Upstaged by My Progeny Again

[UPDATED BELOW] Tomorrow night my son Bernard is playing at Lincoln Center. That is, he’s one of 200 electric guitarists performing Rhys Chatham’s The Crimson Grail at Lincoln Center Outdoors. I had no idea the piece was already recorded (with 400 guitars) on the intrepid Table of the Elements label, which makes me suspect they don’t have my current address. The program is called “800 years of Minimalism,” and includes the Beata Viscera organum of the 12th-century Notre Dame composer Perotin (whom Steve Reich cites as an influence on his early music), along with E2-E4 by Manuel Göttsching, about whom I know nothing at all. I suspect that if you live within two miles of Lincoln Center there’s no need to show up, you’ll be able to hear The Crimson Grail from your apartment. But it’s free. And Rhys has finally one-upped Glenn Branca in the size of his guitar ensemble. 

UPDATE: Rained out! Or rather, the rain finally stopped, but Lincoln Center opted not to have 200 guitarists plug their axes into 200 amplifiers connected via extension chords and power strips along a lengthy dripping wet space, a decision I fully applauded, since my son was the guitarist at the end of the left flank. But poor Rhys. 


  1. says

    did you ever notice that the better you play the guitar, the fewer guitar players you need in your band?
    KG replies: Now, how would I notice that?
    Although, as Rhys used to tell me about his Guitar Trio, “100 electric guitars can’t really play louder than three.”

  2. says

    Guitars and Numbers
    My comment was just an off-the-cuff remark meant in good fun, for Kyle’s possible amusement. Not meant as a dismissal of anyone’s musicianship, although I guess I see how you might read it that way. In fact, I’m a good bass player, but suck on guitar. That’s why I hire guitar players. I’m just impressed by what a really accomplished player can do on the instrument, and was sort of off-handedly remarking on, and considering, just why it is that supposedly “minimal” music often seems to require such massive forces. Hundreds of guitars, many hours duration, extreme prolongation of very little material, etc.
    I certainly have no boasts to make about my own guitar skills, which are truly “minimal”.

  3. says

    Dear Arthur Jarvinen,
    I too was just trying to be funny. Also, I bet my guitar skills are more minimal than yours.
    Anyway, in order to more musicologically useful, fans of piles of guitars should definitely have a listen to Scott Horscroft’s “8 Guitars“. Not quite 200, but more than 3, and very good.