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Monday, 27 November 2006

Recent Events in My Life

On November 18th, I went to Den Bosch to hear the world premiere of The Game of Life's Wave Field Synthesis doo-dad. It has 192 speakers. Some of the pieces were quite interesting, but all tended to over-focus on how you can do really nifty panning with so many speakers.

On Monday, I played in the Composition department concert at the Korzo Theatre in Den Haag. I played jaw harp in a sort of piece by Jerimiah. It was an odd and long piece that ended with Jerimiah burning the hell out of his arm with dry ice. Jackass-esque. He had to go to the hospital to get bandaged up at the end. I don't know about performances that involve the composer injuring him or herself. I also don't know about that performance artist guy who had his friend shoot him in the arm. anyway, some of the pieces in the concert were nice. Many were boring, alas. Almost all were too long. 17 minutes seems to be the magic length for the composition department. You need 3 or 4 ideas to fill that length. Less than 6 ideas, though, unless they're all closely related to each other. Most folks had too few ideas. Jerimiah had too many, but he was the only one to error in that direction. The concert lasted about 4 hours. It's very nice that marijuana is legal here. I enjoyed the second half of the concert immensely.

On Wednesday, I went again to the Korzo to hear a concert that had been done also the previous night for the Gaudeamus Festival. Tom Thalim had a piece in it which I liked very much. Also enjoyed the piece of Barbara Ellison especially. (she was also the composer of one of the better Wavefront pieces on the Staurday previous). Overall, the quality of performance was quie high. It was a good concert.

On Thursday, a bunch of folks came over for Thanksgiving dinner. We had lots of food and fun. Also, we now have a an oven.

On Friday, the department of Sonology put on a little concert backstage at the Theatre at school. It was a short concert. Only 45 minutes. Hooray for short concerts. Also, the pieces presented were very good. Most especially impressive was the first one, which featured speakers having down overhead on hinged boards. Two guys with long polls set the speakers going in a pendulum motion. Audience members walked underneath the swinging speakers. the composer of the piece (I wish I remembered who that was) very wisely picked short sounds with high pitches for a lot of his material. This kind of sound is easier to localize and so the effects of the swinging were very apparent. It was quite nice.

On Saturday, Cola and I went to Amsterdam to hang out a bit. We took in the tulip Museum. The most interesting part was the section on the tulip market crash, when irrationally exuberant day traders bid tulip bulb prices up to astonishing heights. You could have a collection of castles for what one bulb went for. Then the market crashed and all the day traders were screwed. My dad told me about this when I was a little kid. I spent a lot of the dot com boom trying not to think about it, card houses or naked emperors, lest I be perceived as one of those who "just didn't get it." Aside from that, the museum was kind of boring and I don't recommend it.

We also went to a store called "Female and Partners." I have no idea why this place is world famous. Good Vibrations and Toys in Babeland put it to shame. I was disappointed. However, on the way back to the train station, I did find a really warm, nice jacket. It's made of hemp and so has some silly features like a special pocket which can dispense rolling papers and a few hidden pockets. It's got a faux fur lining and is water proof. My life is now that much better / warmer.

On Sunday, we went to Brussels. It's a day trip to Belgium from here! We went to the Musical Instrument Museum there. The museum is one of the best I've been to. A very smart curator came up with the idea of giving people radio headphones. If you stand in front of a display case wearing the headphones, you hear typical pieces of music featuring the displayed instrument. Looking at instruments in glass cases is interesting, but it's better to hear them too.

The museum has a complete set of Saxhorns. Adolphe Sax was the guy who standardized the tuba family. The actual horns made by Sax! I'd never seen them before. The also had Russian bassoons and something called a Monsterophecliede - a ophecliede with a dragon's mouth. Think of a sort of bassoon-like instrument, but played with a tuba mouthpiece and instead of coming up like a stove pipe, it comes up like a monster.

Lurking hidden away in the basement, are 20th century inventions, like synthesizers and electric guitars. Also relegated to the forgotten floor are bells. Bells are great and deserved more space.

Anyway, the museum is great and should be seen. Don't forget the basement.

We then wandered around town for a bit and saw the Hôtel de Ville, which is amazing. And then some overly hyped fountain called Manneken Pis. It's a boy peeing. Across the street, Cola bought snails from a street vendor. We walked around a bit more and then came home.

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1 comment:

Luc Houtkamp said...

Hi Les,

great you went to the instrument museum in Brussels, I love that place!
You know, in the mid 70's, I actually worked with the electronic equipment that is now in the basement of the museum!
It was then part of the IPEM electronic music studio in Ghent, where I made some pieces.

I feel very old!

Hope you are doing well! Are you coming to our POW Ensemble cd presentation in TAG, this sunday?

All the best,

Luc