Category Archives: Speculations & Conjectures

TURN THE PAGE ON THE COMBUSTION AGE

resulting from an interior anguish (clutching)

that many of our assumptions

and frameworks are

becoming invalid.

but, eh, as they say “with every loss comes a gain.” turn the page on the combustion age.

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the arc of a line can be produced digitally, only with a

different skeleton.

it depends on what you are after.

waves v. numbers: analog v. digital.

waves have pretty mothers, but heavy luggage.

numbers are interesting, but never laugh (unless told to).

neither are exclusive.

both have specific charms.

i’m a little afraid of the death of the tungsten bulb.

(In celebration of our continued endeavors/frustrations with half-broken tape machines & the ever-so-slightly-out-of-reach expense of digital devices I’m reposting this ‘lil thought on the two from the blog of our old record label. )

I Musici de Montreal presented by Musica Sacra Atlanta

On Sunday March 21, 2010, Adron, Mario, and I went to see I Musici de Montreal, a fifteen-piece chamber orchestra, perform two Tchaikovsky works and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta.

I don’t think I’ve been so moved by music since my formative years as a punk teen. Adron and I arrived a little late, in the middle of Tchaikovsky’s “Andante cantabile.” I Musici de Montreal consists of eight violins, three violas, two cellos, and one amazing doublebass, played by Alain Malo. The orchestra was conducted by Muscovite Yuli Turovsky, who is also the founder of the collective.

Allegedly, “Andante cantabile” was inspired by a popular folk song sung by a gardener in Kamenka, where Tchaikovsky was vacationing with his sister. First performed in 1871, this piece features sublime sweeping melodies and interwoven counterpoint harmonies. I had to exercise serious self-restraint during this performance. The vibrations and musicianship were so beautiful, I wanted to shake Adron.

The second Tchaikovsky piece “Souvenir de Florence” Op. 70 was darker and more frantic. Tchaikovsky composed this piece after completing a residency in Florence, where he was working on his opera “The Queen of Spades.”

The second movement of this piece really showcased the virtuosity of the chamber orchestra. At times, at least half the orchestra played meticulous pizzicato, a stark contrast to the breeze-like bowing of their counterparts. I was particularly amazed by the doublebass arrangement in this piece.

After a short intermission, Turovsky and the orchestra performed Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” This famous cycle (which I admittedly was unfamiliar with before attending this concert) consists of ten pieces and four intermezzi, and was inspired by an 1874 exhibition of Victor Hartmann’s paintings, architectural projects, and artifacts. Hartmann, an artist and architect, was a close friend of Mussorgsky’s, and had died suddenly from heart failure prior to the composition of this cycle.

The conductor Turovsky commissioned his daughter Natasha to paint fifteen paintings based on Mussorgsky’s music, which was itself inspired by visual art. This sort of interdisciplinary symbiosis and completion of a creative circle blows my mind.

I Musici de Montreal performed “Pictures at an Exhibition” in front of a screen with animated projections of Natasha Turovsky’s interpretations of the music. The paintings themselves were dark and beautiful, slightly reminiscent of my favorite works by Munch and Degas. The animation and editing, done by digital artist Gael Hollard, were a bit distracting to me, but I was nevertheless impressed with how in sync the orchestra was with all the cuts and camera movement. Truth be told, the images definitely influenced my perception of the music.

I feel inspired by this performance. Perhaps I will rediscover my classical roots.

Keep an eye out for Musica Sacra Atlanta events. If this concert is at all indicative of the kinds of events they bring to Atlanta, sign me up. The kicker: it was free, with a suggested $5 donation.

That same day, Adron gave me a cd of an early 70s Spanish group called Vainica Doble, which reminds me a little of Os Mutantes with prettier vocals and a lot less fuzz guitar. But that’s a subject for another time. -Tommy Chung

Selmanaires’ Aphorisms

  • Hidden ash is a larger and much better film.
  • Hidden borders admit the deadliest dancers.
  • You cook just to eat the grill.
  • Heaven is only a boiled election.
  • Friendly deaths ease tensions of the back.
  • Unhappiness is the author of fantastic airplanes.
  • Pebbles turn into waterfalls.
  • The public hemline moves so casually that a guide to the golden game is useless.

TT Two

Two aspects working together in a song:

TEMPO, rhythm, repetition: The elevation of the mundane by the use of markers in time. By taking possession of time it stands still and becomes bulbous. resonant. radiant.

TEMPORAL, transient, narrative: without the temporal events that occur on top, below, inside, and throughout the rhythm/tempo, it would sooner or later become mundane itself. A bird sings, a car passes, a plate breaks. Trances fluctuate and everybody loves a good story.

The tempo without the temporal becomes an exercise in will.

The temporal without the tempo becomes an eye gazing only at itself.

All tempo is temporal, and when we look back we see that the temporal has a tempo.

Smoke & Mirrors & Mirrors

I love the process of recording. Though it may be incredibly time-consuming, mind-numbing and occasionally maddening, I love it. As we approach the final days of mixing our new release, however, the time has come for perhaps my least favorite part of this process: affixing the image into its final form.

 

During the various stages of tracking and overdubbing there are numerous surprises, discoveries and exhilarating moments when the little song you’ve helped create becomes a concrete entity, assuming forms and dimensions you’ve always wished for it. The air is charged with POTENTIAL.  When the time comes to set your work into stone, chiseling away at its details, balancing the elements…a little terror wells up inside of me. What was once wild, unruly and full of life now becomes subdued and slightly deadened. Whether or not this photograph (which it is essentially, in aural form) exceeds or fails one’s expectation, one cannot help but match it with the intricate mental image created over time and compare the two: “Is this it?”

 

It becomes impossible not to backslide into the spiraling labyrinth of subjectivity where blemishes appear bloated and monstrous, lurching to fore, while beloved nuances fall away in sacrifice to the whole. You find that an idea that was once only an abstract rattle in your brain is now slipping from your fingers before your very eyes. Will your baby grow up to be an accountant or a serial killer? Are either of those things desirable? Will it be the cause of pride or grief?

 

I can see why some believe that being photographed steals a bit of your soul. The life of a song continues despite being captured, though always in relation to its picture. This is especially true in this technological age when the majority of our contact with music is through recordings.

 

Perhaps this is a problem of approach? Perhaps it is the nature of the beast? Ego? That must be in there somewhere. Maybe now all we do is create texts/ talismen that never change, while performance is left to the listener?

 

Yes, but I still love it. And I still am bristling with excitement over our new recordings, something I’ve tried to be terribly cynical about, to no avail.

 

Oh my children, I have such a hard time accepting that intention is meaningless!