Sunday, December 02, 2007


The salon was interesting.
Two piano pieces; eight short pieces for piano and ten short pieces for piano.
Similar in design, lots of interesting ideas but overall composition lacking in coherence and dramatic arc.
A violin solo that Meredith and I disagreed on I liked it mostly because of the near infinite range of violin sonorities due to mutability of pitch that instrument offers.

Agony and ecstasy due to the lack of frets.

Another, completely different three movement piece, a mini opera about a cowboy love affair provided an amusing contrast.
Movement 1 for two acoustic guitars. Movement 2 for acoustic guitar and acoustic bass. Movement 3 for acoustic guitar and cello.
Written and performed by Jay (Sorry, Jay I forget the last name, Hamilton?,) and his accompanist, name also forgotten.
Wait, I may be able to research those names; be right back.

My apologies, I've deleted the salon announcement and will have to rely on my memory for details of the show.

Anyway, Jay composed and sang and it was interesting, even thought my decreasing hearing left mush of it to the ether. (I think I'll leave the typo "mush" as it seems to relate to my hearing. Freudian slip?)

The postpenultimate (means after the one before the last, or mathematically speaking, last) offering was Wally Shoup's improvisating trio. Piano; Gust burns, percussion, (see earlier comments about memory and hearing loss) And Alto Saxophone, Wally Shoup.
This is a well known and well practiced group and they are terrific.
All made up on the spot, the music was sonorous, entertaining, intelligent, and insightful.
I can perceive a parallel between the "aleatory" nature of the violin piece (which had a written score) and the "composed" nature of the trio (which didn't), but I couldn't possibly explain it to you.

Anyway, the comparison of the "amateur" works and the "professional" work was enlightening.

Terms; "amateur" means done for love. "professional" is trickier to define because I want to avoid the "done for money" aspect. I guess it means that it's a basic component of your beliefs that you are willing to allow the world to observe.
And bet your livelihood on, I guess.

Once again, my brain is starting to hurt, I've got to get back to trash talking the SSO.


Blogger butch said...

This is some hot prose here, Dougster. "Mostly because of the near infinite range of violin sonorities due to the mutability of pitch the instrument offers. Agony and ecstacy due to the lack of frets." Honestly I think maybe Alex might know what the deuce your are referring to here, but I am somewhat lost. The reasonance that a violin tosses out seems to be shaped by the musician, the person bending and vibrating the strings, and the skill of the bow work, right? What was it that Ms. Meredith did not like or appreciate about the piece?

The Horse Opera does sound like it was entertaining. I would love to hear a piece of music written for acoustic guitar and cello. Perhaps you could compose another one, your version of that duet.

Wally Shoup grew up in the South (Charlotte, N.C) in the 1950's and was heavily influenced by Black Music of that era: blues, R 'n B, Soul and, later, in the 60's, free jazz. After moving to Colorado in 1970, and hearing Britain's groundbreaking Music Improvisation Company, he simultaneously discovered free improvisation and his calling as a musician.

After a period of intense study and obsessive listening, he became active in 1975 as an organizer, D.J., and player of free music ­ merging free jazz, free improvisation and noise into a highly personal and idiosyncratic style.

He released his first LP Scree-Run Waltz in 1981, making it one of the first independently produced documents of American free improvisation.

He then moved to Birmingham, Ala to become involved with its thriving improvisation scene, which revolved around the Trans Duo of Davey Williams and La Donna Smith. He performed w/Trans, wrote for the Improvisor magazine and worked with dancer, Mary Horn, in a multi-disciplinary duo, culminating in a European tour in 1985.

Wally moved to Seattle in 1985 and became a central figure in the improvisational world. He performed with the New Art Orchestra, Catabatics and took part in the 1st Seattle Improvised Music Festival. Since that time, he has helped guide that festival to its present-day status as the longest running improvisation festival in America.

A compelling and original saxophonist, Wally is featured in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music, noted for his ability to "draw crowds from diverse audiences due to his fierce intensity and explorative saxophone performances."

He formed Project W in 1994 with cellist, Brent Arnold, and released the CD Project W (Apraxia) in 1996 (named a top ten release in Cadence Magazine) and the LP Obliquity (Shrat), which documented their opening set for Sonic Youth in 1998.

His alliance with Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) has yielded two CD's: the highly acclaimed Hurricane Floyd (Subliminal) in 2000 and the upcoming Leo Records release Live at Tonic (w/Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano)

He formed the Wally Shoup Trio in 2001 w/bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Bob Rees. The group has played to great acclaim in Seattle (see feature article in the Stranger by Mike McConigal ­ and has recently released Fusillades and Lamentations on the London-based Leo Label.

Additionally, Wally is a painter of repute in the "Outsider Art" circles and is represented in Seattle by the Garde-Rail Gallery ( His textural, expressive art merges the sophisticated with the primitive in much the same way as his music, and his art graces a number of his record releases.

He also has written numerous articles and reviews of music. His writing has appeared in the Improvisor, Art Papers, The Stranger, Earshot Jazz Magazine, Perfect Sound Forever, and on, where he is an editorial reviewer. A book of his music writing will be forthcoming on Thurston Moore's Glasseye Book series.

For any artist to give up their amateur status is like leaping off a cliff. When your art must pay the rent, some of the love, the great joy can spill out of the effort. A talented amateur can become just another hack artist, and unemployed musician, actor, writer, poet, composer. A very tricky balance there, embraced by luck, impervious even to talent, verve, ambition, drive, personality, and logic. Thank God there are those fields of food service and real estate that welcome artists, giving them that livlihood their art denies them. Success is so fickle, and sometimes so fleeting, that it is like predicting the weather here in the Northwest, just educated guesses being tossed into the fray.

