Tuesday, June 30, 2009

braxtothon phase 4 - state of play

much movement behind the scenes lately, some of which was detailed (elliptically) in my previous post... but in any case, not a lot of time has been found for the appreciation of music, never mind writing about it! the listening sessions for braxtothon phase 4 were wrapped up some time since - it's now just a question of getting round to recording my thoughts on them... and i'm hoping to turn my attention to this pretty soon (some of you may think this all sounds very familiar... and you may be right...). when it arrives, here's a summary of what's left in this current phase of the continuing journey:

session 010 - details part two (dortmund)
session 011a - berlin (quartet)
session 011b - berlin (creative orch.)
thoughts and conclusions regarding the quartet at this point

- the momentum may seem to have been hopelessly lost, but this is for posterity as well, and however long it takes... that's not the important bit ;-)

more to come more to come more to come

Monday, June 22, 2009

midsummer ritual/open letter...

... to my readership as of this time, and going forwards:

summer solstice 2009 *

my name is haldane (hal) charles. i am a qigong adept and holistic physician. i also think of myself as a philosopher and teacher. in addition to qigong, i practise taijiquan *1.

i have strong and well-founded opinions on the subjects of pure (non-academic) (metaphysical) philosophy, linguistics, martial arts, (global) politics, science, and the theory and practice of medicine, whether holistic or otherwise... oh, and parenthood ;-)

among the other subjects which greatly interest me, in (nearly) random order: music (esp. extreme metal/hardcore punk and free jazz/creative music); (french- and english-language) comics *2; literature (esp. ghost and horror stories); cinema (esp. gore/horror flix and cult film generally); the tarot (and white magic(k) in general); erotica *3; photography (and visual arts generally)... etc etc *4

i intend to publish on most if not all of these subjects during the coming years (esp. on my various "special interest" dense information sources) - in some cases i may even use the pen-name centrifuge for such writing - but after today, generally these subjects will not be discussed here... music (of course!) being the exception to this.

(my involvement with) this project remains, and will remain, dedicated to the serious study of creative music generally, and specifically to the music of anthony braxton. this latter body of work continues to fulfil my artistic and spiritual needs to a very great extent - ticking boxes i had not previously even known were there to be ticked, time and time again. in the spirit (i hope) of mr braxton, my work here will continue to be essentially unfinished, seldom quite up-to-date even, but occasionally bang on time :) - it will always be honest and heartfelt, and i will strive to do the best i can.

thank you for reading... and on we will go...



* see first comment

* see second comment

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

braxton at 60 (1)

so, when i went off to listen to some of the music referred to in my previous post, i had to smile: there was i saying that "the first thirty seconds" of a lo-fi recording would suffice for the listening ear to attune, and i found myself at once presented with a piece which begins in such poor sound that it challenged even me (and would surely have many fussier than me giving up on the spot)! this is the piece for seven trumpets: whoever provided the files lists this as comp. 107, but it's actually comp. 103, composed in 1983, though it's unclear whether the composer actually succeeded in premiering it before the wesleyan concerts of september 2005... it's an ambitious piece with specific requirements, as we will see.

for the benefit of those who can't put their hand on a copy of composition notes book E, i'll fill in a few details here. firstly, the piece opens with a (fragmentary) recording of a bullfight, and the (decidedly non-braxtonesque) brass music which is heard during these moments is not being played live in the concert. this, of course, explains the very dodgy sound quality at the beginning..! although the loud and excitable crowd noise also hints that this is not a creative music concert which we are hearing ;-) ... in fact, visual spectacle is an important part of this complex piece - and a part which is entirely missing from the audio recording, naturally. (don't let that put you off, necessarily - many other braxton pieces have significant visual aspects to their performance, which does not stop them from being recorded in audio-only format, nor from being enjoyed by the attentive listener.) but it's worth clarifying up front that we are "in" a bullring to begin with, and only gradually drawn out of it: early in the second minute, a live muted trumpet is heard over the recording, and for a while the two co-exist in our soundspace, until 3.00 is reached, by which time the crowd noise is fading out and only our solo trumpeter remains. [this, i presume, is none other than taylor ho bynum - it sounds like him, and certainly he will have been involved with this concert.]

