Homewood Studios Events Archive
November 12, 2012
IMPROVISED MUSIC AT HOMEWOOD STUDIOS
Milo Fine (marimba [electronics], B flat/E flat/alto clarinets)/Viv Corringham (voice, electronics)/Aerosol Pike — Philip Mann (alto/tenor saxes, bass clarinet, drum set)/Ryan Reber (soprano sax, cello)/Rick Ness (drum set, B flat clarinet, alto sax, multi-toned tenor bugle)/Kevin Cosgrove (electric shelf, wave drum)
Sonic perambulations commence at 7p. Suggested donation $5-$10.
in honor of an influx of cold winds, a few random flakes of snow, and a forecast of moderating temperatures, the music making begins. six various musicians, all friends and colleagues who have played together many times, albeit not always in this configuration, begin their newest composition.
this writing, too, designed to join in that sculpting of sound and word. this writing, too, as unpredictable as the music...
which for years has wandered the desert seeking a home. each note plucked, bowed, breathed, strummed, fingered, blown or hummed -- a grain of sand in the never-the-same, forever-inventing-itself soundscape.
something snakelike - sidewinderlike - in the way the ripples of sand masquerade as water, the ocean, edging toward an abandoned shore somewhere warm, and sunny, and empty...
small animals on this shore, lizards - insects - scurry about being what they are, doing what they do to assure they are who they pretend to be. conventions of footprints, clawprints in the sand. patterns of movement tracing and retracing the histories of their species.
into this landscape come the birds. large, clumsy, huge-footed, bossy. republican birds, convinced they belong here. convinced disturbing the lizards and insects is in the best interest of making things right. sure of their position of power over the smaller amphibian and arachnid residents.
one many-legged insect rears up on her hind (twenty) legs to protest. gently. whisperly. the birds, surprised, respond in chorus. loudly. cacophonous. then wait, briefly, wings folded in smug self-assurance, for how madame centipede will answer. already laying their traps for whatever she will say. already dismissing whatever facts she offers as irrelevant. they know. but the centipede does not retreat. does not waver. instead she weaves the top two thirds of her body, her upper (eighty) legs in an adagio of exploration.
choruses of lizard hissing insect chirring rehearse support of the centipede. the birds enraptured, stunned. silent. are their minds expanded? do they consider what it might be like to be dressed in scales rather than feathers?
do some of these birds turn to each other, their eyebrows turning into question marks? do the more courageous of these, intruder birds, ask the centipede's name?
does an actual conversation ensue? do occasional pauses - not recalcitrant silences - occur? moments of reflection? does something like a dance begin where previously there were only cement feet? how to explain? where to give credit?
this music, this conversation, invites us all to breathe in, to inform ourselves with life-giving sound. what then comes out of us, after breathing in, is transformed, inspired, divinely driven - whatever we choose to imply by divine.
the ancient steam engine chugs its way along ribbons of iron rails through an alien and uncomfortable landscape. a locomotive, dragging its chain of one hundred compliant rail cars, unaware of its destination. laboring. attending the internal weaknesses of its mechanics - the clinks, wheezes, spurrs, mmmmms, plinks and snaps, bangs, clanks, tweedles, boinks and swooshes - all telling the tale of the train's movement into its ambivalent future.
looking for a taxi. in downtown new york. when the streets are empty. which never happens. what has changed? everyone is someplace where-else. what am i doing here? why am i not there? what has occurred? my father took his children for a walk. took us to a place we had not been before - a landscape created by music, by instruments voicing their self-invention, by sound. something like the caves kurt vonnegut wrote about somewhere in the sirens of titan. in the caves of a distant planet lived creatures who were nourished by sound, understood their universe through sound. these living beings, about the size of a dinner plate and floppy like a piece of rubber, eat sound and create knowledge by what they digest. they chronicle their learning in dreams. and share these dreams the way we share poetry on our planet. valuing those dreams, of course, but always remembering there are more important considerations, such as the price of oil and the legality of same sex marriage.
phantom tugboat emerges from the fog, its mechanicals whirling and clanking like the voice of armageddon. fish plunge away from the noise. birds soar into the sky, straining for the silence of the stars. passengers on the cruise boat stand, transfixed by the concerto for tugboat and waves, as the salt water begins singing, individual notes and phrases turning into unexpected butterflies. inexplicable miles form any shore, each butterfly - deep blue and radiant - grows in size until as big as a horse. their wings stirring the wind blowing over the water, into the sky, moving the clouds, changing the weather, baking the bread and frying eh sausages. a small feast of peasant food for the famished passengers on deck. an moment of reflection, digestion, rumination... why are we here? in this moment? on this cruise? and why are we not blue butterflies?
