Friday 29 May 2009

Free Stuff!!!, Berio Interview and Ferneyhough Pieces Free To Stream, and More!.

Berio, during his neck-less period.

For your perusal today I have an interview with Berio on NPR from March 1994 (thanks to Laputean Solaris for the link, worth checking his twitter feed for more interesting stuff)

Also, an oldie but a goodie (did I just write that?), some Ferneyhough pieces free to stream via the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, go here.

A list of the pieces..(real media streams)
Prometheus (1967) für Bläsersextett
Four Miniatures (1965) für Flöte und Klavier
Terrain (1991/92) für Violine und Oktett
On Stellar Magnitudes (1994) für Sopran und 5 Instrumente
Superscriptio (1981) für Piccoloflöte
La Chute d'Icare (1988) für Klarinette und Ensemble

Also, if that wasn't enough, the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg has more stuff to stream, from Yun, Härtling, Killmayer, Matsudaira, Donatoni, and Kancheli.

Here is a TinyURL address to link back to his post for your twitter/FB feeds and so on...,

Monday 25 May 2009

Quotation For Late May, and, Free Stuff!!.

Xenakis: Possibly taking a break from doing a spot of painting and decorating (just out of shot is a large mug of strong tea and a king size Lambert and Butler alight in an ashtray)
Xenakis: ...'I was amazed by the fact that with so few notes you can produce that comprehension of things. I felt like a child because I write many notes.'

Feldman: 'I felt like a child because I write so few notes. Half of the alphabet is not there. . .'

Xenakis: 'It also was a kind of lesson: I thought about a piece that I should write with very few notes. . .'

Morton Feldman and Iannis Xenakis In conversation 1988. You can download the full text here (via Evergreen State College.)

Let me know if the link goes dead and I'll upload it again, also please link back to this post if you want to spread the freeness on your twitter feeds or blogs etc (don't just go 'hey guys, look what I found!.'), here is a tinyURL link especially for you....

Monday 18 May 2009

Free Stuff!!, Again: Contemporary Music on YouTube and from the JACK Quartet

The JACK Quartet (photo by Justin Bernhaut.)

I haven't done a 'free stuff' post for a while, sorry about that, not been on the internets much recently (composing, listening, reading scores, international espionage, you know the deal.)

Here is one to be going along with anyway. I spotted on Tim Rutherford Johnson's blog The Rambler that he has updated his YouTube list of contemporary classical music, worth a look (he also has a list of classical mp3 blogs too.)

Also, I should mention the JACK Quartet again, not only have they recently recorded and released Xenakis's complete string quartets on Mode Records (CD/DVDs) but as I mentioned a while ago, they have a fair bit of music free to stream on their site (Lachenmann, Xenakis, Cassidy, Eötvös and more.)

EDIT: The JACK Quartet used to have full pieces to download/stream on their site but now there are only samples unfortunately, still, better than nothing eh.

If you are feeling in the mood to purchase the JACK Quartet's new releases you can get them at the Complement.Inversion.Etc shop/store.

UK shoppers go here for the CD, and here for the DVD, shoppers in the US go here for the for DVD and at the moment I can't find the CD listed in the US (?) (you can download the CD as an mp3 too BTW, nice, here for UK, here for US)

Saturday 16 May 2009

Now a Sequenza 21 Contributor

That's right, as of fairly recently I am now a contributing editor for the excellent new music site Sequenza 21. Almost certainly the most visited new music site on the internets (in the English language anyway, but probably in any language, New Music Box is another worthy contender I suppose, slightly different remit though).

When I have something to contribute (nothing as yet, working on it, busy with music lately) I'll post a link to the article here then archive it here after a couple of weeks.

Quotation For Mid May

What I want...
- is always the same: a music which in order to be grasped, does not require a privileged intellectual training, but can rely uniquely upon its compositional clarity and logic; a music which is at the same time the expression and the aesthetic form of a curiosity able to reflect everything - including the illusion of progressive-ness. Art as a fore-taste of freedom in an age without freedom.

Helmut Lachenmann: from the liner notes of the Kairos CD pictured above. Available as usual from the small but ever-growing and select CD stock at the Complement.Inversion.Etc shop, or store if you are in the U.S.A.

Also, check out this audio interview with Lachenmann at/with the Slought Foundation way back in 2008.

