343. The Birds of Rio Negro

- Woodland Art Gallery, Chatham College, Pittsburgh, us@

- Saturday, April 23, 2005

- This was primarily conceived of by Michael Pestel (see entries 204, 205, 208, 211, 247, 248, 250, 251, 252, 278, 317, 329, 330, 333, 335, 337, & 338) as part of the closing of his joint exhibition with painter Paul Krainak called "Brasilia - Constructing Oscar Niemeyer and Heitor Villa-Lobos". Not only was it the closing of the exhibit, it was also Michael's more-or-less (probably less?) farewell to his many years as Chair of the Art Department at Chatham & his many years of living in Pittsburgh. Underlying the piece was a fictional narrative about a meeting between Brasilian composer Villa-Lobos & Brasilian architect Niemeyer in which they stimulated each other to respectively compose "a symphonic work for the inauguration of Brasilia" & to design "a house [for Villa-Lobos] that would reflect the acoustic structure of the forest and enable [V-L] to enchant his friends with concerts under the sun and under the stars."

The exhibit room was a rectangle with a smaller rectangle protruding from 1 end. Primarily on the length-walls of the larger rectangle were hard-edge geometric rectangular paintings by Krainak. At the smaller rectangular end a video projected onto the underside of the lid of a prepared baby grand piano. This was a tape that Michael had directed & edited of himself playing the same piano on a barge as it floated down the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Placed about a third of the way out from a wall otherwise near the middle of the room was a stairway leading to a skylight well in the ceiling. The piece began w/ all the players except for myself & Michael facing the paintings on the walls & elevated slightly above the floor on rectangles of cinderblocks. The array went around the room clockwise as follows: Michael at the piano, my sampler spot empty, David Rothenberg w/ clarinets, Steve Pelligrino w/ accordian, Eden McNutt w/ vocal chords, Bruce Miller w/ banjo, Daryl Fleming w/ guitar & percussion & effects, Ben Opie w/ reeds, & Caterina De Re w/ vox magnifica. On the steps was Susanne Amundarain, narrator.

Michael began by playing the prepared piano, conceptually echoing the projection of himself doing the same thing. I was outside wearing my turkey feather covered pants & lab coat + a rubber chicken beak mask. I was vocalizing into a radio mic that was feeding into a pitch-to-MIDI converter that was triggering samples of Brasilian birds inside. These were heard in the gallery along w/ Michael's playing. I entered the room, pausing slightly for dramatic effect, & then took my place at the sampler - where I switched from the mic to the keyboard controller & paused in my playing.

Michael got up from the piano & walked to an array of flutes & began to play them. This cued Susanne to start reading the narrative text in paragraphs w/ pauses between them. Her reading the 1st paragraph triggered me to start playing again. I then added to the 37 bird samples a playing of Villa-Lobos samples excerpted from the following pieces: Peguena Suite; Prelúdio (No. 2), Op. 20; String Quartet No. 1 Capriccio, Op. 49; Elégie, Op. 87; Trio; Choros No. 2; Modinha; Quinteto Em Forma De Choros Bachianas brasilieras No. 2: "O trenzinho do caipira (The Countryman's Little Train)"; Valsa Da Dor; Baciana Brasileira No. 4; Ciclo Brasileira Distribuição De Flores (Distribution of Flowers); Bachianas brasilerias No.5; String Quartet No. 6; Bachianas Brasilerias No. 6; Assobio A Jato (The Jet Whistle); Alma Brasileira (Chorus No. 5); Assobio A Jato (The Jet Whistle); String Quartet No. 17; & Canção Do Amor (Song of Love). W/ each successive paragraph, going clockwise, a new player wd turn around from the wall & begin improvising until all of us were improvising together as the last paragraph ended & thereafter w/o narration. Here's the 2nd-to-the-last paragraph:

"Some ten months later, Villa-Lobos fell asleep on his studio sofa during afternoon siesta. He dreamed that he was playing the Brasilia Concerto on his grand piano mysteriously moving along the rivers of the Amazon. Did his playing propel the piano or did the very elements and forces of nature through which he floated push him forward? The music seemed inextricably connected to the land. It was the land. He understood that his playing was simply a point of intensification, a magnifying lens held up to the sun. Suddenly, as if this thought had taken physical form, the piano burst into flames and began to swell to the size and shape of Brazil. He was no longer seated at the helm of his musical craft, but soared upward to a bird's eye view high enough to watch his entire country engulfed in flames. He was helpless to redirect the dream and must have been gesturing in desperation, because Lucilia gently shook him awake and poured him some cognac. Later that evening, while Lucilia was rehearsing, he started up a fire in the fireplace and placed the working scores for the Brasilia Concerto and The Birds of Rio Negro into the flames one sheet at a time. Two weeks later, on February 17, 1959, Villa-Lobos died at home from cancer."

