56 ½ ft.
1-20. 20 (2002) 24:53
The St. Lawrence String Quartet
1. I 1:05
2. II 0:59
3. III 1:00
4. IV 0:46
5. V 1:35
6. VI 1:27
7. VII 0:53
8. VIII 0:26
9. IX 0:51
10. X 1:10
11. XI 0:54
12. XII 0:55
13. XIII 1:32
14. XIV 1:10
15. XV 1:08
16. XVI 0:25
17. XVII 0:48
18. XVIII 0:58
19. XIX 1:32
20. XX 5:09
21. Agitprop (2005) 16:23
The Stanford Jazz Orchestra
Fredrick Berry, director
Mark Applebaum, mouseketier
electroacoustic sound-sculpture solo
22-28. Sum=Parts (2000-2002) 29:11
inauthentica, Mark Menzies, conductor
22. 56 1/2 ft. for chamber orchestra 3:44
23. Authenticity for trumpet 2:45
24. Integrity for two percussion & piano 6:06
25. Depth for trombone & contrabass 3:55
26. Merit for wind quintet 3:18
27. Seriousness for string trio 5:26
28. 56 1/2 ft. for chamber orchestra (reprise) 3:54
Total Time: 70:29
for string quartet
The St. Lawrence String Quartet
Geoff Nuttall, violin; Barry Shiffman, violin; Lesley Robertson, viola; Christopher Costanza, cello
20 was composed as a gift to my wife Joan on the occasion of our twentieth anniversary. It consists of twenty continuous movements performed without pause. The listener may subdivide these into four groups of five movements: I-V, VI-X, XI-XV, and XVI-XX. Within each group, the five movements share a common harmonic material and consist of:
one rhythmic movement;
one atmospheric, sparse movement;
one lyrical movement;
one polyphonic, contrapuntal movement; and
one solo movement.
The order of these movements is never the same, however. For example, while the solo movement is last in group I-V (movement V is a viola solo), it is second in group VI-X (movement VII is a solo for 2nd violin), first in group XI-XV (movement XI is a cello solo), and third in group XVI-XX (movement XVIII is a solo for 1st violin).
The work constitutes a single, coherent narrative arc despite its kaleidoscopic vacillations, incongruous comportments, and mercurial oscillation between what might be called Aquarian and Existential modes, emotionally consonant and dissonant states, respectively: on the one hand—the pastoral, the reflective, the nostalgic, the conventionally beautiful, the satisfied, the functional, the slick, and the expressively sincere; and, on the other hand—the savage, the energetic, the anxious, the paranoid, the reaching, the obscure, the hermetic, the failing, and the expressively cynical.
Employing again the solo movements as examples, one can hear the aquarian mode as the principal character of the 2nd violinist’s solo and the existential mode as the principal character of the 1st violinist’s solo. The cello and viola solos are hybrid in character; the cello solo begins and ends in the aquarian mode but has a contrasting existential middle, while the viola solo begins and ends in the existential mode with an aquarian passage in between.
Composing for great players can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding; however, it is even better when those great players happen to be great friends. 20 was composed with tremendous joy for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stanford colleagues and great friends. (Friends who, inspired by the piece, conferred on me a nickname that has since stuck—Applescratch.) The St. Lawrence gave the world premiere on March 1, 2004 at the University of Toronto.
21. Agitprop (16:23)
concerto for electroacoustic sound-sculpture and jazz orchestra
The Stanford Jazz Orchestra
Sean Arenson, Dan Babinski, Alex Carter, Stephen Hinshaw, & Craig Tuohy, saxophones
Eric Jasper, Niel Levonius, Max Shulaker, & John Worley, trumpets
Andrew Deeringer, Tony Leach, Scott Thompson, & Tina Torrance, trombones
Boris Logvinskiy, piano
Jay Bartroff, bass
Michael Deeringer, drums
Charles Altura, guitar
Jonathan Goldstein, percussion
Fredrick Berry, director
Mark Applebaum, mouseketier electroacoustic sound-sculpture solo with live electronics
Agitprop was composed in 2005 for the Stanford University Jazz Orchestra. It is a concerto for the Mouseketier, an original electroacoustic sound-sculpture, a musical Frankenstein made of junk, hardware, and found objects—threaded rods, nails, springs, combs, doorstops, Astroturf, steel wheels, bronze braising rod, ratchets, a toilet tank flotation bulb, and other unlikely objects—that are struck, pluck, and scratched with chopsticks, violin bows, knitting needles, brushes, plectra, and wind-up toys, and whose sounds are grossly transformed in performance by means of a battery of live electronics. During the improvised solo, the ensemble performs an accompaniment, itself largely improvised and made up of various sub-pieces tethered to a timeline. The players are synchronized with stopwatches and the director cues individuals, thereby initiating a series of juxtaposed and cross-faded sound objects that create a backdrop for the Mouseketier.
Agitprop employs the standard big band instrumentation and involves substantial collective improvisation, both hallmarks of jazz. However, its experimental idiom is not quintessentially jazz-like. The typical jazz swing rhythm is mostly absent, replaced by swirling textures of stochastic sound. And the players are only occasionally performing with their traditional instruments or in a conventional manner; at times they are called upon for vocal hissing, hammering nails into boards, tapping on bottles, rubbing stones, dropping ping-pong balls, etc. I confess that I am completely uninterested in any debate about whether these eccentricities should or should not be called “jazz.” My agenda in this piece was simply to explore interesting worlds of sound, and to employ musicians who are friendly to the notion of improvising in a manner that aspires to be as engaging and fun as it is peculiar.
