Homewood Studios Events Archive
May 13, 2013
IMPROVISED MUSIC AT HOMEWOOD STUDIOS
Milo Fine (harpsichord) / Elaine Evans (violin) / Paul Metzger (bass recorder) / Bryce Beverlin II (percussion, voice)
+ Milo Fine (drum set [bowed cymbals], B flat/E flat clarinets) / Paul Metzger (stringed instruments) / Elaine Evans (violin, pocket trumpet, Alpen horn) / Daniel Furuta (cello)
Two group playing. Everything begins at 7p. Suggested donation $5-$10.
theme: a pair: wherever one thing stands / another thing will stand with it
a misplaced cell phone. not making any sound.
where the harpsichord stands / another ancient stringed instrument, perhaps an octopus, will stand with it
we are in a dark place. old. walking single file. ducking our heads slightly. in anticipation. of we do not know quite what. the sounds our feet make on a stone floor. broken glass sounds. ricocheting off the walls and ceiling. what are those surfaces made of? the roiling sounds draw us deeper. into lightless passages. someone’s knees creak. someone’s nose runs. kleenex and sniffle. the file is still single. and intact. the journey is still inward. until… the ceiling leaps away above us.
branches of leafless trees click, in the wind. the color of the night sky is the same as the hallway we have been walking in. whenever the hallway stands / the night sky will stand with it.
one thousand locks open. one after another. unclick, unclick, unclicking sounds. rain on a metal roof. the locks fall. from their hasps. which swings and dangle. the locks dropping. like dry leaves. to the ground. to the floor standing with the ground. where we walk. single file. into an adjoining space. infused with angles. odd walls. leaning. pitched up. slanting. our footsounds morphing. into a police car bad guys car movie chase. an old locomotive. permanently parked in a park. near the chase scene. volunteers to stand with the police car. and a chase is also a metal frame. used by letterpress printers to hold their type forms in place. tightening the quoins around these forms. securing the metal letters. into their place in the press. makes this skritching sound. this sound stands with each of the four musicians. turning their playing into a sonic broadside.
the little boy f rom down the street. running ahead of his slow-walking, slow-smoking mother. slips in for a few bars of music. holds the door from quite closing behind him. he is seven. his world circumscribed by his single mom’s fears for him. his eyes belie that fear. take in what they can, along with his ears. trying to make sense of these people. with their strange instruments. his mother arrives. the little boy turns slowly. slides out the door. retreats into the world his mother wraps him in. who or what will sand with him? when he steps through the gallery door. for forty-three seconds? perhaps the silence. the near silence. of the musicians. of the night. of the roofless hallway.
the knocking at the wall of the harpsichord. signals a turn in the journey, some stairs. slightly winding. no railing on either side. but an incessant urge, to push ahead. single file. hand on the hip. of the one in front. the air around these floating stairs. ringing like sleigh bells. what will stand with the stairs? perhaps a sleigh in a 19th century russian novel. carrying a family home. in the dark. after a country celebration. wolves in the woods at the edge of the sleigh track eyeing the horses’ haunches as the sleigh passes. the wolves, entangles in their hunger. and in their fear of the whip, the rifle. trembling through their bodies. making ice caverns of dread inside their backbones. hunger and fear racing back and forth. along their spines. tails wagging to the sound of locks falling off closed doors. in their memory.
the whip snaps. in the dark. unseen until. the tip flicks. and splits the dark air. with its voice. the wolves retreat.
shards of sound. slow footsteps. thoughtful. intent. where will such ruminations leads? a pool. reflecting starlight. inside the pool…memory. ancient memory. the kind of knowledge locked in the DNA of each cell. from a time before language. before walking upright. before swirling in the primal soup looking for a eye, an ear. what will stand with this knowledge? perhaps the limousine in cosmopolis by don delillo, taking eric porter toward the answer to his question – “what is just pasts the edge of possible?”
two day ago the ice floating on lake mille lacs was recklessly blown onto shore. fracturing into millions of tiny slivers and crawling up the beach, across the yard, up and into the cabins. relentless. breaking doors. windows. the monumental weight of winter walking on crystal feet through the darkness into the kitchens of the unprepared. what will sand with this wandering and misplaced sheet of ice? perhaps the sixteen people sitting here, in this gallery, dragged by the musicians’ art along the path the ice has taken. and perhaps tomorrow, when the ice melts and slips back in to the lake, these listeners will wake in their beds, recalling the power of the sound sculpting taking them elsewhere.
