Monday, August 03, 2009

Oh the Places...

I am off to WI today for a week of family fun (meeting the happy little people in the picture above for the first time) before my residency in Nebraska. I was tossing and turning last night thinking about the pieces that I will write while away from Palo Alto. There are 4 goals in my head.
1. The Viola Piece for Shannon.
I have been making progress on this as of late, but there is still much to do. I was imagining taking a recording of the viola and hand adjusting the overtones with SPEAR so that it meets the overtone series that I have created for the piece. This should prove interesting.

2. The trumpet piece for Brian Chin.
For this piece I am cannibalizing a previous piece by taking the parts I like and making an acousmatic type arrangement. Once this is done I will convert the sounds to midi notation, combine with the original notation and score it appropriately.

3. LovelyWeather Project.
When I was in Santa Barbara last weekend I made field recordings for the website that will be the first iteration of the LW project. Salman Bakht has been working on the architecture and I need to organize/process the sounds for the sonic landscape.

4. Lorca for the Swara Sonoro Trio. Nathan, Kat and Aryo are currently in Jakarta (click on the link to see how to win loot and find out what they are up to) and I have been contemplating and researching their piece for some time now. The core concept is Lorca's Buster Keaton takes a Walk, which is "Imaginary theatre." I have been trying to figure out what imaginary opera would be. Nathan sent and email the other day that got the heart of this ...
'If'." It was all imaginary, imaginary speech by imaginary guest, and audiences listening to imaginary orchestras. Sounds very cool.

and ....
including the glass house that completely opems to the outside, so there ends up being no walls

I spent the evening reflecting on what it s that allows us to read and imagine and while I have no concrete answers yet (or something that I can use words to articulate), I feel much closer to an understanding.

So I went to Wikipedia to do a little reading, this is what I came across (note the section that I bolded...

Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is a fundamental facility through which people make sense of the world, and it also plays a key role in the learning process. A basic training for imagination is the listening to storytelling (narrative), in which the exactness of the chosen words is the fundamental factor to 'evoke worlds.'

Imagination is the faculty through which we encounter everything. The things that we touch, see and hear coalesce into a "picture" via our imagination.

and this ...
An object of the mind is an object which exists in the imagination, but can only be represented or modeled in the real world.

That all brings me to thinking about Nathan and the title, Oh the Places you'll go. I was remembering that he and I met in Oshkosh as Undergrads and that now we are both nearing completing our PhD's in music and how imense and small the world seems.
Somehow, staring at this picture and imagining my good friend for all these years standing there taking it, or at least looking at this site, it is quite an intersting and moving mental gymnastic.

Even more, this is a scan of the envelopes that my grandfather decorated while in basic training as a Marine . He was stationed in the Pacific during the second world war. Looking at these, I wonder where he thought he was going and what lay in store for his future. He was 17 years old when he drew these and sent them home to his mother.

When I wonder about what I will do in a piece, it is an image from my grandfathers past, entwined with a picture from one of my best friend and an image of my new nephew and niece, who I will meet in 12 hours that spin through my head. It is not just the images, which you can see rather clearly above, but the sense that these are all people looking out at the expanse of life wondering where it will go. I happen to know these people well (well not all of them yet), and the questions that I imagine must be in their head, that is what I strive to relate in arranging sounds. After all, the pictures give you one side, my words another, but the emotional ride, well that is what the music is for. I suppose that is why Curtis spoke of making drama's in his composition. Interesting, I have been thinking for some time about what music could be and all the while trying to not rely on the old cliche's, but it seems that this one, the drama represented by sound or maybe more accurately, evoked by sound is a core constituent of music. Certainly, the tools and techniques to evoke are changing and I might even say that the time scales are shifting, but the being that we are humans, there is a certain resolution that we are built for and while some pieces may be long and others short, they will last about the same amount of time they always have.


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