Agitprop is dedicated to Stanford Jazz Orchestra director Fred Berry with thanks for his friendship, enthusiasm, and open mind.
Sum = Parts
a cycle for chamber orchestra
22. 56 1/2 ft. a labyrinth for chamber orchestra (3:44)
23. Authenticity for trumpet (2:45)
24. Integrity for two percussion & piano (6:06)
25. Depth for trombone & contrabass (3:55)
26. Merit for wind quintet (3:18)
27. Seriousness for string trio (5:26)
28. 56 1/2 ft. a labyrinth for chamber orchestra (reprise) (3:54)
Andrea Lieberherr, flute; Lara Wickes, oboe; Brian Walsh, clarinet;
John Veloz, bassoon; Kirsten Barrow, horn; Kevin McLaughlin, trumpet;
Ben McIntosh, trombone; Elyssa Shalla & Justin Dehart, percussion;
Liam Viney, piano; Lorenz Gamma† & Eric km Clark††, violins;
Natalie Brejcha, viola; Geoff Gartner, violoncello; Ivan Johnson, bass;
Mark Menzies, conductor
† 56 1/2 ft. only †† Seriousness only
Sum = Parts (2000-2002) is a cycle of six autonomous yet interdependent works: 56 1/2 ft. for chamber orchestra, Authenticity for solo trumpet, Integrity for two percussion and piano, Depth for trombone and contrabass, Merit for wind quintet, and Seriousness for string trio. In addition, 56 1/2 ft. is reprised at the end of the cycle, thereby functioning as a kind of seventh work.
56 1/2 ft. was commissioned by the Illinois State University Contemporary Players and premiered by them in 2001. The title refers to the minimum distance a rebounding sound needs to travel in each direction to be perceived as an echo; however, it was Mark Z. Danielewski’s extraordinary novel House of Leaves that most influenced the piece’s labyrinthine structure. 56 1/2 ft. is dedicated to Stephen Taylor, who conducted its premiere, with great thanks and admiration.
The work is noteworthy in four regards: first, the score ranges from the extremely specified to the highly indeterminate (including one measure that must be repeated ad infinitum until three or more players stand up in protest, a moment in which players spin dials to learn their next pitch, a “mobile” in which players spontaneously choose the order of several materials, and a Rorschach-like graphic marked 5" but without further instruction); second, it is entirely expositional in nature, a continuous invention devoid of transformation and development; third, although texturally dense and rhetorically abundant, it is exceptionally compressed in duration, almost aphoristic; and fourth, each measure in the score is annotated with a verbal quotation that comments on the corresponding moment and on the work as a whole, a kind of idiosyncratic, “Talmudic” commentary. (The annotations appear below.)
The five companion pieces employ each member of the chamber orchestra once. After exiting the stage at the conclusion of the opening performance of 56 1/2 ft., individual players return to perform their companion piece, remaining on stage throughout subsequent companion pieces until the reprise of 56 1/2 ft. for full ensemble. In the companion pieces, bits from 56 1/2 ft. were selected, expanded or compressed, reordered, and deposited (according to an excessively exacting scheme that is too complex and too dreary to invite description here), forming a kind of gauzy and irregular template in and around which new discourses were composed. In this regard, the companion pieces embark upon new and independent musical narratives while at the same time revisiting familiar (and previously undeveloped) material through lenses of variable magnification. Thus the reprise of 56 1/2 ft. bears some resemblance to itself and the companion pieces it engendered, and yet because of its significant indeterminate qualities it is certain to sound distinct from its initial rendering.
Attached to the companion pieces are peculiar character markings derived from the labels of various consumer goods:
Authenticity—bouncing and behaving
Integrity—fast-lighting, longer burning, multi-purpose, heavy duty
Depth—flexible, lubricating, irritating, harmful if swallowed
Merit—super concentrated, fast and effective (yet gentle?)
Seriousness—fast acting, pain relieving, calorie-free, disposable
These whimsical characterizations, as aids to the musicians or the listeners, are marginal at best. They are perhaps more of an inside joke, superficial words that temper the heavy but ironic piece titles that invoke the cherished—but burdensome—hallmarks of “good modernist art.” The manner in which these companion pieces methodically and obsessively mine musical resources from 56 1/2 ft. stands in contrast to the compositionally improvisational explosion of ideas—practically in list form—in 56 1/2 ft., and the almost glib manner in which its notational constructs and degree of performance indeterminacy deviate via spontaneous, irrational spasms of discovery rather than according to judicious, sensible and defensible logic.
Lewis Rowell, in his mostly clever book Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music, argues that “a musical composition is more likely to deserve a rating as…less than excellent if—it resists perception as a unified, coherent structure; its structure is obscure or disproportionate; it is incomplete and unfulfilled; it is unhierarchical; it is unfocused;…it is self-contradictory…”. Indeed his assertion is probably true for many listeners of classical music. And my first inclination is to agree, probably because I have been brainwashed to celebrate the implied counter-virtues. But on second thought, I am struck by the fact that I actually love all of these “vices.” Frankly, I try deliberately to build these qualities into my music. I generally find unified things to be boring; coherence strikes me as unnecessarily restrictive; structural clarity and proportion can be tediously mind-numbing and evasively unimaginative while obscurity and imbalance are usually stimulating and problematic (a good thing); completeness seems like a cruel and unusual ideal, neither the essence of how I experience the natural world nor a welcome panacea (the proper work of insulting political leaders and religious zealots); hierarchy seems like a hegemonic, counter-revolutionary plot; focus is overrated (the job of photocopiers); and self-contradiction, it should be plain from all things paradoxical, inconsistent, anarchic, and/or absurd in my work, is my most trusted gravitational center.