could be a single bell. or a wind chime. could be a broken branch. tied to is tree by one last filament of woodfiber. bumping its trunk. could be insects. boring into the tree. near the broken branch. into its wooden heart. looking for water. could be the night is cold and the rechereché water has turned to ice inside the tree’s rings. could be the only thing to melt the ice, the only thing besides tim …is desire. the wish to step into the darkness, trusting the unknown to reveal itself as a bridge over the abyss. building itself out of music one or two steps ahead of where we place our feet. single file. moving. into the dark.
the name of the wind passing over this moment is belief. not expectation. not fear or wonder. not hesitation. not even imagination. the name of this wind is the sound of each footstep going ahead into the wide wild universe. empty. open for whatever is there. whatever will make this single file of pilgrims live. and what will stand with them on this path? surely the strings of the harpsichord. surely the reed of the bass recorder. surely the bow of the violin or the blade of grass in the fingers of the boy singing against his knuckles. surely the sound creating this moment will stand.
the clock. slows. down. and… stops. and stops…again. and…
(the musicians replace and rearrange instruments, themselves)
once the ground thaws and begins to breathe, plants and creatures dormant through the long darkness of winter begin to stir. to stretch. uncoil. test their sinew. their fiber. their voices. stick a microphone down in to a clod of thawing earth. cycle down to the stores language of time possessed by tectonic plates. and listen. what haw for so long lain unmoving and silent is neither of those adjectives any longer. each rhizome, each thread, each vacuole, each filament, as it stretches toward the warming air above, makes music. each plant. each creature. especially the microscopic and unseeable, move, throb, undulate, spiral, budge, bump, strive, reach and spin toward what next they will be. and the sun-warmed air, brilliant above the teeming ground, stands with the world below. awaits coming into its own. nudging through the surface. into light. a child sliding down the birth canal. and bursting into light. into forgetfulness. into loss of everything named before. into the present and cacophonic moment. into the glare of light. the bright of sun. the sparkle of out-of-the-darkness and into the something else. leaping…
a frog. a three-legged one. scion of pesticides and prophet of the future. leaps like a slinky. with a crutch. synapses connecting brain and leg nerve crossed. frog mind sends a message. leap to the left!” frog body commits a back flip. frog mind says, “step slightly forward!” frog body rockets headfirst into a tree. this is the future. frog, a harbinger of what rachel carson knew sixty years ago. without care. without deep thought. without honesty…we will each become frog-like all too soon. all thinking in one direction. and acting in an unexpected. shame banging along. unti we bleed…
does the wild elephant understand. the danger of tusks? does the ancient DNA history of this animal understand the impulse to grow a defensive armament? elegant in its white and curved form. near priceless in its elements. yet carrying the seeds of the danger which will destroy it? sixty percent of the african elephants alive ten years ago have been slaughtered for their tusks. their mutilated bodies left festering in the tropical sun. while single files of bearers tote the curved ivory to the coast. ~~ what will stand with these endangered pachyderms? perhaps isabella’s elephant mask. hanging in the children’s gallery. that mask with paper towel roll trunk and pipe cleaner tusks. magic marker blue eyes. ears formed from looped threads of paper will stand with them. perhaps, one day, there will be only isabella’s mask. only that. and we will all be the less. long after the last elephant has spent her final years roaming the savannah looking for a mate, will we her the echo of her voice. alone. despondent. her trumpeting diminished to a toy trumpet bleating in the distance. and then someone will write a dirge, en elegy. to remind us of our emptiness. and the sound of that void in our ears will drive out all other sound. and we will be deaf.
what does the alpenhorn summon? when the player stands on a swiss mountainside and plays the horn, who listens? what does the sound tell them? and when the horn is played in a gallery in north minneapolis? responding to an interogatory clarinet. what gets said? inn what language? what part of the body listens? what part of the body understands? what part of the body gets in the way of understanding?
because night is falling. because the sky is roseate above the treeline in the west and graymauve behind me. because cars drive past with their lights illuminated. and because the children who, half an hour ago, were running past the gallery windows are now inside their homes. because the musicians have been playing for nearly two hours… the impetus to make sound has shifted, has changed, has evolved, slowed, turned introspective. more reflective. phrases more languorous. like a river inn its later stage – slowing and conforming to the sculpted banks it formed in more rambunctious days. then… the river. the night, the moment. the musicians. all remember their earlier, bursting, fonts of energy. fireworks! sound moving in all directions. snapping. clicking. moaning. screeching. listing. thumping. roiling. shouting. snapping cacophony. and then…like a great season emerging from the darkness, a conversation between reflective and explosive energies. creatures with a third leg scamper toward monopod sea animals. treading for a dance partner. and who will stand with this willingness to invent another way of holding the universe on a broken plate? perhaps another, parallel, universe. still replete with elephants, frogs. still awash with ice floes. still filled with playing children. will stand.