Sunday, June 24, 2012


Today is the 28th anniversary of Banned Rehearsal!

I'm a day late because I spent my Saturday writing time working on the program for my recital of yesterday evening. As penance, here it is:


June 23, 2012
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

A Greek Nickel and Change
Keith Eisenbrey, piano

minute etudes (book one) - 1998        Emily Doolittle

Bagatelles - 1999                             Aaron Keyt
    I. deliberately articulated
    II. with detached recollection
    III. exuberantly reflective, while casually kicking the can

greek nickel #1 - 1979                       J. K. Randall


Seven Cues Without Film - 1984          Keith Eisenbrey

Sonata in Two  Movements
- 1988        Keith Eisenbrey


Canadian-American composer Emily Doolittle was born in Nova Scotia in 1972 and educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton. Since 2008 she has been Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She has written for such ensembles as Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Albany Symphony, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble and Meduse, and such soloists as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc, Janice Jackson, Patricia Green and Helen Pridmore, pianists Rachel Iwaasa and Ruth Rose, viola d'amorist Thomas Georgi and viola da gambist Karin Preslmayr.  Her doctoral research was on the relationship between bird and other animal songs and human music, a field in which she continues to be active.  Other interests include the traditional music of various cultures, community music-making, and music as a vehicle for social change.

Although the minute etudes each contain challenges for the performer, they are  compositional etudes first, and pianistic etudes second. They concern themselves with particular formal ideas rather than with ideas about how fingers and hands can move on the keyboard. Emily's tonal palette consists of a sort of slightly unstable diatonicism, which is to say that for the most part any little bit of it would sit quite comfortably in a key, but any larger portion skews subtly in several directions at once. The results are delightful.

Keith Eisenbrey brings to his pianism a composer's imaginative musical understanding, and to his composition a mysterious and majestical whimsy. Cerebral and sensuous, remorselessly speculative, his music seeks to illuminate those most intimate of our personal spaces: the silences across which, in which, and out from which music, thought, and utterance unfold. A native of the Puget Sound area, he studied composition with Dell Wade, Ken Benshoof, John Rahn, and Benjamin Boretz, and piano with Victor Smiley, Joan Purswell, and Neal O'Doan. He is a charter member of The Barrytown Orchestra, an interactive music-making ensemble based in Barrytown, New York, and is a co-founder of Banned Rehearsal, an ongoing argument in creative musical expression, which will soon celebrate its 28th anniversary. His critical and theoretical work has appeared in Perspectives of New Music, News of Music, and Open Space, and he assisted in the editing of Boretz’s Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought for its republication. His oeuvres includes solo pieces for various keyboards, songs, and chamber works. He opines weekly at He lives in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle with his wife Karen and their two boys, John and Isaac.

Seven Cues Without Film has gone by various names over the years, evidence of my general puzzlement over what they are to me and how they might come across to others. When I wrote them I was concerned with exploring the verges between a simple sound and the germ of a musical idea, between that and a full blown idea, and between that and a complete (if tiny) piece. My hope was that from this study I could find a way to think clearly about constructing larger forms. When I came back to them recently they seemed to me like bits of film music, hence the new title. And in a sense, Sonata in Two Movements is one of the fruits of that mode of thinking. While I was reacquainting myself with it these last few months I took the opportunity of making a small change to one spot that had never seemed to quite work as I thought it would. I have also simplified the pedaling scheme, removing (or treating as optional) the original heavy use of the sostenuto pedal in the first movement. The first movement ends in fortissimo octaves and the second enters immediately like a laidback lounge pianist. The two movements share some material, but don't we all?

Aaron Keyt is a local composer. He studied composition at the UW and Princeton. He has composed for orchestra, chamber groups, and piano, as well as working with computer-generated and -modified materials. Along with Keith Eisenbrey and Neal Meyer, he is a founding member of the improvisational group Banned Rehearsal, now in its 29th year.

The Bagatelles were composed during a productive week in 1999. Rhythmically rich and fiendishly delicate, in performing them the pianist is confronted with a task that feels like building a house of cards while wearing oven mitts. The musical language, though it consists of quite recognizable tunes and harmonies, is fractured horizontally, as though thin layers of brittle rock had been twisted slightly under immense pressure.