And since I’m already indulging in a paranoid rant, let me point to another platitude about great art: that it should be more than the sum of its parts. But I see no reason why we should not aspire to create or assemble things—commodities or art—that are precisely equal to the sum of their parts.
Annotations to 56 1/2 ft.
Each measure of the full score has been annotated with quotations,
intended at once to be hermeneutically hermetic and exigetically exigent.
“…the situations history stages are floodlit only for the first few minutes. No event remains news over its whole duration, merely for a quite brief span of time, at the very beginning….The way contemporary history is told is like a huge concert where they present all of Beethoven’s one hundred thirty-eight opuses one after another, but actually play just the first eight bars of each. If the same concert were given again in ten years, only the first note of each piece would be played, thus one hundred thirty-eight notes for the whole concert, presented as one continuous melody. And in twenty years, the whole of Beethoven’s music would be summed up in a single very long buzzing tone, like the endless sound he heard the first day of his deafness.”
Milan Kundera: Slowness
“Forms emerge from forms, and others arise or descend from these. All are related, interwoven, intermeshed, interconnected, interblended. They exosmose and endosmose. They sway and swirl and mix and drift interminably. They shape, they reform, they dissipate. They respond, correspond, attract, repel, coalesce, disappear, reappear, merge, and emerge: slowly or swiftly, gently or with cataclysmic force.”
Louis Sullivan: Kindergarten Chats
“At the heart of this work is my desire to create a composition that in ‘transformation’ can function as a ‘ritual’ activity (when the composite astral and vibrational precepts are established for rebuilding culture for the next cycle).”
Anthony Braxton: For Trio
“You want it all to serve a purpose… Nothing ever serves any purpose.”
Simone de Beauvoir: All Men Are Mortal
“According to Hindu scripture, the inaccurate singing of a sacred raga could be fatal to the singer. The same held for off-key Apache shamans. In Polynesia the careless performer might be executed; on the island of Gaua in the New Hebrides (the musicologist Curt Sachs tells us) ‘old men used to stand by with bows and arrows and shoot at every dancer who made a mistake.’ The earliest musical notations were designed to preserve sacred formulae; some, such as Babylonian notation, were the secret preserve of priests and cantors. Notation can ensure against lapses in memory, but not against slips of the tongue or hand. Only recording—above all tape recording, with its absolving splices—can ensure absolute accuracy. Moreover, even an immaculate live performance will differ in some degree from the last immaculate performance. Only a record never varies.”
Evan Eisenberg: The Recording Angel: Explorations in Phonography
“For some traditional West African societies printed memory in the form of records or books is considered unnatural, even abhorrent. The positive and negative powers of living things, including thoughts, memories and historical events, are understood as embodied in words but, transferred in written form, are seen as trapped in an undesirable state of rigidity and permanence, a state contrary to life.”
Tina Oldknow: Muslim Soup
“Do not play what you see if all you see is what is written….While some will fight the tendency of language to isolate the individual by inventing more ‘precise’ communications, I chose to be misunderstood.”
Stuart Saunders Smith: Showing and Saying
“…the priorities of notation do not merely reflect musical priorities—they actually create them….A preoccupation with conventional notation can lead us into formalism, a situation where there is no longer any experiential verification of our theories about how to compose music.”
Trevor Wishart: On Sonic Art
“…an adequate notation must (should) incorporate…an implied ideology of its own process of creation….To notate is already to be engaged in analysis: to analyze is to move at once beyond the proper boundaries of the discrete, self-identical work. To notate the work is at one and the same time to listen to its echo.”
Brian Ferneyhough: Aspects of Notational and Compositional Practice
“Myth makes Echo the subject of longing and desire. Physics makes Echo the subject of distance and design. Where emotion and reason are concerned both claims are accurate. And where there is no Echo there is no description of space or love. There is only silence.”
Mark Z. Danielewski: House of Leaves
“Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both.”
SŅren Kierkegaard: Either/Or
“[In my composition Treatise] each player interprets the score according to his own acumen and sensibility. He may be guided by many things—by the internal structure of the score itself, by his personal experience of music-making, by reference to the various traditions growing up around this and other indeterminate works, by the action of the other musicians working on the piece, and—failing these—by conversation with the composer during rehearsal.”
Cornelius Cardew: Notation—Interpretation, Etc.
“There can be no humdrum playing of notes, in the bored belief that because they are ‘good’ musicians their performance is ipso facto ‘masterly.’ When a player fails to take full advantage of his role in a visual or acting sense, he is muffing his part—in my terms—as thoroughly as if he bungled every note in the score.”
Harry Partch: Manual
“Language lends itself to myth in another way: it is very rare that it imposes at the outset a full meaning which it is impossible to distort.”