After a little while of the ending post-text group improv, Michael blew spit-balls thru his flute(s) at hanging percussion. Each time he did this, a player, again going in clockwise order, was to drop out. Therefore, I was the 1st to stop playing & Caterina was the last.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

344. [Opening

- Modern Formations Gallery, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, November 4, 2005

- My friends Elina Malkin & Kevin Hicks had an opening & asked me to play w/ them as part of it. I primarily played my set of oboe samples that I'd made in May of this year w/ the intention of activating them by playing oboe - a plan only poorly realized for recordings so far. For the sake of completism (or something), I hereby produce FULL SAMPLE DISCLOSURE:

Oboe Samples

- all samples are STEREO except where otherwise noted; the FX Bus is set for all at: Insert; the Pitch Bend for the Soft Machine & 'Early' Music sections is C = 1 UP, 1 DOWN, C# = 2 UP, 2 DOWN..; the Soft Machine & 'Early' Music samples have Normal Pitch-Bend, all others are Held.

The samples from C2 to A3 are taken from 3 Soft Machine records: Six (side 1 of the "Live" LP), Seven (both sides), Bundles (side 2). The whole tone scale starting w/ C2 has the left channel forwards & the right channel backwards; the whole tone scale beginning w/ C#2 has the left channel backwards & the right channel forwards. Given that all of them are looped forward & backward, wch side is heard backward or forward depends on the point the sample is at in its loop.

C2 All White - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C#2 All White - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

D2 All White - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

D#2 All White - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

E2 All White - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F2 37 1/2 - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F#2 37 1/2 - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G2 37 1/2 - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G#2 37 1/2 - Mike Ratledge - 1972 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A2 Tarabos - Mike Ratledge - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A#2 Tarabos - Mike Ratledge - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

B2 Tarabos - Mike Ratledge - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C3 Tarabos - Mike Ratledge - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C#3 Penny Hitch - Karl Jenkins - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

D3 Penny Hitch - Karl Jenkins - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

D#3 Penny Hitch - Karl Jenkins - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

E3 Penny Hitch - Karl Jenkins - 1973 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F3 Peff - Mike Ratledge - 1975 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F#3 Peff - Mike Ratledge - 1975 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G3 Peff - Mike Ratledge - 1975 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G#3 Peff - Mike Ratledge - 1975 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A3 Peff - Mike Ratledge - 1975 - Karl Jenkins: Oboe - looped forward & backward

 

The samples from A#3 to F6 (the range of the oboe) are taken from 20th century classical, jazz, & experimental recordings. The Pitch Bend settings for this section are: Pitch Bend UP: 7 UP, Pitch Bend DOWN: 6 UP [sic]. The purpose of this being to enable me to vacillate between a "perfect 5th" & a tritone. The Sustain Pedal setting is also turned OFF for samples from the pieces up 'til mine where it's turned on again.

 

A#3 Concerto for Oboe & Orchestra - Lukas Foss - excerpt from the 1st (of 3) movement(s) - 1948 - Bert Gassman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

B3 Concerto for Oboe & Orchestra - Lukas Foss - excerpt from the 2nd (of 3) movement(s) - 1948 - Bert Gassman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C4 Concerto for Oboe & Orchestra - Lukas Foss - excerpt from the 3rd (of 3) movement(s) - 1948 - Bert Gassman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C#4 8 Etudes & A Fantasy for Woodwind Quartet - Elliott Carter - 1950 - the New York Woodwind Quintet (minus 1) - Ronald Roseman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

D4 Kreuzspiel - Karlheinz Stockhausen - 1951 - looped forward & backward

D#4 Woodwind Quintet - Gunther Schuller - excerpt from the 1st (of 3) movement(s): Lento - 1958 - the New York Woodwind Quintet - Ronald Roseman: Oboe - looped forward & backward - mono

E4 Woodwind Quintet - Gunther Schuller - excerpt from the 2nd (of 3) movement(s): Moderato - 1958 - the New York Woodwind Quintet - Ronald Roseman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F4 Woodwind Quintet - Gunther Schuller - excerpt from the 3rd (of 3) movement(s): Agitato - 1958 - the New York Woodwind Quintet - Ronald Roseman: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F#4 "Concerto" for Oboe & Chamber Orchestra - Bruno Maderna - 1962 - Lothar Faber: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G4 Exotic Forest - Sun Ra - May 1966 - Marshall Allen: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G#4 Chroma - Paul Zonn - 1967 - Wilma Zonn: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A4 Spiral - Karlheinz Stockhausen - 1968 - Joseph Celli: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A#4 Sequenza VII - Luciano Berio - 1969 - Lázló Hadady: Oboe - looped forward & backward