J. K. Randall has been such a powerful presence in American musical life for so long that it is difficult to overestimate his influence. He is among the first pioneers of computer-synthesized music. He taught many generations of composers and theoreticians at Princeton until his retirement in 1991. He is an inimitable writer, editor, theorist, and critic. Over the course of his long life he has collaborated with dozens of musicians, but his decades-long on-going conversation with Benjamin Boretz, in words spoken and printed as well as in music improvised and composed, stands as one of the most fruitful intellectual duets of our time.

In studying the score of greek nickel #1 the first thing that struck me was the multitude of notations used between events. There are parentheses, commas, double commas, commas inside measure lines, commas inside measure lines with fermatas (holds) above and below, empty measures, partial measure lines, full measure lines, double measure lines, and on and on. It is a piece obsessed with betweenness. And as I became more familiar with it I discovered that this obsession extends into, or perhaps began with, the distances, and the multitudes of qualities of distances, between notes ostensibly played at the same time.


June 17, 2012
Gradus 81 - Neal Meyer

Distance, as an affect, is a function of the combined effects of pitch and amplitude. Distant sounding sounds sound distant in respect to the space into which they spread, and which they create.

BF Autoharp, Barang, Clay Drum, Frame Drum, Gong, and Kora Chorus - Keith Eisenbrey

Collecting more sounds for Blood and Fire Hallelujah

accumulation to tipping point
creates and idea
toward the buzz rachet
rhythm of fireworks, artillery
resonance dissociates from impact
tangle a thicket

June 20, 2012
Tragic Overture - Brahms - Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer

A key is a thing to be fought.

Intermezzo in D minor for String Quintet - Bruckner - Melose Quartet with Enrique Santiago

A key is what emanates from where I am.

June 21, 2012
Chinatown - Fletcher Henderson [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

Fervid Charleston

Smack Up - Art Pepper [from Smack Up]
Kiss Me Baby - The Beach Boys [collected from Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock & Soul]

The backup harmonies are arranged so that they are part of what the drum kit is doing.

Restless Nights - Bruce Springsteen [from Tracks]

Sounds like it was filtered through another sound source, or digitally narrowed. Old-fashioned, almost mono.

Banned Couple 4 - Banned Rehearsal
Karen & Me in Brook House, Bard College, October 1987

In Session at The Tintinabulary

June 18, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 816 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer

The 28th Bannediversary, obvserved.


Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Piano Recital Saturday June 23

The composer ca. 1987 Bickleton, WA
A Greek Nickel and Change – A Recital   
Keith Eisenbrey, piano
Saturday, June 23, 2012, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle
$5 - $15 sliding scale

Seattle composer/pianist Keith Eisenbrey will present a recital on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at 8pm, in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle. Keith will perform from his own compositions, as well as exciting works by local composers Emily Doolittle and Aaron Keyt, and J. K. Randall’s exhaustive and exquisitely strange study of the spaces between notes: Greek Nickel #1. The program will include the pianist’s recently renovated Sonata in Two Movements (1988), and the first public performance of Seven Cues Without Film (1984).


June 9, 2012
Live at The Funhouse, Seattle
Pouch, Antique Scream, White Orange, Ancient Warlocks

This was a very loud show.

Pouch at EMP
Pouch is the apotheosis of shredded. The quintessential movement of this local two-piece is from high-energy power riffs to scream. Jake, who plays drums, has gotten better about keeping hold of his drumsticks than when I first heard them at EMP Skychurch last July.

Antique Scream
Antique Scream (another two-piece) features a vocal leap to a high warble that, in another musical universe, would have been a yodel. Late in the set the drummer cranked out a 70's throw-back solo, during which the guitarist/vocalist put down his axe, walked offstage, into the greenroom for a beer, back onstage leisurely, on with the axe again to finish the song. Nice piece of showmanship.

White Orange
White Orange, visiting from Portland, twists wahwah through flange through wahwah through flange to remarkable effect. They also have a modest but considered light show and a very large kick drum. Their amply tattooed drummer plays in just his boxers and a grin.

Aaron Krause of Ancient Warlocks
Ancient Warlocks play music about magic and stuff. Scholars of kick-ass.

This was indeed a very loud show. The default transition involved heavy multiformations of feedback. Ear protection would have been a good idea. Next time. There wasn't a slacker in the bunch. Everybody played hell-bent for leather. Any of these bands could have headlined any ordering of the others.

