The spaces between the notes
May 16, 2017 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Joanna Brouk, 1949-2017. She was an early pioneer of electronic and new age music, in the geometric/ambient section of that map, active mostly via self-released cassettes during the 1970's and 80's. Last year, Numero Group released a full retrospective of her career, Hearing Voices. Previously not recognized widely, this release garnered her oeuvre attention – she was scheduled to play her first US concert outside of California in June, and she played her first European concert in France earlier this year.
posted by not_on_display (6 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
posted by larrybob at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2017

I heard of her through that amazing I Am The Center compilation from Light In The Attic that came out a few years ago (previously). I feel like we've only just begun reassessing new age music from that era and rediscovering voices and talents like hers. She will be missed.

posted by naju at 1:06 PM on May 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ooh I have that Light in the Attic album! Really fascinating, awesome music. I'm gonna have to dig that up and listen to it again
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:51 PM on May 16, 2017

posted by Theta States at 7:14 AM on May 17, 2017

she was scheduled to play her first US concert outside of California in June


The interview linked in stinker's comment (also linked in the Pitchfork article) is really worth reading. I found myself relating to a lot of things Brouk said. A few examples: Wanting to write as a kid, and studying literature (I also had a class with a professor who taught Spenser). Being introduced to a room of synthesizers at school and feeling like a kid in a candy store (same!). Wanting to add silence and slow things down in arrangements (same!). Being embarrassed to call herself a composer because she didn't formally study music like Steve Reich or other composers (even though I've created a few little pieces here and there for fun, I still feel a bit weird about calling myself a musician, let alone a composer).

Another part of the interview that struck me was when she talked about finding one's own sound:
I began teaching and one of the things I loved to do was watch students use the synthesizer for the first time. I was always interested to see what they came up with, see what note they first went to. I’m drawn to that moment when you hear something and go, “Oh yes, that’s the note, that’s my note, that’s my sound, that’s me.”
I wonder what my note would be today -- and if it would be different from back when I first worked with synths.

On her Numero Group bio, it says, "She was a composer who wrote scores with geometric shapes." This got me really curious and I was glad to see she talked about this a little bit in the interview:
I started hearing music again and I didn’t know how to write it down. I didn’t have a synthesizer or access to anything [but] I started seeing it in shapes. I had butcher paper in my room and I started drawing it on the walls: circles, arches. That’s how I “scored” my music…There’s an instrument called an oscilloscope, which allows you to see sound waves, so I knew music had these various [corresponding] shapes…one circle would become another circle and the pattern would come out of one and grow bigger. I actually had an art show once featuring my shapes. A lot of them were arches, which is where cathedral concepts came from. It’s very musical. It’s all related somewhere.
In any case thanks for posting this, not_on_display, because I wasn't familiar with her work. I found her music on Bandcamp, too (from Numero Group) and have been streaming tracks from there tonight. One that I particularly like is "Majesty Suites - Entrance of the Queen of Winter Dawn" from Hearing Music.

posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 3:14 AM on May 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older What Makes a Parent?   |   "Love your hair." "Thanks, I do too." "Don't make... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments