Commission Music

Commission Music
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Saturday, 7 June 2003


So I've been having trouble talking to people all week. It seems to be going ok and then suddenly, without my realizing it, things go horribly wrong. My conversations with people have all been social disasters. I have no idea whom I've offended (or how) and who I haven't. Polly packed up really quickly after flute band pratice. Maybe I acted tweaky towards her? I dunno. It's been a crappy week, but gradually improving since Monday.

Christi's favorite composer, Ellen, arrived today. She's staying the weekend and deciding whether or not she wants to rent our place. One of the people whom she was hoping to visit while here died yesterday while biking in Emeryville. It's very shocking and sudden. She's unhappy (obviously). He's being put into the Chapel of the Chimes on Monday.

Ellen showed me some Protools stuff, especially about nudge and grid and one of those funnylooking tools at the top. She also showed me a tuning table and explained it. Tuning people talk about "lattices." What they really mean is a N-dimensional array. In Just Intonation, you think of notes as fractions. Your starting pitch is 1/1. A "fifth" above that is 3/2. You can create lines of fractions all related by the same distance. Take 1/1 and multiple by 3/2, then take the results of that and multiply by 3/2 and then take the results of that and multiply... and so forth, constructing the circle of fifths out ot infinity. This creates a line of fractions all related by 3/2. Now take 1/1 and multiple by 5/4. Take the result of that and mutiple by 5/4 and so forth, creating another line. Now create another line with 7/3. (the fractions I'm picking aren't good ones, but the concept holds.) Keep doing this with more fractions. After a while, you have N lines that all intersect at 1/1. Ok, now go to Line 1, Fraction 1 and start making lines through it based on all of your fractions. Then go to the next one. then the next one. And thus an N-dimensional fraction array can be constructed. It can be useful to visualize it terms of a plane, so that one plane may have the 3/2 fractions on the X axis and the 5/4 fractions on the Y axis. This is how tuning people think about it, visualizing it as a "lattice" or related planes. But people who have taken Linear Algebra or too much CS can think of it as an array. Unless I've got this completely wrong.

For whatever reason, it's much easier to talk to people who are very unhappy. I seem to disturb them less.

We went to the Edge Fest. Originally, I was scheduled to play wineglass for Daniel Lentz tonight, but he cancelled, so the whole evening was Terry Riley. He's cool. Many of the pieces were just intoned and very beautiful. Some of them were not just intoned and very beautiful. Every piece had a extra cool moment in it. In the first one, Cinco de Mayo (1997), the moment came when Sarah Cahill stood up and starting playing a note that involved action inside the piano. The second and third pieces, the Dream (1999) and Baghdad Highway (2003) were not clearly differentiated, since Riley didn't pause for applause between them. But they were very cool because of the East Indian / Blues fusion he had. Especially on Baghdad Highway. He was playing a really awesome, funky blues bassline on the keyboard, while also playing (improving?) a bluesy-yet-eastern influenced melody and singing in a distinctly Indian style. It all worked together amazingly well. Ritmos and Melos (1993) had it's best moment when the piece unexpectedly became very staccato. The piano, pizz violin and xylephone all started playing short notes in the same range. They may have been in unison. The change was wonderful, just springing up. The last piece, A Rainbow in Curved Air (1968) was excellent throughout. It has just been reowrked to be Just Intoned. I'm not tuning-savvy enough to say anythign about the tuning, other than the piece sounded really great. The best moments were when Willy Winant was playing jaw hard and when he was playing handdrums. He is an amazing percussionist. The level of musicianship on the whole concert was very high.

Before the concert, we watched a movie about Riley. Long sections of the movie previously appeared in other films that were shown in the Other Minds film festival last year, but much of it was new. They showed a much higher quality print of Music with Balls than Other Minds could get last year. Ohter parts, especially recent interviews were new. The whole movie was very male-dominated. Women musicians, especially Pauline Oliveros, were mentioned as important composers and people that Riley had worked with, but unlike several male composers, she wasn't interviewed. Other women were given very short screen time. But I had no idea that LaMonte Young was a biker, as I had never seen a picture of him before.

After the concert, we went and got beer with Kris Brobrowski (I knwo I've misspelled her name) who had a bunch of leads on jobs for Ellen. Hopefully, some of them will work out.

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