Saturday, April 30, 2016




"A note as a sound has suchness. But the note all-alone has no self. Only when it is in the world (as such) of music, it disappears as it participates into "higher" musical units, such as musical phrases. When is a note a sound? When it is an utterance?" - Robert Morris [from "the detail of the pattern is movement", Open Space 19-20 - fall 2015/spring 2016]


April 23, 2016
Night Blooming Voices -  LaDonna Smith, Wally Shoup, Davey Williams, Jim Willett, Trish McCarl

As I came of age in music, during the '70s and '80s, the DIY medium of choice was the cassette tape. I understand they are even making something of a hip niche-market come-back. Imagine that!

Someone seems to be playing a massive musical saw, capable of deep swooping sounds whose vibrations are so slow one could nearly count them. Everybody else is squeaking balloons, or one massive room-sized balloon. Later they agree to a sound proposal, pulling toward it all together in order then to twist off from each other in multi-bodied fountain arcs. This would kill as the soundtrack to a slow-motion film of people smooching, steering just between horrifying and hilarious. It weaves and finds, weightless. Spoon stirs in a glass, or a marble rolled around? At just the right moment - Stand back! She's gonna BLOW! Banshriek's holiday, roll the coaster. (I would love to see this acted out). Second soundtrack idea: an addled single-tracking-shot through the brains and thoughts of coffee shop denizens. Fluid seeping into subgenres of Gesamtkunstwerk.

April 25, 2016
One8 - Cage - Michael Bach

A compositional discipline for the performer. Pitch, dynamics, color aplenty, but only as placeholders to fill durations. Big dots or long bars in an empty field. The score is to be followed, like instructions, rather than responded to, as a stimulus. The unit of measure is the bow draw. The silences are pushed forward, but they end up uniform, the negative of sounds for which there is no particular reason to be. Or, It attempts to put sounds into a piece of music that are not the sorts of sounds that could be in a piece of music, for in order to be those sorts of sounds they would need reasons, intentions, activators and activations, all of which have been proscribed. The whole is an aural episode without signal of beginning middle or end, every location is the same location. What sort of virtual space is that? The formless and void?

April 26, 2016
Down Around Her Ankles - Pomegranate

As is that which follows, this is another of the rescued records. A practiced clean drum beat, over which the guitar and vocal pull away separately. What I suppose is the bridge relaxes the intensity a bit, functioning a little like a tonal move to the subdominant. The vocal rhythmic play is held to the drum beat by a tight elastic grip, like an industrial strength rubber band, or strong magnetic force.

Love Me Till The Sun Shines - Fantasy Four

Unfancy. A classic drum bass guitar vocal sound.

Wartime Prayers - Paul Simon [from The Essential Paul Simon]

For as much production value as persists or is insisted upon here, it never makes this a polished song, and certainly not a strong poem, instead it places the song's vulnerability into a pronouncedly glaring light.

audio found in the silent 8mm home movies of the Ring Family - Christpher DeLaurenti

Recorded media are notations, intentionally or not. A signal is a notation, however the signal arrives or from whence it derives. As it is derived here, it is an artifact of revelation, the sound of a found signal (re)transcribed mechanically. From hidden to uncovered, like bugs under a rock. I'm not sure how much Christopher edited the material, but I hope the answer is "very little" or "none at all".

Patrick O'Keefe at Seattle Composers' Salon on January 8, 2016 - Patrick O'Keefe

Patrick offered 3 short piano bagatelles. Studies in multiples of musics, circling warily, or playfully, keeping each other's eyes on the other's eyes. I like these even better upon re-audition.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 25, 2016
Gradus 289 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

Of subsets within, and transformations of subsets within by re-iteration within transformed subsets within.

April 28, 2016
The Drink I Didn't Have Last Night Is The Drink I Shoulda Had - Your Mother Should Know (as St. Rage) - Karen Eisenbrey, Neal Kosály-Meyer

We recorded drum, acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals, and lead guitar tracks.

Saturday, April 23, 2016




"The Beat: The beat is just the most primitive crude way to instantly transform time consciousness out of realword time and out of clocktime into - ontologically - the space of virtual time. Serious composition discovers numberless more contextual and multiinflected ways to get there with limitlessly variable resultant qualities - not just the repeatable orgasm - of habitable transcendent timeworlds. It's only the most firstorder music that needs beat to make this trip happen at all, to provide a cheap and dirty transcendence. Composition creates that from within but beat imposes it from without." - Benjamin Boretz [from Unconnecting the Dots, Open Space 19-20 - fall 2015/spring 2016]

April 20, 2016
blues sequence from 'Breakfast Feud' - Benny Goodman [from Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz]

Goading on to showing off.

