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Edgard, Iannis and György.
April 28, 2008 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Edgard Varèse : Ionisation. Iannis Xenakis : Rebonds. György Ligeti : Artikulation and Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes. [NOTE: see hoverovers for link descriptions]

Ionisation Wikipedia.

Edgar Varèse, actor. Who knew?
posted by flapjax at midnite (46 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Flapjax, I'd always considered poeme symphonique to be my one singular guilty affectation.
Now I've gotta say it in the public domain:
Even R2D2 had an archetype. . . and let it be known that he was French.

Allez les bleu

*sniff
posted by isopraxis at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2008


Flapjax, after all the cool posts you've done, to come up with this old fashioned avant garde stuff...
posted by Faze at 7:52 PM on April 28, 2008


Heh heh.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:55 PM on April 28, 2008


I'm in love with Witold Gombrowicz
That sombre Polish man
I journey to the end of night with Louis F. Celine
But when I'm tired of reading novels by melancholy authors
I bounce on an enormous trampoline

'Pornographia', 'Ferdydurke', the Polish avant garde
I find Schonberg's 'Verklarte Nacht' the loveliest thing I've heard
But when I've lost my taste for the highest and the best
I bounce, I bounce, I bounce with zest

I'm very fond of Karlheinz Stockhausen
'Musique Concrete' excites me
Luciano Berio inflames my entire being
But when I've left behind the passion for serial composition
I bite at an enormous tangerine

Giacomo Leopardi, Stephane Mallarme
Diaghilev and Rilke, Lou Andreas Salome
But when I've lost my taste for the highest and the best
I bite, I bite, I bite with the best

-Momus, "Radiant Night"
posted by Falconetti at 8:05 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, c'mon Faze, it was time to give the drummer some!

Flap, this is some of my favourite difficult listening. You gotta have some onions or it ain't no stew.
posted by Herodios at 8:06 PM on April 28, 2008




I missed the Varèse, actor link the first time through.

He was a striking looking cat, I can see why he'd have made a good silent movie actor. Frank Zappa, his #1 fan (and horror movie enthusiast), would probably agree:

"Sitting in the front, just a little bent at the corners, was a strange-looking black-and-white album cover. On it there was a picture of a man with gray frizzy hair. He looked like a mad scientist. I thought it was great that somebody had finally made a record of a mad scientist. . . EMS 401, The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse Volume I . . . Integrales, Density 21.5, Ionization, Octandre . . . Rene Le Roy, the N. Y. Wind Ensemble, the Juilliard Percussion Orchestra, Frederic Waidman Conducting . . .liner notes by Sidney Finkelstein! WOW!"
posted by Herodios at 8:32 PM on April 28, 2008


OK I promise not to dump/derail anymore, but here are three more by composers I like:

"NoaNoa", by Kaija Saariaho

Antheil La Femme 100 Têtes (after Max Ernst) sel part II

Gunther the Sock Monkey's first adventure. Featuring music by Stefan Wolpe
posted by ornate insect at 8:55 PM on April 28, 2008


...I promise not to dump/derail anymore...

The more links the merrier, far as I'm concerned.

I see you linked to Hermeto Pascoal's Música da Lagoa. Here's an FPP I made around that clip a while back.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:05 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


That Takemitsu flute piece ornate insect linked to is lovely. Very musical fellow, that Takemitsu was.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:03 PM on April 28, 2008


That Poême Symphonique clip was previously discussed here.

More Varèse: Poème électronique.
posted by misteraitch at 12:13 AM on April 29, 2008


By far my favorite thing by any of these folks--and I like Varese pretty well--is Xenakis's La legende d'eer. Doesn't sound very dated, even today.

Xenakis's Chamber Music is often overlooked but very nice.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:38 AM on April 29, 2008


I love their work as well, all of them. If only most everyone else wasn't scared off by experimental music.

It reminds me of a quote by Masami Akita (of Merzbow):

"When I hear what you call pop music, all I hear is noise"
posted by Chocomog at 4:18 AM on April 29, 2008


If only most everyone else wasn't scared off by experimental music.

