The Freelance Mentalists.
Friday, January 14, 2005
 
notes on cage and Hiller's HPSCHD:

i its a work for amplified harpischords (divided into 7 solos) and 52 "amplified machines" to be combined in any way chosen -- the music is to be broadcast into 2-59 channels. the loud-speakers surround the audience. The first performance took place in 1969 and wz broadcast in conjuction with 40 films, onto 11 silk screens and using 64 slide projectors and 6,400 slides (5,000 from NASA) -- a 'happening'.
ii Xenakis' 'Persepolis' (1971) is a work for 8-channel tape of electroacoustic music, and is played over 100 loud-speakers sread throughout the ruins of Shiraz, Iran, where the first performance took place. Laser-beams, fireworks, projectors are used and groups of children bear torches around the mountain.
iii lou reed's 'metal machine music' (1975) wz released on dbl-vinyl as a 'contract breaker' (lou has denied it; some ppl don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth) and no performances took place till recently

iv HPSCHD stands in between these two works -- the surface structure is similar to MMM -- i.e. 'look ma no hands' soloing (same with Lou) w/sinewave tones, fixed length 'tracks' (MMM had 4*16 min tracks, except a locked groove at the end of MMM and a 5 min track at the end of HPSCHD) -- a minimalist maximalism. Xenakis varies the internal structure so much I can't even begin to see the nuts and bolts -- all make tracks for tapes but xenakis' is a more beguiling blend. Cage made a stastical analysis of the melodic nature of Mozart's music, introducing chance through a 'musical dicegame' at certain points ('measures') where each solo has diff measures taken from the solo piano music of beethoven, gorecki, chopin etc. Lou reed, in an interview round the time the record was released, claims to quote beethoven et al throughout the work -- listening to either doesn't leave me any wiser as to any of that even if one was prob bullshitting and the other wz not. Cage and Xenakis made the music as part of something else, so you're gonna miss that something on the CD.

v Xenakis and Cage take classical music out of the concert hall -- a response to a (western) world that wasn't JUST going to concert halls for enjoyment anymore. Lou finally performed this work by going into the concert hall, with a proper classical ensemble and to a world that got wiser.

vi The packaging of HPSCHD is wonderful, a rarity among anything releasing under the 'contemporary classical' (ugh!) banner -- get amongst the 0s and 1s of the music and its been mostly great k thanx, but the notes usually don't seem to reflect the music. Its as black and white as the composer's pic. HPSCHD is a diff story tho' -- 16 cards, one side are notes on the work, turn it around and its a puzzle. Join 'em together on yr bed and you get the orig, psychedelic-looking, poster for the very first performance. Cage's face is a simpsons yellow! The notes are good too: Bill brooks tells us to rip it onto mp3 and mash it up! That if all you do is just listen to the CD then the meaning is 'lost'.

I'll get round to it when I feel creative. I haven't even had coffee this morning.

Lou Reed's said, in the liner notes, that you won't get through listening MMM. That his week beats your year. Probably true 'cause he's Lou Reed...

vii Xenakis composed 'persepolis' with purely electronic sound, Lou reed altered the sound of a contemporary instrument and Cage used tech to give an antique instrument a diff meaning and make it stand out in a world that could be receptive to it.

viii
is this what robin meant by a post-human harpischord? is this what radio free narnia meant by what robin meant?
 
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