I Could Make You Love Me - Sarah Vaughan [from Interlude - Early Recordings 1944-1947]

Extraordinary, but not fully confident. It is still, to some extent, an imitation of a torch singer, an imitation of someone who might be aiming at Billie Holiday, but who certainly isn't yet a full-blown Sarah Vaughan.

April 21, 2016
Turn Over A New Leaf - John Lee Hooker [from The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948 - 1954]

Chet Baker
What might be termed the beat, here, is a complex organism composed of touch and times and weight and density and slant.

Resonant Emotions - Chet Baker and Art Pepper [from Playboys]

Echt westcoastcooljazz, eelishly smooth, slimily unctuous - completely open about what they never could mention in so many words.

Sally, Won't You Have Me, Do Gal Do - Clester Hounchell [from Art Rosenbaum's Art of Field Recording volume 1]

A quickly revolving timescene configuration of open to stopped tones. Nothing firstorder about it.

My Generation - The Who [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock & Soul]

Abstracts to a stutter the blues' required severance of melody time from rhythm-bed time.

Cry Baby - Janis Joplin [from Pearl]

Janis calibrates her affectual intensity, always an offset step ahead of the band.

Steve Reich
April 22, 2016
Music for 18 Musicians - Reich - Shem Guibbory, Ken Ishii, Elizabeth Arnold, Rebecca Armstrong, Nurit Tilles, Lary Karush, Gary Schall, Bob Becker , Russ Hartenberger, James Preiss, Steve Chambers, David Van Tieghem, Glen Velez, Virgil Blackwell, Richard Cohen, Jay Clayton, Pamela Fraley

The increment is so in-your-face it could disappear, as though one were looking through a screen window, or twirling bike spokes. What would it sound like, for instance, if enough reverb were added to erase the choppiness? When increment vanishes what are we left with? Rhythms of emergences, patterns of repetitions. Would we then need to re-posit the increment in order to relate the parts to each other in time? Does the explicit increment absolve us of this duty? In order to free us to do what? To discover what? One could read the emerging pattern-regions as movements of a larger whole, transplanted pretty much straight across from standard concert practice (the sort of thing one might mention in a program note to comfort the worried). Is the increment intended to obscure every other parameter, rendering only its repeating as actual? A bargain ride to the eternal hijacked to the merely conceptual?

Another take on it: A concretion of the sense of acoustic space as we might imagine ourselves wandering through it, to the point where actually getting up and moving through the house, where it has joined you, independently, in just the same activity, but in its own virtual house - each of you hearing each other in a mutual sharing of virtual inter-experience. The needle-y probing of the music constantly sensing and groping into the data of our own experience of place, pulling into itself our moment-to-moment sense of where we are. Monitored.

Frame by Frame - King Crimson [from Discipline]

Honestly, this came up to listen to entirely on its own, just like everything else. I didn't handpick it to follow Reich, of which it is both a virtual twin and comment - but with an overlay of what, if this weren't King Crimson, might be mistaken for a standard rock beat.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 17, 2016
10 Minutes for Aaron Keyt - Keith Eisenbrey

Aaron asked for a sound file for a project of his, so I obliged. I used a loose cymbal balanced on a milk can, and various mallets.

April 18, 2016
Banned Rehearsal 909 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Neal Kosály-Meyer

April 18-22 2016
".....such words as it were vain to close....." - J. K. Randall - Keith Eisenbrey

I spent several hours every morning this vacation week trying to get a straight-through recording of this. Blame for my eventual failure to avoid an edit was equally distributed among my own errors and in-opportune trucks, cars, and motorcycles outside. This was my last go-through Friday morning, with only one edit due to traffic noise. I share it here on the assurance that Jim's feelings about copyright are similar to mine: "open and free", but without any claim that I have got the piece right yet.

Saturday, April 16, 2016



April 12, 2016
Symphony in D minor, Op. 120 (#4) - Schumann - Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer

An exuberance spills out and over, washing the countryside. As we pick up the pieces we civilize and in civilizing are civilized. This isn't my favorite recording of this piece, but Klemperer does pick up on some of the work's strangeness, wearing its awkward moments gracelessly but exactly, like an ill-fitting suit of clothes.

Concert Fantasy - Rimsky-Korsakov - Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg, Louis de Froment, Aaron Rosand

The best part of the piece is toward the end where a clarinet finally gives the solo violin some push back. Otherwise it's vapid and dull, like sitting through somebody else's vacation slides.