Melva just called me. She is back from Florida last night. What with these monsoons upon us, she called in a panic. Our basement is still flooding, and the wonderous 3,000 dollar new sump pump sits idle and silent. So I have to call the plumber, and probably take time off this morning from work, and meet him at home. There is always something, isn't there?

As to the great knarled beast known as SSO, you give him hell, Sir Savant.


6:10 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

To profess is to claim to know, to be an innovator, a guide, an expert.
You put your ego on the line.
And your legal responsibility.
As you point out, you don't necessarily make any money.
For that, there's indentured servitude.
The pompous violin sentence merely states that there are a lot of different noises you can get out of a violin 'cause you can slide your fingers freely on the fingerboard.
Use one, two, three, or even all four strings at once.
You can tune it differently.
And use the bow in many different ways; over the bridge, on the bridge, over the fingerboard, behind the bridge, on the tailpiece. Using the flat of the hair, the edge of the hair, the back of the bow, pluck it like a guitar, with the meat of your finger, with a fingernail, a pick, pull out a string and let it snap.
Bow real slow so it makes a scratchy sound, bow slow smoothly,
Bow fast and hard, bow up, bow down, bounce the bow on the strings, tap on the body, pound the thing on your head, making different sounds with your embouchure.
That's all I can think of right at the moment.
All these techniques have Italian, French, German, names and most likely all other languages.
My orchestration book only lists the three.
I will translate the duet for guitar and cello. See what it sounds like.
The accordion piece got much better for being played on piano.

Oh, yeah, you can hum along or sing while playing, too.
Also, there is a world of music to be found in the space of a minor second.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

I just read your comment over at Alex's blog.
You could always kick my ass at wrestling, too.

9:19 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Thanks a bunch for elaborating your comments on playing a violin. My grandfather played the "fiddle" by ear, and he was pretty good at it; used to do barn dances and such during the depression to make a few pesos. So when I was in 4th grade I decided to play the violin, to please him, to emulate him. But it just wasn't in me. I never made it the whole quarter, just a few weeks actually. Stepfather Art would not let me practice in the house. I had to go out to the woodshed; too much of a hassle for a kid like me. I really am lookin forward to hearing your rendition or copy of the cello and acoustic guitar duet.

The plumbers showed up after I wet vacced up 10 gallons of water yesterday morning. They explained that the sump is designed to suck up water from below it, not somehow mysteriously suck water from above it. The cracks in my foundation are such that the water from up above on the lawn puddles up and runs down through the cracks and then runs along the baseboards and comes out in the basement. They pulled out their power chisels and dug trenches in the concrete, opening up the wall to look at where the stream of water was coming down. They found the stream, and diverted it into three trenches. 2.5 hours later when they finished, and the floor began to dry out, I asked them what I owed them. "Nothing," said the head guy, Henry Jr.,"We take care of our customers." I was still in shock, standing there with a stupid grin on my face as they drove off to save someone else's day.

Yes, I finally got up the courage to post a few comments on Alex's web site, and she graciously responds. Thanks for your notice of such things. Yeah, I used to be a tough little bugger teenager, boxing and wrestling and writing. Maybe that's where you picked up on the Norman Mailer Jr. comparison. It is odd and wonderful that thanks to you, and my aunt Jean with her writer's website, and my film club, and now Ms. Shapiro, I am able to do more writing in a week than I had been doing over a year in the past. My retirement looms large and luscious. Poems and prose and critiques swirl in my head like a swarm of bees looking for an exit. What a great rememdy for CRS. I might add some ginsing just for spice and recall as well.


5:31 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Alex asked about your poetry. Have you told her about Jean's site?

I have tried transposing the duet and changing patches. It sounds terrible.
Needs work.

7:55 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Auntie Jean Carpenter is letting her site, lapse, to melt into cyber space. She has lost enthusiasm for it,I guess. So my many dozens of poems, and my hundreds of pages of narrative, family history, movie reviews, and chit-chat will be gone too. I have copies of nearly everything saved at home, but it was way cool to see everything I wrote all in one place, bare-faced and out there for everyone to peruse.

I probably need to back off some on Ms. Sapiro's website. I am excited about it like a little kid, and you know I tend to be much too garrulous if given half a chance. I do not want to freak her out, or wear out my welcome before I hardly begin. Only on FFTL can I wail like a whirling dervish, pounding these keys like a berserk, kicking my cortex into overdrive. Thanks for that.

Anonomann has been kind of quiet lately. He must be traveling again, always on the move that guy.


12:27 PM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

I'm thinking we could start another site just for that purpose.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting Composers' Workshop event!!
No, I haven't been traveling. I am volunteering at the U.N.I.C.E.F. card table in the shopping center here in Schwerin, and Mondays and Tuesdays don't interfere with my volunteering at the Státe Theater here, which is usually "dark" on those days, so I'm not at the State Library on Mondays now when my partner is there as a volunteer, but through Christmas I'll be at the Library and on its computer for Internet on Wednesdays; that's why you haveen't heard from me this week until now.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo, Lane!
You have yet to answer Glenn's stated question (and my unstated one): Qhat was it that Meredith did not like about the piece you liked. I look forward to your mutual discussions of works that we may all hear together when I'm in Emeraldville.

8:50 AM  

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