Sunday, January 31, 2010

Silent Films TWO

The Cobra Ensemble got together this weekend yet again to add some more music to silent film. Below are the films we performed with links to watch them online. I am in the process of putting them up on my myspace page. The short ones, like "Le Retour a la raison" and "Rhythmus 21" are in the same sound file, the first one being Le Retour, and the second one, half way through the audio is the Rhythmus. Anyway, enjoy checking them out, and try to synch them up with the audio and video!

Man Ray's Le retour à la raison

Man Ray's Les mystères du château du Dé Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

Hans Richter's Rhythmus 21

Jean Painlevé's Le vampire

Roger Barlow, Harry Hay, and LeRoy Robbins's Even -- as you and I Part One and Part Two

Monday, January 25, 2010

Silent Films

The above picture is by arist extrodinaier Man Ray, and the painting is entitled A Night at Saint Jean. The COBRA ensemble just played through some improvised scores to some silent films. The links below are the films that we improvised to. I have uploaded the mp3s of our performance on to , and you should be able to link them up to the music by starting them both at the same time.

Marcel Duchamp's Anemic Cinema

Start the audio clip when the youtube clip is at 0:05 and it should be synched up.

Fernand Leger's Ballet Mecanique Part One and Two

The video clip should start around 0:51 to synch it with the audio

Man Ray's L'etoile de mer Part One and Two

Start the audio clip for part one around 9 seconds into the video clip
at 7:32 in the video clip you have to switch it over to the second audio clip
The second video clip should link up with the second audio clip at 0:36 of the audio clip.

Man Ray's Emak Bakia

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Analysis of a COBRA Performance

I was lucky to have a performance today of John Zorn's COBRA at a local coffee shop, which was video recorded. I am now in the process of putting some video clips of the concert online, which I believe was successful! What I would like to do is have a pseudo-detailed analysis of the second take we performed this evening, and link this blog post from the youtube video, so people can see how ordered everything is. For simplicity sake I will refer the musicians as the following:

Percussion 1 - the percussionist on the left
Percussion 2 - the percussionist on the right that is standing
Percussion 3 - the percussionist on the right that is sitting at the drum set
Prompter - that was me, the guy with the cards

If you are watching the youtube video, which is linked HERE, I ordered the musicians from left to right in my list.

All the takes are structured, but also completely improvised. I would say that the performers made most of the decisions of what was happening, and occasionally I would step in and make a call on my own to get us out of stagnation, or just to quiet the group down dynamically.


0:02) Runner is called by PERCUSSION 1, for himself and PERCUSSION 2 and 3, so they could play an improvised trio
0:09) PROMPTER calls Sound Memory 1 so that this could be recalled later on
0:20) FLUTE calls Substitute Crossfade
0:28) ACCORDION, GUITAR, BASS, KEYBOARD, FLUTE, ELECTRONICS all faded in, and the PERCUSSION 1, 2, and 3 all faded out
0:50) PERCUSSION 2 calls Music Change, to keep the same people playing, but to change what they were playing
1:08) GUITAR calls Sound Memory 1
1:10) PROMPTER decides to let the current music continue for a little longer, before this next downbeat
1:33) Sound Memory 1 was given a downbeat for PERCUSSION 1, 2, and 3
1:40) KEYBOARD becomes a Guerilla
1:43) GUITAR calls for a Decrescendo
1:45) KEYBOARD gets ACCORDION and ELECTRONICS to join him and become a Guerilla Squad
1:52) The ensemble starts their Decrescendo
2:00) FLUTE calls for Imitation
2:10) The Guerillas KEYBOARD and ELECTRONICS jump start the Imitation by using Guerilla Tactics and getting several people in the ensemble to Imitate specific players
2:19) The Imitation downbeat is given, PERCUSSION 1 and GUITAR are imitating the voice of ELECTRONICS, along with some other imitations
2:27) PERCUSSION 2 calls for this to become logged as Sound Memory 2, so that this can be recalled later.
2:37) KEYBOARD calls for a Decrescendo
2:45) ACCORDION starts reciting poetry, ignoring the rules because she is still part of the Guerilla Squad
2:48) The Squad Leader calls for Operations 1, which is Divisi, meaning the Guerilla Squad has taken over the game and is in control now
3:10) Divisi begins, all players that are not Guerillas, and were just playing are now droning long tones, like GUITAR is
3:23) A Spy tries to kill the Guerillas off, so that the Guerilla Squad is no longer in control of the game
3:37) The Guerillas guess correctly who the spy is, and KEYBOARD, the Squad Leader, calls for Intercut
3:46) Improvised trio with the Guerilla Squad only
3:50) PERCUSSION 1 is a Spy!
4:05) The Guerilla Squad guesses incorrectly and loses their power, and returns back to the game
4:06) Operations is now over and Pool was called by the Spy, Percussion 1
4:30) PERCUSSION 3 calls Runner for solo ACCORDION
4:36) Solo ACCORDION
4:43) KEYBOARD calls for Imitation
5:05) Imitation downbeat is given, GUITAR, BASS, KEYBOARD, FLUTE start singing to imitate the ACCORDION.
5:15) PROMPTER calls for another Imitation
5:25) ACCORDION, ELECTRONICS, PERCUSSION 1, 2, and 3, are all in
5:28) PROMPTER calls for another Imitation
5:35) The downbeat is given, and GUITAR, BASS, KEYBOARD, FLUTE are all in
5:40) PERCUSSION 2 calls for Sound Memory 2
5:45) Sound Memory 2 is recalled, but everyone forgets what they were doing when it was logged, except for GUITAR, so this, so far, is the first mistake of the piece
6:00) KEYBOARD calls for DUO with PERCUSSION 3
6:20) While this card is in play, PERCUSSION 1 and 2 also start a DUO
6:32) FLUTE becomes a Guerilla, while GUITAR and BASS start their duo
6:43) GUITAR calls Sound Memory 1
6:51) PERCUSSION 1, 2, and 3 start their trio up
6:54) FLUTE, who is a Guerilla, is ignoring the rules and playing over the recalled Sound Memory, which is mistake number two, because Guerillas are supposed to follow the game in instances of Cartoon Trades and in Sound Memories
6:57) PROMPTER calls for Imitation
7:09) PERCUSSION 1 calls for Sound Memory 1, while FLUTE forms a Guerilla Squad with ACCORDION and BASS
7:19) The downbeat for Sound Memory 1 is given and PERCUSSION 1, 2, and 3 go back to their trio, but mistake number three is made, because the newly formed Guerilla Squad is not following the Sound Memory like they should be, and are playing over it
7:22) GUITAR calls for an Abrupt Ending
7:25) An Abrupt Ending downbeat is given and everyone stops playing, although the Guerilla Squad, if they wanted to could continue to keep playing, because they are Guerillas and can ignore the ending rules