Sunday 10 May 2009

Quotation For Early May

A Japanese Biwa, image courtesy of Centre for Nonlinear Studies,
Institute of Cybernetics at
Tallinn University of Technology

A sawari mechanism on a Shamisen, 'Sawari is a mechanizm of making buzzing sound purposely to put the first string off the upper bridge of shamisen, and the touch the string to top of the dent and then we can get the buzzing sound like biwa.(Biwa has this mechanism in all strings.)' text and image from a Japanese blog I can't work out the title of, here.

Tradition of Sawari

The biwa could be called the mother of Japanese music. The major characteristic that sets it apart from Western instruments is the active inclusion of noise in its sound, whereas Western instruments, in the process of their development, sought to eliminate noise. It may sound contradictory to refer to 'beautiful noise,' but the biwa is constructed to create such a sound. That sound is called sawari, a term that also has come to be used in a general sense, as we shall see.

On the biwa the sawari is part of the neck of the instrument where four or five strings are stretched over a grooved ivory plate. When a string is stretched between these grooves and plucked, it strikes the grooves and makes a noise. The concave area of the this ivory plate is called the 'valley of the sawari,' the convex area the 'mountain of the sawari,' and the entire plate simply sawari. When a string is stretched between these grooves and plucked, it strikes the grooves and makes a noisy 'bin.'

The term sawari may also mean 'to touch,' but this term, more than referring to a part of an instrument or touching, contains a much wider significance useful in understanding Japanese aesthetics.

In a book from the Edo period [1615-1867], the biwa player is advised to try and imitate the sound of the cicada. The biwa is deliberately designed, with sawari plate, to create such insect sounds. This is also true of the shamisen.

The term sawari, which also means 'touch,' may additionally mean 'obstacle.' Thus, sawari is the 'apparatus of an obstacle' itself. In a sense it is an intentional inconvenience that creates a part of the expressiveness of the sound. Compared to the Western attitude toward musical instruments, this deliberate obstruction represents a very different approach to sound.

In the kabuki repertory there are many long works such as Chushingura. When one sees only the famous scenes this is referred to as 'viewing only the sawari.' In this sense sawari is a very important part of a work.

What we call hogaku today is that collection of pieces developed and refined by the Edo population. Why did those people bring sawari (understood now in the sense of obstacles) into their music?. Whether the reasons were political, religious or social is not clear to me.

The monthly biological function in women is also referred to in Japanese as the 'monthly sawari' - a natural inconvenience for women but essential in producing children. For me there is something symbolic about this: the inconvenience is potentially creative. In music the artificial inconvenience in creating sound produces the sound. The resulting biwa sound is strong, ambiguous, deeply significant. While the Japanese biwa cannot execute the fast passages that are part of the Chinese p'ip'a technique, it is capable of complex, profound and wonderful sounds.

We can see that the Japanese and Western approaches to music are quite different. We speak of essential elements in Western music - rhythm, melody and harmony. Japanese music considers the quality of sound rather than melody. The inclusion in music of natural noise, such as the sound of the cicada, symbolises the development of the Japanese appreciation of complex sounds.

Tōru Takemitsu; Confronting Silence. (US astore link)

Sunday 3 May 2009

Listening/Reading Recently

Eötvös: writing on a score, see? (image courtesy of his site.)

Listening to and reading recently (apart from the Eötvös score and Kurtág Op2 score which I have ordered from EMB and the Feldman and the Dutilleux which I don't have access to, the Feldman isn't published anyway I don't think)

Eötvös - Sequences of the Wind ('flute and other instruments')
Scelsi - Ko Lho (flute and clarinet)
Kurtág - Officium Breve Op28 (string quartet), Wind Quintet Op2 (have a guess)
Dillon - Sgothan (flute)
Ferneyhough - Superscriptio (piccolo)
Lachenmann - Air (percussion and orchestra)
Berio - Allelujah II (for five groups of instruments), Points on a Curve to Find (for piano and 22 instruments)
Messiaen - Trois Petites Liturgies De La Presence Divine (women's choir, piano, onde Martenot, celesta, percussion, and strings)
Takemitsu - Garden Rain (brass ensemble)
Feldman - Trio for Flutes (erm)
Dusapin - I Pesci (flute)
Dutilleux - Ainsi La Nuit (string quartet)