Klarinettenquintet in B minor, Op. 115 - Brahms - Amadeus Quartet, Karl Leister

Lush, overgrown tendrils of counterpoint have insinuated themselves into every crevice. Each phrase is a complex of threads and asides, no single voice speaking a whole thing entirely. The variations that finish it open the door at last to some fresh air.

April 14, 2016
Mamie Smith
Destimido - Grupo Bahianainho [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

The rhythmic flexibitily in play (which is prodigious) is different in flavor but not in degree to, say, a late Beethoven Sonata in Schnabel's reading, or a Chopin Nocturne in Cortot's. Robustly anti-metronomic.

Frankie Blues - Mamie Smith [from Alan Lowe's Really The Blues]

Another, brilliant, take on the great American mythopoetic saga: the romantic betrayal between Frankie and Johnnie.

Fat Meat and Greens - Jelly Roll Morton [from Alan Lowe's Really The Blues]

There is a bluesiness about the swing that is echoed in his bendy attitude toward pitch and touch, offering another way to think about the reflection of the horizontal upon the vertical: meter to (something like) intonation, rather than pitch set to pitch set.

Violin Concerto in D - Stravinsky - Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, Isaac Stern

Moving, but not going. Circulating, spiraling to get back - spinning wheels within spinning wheels. Each seeming repetition transformed, each nearly familiar angle re-configured.

Concerto - Khachaturian - Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz, Dickran Atamian

I wasn't familiar with this piece going in, and it started by reminding me of Bartok, but without the astringency. It certainly is shamelessly Lisztian. I ended up kind of digging the keyboard writing, especially when he piled on as many moving parts at once as he could, like juggling snakes and kittens.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 11, 2016
Gradus 288 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

We now have a fourth pitch, as Neal introduces G natural (the highest one), joined by a lowish E for the 2nd rung.

Saturday, April 9, 2016



April 2, 2016
Stillness, Concentrate - Keith Eisenbrey, piano
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Welcome to my planet. I come in peace. - Keith Eisenbrey
Another - Keith Eisenbrey
J - Keith Eisenbrey
".....such words as it were vain to close....." - J. K. Randall

Leaving aside such words for a moment, it is gratifying in listening to the recordings of these recent pieces of mine to discover how much more clearly they come across as a thing to hear than they do as a thing to perform. That is, I spent a good deal of composing time inventing ways for each of them to do some particular thing - Welcome to slowly pass two independently spinning pitch matrices through each other, Another to . . . (I'm still not sure what exactly Another does), and J to pour attenuated contrapuntal lines through a mutually illuminated space - but the performing of them involves so much ferocious counting and focus on what's coming next that it is difficult to hear what's actually happening, and nearly impossible to get a feel for how it's going as an experience.

I'll have my performance of such words available privately on my soundcloud site (since I don't have permission to make it public), so if you would like to hear it please get in touch with me and I'll send you the link. Part of the mystique of the piece is a notion that only Jim could ever really play it right, so playing it at all might seem futile. But I hope that even the little pianistic wisdom I've managed to glean over the decades allows me to at least share a glimmer of what's there to be discovered.

Rescued Records

April 5, 2016
Wig Wam Bam - Fantasy Four

This was from a box of 7" vinyl disks that Karen brought home from work, after they had been used as party decorations, after having been remaindered from a used record store. There was very little information on the disk itself, and the jacket for this one wasn't in the box, so even figuring out the name of the band took some sleuthing. All I had were the titles of the tracks and "F4". As best I can tell they broke up in 2002 or 2003, so I guessed this came out in about 2001. It isn't a great record by a stretch, but it's enthusiastic and good humored. One could easily imagine them sharing a bill with any number of local bands at some dive bar, in the same vein as Prom Queen or Can You Imagine, but with more of a Tyrannosaurus Grace exuberance.

Nobody Makes A Monkey Out Of Me - The Bugs [from The Funhouse Comp Thing]
Ferocious Alphabets - James Romig [from Milton Babbitt: A Composers' Memorial]

A single twisted twine, segments of which, due to the oddly contoured timespace in which it is cast, can only be observed through past or future portions of itself, refracting its singularity into many.

Tambourine Quintet - Keith Eisenbrey - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt, Neal Kosály-Meyer

The tiniest shivers in space, making like speech.

S'io non miro non moro - Gesualdo - Consort of Musicke, Anthony Rooley

Taffy pulling. I kept thinking of Monsieur Hulot's Holiday.

Singet dem Herrn ein Neues Lied BWV 225 - J. S. Bach - Concentus Musicus Wien, Bachchor Stockholm, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

A knockout concerto grosso for voices and continuo - the seventh Brandenburg.