None of these "experiments" haven't been, or couldn't be done by any halfway decent pop or jazz players as a goof at rehearsal, or even in earnest. How many pretty good drum solos have you heard in your life? How many hours has any person with access to a musical instrument spent in idle, nonsensical doodling? It's a mistake to think that these compositions are somehow "scary." What people are afraid of is being trapped in a concert hall with one of these pieces, and having to deal with the boredom. Edgar Varese inspired some of Frank Zappa's worst music. There's a reason why you wrap a drum solo with "Caravan" (even if Zappa made fun of it). Drum solos by themselves are pretty dull. I could go on...
posted by Faze at 5:14 AM on April 29, 2008


I could go on...

You will, Faze, you will.

Nice post!
posted by languagehat at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think drum solos are dull. I fact I think this is one of the most entertaining videos on youtube.

Everyone who listens to music knows about tension and release, which is really about management of attention. Boredom is an aspect of this. Some music simply scratches your itch, some makes you wait longer, some creates tension with no release.

And sometimes you have to listen closely to perceive any tension at all. While some people appreciate the results of that effort, others do not. You have but to turn your attention elsewhere.

All music is, at bottom, voices and drums.
How best to combine them seems a matter of taste.
-
posted by Herodios at 6:33 AM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Flap and Ornate, I really enjoyed that Hermeto Pascoal Música da Lagoa clip.
Have you heard Jon Hassell's Dream Theory In Malaya?

Recorded in 1981, Hassell plays a heavily processed trumpet, Brian Eno assists, but the rhythm on some tracks is provided by field recordings of the Semelai tribe (of present day Malaysia), who create a group rhythmic music by splashing the water in their swamp.
posted by Herodios at 7:03 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fantastic! Thank you!
posted by xod at 7:17 AM on April 29, 2008




Got a chance to see the UGA percussion ensemble perform Ionisation quite a few years ago and it kicked ass. That, and the all-percussion version of Toto's Africa. That same night, a Brazilian marimba master (who was there for a few weeks doing guest-teaching stuff) took the stage and slayed with the berimbau.
posted by jquinby at 8:15 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


All music is, at bottom, voices and drums.

If I could favorite that comment 1000 times, I would. You've touched my soul with that comment. That is a big, fat truth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:33 AM on April 29, 2008


Lovely post. I'm always glad to see contemporary music represented on the blue.
posted by ob at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2008


I do recommend Kaija Saariaho. I'm so happy to see her referenced here!

You all might enjoy Annie Gosfield's work, too.

I could listen to Burnt Ivory and Loose Wires all day.
posted by winna at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to say something about percussion in particular. The fantastic thing about percussion is watching it live, whether in an ensemble (such as Ionisation) or solos (as is the case with the Xenakis) is that it is more than the execution of the score it is theater. More than any other orchestral section percussion is about the physicality of the performer and the actual physical space that they need to inhabit in a given moment. Percussion walks that fascinating line between instrumental performance (which of course has some inherent theatrical aspects regardless of the instrument, although that is often down to the performer in question) choreography and theater and that is why it is so interesting to watch and why so many composers as so fascinated with the medium.
posted by ob at 9:17 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Zappa was a fan.
posted by Rinku at 9:17 AM on April 29, 2008


I used to get lifted with a friend and listen to Varese. Years later and cold sober it holds up well. Thanks for this post. Between the direct links and all the related videos I have a lot of fun listening / viewing ahead. Yes, fun! This music is lots of fun. If you think it's snobbydull you're doing it wrong.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:32 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rinku: see above. with pictures.
-
posted by Herodios at 10:37 AM on April 29, 2008


I heard about Varese only recently, from Morton Feldman's Give My Regards to Eighth Street, and this is my first exposure to Ionisation. I like, although Youtube is not the best way to experience a piece of music for the first time, and although I think I like Feldman a lot better. I find all this stuff to be an excellent restorative for a brain that have been polluted by years of exposure to Hannah Montana, Was Not Was, Cantopop, etc.
posted by alexwoods at 10:49 AM on April 29, 2008