Roland Barthes: Mythologies
“The forces at work [in Alexander Calder’s mobiles] are too numerous and too complicated for any human mind, even that of their creator to foresee all possible combinations….Each of his evolutions is an inspiration of the moment; it reveals his general theme but permits a thousand variations.”
“A large mass of any material will ‘balance’ a smaller, denser mass of any material, according to the length of the gizmo it’s dangling on, and the ‘balance point’ chosen to facilitate the danglement.”
Frank Zappa: The Real Frank Zappa Book
“Somehow, after all, as the universe ebbs toward its final equilibrium in the featureless heat bath of maximum entropy, it manages to create interesting structures.”
James Gleick: Chaos
“Philosophy is written in this grand book—I mean the universe—which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.”
Galileo: Il Saggiatore
“…scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense…that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way. In both political and scientific development the sense of malfunction that can lead to crisis is prerequisite to revolution.”
Thomas S. Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
“Where do those immense vaults actually end? To what further fastnesses [sic] do the innumerable staircases and balconies lead? What tortures are suggested by the projecting beams, wheels, ropes, chains and less clearly defined means of punishment? Who are those wretched beings one occasionally glimpses chained and fastened to the great rings in the walls? By whose authority were they put there and for what cause? …[In Paranesi’s prisons there is] a sense of spiritual and physical suffering that is almost an equivalent of hell.”
Philip Hofer: Introduction to Piranesi’s Le Carceri
“During the Concert for Bangladesh, [George] Harrison was mortified when the audience applauded Ravi Shankar for tuning up his sitar.”
Steven Pinker: How the Mind Works
“Even today, when we no longer believe that there must be limits on the materials from which music may be made, most music continues to be made from an extremely narrow selection from the range of what is audible.”
Karol Berger: A Theory of Art
“[When Brian Eno said] ‘Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular: it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.’…[it was] anathema to those who believe that art should focus our emotions, our higher intelligence, by occupying the centre of attention, lifting us above the mundane environment that burdens our souls.”
David Toop: Ocean of Sound
“Something that’s perfect is something that’s finished, and if it sounds finished, it doesn’t have any spontaneity left, and then it isn’t jazz.”
“…those things which repel us most violently are part of our own nature.”
Georges Bataille: Eroticism: Death and Sensuality
“…in my own work I regard my feelings as more reliable than my calculations.”
Stravinsky: Retrospectives and Conclusions
“There is no theory. You have merely to listen. Pleasure is the law.”
“And as to the new freedoms and choices suddenly handed to the performer, they seem intriguing and dangerous at first, but soon reveal an inane foolproofness. They are safe, either because the given entities control the desired result, neutralizing my own additions, or because the result does not concern the composer (only the ‘situation’ does). In either instance, I am given choice because ‘it matters not what I do’.”
Lukas Foss: The Changing Composer-Performer Relationship: A Monologue and a Dialogue
“All of these are psychological obscurities directed at the player in the hope of waking him up.”
Cornelius Cardew: Notation—Interpretation, Etc.
“Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.”
The Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
“’…an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times. This web of time—the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries—embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and in yet others both of us exist.”
Jorge Luis Borges: The Garden of Forking Paths
“The gift of foresight, which Prometheus presumably gave to the human race, is not the gift of prophecy. Rather, it was the ability to think and plan ahead….Doubt and risk are central to life and are no justification for inaction, passivity, or paralysis. Doubt, however, does not absolve the doer from taking responsibility if things go wrong after the fact.”
Leon Botstein: Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture
“If the score may be understood as being a constant ‘token’ of the work of which it is the notated form, any and all performances which represent a conscious attempt to realize that score are valid interpretations. There is no difference here between Xenakis and Haydn. The criteria for aesthetically adequate performances lie in the extent to which the performer is technically and spiritually able to recognize and embody the demands of fidelity (NOT ‘exactitude’!).”
Brian Ferneyhough: Responses to a Questionnaire on Complexity
"One of the schools in Tlön has reached the point of denying time. It reasons that the present is undefined, that the future has no other reality than as present hope, that the past is no more than present memory. Another school declares that the whole of time has already happened and that our life is a vague memory or dim reflection, doubtless false and fragmented, of an irrevocable process.”
Jorge Luis Borges: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
“You don’t have to count all of the leaves on a tree to enjoy the foliage, and certain leaves could be rearranged or interchanged without destroying the general effect.”
“In his Tempi Concertati, Berio uses the word ‘tutta’ to indicate that the percussionist is to hit everything, as fast as possible; try to notate this exactly, and you force the percussionist to wrestle with an unessential: the ‘order’ in which these instruments are to be hit; the resulting performance will seem studied, whereas the effect in the composer’s mind was one of abandonment, or eruption.”
Lukas Foss: The Changing Composer-Performer Relationship: A Monologue and a Dialogue
“It is only in that instant when the laws are silent that great actions erupt.”
Marquis de Sade
“Repetition is the same movement as memory, but going the other way. What you remember is what has been; that is repetition turned backward. But repetition is memory carried ahead.”
SŅren Kierkegaard: Repetition
“In the end one loves one’s desire and not what is desired.”
Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil
“Like any social discourse, music is meaningful precisely insofar as at least some people believe that it is and act in accordance with that belief. Meaning is not inherent in music, but neither is it in language: both are activities that are kept afloat only because communities of people invest in them, agree collectively that their signs serve as valid currency.”