B4 Double Concerto for Flute, Oboe & Orchestra - György Ligeti - 1971-72 - Lothar Koch: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C5 Extended Oboe - Elliott Schwartz- 1973-74 - Joseph Celli: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C#5 Songs of Remembrance - Richard Wernick - 1973-74 - Philip West: [Shawm, English Horn] Oboe - looped forward & backward

D5 Instruments I - Morton Feldman - 1974 - looped forward & backward

D#5 Chemins IV (su Sequenza VII) - Luciano Berio - 1975 - Lázló Hadady: Oboe - looped forward & backward

E5 Oboe & Orchestra - Morton Feldman - 1976 - Han de Vries: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F5 Sky: S for J - Joseph Celli - 1976 - Joseph Celli: Oboe - looped forward & backward

F#5 Instruments III - Morton Feldman - 1977 - looped forward & backward

G5 A Summoning of Focus - Malcolm Goldstein - 1977 - Joseph Celli: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G#5 Hawk - Stuart Smith - 1991 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A5 Xantippe's Rebuke - Mary Jane Leach- 1993 - Libby van Clove: Oboe - looped forward & backward

 

The following tENT samples are all looped forward.

 

A#5 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - right mono

B5 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - left mono

C6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - right mono

C#6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - left mono

D6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - right mono

D#6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - left mono

E6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - right mono

F6 'Oboe' 'Duet' - tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - 1995 - left mono

 

The samples from F#6 to C7 are taken from pre-20th century classical music.

 

F#6 Sonata in G Minor - J.S. Bach - excerpt from the 1st (of 3) movement(s): Andante - sometime between 1717-1723 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G6 Sonata in G Minor - J.S. Bach - excerpt from the 2nd (of 3) movement(s): Siciliano (Largo e Dolce) - sometime between 1717-1723 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

G#6 Sonata in G Minor - J.S. Bach - excerpt from the 3rd (of 3) movement(s): Presto-Allegro - sometime between 1717-1723- James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A6 Fantasia in F Minor - J.L. Krebs - 1742 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

A#6 Fantasia in F Major - J.L. Krebs - 1742 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

B6 Partita III in D Minor - J.W. Hertzel - 1st excerpt - 1762 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

C7 Partita III in D Minor - J.W. Hertzel - 2nd excerpt - 1762 - James Ostryniec: Oboe - looped forward & backward

Kevin played guitar, concertina, finger cymbals, harmonica, & broke lightbulbs - wch added a nice dramatic touch. Elina played 2 small keyboards & tapes - mostly of stories. This was, in a sense, a "concrete mixing' gig much in the spirit of my old booed usic gigs of the '80s - but w/o any performative &/or projection element.]

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

345. booed usic & group armageddon

- Garfield Artworks, Pittsburgh, us@

- Saturday, November 19, 2005, 8:30PM - 12midnight

- I had made a vaudeo w/ both English & Spanish explanatory titles running thru it called "booed usic" detailing my activities under that name from 1984 to 1988. This was made especially to be used as a part of my presentation at the DINA "Influencers" festival in Barcelona, Spain, at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) on Friday, April 2, 2004 (see entry 339). That presentation having been such a source of frustration for me I was eagerly anticipating an attempt to present it more correctly. Here was my opportunity. For years, I've been plotting w/ my friend Fabio Roberti (see entries 192, 198, 203, & 322) to bring our mutual friend, percussionist Michael Evans, to Pittsburgh to perform & for Fabio to possibly come along & do something too. Sometime around the summer or fall of 2004, my old friend Daniel Higgs had been in Pittsburgh performing w/ his band Lungfish & he'd asked me whether I'd like to do something together.

So this seemed like a good time to pull all these threads together. Since Michael was going to come, it ALSO seemed like a good time for me to rebuild my long-neglected Erector Set percussion & to bring out ALL of my percussion equipment - including a glass marimba I'd gotten thanks to Michael Pestel & Neil Feather's Small Nondo. The former had been made by a Japanese student of Michael's named Yukiko (sorry, I probably never met her & don't know her last name & I doubt that Michael remembers it either) who moved back to Japan w/o taking it w/ her. The latter is one of 3 Nondos that Neil's made & is the only one of its size. I'd NEVER used all this equipment in one gig before. For a projection surface, I stretched the spandex screen that I'd made for the Volunteers Collective "A Year of Sundays" Release Party @ the Chatham College Swimming Pool (entry 252) & a standard portable tripod screen was put near the front of the stage, audience left. The stage was otherwise covered w/ all the percussion equipment. In front of the stage to audience left was all of Michael's percussion arranged so Michael could play it facing the audience. In front of the stage to audience right were my electronics: DX27S keyboard, ASR-X Pro sampler, a pitch-to-MIDI converter, a radio mic, & a sampler/mixer arranged so I'd play it facing the stage. Behind me were 3 16mm projectors to be manned by Fabio & a video projector.