So THAT is the piece in a nutshell, even though we have been playing this piece for a year, we still make small mistakes from time to time. The general stats of this take of the piece are:

22 total calls
4 calls by PROMPTER
3 calls by PERCUSSION 1
4 calls by GUITAR
5 calls by KEYBOARD
2 calls by FLUTE
3 calls by PERCUSSION 2
1 call by PERCUSSION 3
1 Operation
2 Spies
2 Guerilla Squads

Anyone still have any questions? Just shoot me a note, or comment and I will be happy to elaborate on anything that this blog post describes.

Larry Grenadier Lesson and some quotes

Over the last weekend I was fortunate enough to hear the FLY trio, consisting of Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier. I was contacted prior to the show by the manager of the jazz club, and Larry used my bass for his gigs. I ended getting a group lesson with him and some fellow bass friends, as well as got my tickets comped for the night I went. I have typed up the notes that I can remember from the lesson here:

1) Practice playing with a metronome in the difficult in between tempos, internalize the time.

2) When you pizz, pizz at the end of the fingerboard with your right hand.

3) Practice playing improvised scales, pizz, going up the scale differently than coming down it. Make sure you practice scales pizz, not just arco, to work on your right hand.

4) Three different right hand techniques, only use first finger, only use second finger and use both fingers. Work on using the second finger alone to build strength so when you use both fingers they are equal. To work on using both right hand fingers together practice phrases of 5 and 7 to make sure you are alternating them in uncomfortable patterns.

5) The strings that he currently uses on his bass are a Velvet G string, and the rest are Thomastik.

6) To make a chord ambiguous leave out the the root, opens up the sound more.

7) Try to do pull offs with the left hand while hitting a harmonic with the right hand/finger. This was something I saw him play live but was not part of the lesson.

8) Larry uses Explorer Audio mic clips to mic his bass with a Schoep mic, running it into a PA system.

And a few added quotes that I have picked up recently that I would like to catalogue here:

Responding to an audience member booing a new music performance: "Stop being such a God-damned sissy! Why can't you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man!" -Charles Ives

"I needed to capture this word freedom into a musical concept, so I broke down the word "FREE:" F could stand for Frequency, R could stand for Rhythm, E for Energy and E for Emotion. Emotions are very important in improvisation. Improvisors connect their intellectual powers with their emotional powers." - Alan Silva

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don Cherry Live from the 1960s!

I just caught a post this morning from Ken Vandermark on these videos of Don Cherry from the 1960s. Ken Vandermark is working on a Don Cherry project right now, hence him checking the music out. I wanted to do a post solely to capture the links for the videos before I forget and watch them later. The performances are a trio with Johhny Dyani on bass, vocals and percussion, and Okay Temiz on percussion.

As always, Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Philippe Halsman and Dali

I was at an exhibit in Loveland, Colorado, of all places, seeing a collection of illustrations that Salvador Dali made for Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as Don Quixote and Alice in Wonderland. After finishing the exhibit I noticed a handful of photographs by Philippe Halsman, a fellow surrealist, that had taken a bunch of photos of Dali. If you google his name, you will find some incredible photographs of Dali, as well as Alfred Einstein. Anyways, what caught my eye was the following quote from his, as his rules to create unusual photography.

1) The rule of unusual technique

2) The rule of the added unusual feature

3) The rule of the missing feature.

I believe one could use all of these rules on a musical composition level, and as I am in the middle of doing a lot of writing currently, I may try to write a piece using all three of these ideas, or rather three variations of the same music, but with each rule in mind.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Old & New Dreams

I just found this audio online of a Lecture/Workshop that the Old and New Dreams Band did at Harvard in 1980. I have so far only listened to the first part, a long talk by Charlie Haden on listening, and improvisation, but can't wait to listen to the rest of this. The clips are between 3-10 minutes long, but am putting them all together to save as an archive. This band consisted of members of Ornette's groups throughout the years, and they played all original compositions, plus Ornette's tunes. This was a good continuance of the Ornette acoustic quartet sound, as Ornette was playing more free funk/electric music with Primetime. Enjoy, and happy listening!

Part One