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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution
On September 15, Kalvos & Damian put out a call for pieces composed in reflection of the September 11th tragedies in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, to be broadcast on K&D. The pieces continued to arrive for some time (on the six month anniversary, the call for music was closed), and this gallery is created so that everyone can hear them at any time. These are contributions of retrospective pieces composed before September 11th. Works composed in response to September 11th are found here, and compositions received after March 11th, 2002, are found here.
"The ones who feel the heavy hand of fear
deserve the yoke of slavery;
freedom needs virtue and boldness"
Sabbath Bride, a Hebrew Sabbath song for Javanese gamelan, begins with the melody sung on Friday night, invites the gamelan to join, and eventually gives the song over to the gamelan and fully Javanese performance practice. The words concern the awe and wonder with which each Sabbath is greeted: the same way we feel when we see a bride on her wedding day. The performers are the faulty of STSI Surakarta, a prominent arts university in Central Java, with the composer singing. This recording was made in Surakarta (Solo) this summer, and this is its first public release.
In 2000, I was asked by violinist Peter Stein to write a piece for a project based on the famous "Seven Last Words of Christ" which was suppose to combine the artwork by Rolf Stein, his father, with compositions by J.S. Bach, Peter Knell and myself.
Coincidentally, I had a personal experience witnessing a person's last days on top of Mount Scopus in Jerusalem--a person that was very dear to my mother-in-law, Jean Wong. I decided to use her rendering of her very touching poem in my piece.
On the composition:
Exit was written in 19-tone equal temperament (19TET). This consonant tuning contains fifths that are only slightly lower than just fifths and other just intervals in close approximation such as the major third (5/4) and the minor seventh (7/4). The piece is based on five different harmonic series--all of them containing a g being either the third, fifth, seventh, ninth or eleventh partial. The harmonic series were adjusted to 19TET and notated in standard eighth-tone notation. When performing, the performers needs to bear in mind that eighth-tone notation can only approximate 19TET with a maximum error of 12.5 cts (which is considerably less then the Pythagorean comma, though). Nonetheless, it is desirable that the piece is performed as accurately as possible. He/she is should therefore familiarize himself/herself with the scale (a practice CD is available from the publisher upon request.)
Exit requires a second performer executing and controlling MAX/MSP patches. MAX is a graphical programming environment for the Apple Macintosh which was mainly developed for musical purposes. The performer uses a microphone for real-time audio processing. There is no prerecorded material except for the playback of the poem (written and spoken by Jean Wong).
Exit requires a PowerMacintosh G3 or G4 computer equipped with a multichannel sound card running at 400 MHz and with 64 MBytes of free RAM as well as a quadraphonic playback system .
Off-Hour Wait State uses the New York subway system as a basic design tool. The "subway ride" ends at the World Trade Center E-train stop (actually the terminus of the line.)
Eskaton was composed in the first week of September, before the tragedy occurred. The mood and the very name however, seem quite appropriate.
Tech Notes: Created using the Fractal Music software "Gingerbread" by Phil Thompson. Hardware: Dell Dimension 8100, Roland Soundcanvas SC-88 Pro. Recorded via Sound Forge XP.
Written in the last month of 1999 while thinking about the past thousand years, the sentiment has no real limit, and is in memory of so many in this world, our world, who have been taken from it; yet who by the power of simply having lived can never be gone. Their imprint becomes part of our lives, just as each of our own, currently living, will become a part them as we are taken away.
This piece was completed a few months before the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. In retrospect it seems a cautionary tale pertinent to that event. The text is a list of 85 acts of armed intervention conducted by the United States from 1812 to 1932. The U.S. State Department compiled the list in 1950 as part of its justification for sending troops to Korea. The stated purpose of many of these interventions is along the line of: "To protect American Life and Property." The slowly changing and repeating cycles of the music numb the mind as do the cycles and continuity of the military actions. After a while we just stop paying attention. We accept the stated purposes, dry, cold and banal. We stop asking questions and ignore the unspoken cultural assumptions and arrogant provocation often underlying the events that triggered the actions. Without question the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. must be pursued and prosecuted. But if U.S. action is only military, if there isn't also a compassionate response, an attempt to understand and rectify the conditions that led to an act of such deep hatred, then whatever action the U.S. takes will in time become just another item on the list.
Like many others, I believe that much of humanity is and has been headed down a very dangerous and destructive path for a long time. I found my concerns centered around three areas: our idea that we are superior to all other living things; our inability to coexist peacefully with our fellow humans; and our unquestioning faith in the latest technology. I decided to deal with the first two areas in part one of the work and the third area in part two.