Susan McClary: Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality
“Things are left ‘free’, and then the composer tells the player afterwards that he played well or badly (‘used’ the freedom well or badly). If there exist criteria for making such a judgment, then there is not freedom. Playing a piece in which the dynamics are free, it should make no difference whatever to the piece (its identity)(its value) if I play mp continuously.”
Cornelius Cardew: Notation—Interpretation, Etc.
“The conceived sound is the justifiable artistic gesture, with the performed sound as its empirical validation. What if the visual is the musical, however—either by conceptual reference, or by the understanding that no conceived sound predates performed sound?”
Paul Attinello: Hieroglyph, gesture, sign, meaning: Analyzing Bussotti’s PiŹces de chair II
“…emotion is evoked when a tendency to respond is inhibited…”
Leonard Meyer: Emotion and Meaning in Music
“[An open work] installs a new relationship between the contemplation and utilization of a work of art.”
Umberto Eco: The Open Work
“One transfers one’s choice to the interpreter’s. In this way one is protected, camouflaged; not very cleverly, for nonetheless arbitrariness, or rather a kind of tip-of-the-finger arbitrariness, imposes its presence. What a relief! The hour of choice is once again put off: a superficial subjectivity has been grafted onto an aggressive conception of initial objectivity. No! Chance is too shameful to be diabolical….”
Pierre Boulez: Alea
“If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without ascending it, the work would have been permitted.”
Franz Kafka: Parables and Paradoxes
“Works of fiction are based on a single plot, which runs through every imaginable permutation. Works of natural philosophy invariably include thesis and antithesis, the strict pro and con of a theory. A book which does not include its opposite, or ‘counter-book’, is considered incomplete.”
Jorge Luis Borges: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
“Unfortunately, the anfractuosity of some labyrinths may actually prohibit a permanent solution. More confounding still, its complexity may exceed the imagination of even the designer. Therefore anyone lost within must recognize that no one, not even a god or an Other, comprehends the entire maze and so therefore can never offer a definitive answer….any way out remains singular and applicable only to those on that path at that particular time. All solutions then are necessarily personal.”
Mark Z. Danielewski: House of Leaves
“In a performance the correspondence between space and time should be such that the music ‘sounds’ as it ‘looks’. However, as in traveling through space, circumstances sometimes arise when it is necessary to ‘shift gears’ and go, as the case may be, faster or slower.”
John Cage: Etudes Australes
“After having worked long and hard on a new piece, the performer is either going to be challenged and excited by his role as a composer, or he will resent the fact that the composer’s name is on the program, when he in effect is responsible for the piece.”
Paul Jacobs: New Directions in Musical Notation
“In philosophical statements made by ancient Ionian philosophers…you have adjoining sentences that differ sharply in content. There’s no need to provide connecting lines….You make an important statement that has an immediacy about it, and then you go on to the next one. Of course there’s a link between them, a relationship—otherwise the structure would collapse—but it’s not directly obvious.”
Iannis Xenakis: Conversations with Xenakis
“Transformation requires first that the ordering system of the prior or prototypical model be perceived and understood so that, through a series of finite changes and permutations, the original design concept can be clarified, strengthened, and built upon, rather than destroyed.”
Francis D.K. Ching: Architecture: Form, Space and Order
“Musique actuelle has no single source; its headwaters are many and its timeline meanders, refusing to follow a straight path in the same way that polyphony gave way to the harmonies of the Baroque Era, or modal jazz grew out of bebop’s fast changes. Because it is such an overwhelmingly omnivorous genre, parsing musique actuelle is a little like trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone.”
Andrew Jones: Plunderphonics, ‘Pataphysics and Pop Mechanics
“[M]aze-treaders, whose vision ahead and behind is severely constricted and fragmented, suffer confusion, whereas maze-viewers who see the pattern whole, from above or in a diagram, are dazzled by its complex artistry. What you see depends on where you stand, and thus, at one and the same time, labyrinths are single (there is one physical structure) and double: they simultaneously incorporate order and disorder, clarity and confusion, unity and multiplicity, artistry and chaos. They may be perceived as a path (a linear but circuitous passage to a goal) or as a pattern (a complete symmetrical design) . . . Our perception of labyrinths is thus intrinsically unstable: change your perspective and the labyrinth seems to change.”
Penelope Reed Doob: The Idea of the Labyrinth: from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages
“It’s like ‘how much more black could this be?’ And the answer is ‘none, none more black’.”
This Is Spinal Tap
“But quarter-tones or no quarter-tones, why tonality as such should be thrown out for good, I can’t see. Why it should always be present, I can’t see. It depends, it seems to me, a good deal—as clothes depend on the thermometer—on what one is trying to do, and on the state of mind, the time of day or other accidents of life.”
Charles Ives: Some “Quarter-Tone” Impressions
“When, in the waning years of the [nineteenth] century, Thorstein Veblen constructed his concept of conspicuous consumption, he included not only the obvious material possessions but also ‘immaterial’ goods—‘the knowledge of dead languages and the occult sciences; of correct spelling; of syntax and prosody; of the various forms of domestic music…of the latest proprieties of dress, furniture, and equipage’; of the ancient ‘classics’—all of which constituted a conspicuous culture that helped confer legitimacy on the newly emergent groups. This helps explain the vogue during this period of manuals of etiquette, of private libraries and rare books, of European art and music displayed and performed in ornate—often neoclassical—museums and concert halls.”
