Tag Archives: music

Some of The Harmony of Maine – John Cage’s organ music

I’m planning to use this in the Final show

Good overview from Rob Haskins below

 

http://robhaskins.net/2015/03/15/john-cages-organ-music-mode-253-54-2013/

It’s a pity, though, that Cage hadn’t been asked for new organ works sooner. The King of Instruments seems to me an instrument ideally suited to Cage’s aesthetic. With all its various stops (found in countless dispositions on as many organs), one can think of it as the ultimate prepared instrument. Also, the very fact that sound emanates from a number of pipes all placed at discrete locations in space nicely accords with Cage’s idea that the separation of sounds in space proved desirable for new music. It surely represented a vast multiplicity of possibilities that could be released into sound through the use of chance operations. For this reason, I believe that Cage’s organ music occupies a small but quite important place within his output.

Some of “The Harmony of Maine” forms part of a family of pieces that Cage made beginning with Apartment House 1776 (1976). In the earlier work, one element consisted of a series of pieces Cage dubbed “harmonies”; he selected eighteenth-century hymns by William Billings, Andrew Law, and Supply Belcher and altered them by extending certain tones and removing others through chance operations so as to attenuate the functional harmony underlying them. The process fixes a listener’s attention on the individual pitches so that they become self-sufficient, each—as in Buddhist thought—the most honored of all, and likewise the heightened presence of silence in the music reaffirms the important role of ambience in Cage’s work: not so much a lack of sound that articulates or makes more dramatic the sounds around it, but rather (again, borrowing from Buddhism) a nosound that forms, alongside sound, an eternal unity: perceiving the Śūnyatā (emptiness) in the world facilitates the awareness of the world’s Tathatā (suchness). Here and there, melodic fragments from the original hymns remain; these further underscore the fact that, in Cage, the sounding music continues to present the unpredictable, no matter how it is made.

Each of the thirteen separate pieces in Cage’s organ work draws exclusively from the 1794 collection The Harmony of Maine by the American composer Supply Belcher (1751–1836). The titles in the original, which Cage retains, include in most instances an abbreviation that refers to the metrical structure of the words (useful when one wants to use the musical setting of one hymn for the text of another): thus, C.M. (common meter) refers to a quatrain with a syllable count of 8–6–8–6; L.M. (long meter), to one of 8–8–8–8; S.M. (short meter), to one of 6–6–8–6; and the especially Cagean P.M. (peculiar meter), to one that is irregular. An awareness of meter (interpreted as phrase length) is helpful in this work since Cage tended to respect the phrase boundaries of his source material in his compositional process and probably does so in the organ work as well.

In order to capitalize on the organ’s innate ability to create an extraordinary variety of timbres, Cage also employed chance operations in Some of “The Harmony of Maine” to make a complex series of registration changes, which must be effected by no fewer than six registrants. (However, Gary Verkade recalls that he performed as one of only three registrants in the first German performance, noting that the number of registrants depends on such factors as the size of instrument and the amount of space found in the organ loft.) Stops are referred to only by number, allowing the work to be performed on a great number of instruments. This aspect is very much in keeping with Cage’s approach to composition: to learn all the possibilities of an instrument (or device, in the case of, say, the film One11) and then use chance to select new and previously unimagined combinations of those possibilities.

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Scores – Saâdane Afif, Christian Marclay, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Jorinde Voigt

SCORES
Saâdane Afif, Christian Marclay, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Jorinde Voigt
October 28–November 13, 2016

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
Invalidenstrasse 50/51
10557 Berlin
Germany
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm,
Saturday–Sunday 11–6am

www.freunde-guter-musik-berlin.de
www.musikwerke-bildender-kuenstler.de
www.smb.museum

SCORES, the latest in the series Works of Music by Visual Artists, is an exhibition and concert project devoted to the musical score, a subject that gets constantly re-examined in the visual arts as well as in music. Particularly since the 1960s, the score has been appreciated, above and beyond conventional musical notation, as a multivalent medium of recording which may take the form of spontaneously free drawings, individual symbolic systems, or instructions for activities.

With projects by Saâdane Afif, Christian Marclay, Ari Benjamin Meyers and Jorinde Voigt, the score theme now becomes the focus of an exhibition accompanied by concerts. Despite their differing approaches, all the selected artists are interested in the transformation of one medium into another, a process that is accomplished in close collaboration with the participating musicians. The scores are presented as drawings, objects, lyrics, graphic-photographic-film notation, and as concepts that generate musical events and performances. Almost all of the works presented on a grand scale in the Rieckhallen of the Hamburger Bahnhof have been recently created on commission; they will be performed, piece by piece, in the spaces in which they are exhibited.

Vice de forme: Das Kabarett, a work developed by Saâdane Afif together with the composer Augustin Maurs, will be presented in both an opening event Vice de forme (First Notes) and a concert Vice de forme (In Songs) on the last day of the exhibition. A Yamaha player piano will play First Notes, recorded at the opening, during the exhibition.

Christian Marclay’s new comic book To Be Continued will be performed by ensemBle baBel. Also on view by the artist is the video Screen Play and the slideshow Zoom Zoom, which both serve as musical scores for the ensemble as well as performers Shelley Hirsch and Elliott Sharp. All of these works are being presented for the first time in Berlin.

The first four chapters of Song of the Earth, a projected eight-part cycle of drawings currently being created by Jorinde Voigt, will be on view and partly performed by Ensemble zeitkratzer. Audio recordings from the concerts devoted respectively to the works of Marclay and Voigt will afterward play in their areas of the exhibition.

Ari Benjamin Meyers has developed a series of “Meta-Scores,” inspired by Sol LeWitt’s “Instruction Pieces”; each day, they will be newly translated and performed by the composer Wojtek Blecharz and the flautist Susanne Fröhlich. On the exhibition’s last day, all the interpretations created and rehearsed during the exhibition will be performed once more, now by heart.

A project by Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V.
in cooperation with Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof
Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Made possible by funding from Hauptstadtkulturfonds and Ernst Schering Foundation.

Curators:
Ingrid Buschmann / Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V.
Gabriele Knapstein / Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

Programme:

October 27
7pm: exhibition opening
8pm: Saâdane Afif

Vice de forme (First Notes)
with Augustin Maurs
Opening event

October 28, 8pm
Christian Marclay

Screen Play, Zoom Zoom, To Be Continued
Performances with
Shelley Hirsch & Christian Marclay
ensemBle baBel & Elliott Sharp
In cooperation with Kunstraum Innsbruck and Klangspuren Schwaz.
Supported by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council.

October 30, 8pm
Jorinde Voigt

Song of the Earth
Chapter 1: Radical Relaxation – Stress and Freedom
Chapter 2: The Shift

Concert with Ensemble zeitkratzer
In cooperation with Kunstraum Innsbruck and Klangspuren Schwaz.

November 13, 6:30pm
Ari Benjamin Meyers

Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention I)
Final concert with Wojtek Blecharz & Susanne Fröhlich

November 13, 8pm
Saâdane Afif

Vice de forme (In Songs)
Concert with Anna Clementi & Martin Grütter
Composer: Augustin Maurs