For Part I, I chose texts and in two cases music from the past thousand years (although the biblical selections are much older) because they represented crystallizations of the ideas listed above: the quote from Genesis so often cited in justifying our attack upon the rest of the living world (with the disastrous consequences typified by the list of endangered or extinct species and the acre of trees destroyed every second); and the quote from Nicholas V's papal bull to the Portuguese King Alphonso in the 15th century embodying our urges to demonize and attempt to conquer other peoples.
In contrast to these texts I chose two verses of a beautiful chant by the remarkable 11th-century German abbess, composer, poet, playwright and mystic Hildegard von Bingen because it represented one source of hope, namely the spirit within each of us which allows us to heal and be healed. I also intended the music of the chant to help unify the entire work. The quotation from Lamentations, originally representing Jerusalem weeping, in this case comes to mean the earth, with Tallis' exquisite setting and my own variants of it giving another unifying strand to the composition. The Chippewa poem contrasts with the aggression represented by the papal text and also allows us to hear a voice of one people who have been recipients of some of that aggression.
The work mixes musical ideas and styles in much the same way as the texts are combined, namely through interweaving and juxtaposition. The ending is purposely left unresolved as we look toward the second part of the work and the future.
Part II begins with a wordless choral Lament for the Earth written in a very simply polyphonic style. It is followed by a section for two choirs in which Choir I sings music in a sort of mindless boogie woogie while Choir II speaks slogans often used either to encourage people to buy or consume or to justify the unquestioned expansion of our dependence on technology.
Gradually the music and words evolve into a setting of one of the greatest poems of the 20th century, The Second Cming by W. B. Yeats. Its words and meaning are as powerful and relevant to the way many of us live today as they were when Yeats wrote them in 1920.
Following the Yeats setting comes a reprise of the Lament for the Earth which evolves into an ornamented and then unison setting of the final verse of the Hildegard von Bingen hymn which opened the work. This is followed by a lovely simply poem taken from Peace is Every Step by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The words act as reminders that the idea of healing from within is found in many cultures and that it is in such ideas that our hope for the future may be found.
Hold not my peace, O God of my praise;
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They compassed me [about also] with words of hatred; [and fought against me without a cause.]
[For my love they are my adversaries: but] I give myself unto prayer.(repeated)
And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Set thou a wicked man over him: [and let Satan stand at his right hand.]
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
[Let his days be few; and another take his office.]
[Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.]
Because [that] he [remembered did not [to] show mercy, but persecuted the poor and the needy man, [that he might even slay the broken in heart.] O Satan
[But do thou for me, O God the Lord, [for thy name's sake:] because thy mercy is good,] deliver thou me.
[I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me and they shaked their heads.]
Help me, O Lord my God: O save me [according to] by thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
[Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.]
Let mine [adversaries] enemies be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, [as with a mantle.]
I will greatly praise the Lord [with my mouth; yea,] I will praise him among the multitude.
For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.
Note: bracketted words are not set to music and italics indicated words added by the composer.
Composer's site: http://www.minotaurz.com/
Talibanned Buddhas for contrabassoon, cello, gong, and metal bowls and bells
© 2001 Johnny Reinhard, Afmmjr@aol.com
Talibanned Buddhas was composed by Johnny Reinhard for a Mysterious Tremendum concert on May 7, 2001 in The Church of St. Luke in New York's Greenwich Village. Mysterious Tremendum, directed by Don Conreaux, dedicated the annual Artists For Humanity Concert to benefit the Peace Bell Project for NYC Park, currently pending with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. World Peace Bell Gardens are dedicated to a world without violence for the Children of our future, recycling weapons into bells and gongs of peace, linking profound sites and their peoples with each other.
Regarding the work in the composer's words, "I envisioned a piece that would speak and sing to the pain of the abominable disintegration of 2 (two) giant Buddhas carved out of mountains in Afghanistan by antiquity. Now, we see that the 2 giant Buddhas towering over Afghanistan's most traveled roads, were effigies for the Twin Towers. he contrabassoon represents the repressed sounds at Afghanistan's betrayal. The cello imbibes the willfulness to destroy, and to witness. The gong is a personalization of time, fate, and direction. The metal bowls sing for the women that have been silenced by the Talibann."
Tallibanned Buddhas is played by:
Johnny Reinhard, contrabassoon
Dave Eggar, cello
Don Conreaux, gong
Randee Ragin, metal bowls and bells
Norman Greenspan, recording engineer