Saturday, February 27, 2016



February 20, 2016
Rambunctious 2.0 - Spectrum Dance Theater - Cornish Playhouse, Seattle
Simple Measures: Brittany Boulding, violin; Liza Zurlinden, violin; Mara Gearman, viola; Rajan Krishnaswami, cello and artistic director; Judith Cohen, piano

At the Octoroon Balls - String Quartet No. 1 - Wynton Marsalis
Layered Text Samples - Pamela Z
Spirit Songs for Cello and Piano - T.J. Anderson
And the Movement of the Tongue for String Quartet with tape - Pamela Z

Of course there were dances too, and if, like me, you're interested in finding your way into an understanding with dance, Donald Byrd's SDT is an excellent place to do it. It's difficult for me to understand a theater in which the music is at the service of something else, and so I regret more than I should the compromises deemed necessary to forefront the dance: primarily amplification and the side-staging of the ensemble. Nevertheless, the company uses live music, and for that I am truly grateful.

Wynton Marsalis's String Quartet No. 1 is a hugely sprawling, immensely lyrical work with room to spare for long spun solos and crunchy heterophony - a sure way to my heart these days.

Pamela Z's works both use studio/computer-reassembled collages of text sound, with a sense of humor joyously reminiscent of Charles Amirkhanian and a wonder and poignancy all her own.

T.J. Anderson's Spirit Songs lost the most, I think, for being amplified, and disappeared behind the dance (which, for the record, I thought was superb and moving) more than the other works on the program. I would need to get another crack at it, without distraction, to get a shareable sense of it.


RS raises his right eyebrow, I can raise my left!
February 23, 2016
Carmina Burana - Carl Orff - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Robert Shaw, Judith Blegen, Hakan Hagegard, William Brown, Atlanta Boy Choir

Carmina's life as a wildly popular set piece has largely overshadowed its life as a piece of music. It is difficult to hear behind the 10,000 action film previews that have glommed onto it. I like to hear it as a sequence of abutting bits, each bit tempo-ed and metric-ed and timed to a fare-thee-well. Nothing bleeds into what follows, each is a shiny surface, glazed stone. Les Noces it is not, but it ain't hay neither.

I have been told that I am a cousin (of some several degrees and some several removes) of the late Robert Shaw, and I couldn't help feeling a bit of family pride in the clarity of performance and balanced presence of this fabulous recording.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

February 21, 2016
Autoheterophony 160221 Kum Ba Yah - Keith Eisenbrey

Sunday school songs, camp songs - kiddie hymns. These are my musical beginnings, known even before I knew myself. This project is an attempt to start coming to terms with that more directly. The process is very simple. I sing the song eight times, each successive time while listening to a rough mix of the previous tracks, and each successive time allowing more and more freedom of variation in melody and rhythm. When completed I mix them together, add reverb to suit, and that's it.

February 22, 2016
Banned Telepath 44 Seattle 160222
Banned Telepath 44 Somerville 160222
Banned Rehearsal 905 160222 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Neal Kosály-Meyer, in Seattle; Aaron Keyt in Somerville

If I were to consider Banned Rehearsal as a goal-oriented project, and to consider where we are now to be nearer that goal than where we started, (both very big fat ifs, each more like an ifsissississimo than a mezzo if), then we are headed to a place where the sound of us is indistinguishable from the sound of people bumping around in a room full of noisy toys. We have become, or perhaps always have been, a complex slow motion rattle.

Saturday, February 20, 2016



February 18, 2016
Wally Shoup, Greg Campbell, Greg Kelley
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Triangular and biangular alliances, overt and surreptitious. Once the flywheel wheels the flywheel controls. the spinning doohickey looks like something to grace the head of a blue meanie as it begins to blossom. Each of them is a fully formed chamber ensemble in his own sound, together they are a dense trio of ensembles. I was exhausted and almost didn't get there, but I'm awful glad we pulled it together.

Wally and I go back a long way, having first met in the early '80s at Bard College. He was a visiting performer, and I was a grad student. Here is an old old tape, with Karen, Wally, and me, joined by Karen's dad Bill Meyer, who dropped by and picked up a bugle.


February 15, 2016
Alexander's Ragtime Band - Collins and Harlan [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
Raggin' The Scale - Fred Van Eps [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
Trois Petite Pieces Montees - Satie - Ensemble "Die Reihe", Friedrich Cerha

Nothing exists but what is allowed, the transcendent other has evaporated into the never was.

