From Music and More:
Bryan and the Haggards – Still Alive and Kicking Down the Walls (Hot Cup, 2011)
Nils Petter Molvaer – Baboon Moon (Thirsty Ear, 2011)
Full Blast and Friends – Sketches and Ballads (Trost Records, 2011)
Dengue Fever and the Secret Chiefs 3 will tour in January.
The Claudia Quintet will play in New York tonight and tomorrow night.
Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms Chicago performance is previewed.
Salome Voegelin: Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London & New York: Continuum Books, 2010)
With this book, the author sets out to create a philosophy of sound art grounded in the real-time experience of listening. The book is divided into chapters on listening, noise, silence, time and space, and the now of perceptual immediacy. Each of these individual chapters provides one part of a multifaceted perspective on the reception of sound art.
Central to Voegelin’s approach is an examination of a number of works of sound art. These serve her as platforms for discussing the philosophical problems she sets herself. She casts these problems in terms of the relationships of meaning and communication that bind the listening subject and the sounding object. The works she considers include field recordings, radiophonic works, and sound installations—a varied group encompassing, among others, Bernard Parmegiani’s “matieres induites;” Cathy Lane’s “On the Machair;” Christof Migone’s “Quieting;” Ed Osborn’s “Parabolica;” and an account of a rave party the author attended in 1993. She doesn’t provide a critical evaluation of the works but rather explores them as events giving rise to experience.
One work is essential to her engagement of these compositions and performances, and of sound in general. That work is John Cage’s epochal “4’33”.” Seen from one point of view, “4’33’’” is about what it is that makes music possible: Attentive listening. For Voegelin, silence is the “basic condition” underlying listening as a ground of communication. From here, silence—and Cage’s placing a deliberate silence before concert audiences–can be understood to open out to the phenomenon of listening outside of a musical context. But because Cage’s composition is performed in venues associated with the traditions of art music, and foregrounds one of the constituent material elements of musical phrasing—silence–it also is at least implicitly about the conditions, social as well as technical, that make music and sound art possible. In this regard it was a precursor of the conceptual art of the 1960s, as Voegelin makes clear with an apt comparison of Cage and the visual artist Mel Bochner. The work of both was significant in bringing attention to the institutional and material underpinnings of their respective arts.
Drawing on a reading of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological study of perception, Voegelin posits listening as an activity that occupies an intermediate zone between the listener and the sound-producing object. In this intermediate zone sound is received and structured by such factors as the listener’s bodily orientation, focus of attention, and pre-reflective associations. The upshot is that sound is not simply a bare perceptual given, but is something that is taken and made sense of as well. Implicit here is a reception theory of meaning: Meaning is as much produced by the listener as by the creator of the sound work.
Voegelin suggests that the meaning of sound is characteristically colored by emotion. This is because she holds sound to be an immersive phenomenon that envelopes the listener with a directness unique among perceptual objects. This directness acts as what she calls a “pathetic trigger.” In acting directly on the listener, sound inherently provokes an emotional response–it cannot help but produce feeling. Noise, for its part, is a limiting case of sound—it takes the immediacy of sound and multiplies it aggressively. It is sound forcing itself on attention and demanding to be exclusive of other sounds. In Voegelin’s evocative image, noise holds the listener hostage to his or her own listening.
Although written in a sometimes opaque academic style, Listening to Noise and Silence contains many moments that sound artists and others will find insightful.