a dollar bill floats in the open door. the temperature drops six degrees. the audience pulls its lapels tighter around its neck. the children sit in a row on the floor. they are not staying long, but while here they wonder - what is happening. we come here often to enjoy colors and shapes talking to us from the walls. now, something else is talking. not colors, but sounds. how do we think, they think, about why dad brought us here? and just ass quickly, they leave. full of something that will haunt them the rest of their lives. that night... the first cold night after a warm summer... when we went for a walk with dad and walked right into a place we could not imagine, can't quite remember, like a dream, - except for the shapes of people bending and bobbing over the tools they were playing with. those images will not leave our memories. why were the grownups there listening to that landscape? in the almost dark. what were they seeing?
memory of ice returns. images of ice crystals forming at the edge of the eaves. patches of white ice in the alley. stepping on them, listening to the cracking and popping on the way to school. breath like ice.
hanging in the air around our lips.
what does a heart look like as its body runs a marathon? how incessantly does it bang its curled fingers on the door for release? how many times does it ask for respite? becoming a fist, opening and closing. opening and closing. knocking and knocking. asking - after hours of banging on the unresponsive door - if anyone is listening. until...this exhausted heart...slips into a kind of suspended state. into detachment, acceptance. floating along in an elevated consciousness. until new vocabularies enter the porches of the heart's ear. strings of words convincing enough to change the heart's mind, alter its viewpoint, bring it into first acceptance, then a quizzical stance, then euphoria. so, this marathon thing. not so bad... makes me feel like dancing. like grabbing a partner and cutting a rug. anybody out there game?
hamster on a treadmill. circular basket inside her cage. muttering to herself. about the inevitably of politics. the predictable sweep - campaign endless commercials hotly dishonest predictions elections. jubilation and hand wringing in equal measure. then protestations of purpose and collegiality. followed by brief disagreements, squabbles, pauses for realignment and recalibration. a moment of utter and indispensable silence. a surprising and hopeful moment. but only that. then the cascading resumption of separate efforts to prevail. declarations of infallibility and then, time for another election. all before the poor hamster steps down from her wheel, panting, and in search of a nutritious snack.
this room is filled with the sound dark mater makes. you know, dark matter? ninety-three percent of the universe we cannot see. can only speculate about. our current senses, our "big five", dedicated to knowing all there is to know about seven percent of what surrounds us, what fills us. are the spaces between atoms inside us (and surrounding us) filled with dark matter? with its music? do we possess other senses - a sixth? seventh? eighth? ...fifty-fourth? - we have not yet learned to access? will this brief foray into the realms of darkness, lifted by the power of this music, assist us in evolving those other, alternative, and necessary senses? will this strain of evolution make it possible for the eight to ten billions earthlings currently looking for a room to rent to live in harmony?
a noisy car rattles by outside. its exhaust pipe competing with the bass clarinet. we drift, for a moment, inside that ford pinto and travel in the direction of starlight, moondrift, cloudsound. headed for the dream factory, no admission charge. free for the asking. entrance available to all creatures. humans, dogs, dinosaurs, birds... even the blind man is welcome. for he dreams in sounds and will teach us something we do not yet know. through the factory door, then, we step onto a moving floor, a flowing sidewalk, spongy and welcoming, conveying us along the pathways of our dreaming. to a fly on the wall, we are all moving in the same direction o the same moving floor. to each of the dreamers, however, it is a separate and unique journey through a phantasm of private images, private recollections, private associations. at times familiar, at other times incomprehensible. consoling, then disturbing. rubble and debris strews in our path. improbable wings lifting up out of trouble. lights both blinding and guiding, revealing and perturbing. shooting stars - faces of those we have loved - zoom past. those stars stationery in their arcs through the night sky, propelled through our minds by this unending music. flashing and noisy while remaining in the same place, composed, detached, accepting. fixed polar stars offering a sense of direction, a compass. and then we recognize - we do not need to "go" anywhere. we are already there. inside ourselves. where everything we dream about exists. in the spaces between the molecules of dark matter. in the imagination. in the magic breathing engendered by this unmistakably inventive music surrounding us. everything at once. cacophonous and harmonious. cachinnating and inviting. everything at once. our each-by-themselves dreams part of this everything and at the same time the way we have of making sense. parsing every sound into image, every image into meaning, into ways of staying alive.
and then a slowing, a softening, a musing. looking for silence. approaching the cessation of sound. but not quite. asking questions. answering with more questions. pushing interrogations out into the dark universe the way a child deftly nudges a sailboat toward the center of a pond. surrendering to the vagaries of the unseen wind. the reeds at the edge of the pond pointing out the wind and its ways. the reeds, three of them, talking to each other through the spaces in dark matter. sending glistening threads out, around, through and toward one another. reaching. opening. like flowers blooming in moonlight. detached. accepting. there.