Keyboard Sonata in C Major Wq. 65/16 - C. P. E. Bach - Miklos Spanyi

Miklos plays this one on fortepiano, rather than clavichord. It lives in a gothic splendor of twisty narrow passages, dark yawning chasms, and dank dungeons.

Quartet in C minor Op. 17 #4 Hob. III:28 - Haydn - Tatrai Quartet

A well-ordered life in the age of reason. Stately rooms. long straight halls, courtyards bathed in sunlight. Proportion. Balance. Decorum.

April 7, 2016
Rondo in D Major K. 485 - Mozart - Lili Kraus

A counterfact to the dogma that Mozart's keyboard works can only come alive in all their subtlety when played on fortepiano, with its wide range of timbre from octave to octave. Lili makes do just fine with a clear differentiation of touch.

Symphony in B-flat Major Op. 60 (#4) - Beethoven - Vienna Philharmonic, Wilhelm Furtwängler

WF doesn't slow down in order to relax the tempo. His ritenutos underline the phrase.

Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 25 - Chopin - Vladimir Ashkenazy

The arpeggios here are not poet-dreamy, but nervous, urgent, coaxing out what might be remembered of another music, if only one could, if only it had ever been.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 4, 2016
Banned Telepath 47 Seattle 160404
Banned Telepath 47 Somerville 160404
Banned Rehearsal 908 160404 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy (in Seattle); and Aaron Keyt (in Somerville)

Saturday, April 2, 2016



March 29, 2016
Colin McPhee
Tabuh-Tabuhan, Toccata for Orchestra - Colin McPhee - Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, Howard

Importation into symphony-land, without irony. Accidentally prefiguring aspects of a later pop minimalism. For a moment, a hint of the Great Gates of Kiev, but in the end I couldn't help thinking that equal temperament has never sounded so bland.

I Found A New Baby - Benny Goodman [from Smithosonian Collection of Classic Jazz]

The masters trade bitty licks lickety split, arranged to sound impossibly, miraculously, spontaneous.

You Won't Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart) - Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Butterfield, George Koenig, Bill Stegmeyer, Jack Greenberg, Artie Drelinger, Milton Chatz, Joe Bushkin, Danny Perri, Harman 'Trigger' Alpert, Cozy Cole [from Louis Armstrong and Guest Stars]

Sometime in my late teens I was introduced to the music of Louis Armstrong so I went to the record store to find some more. This grab-bag album of tracks (mostly from the 40's), is just full of winners, including this one of Louis and Ella at the tops of their games, hardly working (or so it seems) trading off verses.

Tease Me Baby - John Lee Hooker [from The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948 - 1954]

His strum is swift and weighty, like a cross-bow strike.

March 31, 2016
I'm In Love Again - Fats Domino [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock & Soul]

More trading off licks, here between vocal and sax, both of which hold more or less still in melodic space while the harmonies move under them.

Arthur Berger
3 Pieces for 2 Pianos - Arthur Berger - Paul Jacobs, Gilbert Kalish

From the catalogue of a master compilator. It is as though everything he was digging about the music he heard around him finds its way here in quirky completeness: tempo tricks, prepared piano sounds, intricate chromatic play between the vertical and the horizontal, Webernesque pitch statis - all of it laid out there with his inimitable sensibility of touches, times, and colors. Time's passing sculpted or bent.

Land of 1000 Dances - Wilson Pickett [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock & Soul]

A study in interjections, the song itself having fallen away.

It's Too Late - Carole King [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock & Soul]

I found myself really digging the tiny-echo backing vocals at left and right, barely audible at the ends of phrases.

Say Goodbye to Hollywood - Billy Joel [from The Essential Billy Joel]

The king of monochromatic vocal production. There is a way to sing and that's all there is.

Clubland - Elvis Costello [from Trust]

A latter-day land of 1000 dances presented as a present tense fiction.

Love For Sale - Talking Heads [from True Stories]

Framed by: CountOff at start and KissOff at end.

Study 50 - Conlon Nancarrow [from Conlon Nancarrow: Lost Works, Last Works]

Some stray dude holding forth at a bar, with illustrations, and a replicator. By the time one escapes there must be 20 or 30 of him in there.

Ballintubber Abbey - Amy Denio [from Tutto Bene]


Sonic Brilliance 14 - [March 1996 - John E, Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Holden K, Neal Kosály-Meyer]

Introducing children to synthesizers. I want that bubble sound.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

March 28, 2016
Gradus 287 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

Neal is on the verge of G natural, to imply a modulation, or that we weren't in A to begin with.