any of the recordings he was making and even mix them together without disturbing the recordings. So, he began to experiment, making musical collages, and started to develop habits of combining disparate musical materials. In addition to his composition and performance schedule, he is a faculty member in the Department of Information Media, School of Information Science and Technology at Chukyo University in Japan. – wikipedia Continue reading CARL STONE :: SHING KEE, 1986

MORTON FELDMAN :: FOR PHILIP GUSTON – S.E.M Ensemble, 2000, 285 minutes

Composer Morton Feldman’s epic, 4.5 hour long piece dedicated to his friend Philip Guston hovers in place, shimmering like a slowly revolving mobile, its langorous harmonies hanging in mid-air as they gradually evaporate. The piece was written in 1984, in memoriam to Philip Guston, who passed away in 1980. Feldman and Philip Guston were best friends until 1970, when the painter’s sudden switch back from abstract expressionism to representational painting appalled the composer so much that the two men remained estranged until Guston’s death 10 years later. For Philip Guston is one of the longest of Feldman’s serenely expansive late scores. Continue reading MORTON FELDMAN :: FOR PHILIP GUSTON – S.E.M Ensemble, 2000, 285 minutes

La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela :: The Black Album 1969

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Young & Zazeela recorded their first full length album in Munich for Heiner Friedrich’s Edition X label. Released as a limited edition of 2000, the first 98 were signed & dated by the artists. Side one is a section of “Map of 49’s Dream”, performed by Young with sinewave drone & voice, with vocal accompaniment by Zazeela. Side two is an extract from “Study for the Bowed Disc” featuring the duo bowing a gong given to them by sculptor Robert Morris. Morris had made it for his dance piece “War” & asked Young to play it for the performance. Afterwards Morris presented the gong to Young, who began experimenting on it with double bass bows. Young recommended the listener turn the musick up (PLAY FUCKING LOUD), the resulting low drone being a spiritual tool. For the album artwork, Marian Zazeela embedded her calligraphic lettering & designs in black. The point is to focus on her artwork while concentrating on the vocal/sinewave drones of Young’s dream music. Continue reading La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela :: The Black Album 1969

NOTATIONS :: A Book by John Cage, with Alison Knowles, 1969

 

In 1969, composer John Cage compiled and edited, with Alison Knowles, Notations, a book containing the graphical musical scores of 269 composers.

‘The book is made up of a large collection of graphical scoresfacsimiles of holographs, from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, with text by 269 composers, which are presented in alphabetical order, with each score allotted equal space, and in which the editor has no more authority than the reader in assigning value to the work.[3] The book includes the manuscript for the Beatles song “The Word” (song lyrics, but no musical notation) from the Rubber Soul album (1965). Continue reading NOTATIONS :: A Book by John Cage, with Alison Knowles, 1969

Julia Wolfe :: Big Beautiful Dark and Scary

Composer Julia Wolfe’s Big Beautiful Dark and Scary was written in response to her experience witnessing the 9-11 tragedy, standing two blocks away from the Twin Towers as the planes hit them along with her two young children.  The piece was written in 2002 for amplified sextet: clarinet, bass clarinet, percussion, piano, electric guitar, cello and double bass. Gargantuan slabs of tone clusters hover and fuss, then begin their brutal climb, ascending in pitch, intensity and volume. Continue reading Julia Wolfe :: Big Beautiful Dark and Scary

Steve Reich :: It’s Gonna Rain

On January 27, 1965, composer Steve Reich premiered his piece It’s Gonna Rain in San Francisco. The piece consists of the manipulation of a taped recording of Brother Walter, a charismatic Pentecostal preacher in Union Square.  Brother Walter’s fire and brimstone sermon begins to mutate into echoes of itself forming a constantly changing, pulsing canon made of human speech woven into an interlocking rhythm.  Continue reading Steve Reich :: It’s Gonna Rain