Tuesday, March 28, 2006


This picture is from the drive between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It is, quite simply, LovelyWeather.

Avant Garde: Function: noun, Etymology: French, vanguard : an intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts. That term implies a lot and has a wide range of connotations. So, I began with the definition, according to Websters. The reason that I wrote it, is that I believe that is what I am interested in, or rather that may be the most apt term to describe where I want to go with my creative output, ie the sounds that I arrange. Upon reflection I came to appreciate that time and again I try to push beyond the recapitulation of previous ideas and that I am interested in taking it the next step. Now I would assume that this drive "forward" (for lack of a better term) is inherently what drives a person to be an artist and it may be true of all artists, maybe not, but I am not here to point fingers and create divisions. I am here to report that I habitually am interested in something new. This persistence to explore the world around and within me is what has lead me to study composition and more importantly to never grow to comfortable with routine. Lack of attachment would be what a therapist would say to me. I see it in a more positive light, the desire and drive to explore. That is the spark that ignites me and pushes me to peruse life.

The aesthetic of my work may and often reflects and interest in something already achieved and hence not avant garde. But what I have begun to realize is that I begin with an aesthetic model and after working in that space I become comfortable with the idea. Once inside, I can push at and develop the idea and possibly work against it. This is wonderful because I have no sentimental idea to the idea/concept so I am free to push. This is a sort of R&D phrase which I can then move beyond, in the process, reducing it to the elements that I deem necessary and throwing out the rest. Then, moving forward.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Place Where You Go to Listen

This picture has nothing to do with the post other than it connects thematicly, ok, so it connects. I like to think of it as a posibility for this project.
I was flipping through the Anchorage Dailey News today and noticed that John Luther Adams opening of "The Place Where You Go to Listen" tomorrow in Fairbanks made the front page of the arts section. It is a decent description of what JLA has put together and what I really like is that it delves into the incredible simplicity and complexity of the project. It is just making audible the unheard changes of the earth. Actually, I might argue that they are audible, only our hearing apparatus does not allow us to hear the, say slow shifting of tectonic plates. This got me thinking about the type of work that I am interested in, both of others and of myself. I find this "remapping" of the earths and movements into a sound and light canvas fabulously exhilarating. What I think this work points out very effectively (among many other things) is that once we articulate the rhythm's and patterns of the planet in a manner that is geared more toward the our limited sensory range, we are able to comprehend and contemplate just what is going on around us. I am very excited for JLA, this is a wonderful piece and I hope that I can someday replicate the profound and honest question/statement that he is articulating with "The Place Where You go to Listen"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Big Brother

Ok, so it is not as bad as it seems but, I was just reading where Google refused to release the names of people who were querying for pornography to the US Justice department. Yeah, good for Google and for children everywhere. But at the end of the article they mention, "Three of Google's competitors in internet search technology - AOL, Yahoo and MSN - have complied with subpoenas in the case." Does that mean that all three of these companies handed over any and all info? Here is an interesting point for research. But then again, do I really want to know?

Report from the Space of Sunday

There is now cause for celebration and jubilation, I have completed the composition for trumpet, trombone, piano and percussion. It is still in need of an edit, but it is in rehearsal, I hear and will be performed at the end of May in Seattle. It would be cool to see it, as it is my Seattle debut, but such is my life, I am happy that it is being performed. Actually, this will be the first performance that I do not directly supervise. It is a bit of an interesting experience for me. I have to trust that I put everything in the score and that I made all of my decisions correctly. What a fabulous learning experience. It will also be interesting to see how people develop and shape the piece without my input.

I have returned to trying to complete the clarinet and piano piece (above picture if you were curious, or not for that matter). I have set a six week work flow schedule. It will probably take a little longer, but I want to figure out where and how I misjudge my projected work and learn from that. So learning and self discovery seems to be a theme here. I would imagine that I work to little upfront and keep thinking that I will be able to pull it together at the end, in a word procrastination. Yet, I get a lot out of turning the piece over and over in my head. I guess I just need to finish them before I die and then all will work out.

In Alaska news, Jeff King won the Iditarod. We went to both the ceremonial (Anchorage) and the official (Willow) starts. It was a great time and quite a different experience. I was very surprised at how small of the dogs were. I always imagined that they would be much larger, they are gorgeous none the less. They make a huge racket though. I made some audio recordings and was hoping to post a remix, but I don't like what I have done, so it is not posted yet. The soudscape was quite wonderful. You had the general milling about of people, the announcers diatribe, but then add 83 mushers with roughly 11 dogs each. In Anchorage I found the sound to be dominated by the overhead helicopters. In Willow the Helicopters were mixed with snowmachienes. But the ultimate moment was when they were in http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifharnessing the bulk of the teams and all of the noisy humans were distracted and paying attention to the starting. The sound was just a cloud of dog barking and whining and general happiness. The other sound the I really enjoyed was as the sled passed by, the piterpatter of the dogs and the woosh of the blades against the snow/ice. All in all in was a feast for the ears. I'll see if I can edit out some good clips so I can post audio examples.

