2010. The OPEN SPACE magazine (issue 12/13; fall 2010/winter 2011)

review of

The OPEN SPACE magazine issue 12/13

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - October 29, 2011



WARNING: Most people will find this 'review' unbelievably self-indulgent & tedious.

There are music magazines & journals galore in the world. Many of them interest me. Of the ones that I've had the most direct involvement w/, "Experimental Musical Instruments" & "MUSICWORKS" have been my favorites - w/ "H23", & "Noisegate" being close. Other notables that've sometimes been more connected to my social milieu than to my actual musical interests have been "OP", "OPtion", "Sound Choice", "Electronic Music Cottage", "UNSOUND", "Gajoob", & "the improvisor". "EAR MAGAZINE" & "SOURCE: Music of the AvantGarde" are 2 that I WISH I'd contributed to! I wish I even had a copy of the latter. "Terra Nova" & "BANANAFISH" are 2 other favorites. Alas, "Cassettera" never made it past one issue. I've never even read the issues of "Search & Destroy" that I have even though I liked the early issues of its successor "Re/Search". "Leonardo Music Journal" might be something that I'd like but they rejected an article of mine so they're probably too elitist academic. 2 reviewers from "The Wire" asked for copies of my 2nd record, Usic minus the square root of negative one, to review but then both decided against reviewing it. "The Wire", even though its subheading is "Adventures in Modern Music", strikes me as more 'adventures in modern music by mostly established people with money that don't challenge your notions of 'modern' too much.'

THEN there's The OPEN SPACE magazine. This may just join the ranks of my favorites. It's the size & shape of Cassette Mythos, one of my favorite music bks &, for me, the best one that I know of from the home taper scene. The OPEN SPACE magazine has come out slightly less than once a yr since 1999 but it's the product of a music scene that goes back much longer. The editors listed are Benjamin Boretz, Dorota Czerner, Mary Lee Roberts, Tildy Bayar, & Arthur Margolin. Of these, Boretz is the one whose work I'm the most 'familiar' w/ - but that's pushing things. Amongst the contributing editors are a plethora of more familiar names: my old buddy & esteemed collaborator Warren Burt, David Dunn, Kyle Gann, Daniel Goode, Paul Lansky, George Lewis, & my new friends (whose work I've know about for decades) George Quasha & Charles Stein. It's thru Quasha that I have something in this issue.

Boretz: According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Boretz , "studied composition at Brandeis University with Arthur Berger, at the Aspen Music Festival and School with Darius Milhaud, at UCLA with Lukas Foss, and at Princeton with Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions. He was one of the early composers to work with computer-synthesized sound (Group Variations II, 1970­72)" [..] "Boretz is a co-founder, with Arthur Berger, of the composers' music journal Perspectives of New Music" - a renowned publication that I've never seen.

My musical interests laying mostly on what I consider to be the 'cutting edge(s)', I've followed computer music since at least when I cd 1st get my hands on recordings of it - maybe starting w/ John Cage & Lejaren Hiller's "HPSCHD", wch I loved, in 1974, & the "Computer Music" LP I picked up as my 1st record purchased in 1976. This LP has work on it by J.K.Randall, Barry Vercoe, & Charles Dodge.

For those of us interested in the development of electronic music & musique concrete, there might be the tendency to categorize different locations as having produced different types of work. Much of what I've enjoyed the most has come from France. The RCA Music Synthesizer at Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center where Milton Babbitt made his "Ensembles for Synthesizer" (1961-63) is historically interesting to me.. but I never liked the sounds much. Otto Luening & Vladimir Ussachevsky worked at Columbia's Tape Music Center. I've enjoyed their work too.. but often find it somewhat 'superficial' - not really obssessive enuf for me. Same goes for the work out of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. In the us@, I've tended to be more interested in the work from the Project of Music for Magnetic Tape - where John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, & David Tudor worked in the studios of Louis & Bebe Barron for a brief while starting in 1951.

Now that I've probably made enemies of entirely too many nice people, I shd at least note that I've certainly pd substantial attn to the work of composers whose work I seem to've just dismissed! I frequently go thru my own archive of recordings & those of the local library's & pick out the work of a particular composer (or a theme) & organize that work chronologically onto tapes or CD-Rs as "Retrospectives". EG, I've compiled these:


Milton Babbitt (2 X 60 minute tapes):



Ensembles for Synthesizer

Vision & Prayer

Relata I

Minute Waltz (or) 3/4 ± 1/8

An Elizabethan Sextette

Playing for Time

Quartet No. 5

It Takes Twelve to Tango

About Time



Tape Delay (5 X 120 minute tapes, 1 X 90 minute tape):


featuring the work of Terry Riley & Pauline Oliveros of the SFTMC.


Pauline Oliveros (1 X 110 minute tape):



Bye Bye Butterfly

Sound Patterns

I of IV

Alien Bog

Horse Sings from Cloud

Lullaby for Daisy Pauline

Rattlesnake Mountain


Jacob Druckman (Columbia) (2 X 100 minute tapes):


Dark upon the Harp


String Quartet No. 2

Animus I

Animus II

Animus III

Synapse -> Valentine






Ilhan Mimaroglu (Columbia) (1 X 60 minute tape):


Bowery Bum (Visual Study No. 3 after Jean Dubuffet)

Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe


Agony (Visual Study No. 4 after Arshille Gorky)

6 Preludes for Magnetic Tape

Prelude No. 8

Piano Music for Performer & Composer

Sleepsong for Sleepers


Now, if anyone's made it this far, you may be hoping I'll stop w/ the personal background & move onto the actual review. You, of course, can always skim ahead. The above list is just a SMALL sample - I know of far more work by most of these people & of many more besides.

