Centennial of a True Original

21_nancarrow_0

I'm on my way to London this week to give one of the keynote addresses (Charles Amirkhanian is giving the other) at the Nancarrow in the 21st Century conference at the Southbank Centre, organized by Dominic Murcott of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. My talk is at 11:15 AM Sunday, April 22. Trimpin will be there, and composer Nic Collins is giving a paper on computer analysis of Conlon's music, and Conlon's widow Yoko Segiura Nancarrow, whom I haven't seen in some 17 years, is making a rare public appearance. And there will … [Read more...]

The Progressive Conservative

At the recommendation of our viola professor Marka Gustavsson, I just finished reading Ian McEwan's 1998 novel Amsterdam, which she urged on me because the main character is a composer. It's a brief book and an enjoyable read, but what impressed me most was the insightful realism with which McEwan describes, at considerable length, the composer's thought process. Here's his description of the composer, the Englishman Clive Linley, early in the book: For Clive Linley the matter was simple. He regarded himself as Vaughan Williams's heir, and … [Read more...]

Second-Guessing Satie

Vexations

If you sense I'm in microtonal heaven lately, that's pretty much true. Except for a six-minute piano piece, I haven't written one of the normal pitches since December. One event that I would have highlighted in advance, but somehow I didn't have the final information for, was a microtonal performance of Satie's Vexations that took place last Sunday at the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. Pianist Aron Kallay and guitarist John Schneider asked seventeen microtonalists, myself included, to come up with a microtonal … [Read more...]

From the Morass of My Subconscious

I dreamed this morning that Morton Feldman was still alive, that he had made a string quartet arrangement of Ives's Fourth Symphony that the Arditti had recorded, and that he was advertising to make a string quartet arrangement of any piece for an appropriate fee.   … [Read more...]

A Scriabinesque Geometry

MagicChords-ex

A new, brief piece, a rhythm study: Mystic Chords, 6:20. It's the most austere thing I've written in decades. The main idea of the piece is an attempt to determine rhythms not by duration, but via tempo, thus creating rhythms incapable of metric notation. Here's an excerpt from the score: These aren't the actual pitches. The piece uses a rather wonderful symmetrical pitch set I discovered, 27 harmonics above an extremely low F#, specifically harmonics nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 21, 25, 27, 33, 35, 39, 45, 49, 55, 63, 65, 77, 81, 91, … [Read more...]