Gong (Cymbal)/Ear in the Desert

Gong (Cymbal)/Ear in the Desert

Korean shaman cymbals in the sand
Philip Corner
Philip Corner
Steve Peters
Catalog Number: 

Tent Rocks, NM

Release Date: 
Aug 11, 2009
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
Gong Ear In the DesertiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
1.Gong Ear In the Desert1:06:3613
One Sheet: 

In April 1991, composers Philip Corner and Steve Peters visited a remote canyon in northern New Mexico, bringing with them a pair of Korean cymbals and a portable DAT recorder, respectively. With no plan and little discussion, a lengthy duet ensued between Player and Listener. Both were immersed in their roles, Corner sounding the metal discs in and with the landscape in every way imaginable; Peters and his mic attuned to both the granular details and the larger soundscape. This continued for over an hour without interruption, resulting in a very special recording. 

The private, almost subliminal, performance comes from a period when Corner was practicing a daily personal ritual of quietly ecstatic improvisations, under the principle of "withinstascy", of which the Metal Meditation: Gong (in this case cymbals) is a subset. The occasion of a visit to Santa Fe was taken by Peters to provoke this unusual documentation of one "day in the life". 

Eighteen years later, this mythical session finds its way out of Corner's personal archive, sounding every bit as compelling as it did when it was first recorded. "Gong (Cymbal)/Ear in the desert" captures all of the intimate, tactile nuances of Corner’s ecstatic performance, accompanied by the ambient sounds of insects, birds, wind, and trees. This release meticulously documents this singular event, a moment of pure being in time and place: Philip Corner in a high desert canyon on a fine spring morning – playing, listening, fully present. 

After the High School of Music and Art in New York City, Corner (b.1933) earned a BA from City College, where his most important teacher was Fritz Jahoda. A French Government grant permitted a two-year stay in Paris where he studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire. Back in New York he frequented the group around John Cage, initiated his participation in the Downtown scene, and also got an MA from Columbia University. A need to improve pianistic skills led him to the studio of Dorothy Taubman. He taught at the New Lincoln School in New York from 1966-1972, the New School for Social Research from 1967-1970 and Rutgers University from 1972-1992, after which point he moved to Reggio Emilia, Italy with his wife, the dancer and choreographer Phoebe Neville. 

Corner has been associated with Fluxus since 1961 and was a resident composer and musician with the Judson Dance Theatre from 1962-1964. He was invited to join the Experimental Intermedia Foundation from its outset by Elaine Summers, for whose dance company he continued as composer. He co-founded with Malcolm Goldstein and James Tenney the Tone Roads Chamber Ensemble in 1963 (active until 1970), with Julie Winter Sounds Out of Silent Spaces in 1972 (active until 1979) and with Barbara Benary and Daniel Goode, innova artists Gamelan Son of Lion in 1976 (still active). 

Seattle-based Steve Peters composes music and sound for concerts, recordings, art venues, public places, dance & theater, radio, and moving image. The work is often site-based, combining location sound with voices, instruments, electronics, and found or natural objects. Peters performs with the Seattle Phonographers Union and in various improvising situations, and frequently collaborates with artists in other disciplines. Peters also works as a freelance producer, writer, and curator. His work has been released by 12kCold BluePalace of Lights, and several other labels. Peters is the Director of Nonsequitur, a non-profit organization presenting adventurous music and audio art, currently via the Wayward Music Series at the Chapel Performance Space in Seattle.


no sound voices outside window blue skies and small fragments of clouds over water tower from window

tink tkkkkk sound of crushing..walking? very close to ear as if stones in a bottle close close metal jar investigated

lut...cl...oooooz....clee clin very close to ear....resonant...cho chop chop clui blam ooommmtkel ommm tink tink

blue sky clouds drifting over water tower blop tinnnn tlin TLIN ruching,,,, sounds TLIN TLIN rub stroke>> TLIN TLIN further rub stroke TLIN TLIN rub stroke ring nnnnngnnng TLUK rub CLUT

gray cloud shifts over water tower no bird that usually is on tower at breakfast TLUK TLIK TLuk tlik overcast sky

sh....up sildence shlupppp ryb carress fkyt bibg bl ongchlirg bong THONG chip sheee .... shup ong lbong

bib,,,ong...ong. ong tip tak ONG ONG TTLUP white cloud against blue sky ragged edge sklup lup shlup dik duc sllup slup DIK DUC SHYSSSSS SHIP SHUS SLIP DIC DUC SHIPSLEPTIEK ONG SLIP SLUCP

TICtick sa hp lup da slip susslip...//u//uu//u/////ting ///^^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^ /////////TING________<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> ting TING;;;;;;;;;^^^^^^^^^^^^

train or water sound far away sound of voice from window no sound motorcycle car no cloud

rushing sound river maybe TING CHLINKKKK.....^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^tling ta ling lung ta ling foot walks

sluf ting ting ding>>>>>>>>>>,,,,,,,,,,,,,sliig ing rush water creeak clack

train in distance or water

white clouds out window are fragmented behind tower tlin BLAM BLAM BLAM tlan tlan nnnnnnnn

train or water sound far away. foot walking

slingnnngnnnnnnnn water creak shurry shuyry train in distance or water

BLAM BLAM BLAM tling white cloud drifting flan tlan utlan d.......^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ water

flan tlan walking sound far awy metal soud with walking rubbing far away water metal stroking ringing

CKA K SGB K BKATNNN bnkaa blue sky comes back CLAAAAA no clouds oopooooooppooooooooo oopping ing water tower no bird ragged clouds

voice from street calls out summer sale of men's shirts

tch tch plip far away tlk rub lop silence tlin cloo >>>>>^ bong ol ong silence

- Alison Knowles, written transposition on July 4th 2009, NYC

Here is an oddity — and a pleasant one. Not everyday music and not meant to be, but a great escape when needed. Recorded at Tent Rocks (Kasha-Katuwe), NM, on April 22, 1991, here are 66 [mins.] of sand and occasional crashing and banging, but mostly the vastness of open spaces. Much of the tapestry could come from the world of Hildegard Westerkamp, though comparisons fail. Music for a lazy day that will quickly become less lazy: music for the imagination.

- Dan Albertson, La Folia