International Contemporary Ensemble (Friday) The restless young virtuosos known as ICE are worth hearing no matter what they undertake. Here, continuing their innovative ICElab series, they perform “Aesopica,” a brash, whimsical song cycle by Marcos Balter based on Aesop’s fables; Peter Tantsits, a tenor both skillful and brave, serves as the narrator and soloist. At 7:30 p.m., Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street, Manhattan, (866) 811-4111, bacnyc.org; free, with reservations required. (Smith)
Make Music Winter (Wednesday) For the past few years, New Yorkers have enjoyed a resplendent day of citywide music making each June, with eclectic performances in halls, street corners and parks. The inaugural winter event features a dozen musical parades, which the public is invited to participate in. The offerings include Phil Kline’s “Peregrine,” a work in what’s been called his walking-boombox-ambient genre, beginning in Grand Army Plaza; and “The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk,” which incorporates a new iPhone app. Make Music Winter events run from 10:45 a.m. to around 10:15 p.m. at various locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, (917) 779-9709, makemusicny.org; free. (Schweitzer)
Ne(x)tworks (Friday and Saturday) The vibrant JACK Quartet joins this new-music ensemble for the premiere of “Spellbeamed,” a new work by the electric harpist and composer Zeena Parkins. The score, based on Walter Benjamin’s “Archive,” will be performed with live processing by the electronica composer Preshish Moments. The program also includes recent works by Joan La Barbara, Miguel Frasconi and Chris McIntyre. At 8 p.m., the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, Chelsea, (212) 255-5793, thekitchen.org; $12. (Kozinn)
Talea Ensemble (Saturday) In a concert offered in conjunction with a conference on microtonal music presented earlier in the day at Columbia University, this reliably compelling new-music ensemble takes on microtonal pieces by Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Tristan Murail, Toby Twining, Dean Drummond, Enno Poppe and Anthony Cheung (a pianist and a founder of the ensemble). At 8 p.m., Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, Manhattan, (212) 501-3330, kaufman-center.org; $10. (Smith)
‘Unsilent Night’ (Saturday) Uptown, Handel’s “Messiah” is the big holiday draw, but for the last two decades, new-music aficionados have marched to a different beat — that of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” a Greenwich Village procession in which participants carry boom-boxes (and these days, MP3 players and even an iPhone app) playing cassettes and CDs provided by Mr. Kline. The performance-procession begins in Washington Square Park and winds up about an hour later at Tompkins Square Park. At 7 p.m., the Arch at Washington Square Park, unsilentnight.com; free. (Kozinn)
From the wulf:
Friday, December 16, 8pm
the wulf, a space dedicated to experimental arts, presents Burdocks, Stones, Sticks: a concert of three works of Christian Wolff for a large ensemble, curated by Christine Tavolacci. The performers include Ezra Buchla, Archie Carey, Carolyn Chen, Eric km Clark, Daniel Corral, Corey Fogel, April Guthrie, Orin Hildestad, Anna Inuzuka, Mari, Adam Overton, and Laura Steenberge. the wulf, 1026 South Santa Fe Ave. #203, downtown Los Angeles | Free, donations accepted.
Saturday, December 17, 3pm
The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and URCK Records present the Santa Ana Noise Festival III, featuring music by Phog Masheen, Cold Grey Eye, AstroNovazz, Jesus is Dead, +DOG+, D!&P¡ , SISSISTERS, Concrete Shiva, Ain Soph Aur, Sloppy Cock, Endometrium Cuntplow, Yuko Imada, Six Mystic Points, XSXCXEXBX, The Black Scorpio Underground. There will be a Pot Luck so bring some grub, a Noise Swap meet so bring music and gear to trade/sell, and Noise artists bring your art for display. DJ and visual projections will be had, as well. OCCCA (located in the Santa Ana Artist Village), 117 North Sycamore, Santa Ana | Free, bring food for Pot Luck.
Saturday, December 17, 7pm
(the) Handbag Factory presents An Evening of Sound Servitude, featuring Bastard Noise (Artz and Wood), Winters In Osaka (from Chicago), Actuary, Bacteria Cult, GX Jupitter-Larsen, Amps For Christ. (the) Handbag Factory, 1336 S. Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles | $5
From Beyond Baroque:
Monday, December 19, 8pm
Beyond Baroque hosts Festival Eternal Tour and Ensemble Vide in their production, Deserting Las Vegas, an experimental performance with music, text and dance, in one prologue and four acts, for six performers. Deserting Las Vegas is a project bringing together musicians, dancers, singers, artists and intellectuals. The booklet and the music have been written for this occasion. The performance presents itself as a work in progress, involving the interpreters in the process of creation. Freely inspired by Bertold Brecht’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, this piece stages characters in search of meaning, torn between their contradictory desires to think, entertain themselves and make money. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, Los Angeles | $7
From Molly Malones:
Monday, December 19, 9pm
Molly Malones presents an evening of unique and original music by Drawing Caves, AK and her Kalashnikovs, and PLOTZ!. AK and her Kalashnikovs features Alissa Kueker (vocals, violin), Sebastian Steinberg (upright bass), princessFrank (percussion), Jake Bluenote (guitar, mando, banjo), Isaac Shankler (accordion), Danny Graziani (violin). PLOTZ! features Daniel Rosenboom (trumpets), Gavin Templeton (saxophones), Brian Walsh (clarinets, saxophones), Jake Vossler (guitar), Orest Balaban (bass), Austin Wrinkle (drums). Molly Malones, 575 South Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles | $8