Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from some ensemble called thingNY purporting to offer a farflung, general spam commission for works to perform. The ensemble was listed as clarinet, saxophone, percussion, voice, violin, and cello. Now, you may recall that on my Amsterdam sabbatical I had the pants charmed off me by a local street-music group of clarinets, accordions, sax, and drum, and ever since then I’ve been itching to write something loud and fast for that combination. With its clarinet, sax, and drum, thingNY was close enough. I checked out their web site, listened to some recordings, and they seemed like pretty darned good musicians, so I got busy and over a couple of weekends wrote them a six-minute piece called Street Music. The only things I object to about real street music are that 1. it’s always in standard meters and phrases divisible by four, and 2. it’s not very chromatic and doesn’t change key often. In this piece I fixed those two things. (I could imagine Gannize becoming a verb meaning “to rhythmically completely screw up [a common musical idiom] by stretching and squeezing short passages into different tempos.”) So I sent them this feistily difficult little piece, figuring that even if they said “No way!” I’d still have a new piece, and lo and behold they’re playing it, supposedly, this Saturday night, Dec. 19 at the University of the Streets, 130 E. 7th Street at Avenue A, in New York, along with new works by (take a deep breath) 

Jude Traxler, Heber Schuenemann, David Finlay, Eli Stine, Juliana Steele, Marina Rosenfeld, Scott Wollschleger, Sally Williams, Kathy Supove, Moritz Eggert, Daniel Goode, Luciano Azzigotti, Greg Kirkelie, Carr, Joe Kneer, Joseph Nechvatal, Mary Jennings, Brian McCorkle, Paula Diehl, Johnny Kira, Pall Ivan Palsson, Michael Cooper, Emily Koh, Terence Zahner, Joshua Kopecek, William Brittelle, Christian Gentry, Gabrielle Gamberini, Aaron Feinstein, Douglas DaSilva, Greg Pfieffer, Brad Baumgardner, Dave Golbert, Paul Burnell, Jim Legge, David Morneau, Andrea La Rose, Holly Eve Gerard, Gary A. Edwards, Brian McCorkle, Matthew Reid, Gail Noor, Jonah Bloch-Johnson, Greg A Steinke, Tania Leon, Alexandra Fol, Lucy Koteen, Luca Vanneschi, Sarah Prusoff, Ilias Pantoleon, Luis Menacho, David Simons, David Snow, David Drexler, Mike von der Nahmer, Martha Mooke, Art Jarvinen, David Wolfson, Neil Lyndon, Piotr Grella-Mozejko, David Broome, Matt Malsky, Linda Joe, Greg A Steinke, Nate Trier, Mats Eden, Mort Stine, Ophir Ilzetzki, Yianni Naslas, Jane Stuppin, Jessica Quinones, David Snow, Mark Stephen Brooks, Christopher Fulkerson, Ryan Muncy, Barry Seroff, Emanuel Ayvas, Stephanie Miller, John Oliver, Beth Tambor, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Gordon, Adam Reifsteck, Janet Maguire, Jiri Kaderabek, Marilyn Shrude, Joe Hallman, Mimi Kim, Doug Yule, Jeffrey Young, Tom Lopez, Andrew Griffin, Gene Pritsker, Winnie Sunshine, Sima Shamsi, Wally Gunn, Carl Danielsen, Mike Hanf, and Erin Rogers. 

They’re calling it “the largest commission of experimental music in the history of email-submitted spam.” I can’t argue. I just hope it works out better than these money offers I keep getting from deposed Nigerian royalty.


  1. says

    Hey Kyle:
    Last month thingNY performed my Eskimo Piece, from 1976, when I think I was nineteen (or I thought I was nineteen then, not sure anymore). It’s for 30 Eskimos bashing themselves into each other on an amplified stage, for twenty minutes. They only did it for twelve, and it was kind of gentle, not as violent as I had imagined it. And they didn’t have any real Eskimos, but people dressed up in parkas was quite lovely in any case.
    I never – ever – expected to have that one done, and they did it. I love thingNY. My spam piece is Anti-Music, for pistol and gong. I wish I could be there for that!

  2. says

    Servus! (as they say in my new home in Bavaria)
    thingNY are my peeps, as it were. They are quite adept at the more theatrical side of performing. Whereas Anti-Social Music is more like a bar band, thingNY is a little more fluxus-esque. I”m happy to hear that you’ve “fixed” street music! I think thingNY will do it justice and am sorry I won’t be back in the states until the 20th (in your home-state, Kyle, no less!).
    KG replies: If not “fixed,” let’s just say I added Max Reger and Conlon Nancarrow to the band.