Lamb's Blood Has Washed Me Clean - Rev. F. W. McGee Jubilee Singers [from Alan Lowe's Really The Blues]
Carinosa - Django Reinhardt [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

In Session at Tintinabulary

February 14, 2016
Autoheterophony 160214 This Little Light Of Mine - Keith Eisenbrey

My second foray into a hymnody project. No mystery how it is done: I record myself singing the song 8 times, allowing wild variations and harmony. Mix and play with the reverb to suit. Post.

February 15, 2016
Gradus 284 160215 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

What can be revealed by narrow predictability? What is obscured by a more brightly lit variety?

How is the obligation to be present to an utterance more pressing than the obligation to be present to one's self?

Our naked feeble grip grasps sentinal notes.

Saturday, February 13, 2016



February 11, 2016
Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 45 - Chopin - Claudio Arrau

A song washing away in the rain.

Symphony in D minor Op. 120 - Schumann - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Wilhelm Furtwängler

This is no polite, avuncular Schumann. This dude's out for blood, and we are caught circling through his mansion.
Busoni, working on virtuoso hair from the get go

Variations on "Kommt ein Vogel geflogen K422" - Busoni - Harden Wolf

A demonstration of the state-of-the-art science of keyboard configuration. The melody always appears clearly, as in some sophisticated version of elf-on-the-shelf.

Six Quartets Op. 112 - Brahms - Gächinger Kantorei, Helmut Rilling

Even as these tail off in successive miniaturization, they become more densely packed. One imagines them finally squeezing through a needle's eye and becoming a Webern part-song a decade or two hence.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

February 6, 2016
Autoheterophony 160206 Jesus Loves Me - Keith Eisenbrey

I've been thinking about the background influences of my musical thinking, the musics from which I was never entirely weaned. My first inclination was to go for the oldest hymns I could find, in one of the host of old hymnals that seem to find me, but decided instead to start with those that, personally, go back the furthest. This is the first foray.

February 8, 2016

Banned Telepath 43 Seattle 160208
Banned Telepath 43 Somerville 160208
Banned Rehearsal 904 160208 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, and Steve Kennedy, in Seattle; and Aaron Keyt in Somerville

Early in Banned Rehearsal history we found ourselves in an argument, played out in session after session, about whether we were recording improvisations or making tapes. Having eventualy lost most of the heavy-handed rhetorical aspects of both camps, the subtle textures of doing both at once, and yet still arguing about it, in session after session, keep me in the room again and again, session after session.

Saturday, February 6, 2016



January 30, 2016
The Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
Seattle Opera - McCaw Hall

The stage set was cleverly designed, visually attractive, but not so fussy as to be distracting. The most interesting decision was to place Barbarina's cavatina about the pin at the edge of the stage, in front of the tall woodish panel wall that served as a curtain. Like setting Christ on a mountaintop, it forces attention: this is what it is all about - a lost trifle. Ironic, poignant, barbed. Something like the effect of the Holy Fool's plaint anchoring Boris Godunov.


January 31, 2016
Merce grido piangendo - Gesualdo - Consort of Musicke, Anthony Rooley

Utterance is never simple, always at least a skein. The co-sounding harmonies are a metaphor of inflection, of placement of voice within the mouth. That particular upward chromatic shift is an eyebrow raised, a dubious query.

Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir BWV 228 - J.S. Bach - Concentus Musicus Wien, Bachchor Stockholm, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

The actual earth has dropped down half a frame and we hear the angelic chorale floating above. Meanwhile we mortals go chugging about our business.

Keyboard sonata in F Wq. 54 #1 - C.P.E. Bach - Miklos Spanyi

Single notes poke in here and there, laugh-in style. Toward the end of the 1st movement the harmony slows to an almost Beethovenian stillness.

Quartet in E op. 17 #1 Hob. III:25 - Haydn - Tatrai Quartet

A thought experiment: extract just the resolutions of each cadence and play only those, in sequence, in time. Then ask what the shape of each preceding and succeeding phrase does to change the sense of how that cadence sounds.

February 3, 2016
String Quartet in D K. 499 - Mozart - Juilliard String Quartet

It is lucid even when it gets gnarly.

February 4, 2016
String Quartet in F op. 59 #1 (#7) - Beethoven - Budapest Quartet

Entering the dark, overwhelming.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

February 1, 2016
Gradus 283 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

February 2, 2016
Ivan Arteaga and Keith Eisenbrey 160202 A
Ivan Arteaga and Keith Eisenbrey 160202 B
Ivan Arteaga and Keith Eisenbrey 160202 C

Ivan brought his alto sax and clarinet over to meet my piano. I for my part had a blast.