Lawrence Levine: Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America
“It’s not supposed to be good. It’s supposed to have attitude.”
“Devotion to the musical solutions of the past is no answer for the modern composer of any era. So there must be a focus on both the quality and variety of our musical pidgins, on growing strong hybrids that can synergistically activate the musical intelligence of their ancestors.”
Chris Brown: Pidgin Musics
“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Andy Warhol: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
“Time is evidently an organized structure. The three so-called ‘elements’ of time, past, present, and future, should not be considered as a collection of ‘givens’ for us to sum up—for example, as an infinite series of ‘nows’ in which some are not yet and others are no longer—but rather as the structured moments of an original synthesis. Otherwise we will immediately meet with this paradox: the past is no longer; the future is not yet; and as for the instantaneous present, everyone knows that this does not exist at all but is the limit of an infinite division, like a point without dimension. Thus the whole series is annihilated.”
Jean-Paul Sartre: Being and Nothingness
“Since complete compliance with the score is the only requirement for a genuine instance of a work, the most miserable performance without actual mistakes does count as such an instance, while the most brilliant performance with a single wrong note does not. Could we not bring our theoretical vocabulary into better agreement with common practice and common sense by allowing some limited degree of deviation in performances admitted as instances of a work?”
Nelson Goodman: Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols
“I know that in performance I have occasions within my work where I would designate a certain amount of notes to play in the graph things, and I would hear ‘Yankee Doodle’ coming out of the horn section….But of course I said ‘Manslaughter is one thing, but not homicide; I have not given you license to murder the piece.’ So for the younger generation the implication is a moral question that has to be decided ultimately.”
“As we find it today, our conventional notation is still a mixed symbolic-linear music-writing in which the symbolic element is the more highly organized and therefore dominates. It is practically entirely prescriptive in character. Emphasis is upon structures—principally pitch and meter. It does not tell us much about the connection of the structures.”
Charles Seeger: Prescriptive and Descriptive Music-Making
“[Jackson Pollock] exerted a high degree of control over where the spatters spattered, and it was not just an arbitrary, ‘don’t care’ thing, it was a very deep poetic caring, but under the impulse of a very direct spontaneous action.”
Earle Brown: Notational Problems
“The traditional role of notation was to fix certain elements of performance while leaving the others to the ‘musicianship’ passed on to a player by his teachers and absorbed from his environment. Many of the things done by the musician, and absolutely essential to good performance, were not to be found in the score….It was taken for granted that any player could obey the notation’s literal demands. Whether he was talented or not depended upon whether his ‘musicianship’ could ‘breathe life’ into the music.”
David Behrman: What Indeterminate Notation Determines
“Point of fact, the human ear cannot distinguish one sound wave from the same sound wave if it returns in less than 50 milliseconds. Therefore for anyone to hear a reverberation requires a certain amount of space. At 68 degrees Fahrenheit sound travels at approximately 1,130ft per second. A reflective surface must stand at least 56 1/2ft away in order for a person to detect the doubling of her voice.”
Mark Z. Danielewski: House of Leaves
“Ptolemy was free, however, to lay his prime meridian, the zero-degree longitude line, wherever he liked….As the world turns, any line drawn from pole to pole may serve as well as any other for a starting line of reference. The placement of the prime meridian is a purely political decision….The zero-degree parallel of latitude is fixed by the laws of nature, while the zero-degree meridian of longitude shifts like the sands of time.”
Dava Sobel: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
“It is indeed astonishing that music as an art has kept performing musicians so consistently beating time together like so many horseback riders huddled together on one horse. It is high time to let sounds issue in time independent of a beat…”
John Cage: Silence
“Music is information and, as such, is a renewable resource. Intellectual real estate is infinitely divisible. The big difference between the taking of physical property and the taking of intellectual property is that in the latter case the original owner doesn’t lose the property. They still have it. Theft only occurs when the owner is deprived of credit.”
John Oswald: Creatigality
“Alfred North Whitehead once commented, ‘Most people believe that scientists inquire in order to know. Just the opposite is the case. Scientists know in order to inquire.’”
Elliot Eisner: Aesthetic Modes of Knowing
“A ‘mistake’ is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is.”
John Cage: The Boulez-Cage Correspondence
“37. The first sensibility, that of high culture, is basically moralistic. The second sensibility, that of extreme states of feeling, represented in much contemporary ‘avant-garde’ art, gains power by a tension between moral and aesthetic passion. The third, Camp, is wholly aesthetic. 38. Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of ‘style’ over ‘content,’ ‘aesthetics’ over ‘morality,’ of irony over tragedy….42. One is drawn to Camp when one realizes that ‘sincerity’ is not enough. Sincerity can be simple philistinism, intellectual narrowness. 43. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness—irony, satire—seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.”
Susan Sontag: Against Interpretation
“When we listen to a musical composition for the first time, we try to convince ourselves that we’re not simply involved in an errant, sensuous experience. We want to believe that, however formless the work may seem, it is surely the product of a deliberate intelligence—and if formless, then it is so, at least, because the author intended it that way. We cannot bear to think of ourselves as the dupes of an aimless and indiscriminate mind. We need to feel assured that what is being said has to be said and that our time in attending it is gainfully employed.”
Glenn Gould: The Psychology of Improvisation
“If you can’t dance to this you can’t do nothing for me baby.”