Of the pieces on the aforementioned "Computer Music" record, I was probably most interested in Randall's "Mudgett: Monologues by a Mass Murderer" (1965) b/c its subject gets out of the purely formalist ghetto that characterizes most computer music. In retrospect, this piece of Randall's is a precursor to the work of Throbbing Gristle & of Industrial Music in general. & Randall is a contributor to OPEN SPACE &, seemingly, an intimate collaborator.

I probably hadn't run across much by Randall until my local Pittsburgh library was giving away a series of tapes called "Inter/Play". I like tapes (& have been publishing them since 1980: Widemouth Tapes: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/WdmUCatalog.html ) & these seem to feature improvising (I'm an improvisor too) & they have Randall & Boretz so I got all that were left (24). Randall's on all but 4 of these & Boretz is on 10 of them. The style of the packaging is very similar to that of OPEN SPACE products: stark Black & White.

Somewhere else along the line I picked up 2 OPEN SPACE CDs:

#3 Elaine Barkin & Boretz + Jill Borner + Charles Stein

#13: Boretz & Randall

More recently, I got the "music for computers, electronic sounds, and players" record w/ works by Dodge, Bulent Arel, & Boretz. Now, a part of what's hard about writing this review is that I want to be, as usual, honest - w/o intending to be harsh or offensive. That's not always easy. I listened to all the "Inter/Play" tapes at least twice. I don't recall liking any of them. At all. It's well-known that classically trained musicians often have a hard time improvising. There are MANY exceptions. But these "Inter/Play" tapes seem to exemplify this. They're STIFF. I'll take the much wilder BalTimOre improvising from 1984 to 1993 anyday.

As for the pieces on the CDs? They also do almost nothing for me - although I DID use an excerpt from Elaine Barkin's "Anonymous Was A Woman" as part of the "Anonymous Family Reunion". & Boretz's "Group Variations (for computer)" on the "music for computers [..]" LP is very much of the same ilk as the Columbia-Princeton work that I commented on before by saying "I never liked the sounds much".

& yet.. & yet.. it was obvious that these folks constitute a close-knit group of dedicated composers & performers who're coming from a hard-core academic background that I don't identify w/ - but that I still respect - so I've never lost interest.

& THEN.. & THEN.. I got a piece memorializing Franz Kamin in this issue of The OPEN SPACE magazine & got a copy of it & all of the interests that I have in common w/ these folks came to the forefront & I got very excited. THIS ISSUE IS A HIGHLY CONCENTRATED LOOK AT AN ERA THAT SEEMS TO BE COMING SOMEWHAT TO AN END.

There're 3 pieces dedicated to the recently deceased Milton Babbitt. There's something by Randall re 2 bks re John Cage (1912-1992). There're 3 things that reference Franz Kamin (1941-2010) (including mine) + one thing by him. There's a memorial to Henry Brant. There's mention of Lukas Foss (1922-2010). There's Hubert S. Howe's: "Max Mathews: A Remembrance for Open Space". There's David Hicks' memorial to Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet). All of these musical figures were important to me in some way - so to see them all memorialized in the same publication leaves me w/ a strange feeling of time passing, of mortality.

Throughout my life, esp from age 13 on, I've listened carefully to recordings, read bks & magazines re music, attended concerts, created my own (M)Usic, concertized myself, made movies about (M)Usic, etc.. - & there've always been major figures whose work I've admired & studied intensely. Many of them were alive at the time, some I got the chance to meet (if only briefly).

Then they started to die:


Tim Buckley (1947-1975)

Morton Feldman (1926-1987)

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

John Cage (1912-1992)

Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

Lejaren Hiller (1924-1994)

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)

Mauricio Kagel (1931-2008)

Lukas Foss (1922-2009)

Captain Beefheart (1941-2010)


The list cd go on & on.. The gist of it is that time's passing & the passing of cultural figures important to me has become more pronounced as I've lived thru it. Of course, anyone who's culturally active, as I am, probably imagines from time-to-time how they might fit into someone else's chronology of cultural figures. The ideas & works don't die but the pioneering proponents & creators of those ideas & works do.

SO, The OPEN SPACE magazine seems like one of the last publications from a particular era that I both grew up w/ &, hopefully, contributed to the ongoing lineage of. & it's 293pp of material that I'm interested in & that I don't see often enuf. W/ contributions by Philip Corner & Charles Stein how cd I not be interested?! W/ descriptions of Charles Amirkanian's Other Minds festivals 15 & 16 how cd I not be interested?! W/ full scores by Benjamin Boretz & Elaine Barkin how cd I not be interested?! W/ Robert Morris & David Mott describing "Rapport" (1973), a piece of "live electronic music in which the performers mix and transform prerecorded excerpts of what is now called world-music", how cd I not be interested?! W/ Jon Forshee discussing Trevor Wishart's "Globalalia" how cd I not be interested?! W/ Daniel Goode's "Torture by Music: evidence from The Piano Teacher" how cd I not be interested?! W/ Elaine Barkin writing about Hollis Taylor & Jon Rose's playing of Australian fences how cd I not be interested?! (There's even a picture of Coober Pedy (White-Man in Hole) in there!)

Boretz even has an article called "Fourth and long in Baltimore", my place of origin. Apparently, "An invitation to invade a meeting of philosophically interested music theorists to engage the thought of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus with respect to its musical implications" took him there. I wonder if the participants realized that in the 1970s BalTimOre performance group CoAccident referenced D&G? I wonder if they realized that I used a text re Desiring Machines in a sound piece of mine in 1980 - that I had a Kurzweil reading machine for the blind read this text. Probably not: academia has always been largely oblivious to the more 'lunatic fringe' culture there.

& THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO THIS! I'm deeply honored to've been able to be a part of it.






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