Saturday, October 23, 2010

World Music Fest: Music Outside!!!

Today was a very special day, and unless you are an especially informed person, I'm sure you may not know what made today so special. So I'll tell you. The World Music Fest was held today in Covington! A celebration of music, dance, visual and culinary art from around the world, the world music fest brings together musicians and performers of all different styles to share the musical traditions of the globe. Last year, Eastern and Turkish influences were the highlight, and my experiences this year lead me to applaud the merits of "gypsy jazz" and the combined Russian/Turkish/French music traditions.
Of particular interest to me is that many of the acts this year were performed outside, opening themselves to the outdoor sonic atmosphere. On this particular Saturday, more than a few motorcycles, a fire truck, the rumbles of passing cars, airplanes, bicycles, and toddlers added to the music. At one point, there was a rest in a cellist's performance that was filled with a marvelous tinkling of a spoon stirring in someone's mug. The "unwrapping" of music and exposing it to the outside world -a world that may or may not be at rapt attention- allows an audience to see just how integral music can be in the world, and reciprocally, just how well the sounds of the world can fit into music.
Of note were two performers named Sasha and Sylvan who played for an hour on guitars commonly referred to as "cassaroles" (for the loud and obnoxious sound they project, like a saucepan, the French decided). A wonderfully playful duo, they men led the audience through French and Italy, Slovenia, Romania and Russia with a trip to Alabama for good measure.
Their stylings reminded me of playful banter, of a precocious dancing of these two guitars around each other, each allowing the other to lead before taking its place in the forefront once again. Several of the pieces were performed with lyrics in French, which add another level of experience, especially if you don't speak the language (and an embarrassingly exciting novelty for one, like me, who does).

verdict: 5 John Cage mushrooms for the World Music Fest! =} =} =} =} =}

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vox Arcana

I went to the Vox Arcana concert on Monday with Tim Daisy who we got to meet as part of our freshman fys class. I really enjoyed the concert. The played many new songs along with a couple they played last year and our freshman year. Even the songs I had heard before and very different twist this time around. Tim Daisy did amazing things with his percussions, his style is best described as organized chaos. The way he mixes the use drum sticks and different brushes along with pans creates an interesting combination of sounds. the large xylophone (not sure of the proper name) was very enjoyable, and added a new twist to their performance. He and the other musicians created many different sounds throughout their performances that I did not expect to hear from their instruments. Overall it was an excellent concert that left me feeling very Cageian afterward.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cage and Cummings

I found out recently that, aside from using other composers' work by playing it upside down, Cage wasn't above using the work of poets either. Cage once set a Cummings poem in his work, Forever and Sunsmell.

Wherelings whenlings
(daughters of ifbut offspring of hopefear
sons of unless and children of almost)
never shall guess the dimension of
him whose
foot likes the
here of this earth
whose both
this now of the sky
--endlings of isn't
shall never
to begin to
imagine how (only are shall be were
dawn dark rains snow rain
-bow &
's whis-per
in sunset
or thrushes toawrd dusk among whippoorwills
three field rock hollyhock forest brook
mountain. Mountain)
whycoloured worlds of because do
not stand against yes which is built by
forever & sunsmell
(sometimes a wonder
of wild roses
with morth
the barn

Sounds just ripe for use by Cage, right? And to be honest, I rather admire that he used what was made available already by other artists, composers, musicians and writers of his time. It only makes sense that if you're to work with only sounds that already exist, with instruments and tools that have already been invented by someone else, beginning with thoughts that are inevitably influenced by the work of others, then it follows that the work of others can be included. It's part of the array of tools at your disposal. And besides, the faculties of genius lie in perceiving the usual, that which already exists, in an unhabitual way. Perhaps these preexisting works are just waiting to be perceived in such an "unahabitual" way.