Outside the snow is falling. The snowfall is composed of large fluffy flakes, the kind you can catch in your mouth and gain gratification from. Walking about, there is that wonderful type of quiet that only happens when there is snow in the air. It mus be that there is so much stuff, ie. snow, to absorb sound that it just allows for a general reduction in ambient noise. I really love snow like that, it is so peaceful in how it quiets the world down. I don't think a recording of this experience would do it justice. Thinking back, I now rememeber that this was one of the sonic images that I had in mind when I created my composition Sofater. The idea, as I was relating to saxaphonist Glenn White today is the that the piece presents a glimpse of the inner piece and tranquility that one glimpses in these sorts of settings. It is also my hope that the combination of the visual and audio stimulation will allow the listener to contemplate and or enter that space. Sort of the the "Space of Sunday", that imaculate resonance of ohm if you will. There is probably an inch or so on the ground and a good deal more to come. It is wet and cold. I am happy that I live inside and not outside, as I am cold and tired.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who is in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I tuned into Sesame Street and while I did not catch the "Who are the people in your neighborhood" skit, I did think of it. Today as I was returning from the gym a cop walked up and asked, "Did you see somebody throwing snowballs at the moose?" (above) Ok, yes there was a moose within the 20 feet between our front door and the gym. Second, any other place in the country and the question is more along the lines of, "Did you see a tourist with a camera.....?" So there you have a glimpse of life in Anchorage. A year ago I was confronting "Southies" with a crowbar as I walked home, now it is moose and with college kidss throwing snowballs at them. Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Back in AK. After five days in Boston to take a five hour entrance exam for NEC, I am back and just finished my semi-midwestern breakfast. (A tofu omelet with egg product and cheddar, home made bread toasted and a double espresso). It is nice to be back, I feel relaxed and all that I have to do now is wait to hear from schools, whose choices and offers will determine my fate. Well, I make the choice and have made a lot up to this point, but it is just waiting now. The trumpet piece is nearly complete, as Bob put it, “it is at that fun place where you can play with it.” Of course that is not a direct quote, as he is far more elegant and I am far more direct and crass, but that is what I have in my head. He did make one great observation about the piece, that I have some stuff in there that could be heard in a comic manner and my intention is to present something more intense, so I need to take a look at that. He also referenced “The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross” as Papa Haydn puts it. (I am listening to the opening as I write). He brought up the modernist expansion of Haydns technique and design principles and we spent some time considering that. It reinforced that I need to consider my intentions more thoroughly in regards to this piece and to make certain that it is evident in all that is written. Or at-least that is what I came away thinking about. His intention as a teacher, as always to raise an issue and present an example of a successful solution. For those interested, Haydn was commissioned in 1785 to write a passion for the new cathedral at Cadiz . In reading the words of Haydn, as he describes the structure and the internal situation - this picture shows the real unadorned interior, while Haydn describes, “The walls, windows and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn darkness”. I am struck by the similarity between Haydns writing and that of Morton Feldman in describing his composition “Rothko Chapel” and the circumstances surrounding each piece and there presentation.

Now that I have gone on my tangent I will get back to what I was going to write, namely that I enjoy looking at snow and sunlight.
The shadows, the angles. At first glance there seems to be such a mono chromatic simply formed shape and the more I relax and observe the more color I observe. I was reading this trashy man mag during my ten hour flight yesterday and there was an advert for Henesy Privileged, in which they listed a set of criteria by which one could qualify to be “Privileged”, personally I thought you just needed to go buy the bottle and drink it, but I am crass. Two of the criteria stuck out for me, “15 stamps in your passport” and “Never forgetting where you come from.” Well, I’ll bet a 7 year old with one stamper could far outdo fifteen, but I digress. The question I have is... what is “Never forgetting where you come from”? Biologically, that is obvious, “dust to dust...” or “worm food” if you prefer the secular flavor coating. But, the lineage issue. How do we define our lineage, it varies so greatly, as an artist I can think of countless things and people that have and continue to influence me. As a person... I guess that brings me back too thinking about snow. There is something about sunlight and snow that is quintessential midwest for me. Hence the breakfast and the staring out the window that began this ramble through my limited ability to express my thoughts. Take a look at the picture I hope it does some justice to the expansive canvas onto which I am casting and bouncing my thoughts off of.