The Spice Girls: if u can’t dance
“The general consensus seems to be that music by living composers is not only irrelevant but also genuinely obnoxious to a society which concerns itself primarily with the consumption of disposable merchandise.”
Frank Zappa: The Real Frank Zappa Book
“And decay proceeds as inevitably as growth, function is declined, structures disintegrate, differentiation is blurred, the fabric dissolves, life disappears, death appears, time engulfed. The eternal life falls. …Out of oblivion into oblivion, so goes the drama of creative things.”
Mark Applebaum (b. 1967, Chicago) is Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory and John Philip Coghlan Fellow at Stanford University where he received the 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied with Brian Ferneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Rand Steiger, and Roger Reynolds. His solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia with notable performances at the Darmstadt summer sessions, the Bourges Festival in France, ICMC in Beijing and Singapore, Italy’s Festival Spaziomusica, the Young Nordic Music Festival in Sweden, Sonic Circuits in Hong Kong, Amsterdam’s Great Virtuoso Slugfest, SEAMUS, strictly Ballroom series at Stanford University’s CCRMA, the Woodstockhausen Festival in Santa Cruz, ISCM, the BONK Festival, the College Music Society, the Southeastern Composers League, NWEAMO, the Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, the Northwestern University New Music Marathon, the Kansas City Electronic Music Festival, Piano Spheres, SIGGRAPH, the Time Canvas Festival in Antwerp, the North American Saxophone Alliance, Stockholm New Music, the Harvest Moon Festival in Montreal, the Minneapolis SPARK Festival, the American Composers Orchestra’s OrchestraTech, UC Berkeley’s CNMAT, Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center, the Essl Museum in Austria, the Unyazi Festival in Johannesburg, Belgium’s TRANSIT Festival, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., at Electronic Music Midwest where he served as the 2002 visiting artist, and as featured composer at the 2004 University of Michigan Eclectronica Microfestival.
He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Vienna Modern Festival, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Zeitgeist, MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Harmida Trio, Belgium’s Champ D’Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, the Jerome Foundation, and the American Composers Forum, among others. His music has been played by the Arditti String Quartet, Speculum Musicae, Musica Nova, Zeitgeist, newEar, SONOR, inauthentica, red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, the NYU New Music Ensemble, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Callithumpian Consort, Skin & Bones, MANUFACTURE, players under the direction of Harvey Sollberger, Mark Menzies, and Dennis Russell Davies, and some of the finest solo artists of our time, including Steven Schick, Irvine Arditti, Gloria Cheng, Craig Hultgren, Helen Bledsoe, Magnus Andersson, and Bertram Turetzky. Performances of his chamber music can be heard on his CD Catfish on Tzadik. His orchestral works appear on the Innova CD Martian Anthropology, and solo acoustic works appear on the Innova CD Disciplines.
In 1997 Applebaum received the American Music Center’s Stephen Albert Award and an artist residency fellowship at the Villa Montalvo artist colony in Northern California. He has engaged in numerous intermedia collaborations, including That Brainwave Chick (with neural artist Paras Kaul), Archittetura Redux (with film-maker Iara Lee, Caipirinha Productions), Concerto for Florist and Ensemble (with florist James DelPrince), The Bible without God (with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), Aphoristic Fragment (with animator Anna Chupa), Interactive Sound Pavilion (with architect David Perkes), Spring Migration (with choreographer Brittany Brown), and projects with the laptop DJ ensembles Digital Cutup Lounge (Hong Kong) and Tricky OL (Japan).
Since 1990 Applebaum has built electroacoustic instruments out of junk, hardware, and found objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. His instrument, the Mouseketier, is the featured solo instrument on Agitprop. Mousetrap Music, a CD of sound-sculpture improvisations can be heard on the Innova label. Also on Innova is The Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering, a CD of eleven electronic works whose source material corresponds exclusively to recordings of the eleven acoustic compositions that constitute his Janus Cycle (1992-1996). Hybrid pieces featuring both acoustic and electronic instrumentation can be heard on the 2003 Innova CD Intellectual Property, a recording that also features his piece Pre-Composition that earned the 2005 second place emsPrize from Electronic Music Stockholm.
Applebaum is also active as a jazz pianist. He has concertized from Sumatra to the Czech Republic, performing a solo recital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso sponsored by the American Embassy. In 1994 he received the Jazz Prize of the Southern California Jazz Society and in 1999 the Mark Applebaum Trio performed in the first Mississippi arts event broadcast live over the World Wide Web. At present he performs with his father, Bob Applebaum of Chicago, in the Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo. The duo recently made its Tunisian debut at the Municipal Theater in Tunis. Their first studio recording, The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree, is available on Innova.
Prior to his current appointment, Applebaum taught at UCSD, Mississippi State University, and Carleton College where he served as Dayton-Hudson Visiting Artist. He has been invited to give lectures and master classes at various institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Oberlin, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Brooklyn College, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, Hong Kong University, the JML/Irino Foundation in Tokyo, the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, the Universities of Toronto, Michigan, Illinois, North Texas, Oregon, California at San Diego, California at Berkeley, San Francisco State, Bowling Green State University, Lawrence University, Depaul University, the College of Santa Fe, the Janacek Akademie, Czech Republic, and at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. Additional information and announcements of upcoming performances may be found at www.markapplebaum.com.