But as much as I enjoyed the show, and I did, I realize that this music isn't really for me, and my place within the community is more like that of a curious and sympathetic anthropologist than that of a fan. This testosterone steeped wallow of frustrated rage is not a feeling I remember having, and the need to vent it is not a need that is an essential part of me. Be that as it may, I think I can get my head around where they are coming from. Better to make loud music than to shoot up Iraq.


June 13, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 580 (August 2000, Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer)

Rattles of cans in giant rattles of cans. Viscous atmospheres and dulcimerical spittery percussion pulling through multiple layers of skittery drones and resonant string space. It was so hot in the studio that day that when it was done I went outside and lay down in the wading pool fully clothed. Felt great!

In Session at The Tintinabulary

June 11, 2012
Gradus 213 - Neal Meyer


Saturday June 23, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
music by Emily Doolittle, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, and J. K. Randall

Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
 Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short 

Saturday, June 9, 2012


University Temple United Methodist Church several years ago

June 2, 2012
7th Annual Harry and Myrtle Olson International Organ Festival
Homage to Louis Vierne
University Temple United Methodist Church, Seattle

Mgr. art David di Fiore, Organ, Conductor
Dr. Zuzana Zahradnikova
Dr. Zuzana Zahradnikova, Ph.D.
Chancel Choir of University Temple United Methodist Church
Matt Dalton, Chuck Colburn, David Brewer, Jo Ann Christen, brass
Dan Oie - percussion

March-Sortie - Theodore Dubois - Zahradnikova
Aubade - Louis Vierne - Zahradnikova
Clair de lune - Louis Vierne - Zahradnikova
Cathedrales - Louis Vierne - Zahradnikova
Messe Solennelle - Louise Vierne - Choir, di Fiore, Zahradnikova
Toccata from Symphony No. 5 in F - Charles-Marie Widor (arr. Richard Proulx) - di Fiore, brass & percussion
Grand Jeu with Thunder Effects - Michel Corrette - di Fiore, Oie
Suite Gothique - Leon Boëllmann - di Fiore, brass & percussion

75 years ago on June 2, Louis Vierne collapsed onto the keyboard and died during his 1750th recital at Notre-Dame de Paris. In memory of the event, and of his life and influence, our church produced this fine concert of French organ music. I was singing in the choir, so I can't really comment on the Messe Solennelle. But sitting up close to the organ console during the rest of the show I was struck with the organ's theater of contraption - the crazy one-man band physicality of making all that noise happen, coupled with the sheer wonder of the noise itself as it forms into a mechanical simulation of a music, into what couldn't possibly actually be a music - except that it is anyway, and in spades. Both soloists and our fine brass & percussion players were marvelous. I was proud of my fellow singers as well. It felt good.

June 8, 2012
Ravel and Dutilleux with Cristina Valdés (and a host of others)
Seattle Symphony Chamber Series
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

Sonatine for Flute and Piano - Dutilleux - Judy Washburn Kriewall, Cristina Valdés
Choral, Cadence et Fugato for Trombone and Piano - Dutilleux - Ko-Ichiro Yamamoto, Cristina Valdés
Trois Préludes - Cristina Valdés
Les citations: Diptych for Oboe, Percussion Harpsichord and Double Bass - Dutilleux - Stefan Farkas, Joseph Adam, Joseph Kaufman, Michael A. Werner
String Quartet, Ainsi la nuit - Dutilleux - Simon James, Cordula Merks, Sayaka Kokubo, David Sabee
Sarabande et Cortège for Bassoon and Piano - Dutilleux - Paul Rafanelli, Cristina Valdés
Introduction et Allegro for flute, Harp, Clarinet and String Quartet - Ravel - Zartouhi Dombourian-Eby, Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, Laura DeLuca, Gennady Filimonov, Artur Girsky, Arie Schächter, Eric Gaenslen
Henri Dutilleux

Until just this year I don't believe I had ever heard of Henri Dutilleux, and until this concert I had not heard any of his music. From this small, well-presented sample I discover a sensitive and thoughtful musician, fully of his time and milieu. I imagine him occupying a position within his community similar to someone like Arthur Berger in mid-century America - an influential creative mind working in subtleties.

