"Self-Portrait" - 7 11 21
Given that I'm trying to remember pieces from 40 years ago that I've paid little or no attention to since the decade of their creation & given that I have a limited amount of time & energy for such a pursuit, some of what I write about this is bound to be uncertain.
1st, I dated this "7 11 21":
As I explained in the "Dos & Don'ts of Dating" chapter in my 2005 book entitled "footnotes":
"I was interested in undermining the structural controls that religions impose on society thru systems that're so vernacular that they're barely noticed by most people - in this case thru calendars. The common practice in the society that I more or less live in is to date relative to the birth of 'Christ'. Hence we have AD (anno Domini - Latin for "in the year of [our] Lord") & BC (generally Anglicized as an abbreviation for "Before Christ"). Thus, one of my 1st date-relevant tasks was to de-Christianize my own dating."
I go on to explain that dates such as the above are based on my own birth & may seem to be correctly interpreted, in this case, as "the 7th day of the 11 month of my 21st year".
"However, as later evidence in "t he book" suggests, I was undecided about whether to begin dating from my birth or to use the common calendar w/ just the year referring to how old I was."
Following this logic, "7 11 21" would mean "July 11 in the year when I was 21 or July 11, 1975". Alas, even this logic seems incorrect here because this piece was made for a class I was taking at a college I dropped out of in early 1975. Therefore, the date would either mean "November 7, 1974" or "7 months & 11 days after my 21st birthday or March 15, 1975".
This piece was originaly made for an assignment for a "2D" art class I was taking at Catonsville Community College. Given that I graduated from high school with a "D" average (the lowest passing grade) because I was so bored there & that I refused to sign a form (for one university) saying I wouldn't take drugs on campus AND that my family had no money to invest in my education I was rejected from the few other schools I'd half-heartedly applied to.
In 1973EV at CCC they even wanted to put me in a learning-disabled English class. This was more than a little ironic given that I was apparently reading at a much higher level than my professor was & that I was already studying microtonal music on my own. My Music Theory teacher at CCC told me that she "couldn't even hear twelve-tone music let alone forty-three tones!" after I loaned her a recording of Harry Partch's "Delusion of the Fury". Who exactly was "learning-disabled"?!
Various relevant clues to the "Self-Portrait" are on its back:
I don't remember what the assignment was for this piece but the professor commented there:
"bad presentation ok but dull" & gave me an "80" or a "B-". I remember with some amusement doing another piece that was supposed to demonstrate how complimentary color contrasts can make an image pop out from its background or some such. For that one I made a graphic of my erect penis as the popping-out part. That was quite popular with the housewives in the class. What my reason was for making "Self-Portrait" deliberately dull, as my note added to the teacher's comment states, is unknown to me now. However, it makes sense given my generally perverse approach as further evidenced by my calling an 'abstraction' a "self-portrait".
I imagine I was aware of graphic notation at the time thanks, at a minimum, to having read the booklet that accompanied the incredible "Music Before Revolution" records boxset which I acquired in 1974EV. In that, pieces from Earle Brown's partially graphically notated "Folio" are described.
I wouldn't've read Michael Nyman's excellent "experimental music - Cage and beyond" yet since I didn't read that until sometime between the fall of 1976 or, at the very latest, the beginning of 1978. Glimpsing through "experimental music" now I don't see any mention of graphic notation in its index or any examples in its illustrations (unless one counts a Russolo piece) so I'm not positive graphic notation was mentioned even there. I may've read mention of graphic notation elsewhere.
At any rate, I decided to repurpose my "Self-Portrait" from a '2D' exercise to a score by no later than the fall of 1978 when the folder that it eventually retired into was almost, if not entirely, finished. That collection is entitled "Excerpt(s) From: &/Or 4 Retiring _" & brings together various projects from the mid-'70s that I chose to 'retire' for one reason or another - mainly because I imagined their realization at an 'impossible' level &/or because I was dissatisfied with them. This "Self-Portrait" & the "man smoking cigar profile" are grouped there in a sub-folder labeled many years later as "graphic notation".
My simple instructions for using this as a score are penciled on the back:
All in all, a very minor piece except that it's probably my earliest use of graphic notation - something I quickly rejected as not very interesting anymore & a bit too vague in many uses of it.
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