December 12, 2012
Washington Composers Forum Composer's Spotlight: Neal Meyer - Gradus for Fux, Tesla, and Milo the Wrestler
Jack Straw Productions, Seattle
I was proud of Neal for the clarity of this presentation, placing his mega project within some of the broader aesthetic conversations in which it takes its part - with Cage, with Dempster, with Boretz, with Randall, with Taylor - and also within that more intimate familial conversation it has with aspects of my own work. And though Gradus for Fux, Tesla, and Milo the Wrestler is without question sui generis, and could even serve as an index point for what counts as sui generis, its nature is conversational. It is without progenitors, but it is not without interlocutors, and in the nitty gritty of the doing of it it is not without its own internal interloculations. It is the harmonics conversing with each other, it is the strings conversing with the soundboard, it is the sound of the piano conversing with the sound of ambience, it is all of that conversing with his, and with our, sense of music, of composition, of listening, and of thinking.
During the Q&A at the end a question came about how Neal manages to reconcile his love and admiration for this deeply odd and largely very quiet music with his equal L&A for Rock-n-Roll and its associated cloud of genres of not so quiet music. Although I thought this question was essentially like asking Neal "How are you Neal?" in another sense it was directly on point - How can an integral personality converse both within and among itself and also with others?
December 14, 2012
Art Up Phinneywood: Improvisations - Keith Eisenbrey, Neal Meyer, Steve Scribner
A-1 Pianos, Seattle
It is salutary on occasion to step into uncontrollable situations, partly because it forces assumptive questions. I am as aware as anyone that my deep rut default notion of a social situation conducive to music, or at least to my music, is one of quiet attention. At its worst of course this can be as coercive as "shut up and listen", but my hope is always that I have something to say that is as worth listening to as are those things that I have heard and been moved by.
And so to find myself in the assigned role of 'co-improviser' at a lively party, full of kids and folks chatting amiably, in a room full of pianos, was alternately frustrating and rewarding for me on several levels. First, it was difficult to hear even what I was doing, and more so what my colleagues were up to. So I spent quite a bit of time trying to discover what could be done that would be audible, that would be a valid part of the experience for myself and others, and that would, perhaps, actually engage with some outside our trio. This is not an easy compositional task, and success at it is difficult to judge - to the point where I still don't know whether it did or not.
|Jill Borner and Roger, Barrytown, New York 1983|
Sound, Body - Benjamin Boretz, Jill Borner [from InterPlay]
It is interesting that both of the pieces that came up for listening this week set up fields of stark dualities, and work out their interactions. In this improvisation Ben and Jill each take a channel and a small lexicon of words and instrumental sounds. Left, right. Ben, Jill. Voiced, unvoiced. Monochord, fingercymbal. Hiss, breath. Drum, mouth.
December 13, 2012
Music for Two - John Cage - Stephen Drury
Bowed, struck. Undulous constellations in near statis osmosing through the possibilities of their mutual membranes.
In Session at The Tintinabulary
December 10, 2012
Gradus 218 - Neal Meyer
Saturday May 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey and Neal Meyer at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Music for solo piano
Eisenbrey: Welcome to my planet. I come in peace.
Meyer: Cage - Solo for Piano