I heard about Varese only recently, from Morton Feldman's Give My Regards to Eighth Street, and this is my first exposure to Ionisation. I like, although Youtube is not the best way to experience a piece of music for the first time, and although I think I like Feldman a lot better. I find all this stuff to be an excellent restorative for a brain that have been polluted by years of exposure to Hannah Montana, Was Not Was, Cantopop, etc.
posted by alexwoods at 10:49 AM on April 29, 2008


winna--yeah I like Saariaho a lot. She's one of my favorite living composers in the contemporary classical/avant-garde tradition, although I readily admit that it's not an area of music I've spent nearly as much time with as I have with other areas of music. One of my particular favorite late-20th century composers is Giancinto Scelsi, and some of his chamber works are absolutely mesmirizing. Another composer who interests me is Sorabji, and also Takemitsu, Wolpe, the Viennese atonalists (Berg, Webern, Schoenberg), Ives, and some Feldman, Cage, Carter. With Antheil and Stockhausen and Berlioz I'm mixed, although I've always like the three composers featured in flapjax's post. Messiaen is someone I want to explore more. My heart holds a special place for the French impressionists, modernists, and Romantics: especially Debussy, Satie, Ravel, Saint Saens, Poulenc.
posted by ornate insect at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow I didn't think we'd get onto Scelsi here, but seeing as we have I'll put in a couple of recommendations for anyone who's interested. I thoroughly recommend Claude Vivier, he was sort of allied to the spectralisits (and it anyone's interested in checking some of that out, the names to know are Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail, amongst others). I know that Saariaho has some spectralist leanings so those of you that like her music might be interested in checking out some of these other fellows. I recommend Lonely Child, if you want to hear Vivier. I also like Magnus Linberg, Saariaho's compatriot, so he's someone else that might be interesting.

One of Ligeti's discoveries (apart for Vivier) was the American Conlon Nancarrow. He wrote almost exclusively for player piano and his music might just blow your mind (although, in my opinion, it should be taken in small doses.) Check out some of the Studies for Player Piano or Canon X.

In a totally different direction the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen is a very interesting. There are many works to check out, but a good place to start is with either De Staat or De Stijl. He's the godfather of the New York downtown scene as personified by the bang-on-a-can crowd (David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe) as well as many other composers.

Sorry if this is long, but I'm delighted that we're talking about contemporary music on MeFi!
posted by ob at 11:33 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Spectralists, dammit!
posted by ob at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2008




I am sure that everyone is already on it, but if not, other minds is an excellent resource for new music.
posted by winna at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually I've never seen other minds, so thanks for that winna!
posted by ob at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2008


I heard about Varese only recently, from Morton Feldman's Give My Regards to Eighth Street, and this is my first exposure to Ionisation. I like, although Youtube is not the best way to experience a piece of music for the first time, and although I think I like Feldman a lot better. I find all this stuff to be an excellent restorative for a brain that have been polluted by years of exposure to Hannah Montana, Was Not Was, Cantopop, etc.
posted by alexwoods at 2:44 PM on April 29, 2008


alexwoods: You've posted that comment three times now.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on April 29, 2008


alexwoods: You've posted that comment three times now.

maybe it's a conceptual art piece of some sort.
posted by ornate insect at 2:57 PM on April 29, 2008


I am sure that everyone is already on it, but if not, other minds is an excellent resource for new music.

winna--cool site; had not seen it; thanks for the link. Now if someone could just give me a grant to listen to music all day...
posted by ornate insect at 3:05 PM on April 29, 2008


maybe it's a conceptual art piece of some sort.

Visual Art for 100 Comments.
posted by ersatz at 3:51 PM on April 29, 2008


ersatz-a reference to Composition No. 19 for 100 Tubas perhaps?
posted by ornate insect at 4:23 PM on April 29, 2008


Visual Art for 100 Comments.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:29 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


isopraxis: speaking of R2D2, David Tudor's Rainforest Version 1 sounds to me just like Aunt Beru's kitchen on Tatooine. (mp3 on this page)
posted by moonmilk at 4:31 PM on April 29, 2008


oh God not Boulez, he drains (as always) all the gusto out of it and turns the piece into a pointless prank -- please get Riccardo Chailly's Varèse 2-CD set, if you like Varèse you'll love it and if you don't like Varèse you'll probably change your mind. With friends like Boulez, etc.
posted by matteo at 7:25 PM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


ersatz-a reference to Composition No. 19 for 100 Tubas perhaps?

Just playing with Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes. I see flapjax already made history here.
posted by ersatz at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2008


Ugh, my parents have been visiting all week and this is what I miss? I guess I won't be catching up on anything today after all. Thanks for the post.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:54 PM on May 3, 2008


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