An evening of music featuring closely-tuned frequencies by Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, John Krausbauer , and others.
If any “theme” has been established with this year’s sfSoundSalonSeries, it is contemporary music featuring simultaneous frequencies that are tuned (or de-tuned) close enough to create timbral effects like beating, phasing, and difference tones. This concert presents an entire evening of such sounds, with sfSound’s Matt Ingalls performing Alvin Lucier’s In Memoriam John Higgins for clarinet and sweeping sine tone and sfSound reprising its realization of Phill Niblock’s Disseminate for multi-tracked acoustic instruments.
Los Angeles-based John Krausbauer (with Vicky Fong and Blaine Todd) performs his recent composition, phased-glissando, a long-duration composition for a slowly and manually tuned, and manually phased glissando, played against a fundamental (drone) frequency. [A (110hz): fundamental/drone A (110 hz) – D (146.83 hz): glissando]. The sound textures generate a multitude of beating tones, audibly active harmonic movement, and complex overtone patterns, as well as other psychoacoustic phenomena.
Composer/improvisor John Krausbauer lives and makes music in Los Angeles. Recent endeavours include solo music for violin/voice/synth, the microtonal amplified-acoustic group/s – aures; and, the ecstatic music band; the country-boogie-blues-raga-new music duo, jpjjk, (w/jp jenkins); and the long running guitar power-drone group, tecumseh. he has been performing his music for the last 16 years, playing in various contexts and in a multitude of performance spaces/settings/situations and has released his music on numerous independent labels.
Alvin Lucier was born in 1931 in Nashua, New Hampshire. He was educated in Nashua public and parochial schools, the Portsmouth Abbey School, Yale, and Brandeis and spent two years in Rome on a Fulbright Scholarship. From 1962 to 1970 he taught at Brandeis, where he conducted the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus which devoted much of its time to the performance of new music. Since 1970 he has taught at Wesleyan University where he is John Spencer Camp Professor of Music. Lucier has pioneered in many areas of music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes. His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra in which, by means of close tunings with pure tones, sound waves are caused to spin through space.
Phill Niblock is a New York-based minimalist composer and multi-media musician and director of Experimental Intermedia, a foundation born in the flames of 1968’s barricade-hopping. He has been a maverick presence on the fringes of the avant garde ever since. In the history books Niblock is the forgotten Minimalist. That’s as maybe: no one ever said the history books were infallible anyway. His influence has had more impact on younger composers such as Susan Stenger, Lois V Vierk, David First, and Glenn Branca. He’s even worked with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo on “Guitar two, for four” which is actually for five guitarists. This is Minimalism in the classic sense of the word, if that makes sense. Niblock constructs big 24-track digitally-processed monolithic microtonal drones. The result is sound without melody or rhythm. Movement is slow, geologically slow. Changes are almost imperceptible, and his music has a tendency of creeping up on you. The vocal pieces are like some of Ligeti’s choral works, but a little more phased. And this isn’t choral work. “A Y U (as yet untitled)” is sampled from just one voice, the baritone Thomas Buckner. The results are pitch shifted and processed intense drones, one live and one studio edited. Unlike Ligeti, this isn’t just for voice or hurdy gurdy. Like Stockhausen’s electronic pieces, Musique Concrete, or even Fripp and Eno’s No Pussyfooting, the role of the producer/composer in “Hurdy Hurry” and “A Y U” is just as important as the role of the performer. He says: “What I am doing with my music is to produce something without rhythm or melody, by using many microtones that cause movements very, very slowly.” The stills in the booklet are from slides taken in China, while Niblock was making films which are painstaking studies of manual labour, giving a poetic dignity to sheer gruelling slog of fishermen at work, rice-planters, log-splitters, water-hole dredgers and other back-breaking toilers. Since 1968 Phill has also put on over 1000 concerts in his loft space, including Ryoji Ikeda, Zbigniew Karkowski, Jim O’Rourke.