Sounds Like NowA blog by saxophonist Brian Sacawa
Archive for December, 2007
SLN has received a bump in the polls this yearâ€”the polls being Scott Spiegelberg’s annual Top 50 Classical Music Blogs. Using a new, and I might add, improved ranking system, we’ve skyrocketed from tied-for-49th to a very respectable 15th. This actually makes SLN the 4th best performer blog, though it’s not fair for us to be in the same category as the Violin Diaries, since I am but one person and they’ve got bloggers posting from all over the world on their aggregate site. So with that little adjustment, SLN is the 3rd best music blog by a performer. But if you put SLN in its proper instrument categoryâ€”that being woodwindsâ€”its the Number One Woodwind Performer Music Blog. Woo-hoo! We’re Number One!
Baltimore’s 2nd annual performance of Phil Kline’s amibient Christmas masterpiece Unsilent Night took place last night and was by all accounts a smashing success. We had a record crowd of nearly 100 totally awesome participants. New for the 2007 edition of Unsilent Night in Baltimore was the summoning of aliens as we gathered in a circle around the infamous Male/Femal sculpture in front of Penn Station; convincing the Amtrak police that we were the “carolers” they were expecting and we did indeed know where to stageâ€”after sharing the joy with everyone in the train station; and making our way in and then out of the lobby of the Charles Theater. Many thanks again to all the folks who helped out and spread the word about this year’s event. We’ll see everyone again next year!
P.s. Some photos of the event can be had here. And, by the way, if you came out last night and took some photos and would like to share them, that would be great. Just send me an email!
The batteries were all placed in the boombox with care . . . It’s the day before Unsilent Night in Baltimore and we’re ready to go. The press has been rolling in:
- Baltimore City Paper: Critic’s Pick
- Baltimore Sun: The Free Sheet
- Washington Post: The Scene (scroll down)
Though it won’t be as cold as last year, it’s still going to be a bit chilly. Those who brave the cold can look forward to warming up with some grog at Joe Squared at the Unsilent After Party following the event, where Hybrid Groove Project and DJ Dubble8 will warm things up as well. (We tried to get this guy on the bill, but he was booked already.)
Update: And many thanks to Baltimore bloggers Charissa, Box89e, and Broadsheet for helping to spread the word. Though I’m not sure what to make of this. At least the hipsters know that December 21 is Friday, not Saturday. Ahem.
We have new car smell. (And a pretty wreath.)
The countdown to the 2007 edition of Unsilent Night in Baltimore has begun.
Stockhausen’s passing last week was well documented by the new (and not so) music community. I’ve yet to chime in, but here goes. Honestly, I was scared of Stockhausen. My fear wasn’t based on any personal experience with himâ€”I never met himâ€”but came from when I was learning his composition In Freundschaft.
All the reading I’d been doing to help me prepare for the piece, led me to believe that he was an overbearing control freak. I mean, there are 57 very specific instructions on how to perform most of the material in the piece, leaving little room for personal interpretation. There are even specific directions on how the performer should move while playing the work. What if I played that quarter note tied to the sixteenth note one sixteenth note too long or cheated the three whole notes tied to a half note by two sixteenth notes? I imagined what he would do upon learning of my irresponsibilityâ€”maybe seek me out, berate me publicly, and have me arrested by the German police if I ever had the audacity to perform his music again. Irrational and ridiculous, I know, but I once heard a story of him storming out of a student performance of Kontakte at the University of Michigan, cursing at the performers’ inaccuracy and inattention to detail.
But those very things that frightened meâ€”his exactness, precision, and scrupulousnessâ€”were what made me admire his work so much. Take In Freundschaft, for example, which is one of his “process planning” pieces, meaning that everythingâ€”everythingâ€”in the piece is derived from a single formula. Intervals, pitches, duration, register. The idea of a piece controlled so rigidly sounds positively icy. Yet the end result, a work that is full of energy and emotion, belies the oppressive parameters. Perfectionism could be considered an affliction. And in musical composition, that type of control and detail orientation can often lead to negligible sonic results. But, in my mind at least, Stockhausen transcended that stigma, taking a small idea, and spinning it into a meaningful work. Isn’t that what great composers do?
Stockhausen also spoke one of my favorite quotes on developing a musical voice and the meaning of being a musician, which is what I’ll end with:
Musical training has nothing to do with musicality. You can train someone for years in a conservatoire of music and develop the ability to recognize pitch constructions, harmonies, chords, melodies, intervalsâ€”all intellectually. But what I call a musical person is someone who can imitate any sound that he hears, with his voice, directly, without thinking about hitting the right pitch, but just doing it. And not only imitating the pitch, but the timbre as well. Great musicians always start off as great imitators. Afterwards, building on the talent of imitation, comes the talent to transform what you hear. Many don’t reach that far, but those who attain the ability to transform, incorporate and identify sounds, they are the better musicians. Then comes the last stage of perfecting this ability so that it becomes almost automatic.
(From an informal conversation with an anonymous reviewer, London 1971. Contained in Stockhausen On Music, Robin Maconie, compiler.)