This was the first time I had been back to the recital hall in many years, and I must say that the institutionality of the place gets on my nerves. It is as though no matter how hard the musicians try to make a connection with the audience everything militates against it - the carefully bland interior, the proportion of stage width to back drop height to audience distribution, the business-like demeanor of the stage-crew. The place has "doing an event" down so well that it seems almost impossible for an event to take place. In Language As A Music Benjamin Boretz, apropos of the supposedly neutral language of discourse, warned that sooner or later, if not already, we would be hearing music in the same neutral manner in which we spoke and wrote of it. It has rarely struck me so strongly that it isn't just the language with which we discourse that can injure our music, but also the architecture of our venues and the dramaturgy within which that music is presented.


June 5, 2012
Piano Concerto 2 - Tchaikovsky - Emil Gilels, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Lorin Maazel

I thought of J.K. Randall: "I guess fortissimo is about conversational here." Mercurial rhythms bridge the worlds of Schumann and Busoni.

June 6, 2012
St. Louis Blues - Guy Lombardo [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
Maybe Next Year - Art Pepper [from Smack Up]
It's The Same Old Song - The Four Tops [collected from Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock & Soul]
Take 'em As They Come - Bruce Springsteen [from Tracks]

June 7, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 30 (May 1985, Keith Eisenbrey, Anna K, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer, and guests Phil and Sandy)

Resolutely NOT music. Raorhum.

Sad Eyes - Bruce Springsteen [from Tracks]

In Session at The Tintinabulary

June 4, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 815 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer

June 6, 2012
Your Mother Should Know recording a demo of Side By Side, in anticipation of the memorial service for Marilyn Meyer.


Saturday June 23, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
music by Emily Doolittle, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, and J. K. Randall

Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
 Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Though I did not know them, it is hard not to think now of those who died so horribly this week just a few miles from my home, in a place dedicated to music and fellowship.


June 1, 2012
7th Annual Harry and Myrtle Olson International Organ Festival
Songs of Surin - Stanislav Surin
University Temple United Methodist Church, Seattle

Stanislav Surin & Me (several years ago)
I have known Stan for several years now as a superb organist and composer from far-off Slovakia. Last evening we discovered another side of his creativity in a set of pop-tinged song settings of poetry by Miroslav Valek. Stan sang from the piano, lightly accompanied by Brad Hull, stand-up bass, and Karen Eisenbrey, drums. Stan assured us that though his English was accented by Slovak, his Slovak would be without English. The more I listened, though, the more fascinated I became with how these songs managed to negotiate the emotional landscape of love, regret, yearning, and sadness, and yet remain wholly innocent of that particularly ubiquitous American musical accent: the blues. As completely as the blues have permeated our musical sensibility, I doubt anyone from here could have pulled that off.


May 27, 2012
Georgia on My Mind - Hoagy Carmichael [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

Speaking of the blues - there is a certain weight to everything here: every line, every thump - a heaviness in the air.

Las Cuevas de Mario - Art Pepper [from Smack Up]

Ala Brubeck - or Schumann: playing with false downbeats - or are they?

In The Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett [collected from Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock & Soul]
Aria for Harp - Elaine Barkin - Ursula Kwasnicka

Accumulations of tiny things.

May 28, 2012
Banned Sectional 4 KEE NWM (May 1985 - Keith Eisenbrey, Neal Meyer)

Speaking of accumulations: proto version of Hunting and Gathering, a low-pitched focused feedback hum, squeaky toy dial twiddling, irregular Eulalie reading.

Part Man Part Monkey - Bruce Springsteen [from Tracks]
Song for Sarah - Elaine Barkin - Mark Menzies

Enters as from a distance, over a vast plain, over and over, nightish.

Orpheus Mourns Eurydice - Paul Des Marais

rain, dripping

May 28-29, 2012
BF Organ Pipe, Shell Shaker, Gongue Drum, Tub Drum, Twang, and Wood Drum (Amended) - Keith Eisenbrey

In Session at The Tintinabulary

May 28, 2012
Gradus 212 - Neal Meyer

Although the particulars of the figurations affect the residual decay, they are not the show. The show is the particulars of residual decay. The show begins when Neal stops, but can not begin until he starts.


Saturday June 23, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
music by Emily Doolittle, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, and J. K. Randall

Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short