Having walked on stage together over 1600 times in the past sixteen years, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has established itself among the world-class chamber ensembles of its generation. In 1992, they won both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists Auditions, launching them on a performing career that has brought them across North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Recent appearances have included venues such as New York’s Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Paris’ Theatre de la Ville. Alex Ross of The New Yorker magazine wrote, “the St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection.” Admiration abroad has been equally superlative. The Berlin Morning Post praised, “for quite a long time now, they have been considered the most artistically outstanding, the most ambitious, the most original and the most adventurous musicians the New World has to offer.”
The long awaited initial recording of the St. Lawrence Quartet, Schumann’s First and Third Quartets, was released in 1999 to great critical acclaim. The CD received the coveted German critics award, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, as well as Canada’s annual Juno Award. BBC Music Magazine gave the recording its “highest rating,” calling it the benchmark recording of the works. In 2001 EMI released their recording of string quartets of Tchaikovsky. Their 2002 recording Yiddishbbuk, featuring the chamber music of the celebrated Argentinean-American composer Osvaldo Golijov, received two Grammy nominations. Their most recent EMI recording, Awakening, celebrates the string quartets of Greek-born Canadian composer Christos Hatzis.
The foursome regularly performs standard quartet repertoire but is also fervently committed to performing and expanding the works of living composers. Among those with whom the St. Lawrence Quartet currently has active working relationships are R. Murray Schafer, Osvaldo Golijov, Christos Hatzis, Jonathan Berger, Ka Nin Chan, Stephen Prutsman, and Mark Applebaum. Since 1998 the SLSQ has held the position of Ensemble-in-Residence at Stanford University while maintaining an association with the University of Toronto where they have served as Distinguished Visiting Artists since 1995.
The Stanford Jazz Orchestra is composed of students from all schools within Stanford University and includes undergraduate and graduate students with an abiding interest in jazz. The majority of its members major in fields other than Music, but take the time from their academic load to share their love of jazz. The SJO has recently undertaken its second European tour that included performances in Paris and at the Vienne (France) and Umbria (Italy) jazz festivals with guest artist Jon Faddis. The group’s two CDs have been released to rave reviews; their latest, Bridging the Gap, was released in 2004.
SJO Director Fredrick Berry is a Lecturer in jazz at Stanford University. He has also served as Director of the jazz program at the College of San Mateo for the past thirty-five years (now Emeritus). He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from Southern Illinois University and undertook additional graduate work at Stanford. A frequent performer on trumpet in Bay Area jazz ensembles, Berry has performed with Count Basie, McCoy Tyner, Bennie Carter, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Rawls, and Lionel Hampton.
inauthentica is a music ensemble collective based in Los Angeles. It is called a music ensemble because its repertoire is completely elastic, ranging from the premiere of new music, to older, classical music, to music of non-Western traditions, and beyond. The ensemble’s name is a reaction to “old-hat” performances whose sole aim seems to be “correctness.” inauthentica performs with the greatest fidelity and exactitude but never at the expense of thinking in fresh, exciting ways or conveying the utmost sense of newness and discovery. And, by daring to be inauthentic, the ensemble aspires to a deeper authenticity of spirit and performance creativity.
The collective draws from a flexible, enlivened, and constantly expanding community of musicians throughout Southern California, with concert programs reflecting their vibrant careers and itinerant character. A particular sub-ensemble within the collective is the ferHmEnbeRg (piano) trio. inauthentica maintains a significant link to the Stanford University composition community, having engaged in a continuing series of annual residencies in which new works are realized through the close interaction of composers and performers.
Residing in the United States since 1991, Mark Menzies has established an important, world-wide reputation as a new music violist and violinist. He has been described in a Los Angeles Times review as an “extraordinary musician” and a “riveting violinist.” His career as a viola and violin virtuoso, chamber musician, and advocate of contemporary music has included performances in Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and across the United States, including a series of appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. As a conductor and ensemble leader he has performed with several noteworthy groups dedicated to the realization of contemporary music: the Bloomington-based New Vienna Ensemble, Los Angeles’s Southwest Chamber Music, San Diego’s Sirius Ensemble, New York’s Ensemble Sospeso, and his Los Angeles-based collective inauthentica.
Menzies is currently Viola and Violin Professor at the California Institute of the Arts where he also teaches chamber music. He is renowned for performing some of the most complex scores written. Composers who have personally recommended him include Brian Ferneyhough, Roger Reynolds, Michael Finnissy, Vinko Globokar, Philippe Manoury, Elliott Carter, Liza Lim, Christian Wolff, Richard Barrett, and Sofia Gubaidulina. Menzies’ first critical success was at the 1989 Lutoslawksi Festival in London; subsequent highlights have included appearances at the Ojai Festival, the June in Buffalo Festival, the Mirror of the New Festival in Hawai’i, and as featured guest soloist at the International Festival (of new music) in Auckland, New Zealand, 2003.
• All tracks recorded at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California
20 recorded on May 17, 2004
Agitprop recorded on May 13, 2005
Sum=Parts recorded on February 21, 2005
• Mark Applebaum, producer
• Erik Ulman, assistant producer, Sum=Parts
• Mark S. Willsher, balance engineer
• Marie Ebbing & Mark S. Willsher, digital editing
• Philip Blackburn, innova director, design
• The St. Lawrence String Quartet appears courtesy of EMI/ANGEL
• innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.