again, from the composer's notes: the piece is dedicated to rafael méndez and was "composed... with the tendencies of spanish architecture and decorative visual imagery in mind - as a tribute to the wonder of south american bravura trumpet playing." it is an all-notated piece (though undoubtedly there must be breathing space in there for the interpreters) and requires very specific stage design, lighting and costume for its performance: most crucially, the seven players are positioned on risers or steps so that each is higher than the player in front. the first live trumpet we hear is in fact number seven; s/he is the only player onstage at this point, and plays "with movements... calibrated from the virtuoso trumpeter lester bowie"; during the opening, the other six players will take up their positions on the columns. "the music then takes place in the backdrop of an old stadium that happened long ago - or in the future. comp. 103 is a ritual context that attempts to show respect for the route of information and information dynamics that has come through south america and the caribbean. the whole of humanity has benefited from these offerings." *

the piece itself, then, is complex - as one would expect - and so for that matter are the notes; i don't have time at present to attempt any sort of detailed analysis, so i shan't! suffice it to say that anyone who dipped a toe in and found the waters inhospitable may have been too hasty: once the taped section is out of the way, i did indeed find that the listening ear was easily able to compensate for the deficiencies of the recording, such as it is. the music makes much of timbral differences between simultaneous players, and these distinctions are clearly audible throughout, as are the relative positions of the performers: many separable tonal and timbral effects are used in addition to the "pure" or clean tone (which itself is adopted at various times) and these, i repeat, come across just fine despite the audience recording, despite the low bitrate... (some of) you might be amazed at how subtle the human ear is in terms of the detail it can detect, if it only has an attentive mind attached to it... this is a powerful piece, and a significant one for the composer, and (unless someone can correct me here) may not have been performed before or since; why not check it out?

* * *

the diamond curtain wall piece is, as i said last time out, (sadly) only a fragment. eleven minutes and twelve seconds is all we get - shame, since this sounds very much like the "core trio" of b, thb and mary halvorson who have made so much beautfiul music together in recent years. what we have is less intense than some dcw i've heard: there is plenty of space for contemplation. but, tantalisingly, right before the abrupt cut the supercollider software kicks in with a ringing, enthralling texture which promises much for the players. if anyone has a complete recording of this one, do please let us know.

* see comments

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

well now... fancy that - !

thanks to mr lucky for bringing this to my attention... the blog itself is pretty entertaining by the look of it* - and may well be worth some readers' closer attentions - this particular post, on the other hand, well, surely any hardcore braxtonhead out there will want to strap on that little lot (paquete 3): some solo 1980 sax and some (belated) 60th birthday celebrations at wesleyan - i'm just about to go and check out some of the music now (and may well report back in due course) - meantime, caveat audiophiles, not that that has ever deterred me as you all know... the piece where the lo-fi reproduction is most obviously an issue, i.e the gtm twelvetet is actually available here anyway. the rest of it - i know from experience that if you can force yourself to sit through the first 30 secs (never has to be forced in my case), it'll prove (clearly) listenable - those of you with expensive equipment will not find it makes good wallpaper, however ;-)

[the diamond curtain wall fragment is just that, obviously incomplete... the whole thing is kinda partial - but i love these little/big discoveries myself... am happy to compromise in order to be able to enjoy them!]

* the futurama guy (hermes conrad, the company accountant) is probably not, despite appearances, based on anthony braxton..! (or is he??)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

4/6 (6/4 -!): 64*

with the greatest respect and affection, sir, as ever...

i wish you...

*** many happy returns of the day! ***

c. x :-D

* see comments