The evening began w/ the "booed usic" vaudeo projected to the tripod screen. This consists of footage from booed usic at t he telectropheremoanin'quinquennial (entry 65), my "6 Fingers Crossed Country T.Ore/Tour" (entries 79, 80, & 85 in particular), pirate tv premier of "6 Fingers Crossed Country T.Ore/Tour" vaudeo (entry 105), Easter Island Bunny Booed Usic (entry 106), Generic As-Beenism (entry 107), Tent's Muir (entry 115), "More English" (entry 116), & Murraygate Busking (entry 119). Unfortunately, about 5:00 into this the DVD switched to the track w/ the irrelevant "Neoist Guide Dog" movie on it & then moved back to the "booed usic" track's beginning. Not off to a good start. As I'd planned out on a timings sheet, after roughly the 1st 5:17 I started playing my Mechanically Repetitive / Re-Recorded Records samples. I played the samples off & on according to plan - allowing parts of the "booed usic" soundtrack to be at the fore at key points where some text was to be heard. After the explanation of the "booed usic busking unit" (explained at length in previous entries, such as entry 104, & elsewhere) at what should've been 26:04, I started playing my newest set of samples made from the Gnome ribbon & knob controlled synthesizer. This latter was made from a kit by Terrence Dougherty - who had then given it to me back in early 1992. After Jean-Luc Bonspiel's intro to Generic As-Beenism's premier at the Ultimatum II Festival in 1987, I started playing the Erector Set & then moved on to the glass marimba.

Given that the purpose of this document is to describe my own part of the evening, I'll give short shrift to the others by saying that: Michael Evans played a wonderful 26:47 percussion set while Fabio used the 3 16mm projectors to show various found films (presented mostly silent) - including a documentary about dadaism. Michael stopped playing just as Fabio's 3 projectors tripped the power-strip he was plugged into. It was a nice accidental simultaneity.

Fabio then screened his new shortened edit of his Avant Garde Showcase. For the purposes of describing my whole take on the evening, this was particularly significant because of its spoofing of 1950s Avant Garde culture.

Daniel Higgs read some poetry next & then played a fantastic guitar solo that struck me as heavily Indian influenced. I was astonished at how much he had his chops down. He then introduced our impending collective improv as a "Group Armageddon" & I've chosen to stick w/ that name.

SO, for the end, Michael & Daniel played percussion & I played samples & percussion. I also activated the samples by playing a kazoo that was radio-miked that triggered the pitch-to-MIDI converter. Fabio showed more found films. This section lasted for about 34:00. Greg Pierce shot mini-DV footage of it & etta cetera recorded the sound w/ mini-disc. I made a quasi-documentary of the event called history in the making..

This latter brings me to my over-all impression of the night. A local music reporter for the Pittsburgh City Paper had promoted the event because he likes Daniel's performing. Ending his promotion he mentioned that we'd be presenting the group improv at the end & wrote that it might be a "disaster" or "history in the making" but that he'd opt for the latter. I appreciate that he gave us this promotional plug but I was thinking of things differently.

For me, the gig was important because it was bringing together friends that I'd been wanting to do things w/ but, especially in the case of Daniel, who I'd known for 25 years, I hadn't really worked w/ before. As such, it was exciting. HOWEVER, I didn't feel that we were necessarily breaking any new ground. After all, my "booed usic" presentation involved my updating & referring projects of mine from 20 years earlier. I even wore the zipper pants (made in 1984) & the zipper jacket (made in 1988) the wearing of wch had framed much of that era for me. I don't wear them very often anymore - even though I did pretty frequently up until fairly recently. Also, the evening's emphasis on percussion & found films was hardly an innovation. Daniel's guitar solo, great though I think it was, was still not spectacularly new. All in all, for me, the event was alotof fun (& alotof work) & the attendees seemed to enjoy it substantially, BUT, it was in many ways a self-conscious outgrowth of avant garde culture of the 50s & 60s rather than anything qualifying as "history in the making". Hence my earlier comment to the effect that Fabio's spoof was particularly appropriate. Nonetheless, I had a great time!

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

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