Saturday, October 23, 2010



String Quartet #8 - Shostakovich - Borodin Quartet

Introitus - Stravinksy - Columbia SO - Stravinsky/Craft
Mantra I - Stockhausen - Kontarsky/Kontarsky


Gradus 182 - Neal Meyer - Meyer

Neal came over and recorded the 182nd session of his cosmically-scaled piano/self work Gradus: for Fux, Tesla, and Milo the Wrestler. I was struck this time around by the dissociation of the sounds within the decay envelopes from the particular attack envelope/attack rhythms which gave rise to those sounds.The particularly impoverished pitch material of those attacks (Neal is still playing only A-naturals), and Neal's extraordinary spacious presentation allows time for the sound resulting from any particular key-strike to move noticeably from the localized attack location to the dramatically different spatial location of its decay. The resulting musical image is of several musics operating upon each other from a distance. The relative registral location of the attack pitches is pushed back in importance by the music of the tonal shifts arising from them. As Neal strikes a key the image of the intent of that strike is not so much to play a note as to allow its blossoming sound to enter the cloud of sound hanging above it, mingling and altering and being altered and being mingled thereby.


  1. It looks like Neal's mastered a technique that I've always known was possible in theory but never quite been able to do. Hope this doesn't sound too didactic (I have a tendancy to write that way), but on a concert grand piano, the "attack" of the note always sounds from where the hammer hits the string, but it is possible with the right pressure on the keys and pedal to "move" the sound back along the strings so the decay sounds from different locations in the instrument. It appears that this is what he was doing.

  2. I'm not so sure it's so much a technique as it is an effect - given time it will happen pedals or no. My hunch is that it is one of those effects that is extraordinarily easy to accomplish in an improvisational setting, and nearly impossible to "make" happen compositionally. From the listening standpoint the important thing for me is the image of it - what is it like to listen to those multiple musics? - what is their relation in my head as they speak with and to each other? In other words it doesn't matter to me what is actually happening as an acoustical fact. What does matter to me is what seems to be happening as a musical image. In aesthetic matters, image always trumps fact.