Monday, January 31, 2011

First of Two Upcoming Concerts: Feb. 3rd (Thursday) at the Chapel

What: two of the “SoundScrolls” pieces (#5 and #6), three shorter works for guided improvisation over prerecorded sound, and a set by jazz/improv group Hexafone.

When: February 3rd (this coming Thursday), 8:00 to roughly 9:45.

Where: Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, 50th and Sunnyside, in Wallingford (Seattle, WA).

Price: Sliding scale, $5.00 to $15.00.


SoundScrolls V: A relatively long piece in three movements, for solo piano over prerecorded sound; more contemplative than many of the “SoundScrolls” pieces (its mood is close to that of many of the “StormSound” pieces). The first movement is for piano with two more pianos prerecorded and shifted slightly into microtones (I’m going into a studio tomorrow to put the finishing touches on this). All three play slow, chordal music based on a graphic score. The short second movement is for prerecorded sound alone; computerized zips and bleeps compete with field recordings and resonant drones. The third movement, the longest, is a revision of something I once played at a Seattle Composers’ Salon as “PianoSphere II” (it was a big hit then) – the piano becomes an environment of sounds, over a sound carpet of field recordings, silences, hammer dulcimer, and more piano sounds. It also uses two “extended” piano techniques of my own invention, including the crywire. The result should be a meditative work that seeks to create (metaphorical, maybe not) silence.

SoundScrolls VI: In complete contrast to #5, this is something of a rude interruption. The graphic score is, as for all the “SoundScrolls”, a landscape drawn or copied onto music paper; in this case, however, the instruments should squeal and honk in the “classic” free-jazz manner (Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc.) and the prerecorded part is an intense bit of microtonal phasing. Altogether it is about one third the length of #5.

Three more pieces: I’ll probably do “Chapel Creak”, which sounds like a pleasant location for a picnic – but notice the spelling. It’s a piece of found sound music, derived from a very creaky (and surprisingly musical) cabinet door in the back room of the Chapel where the piece is going to be performed. One of my new “Phase Canons” that use phasing in a less repetitive way than “standard” phase minimalism, it is a site-specific piece. Also, two short excerpts from the “StormSound” cycle: “Song from the Storms and the Winds”, over which I’ll improvise a hammer dulcimer part, and an edit from “Nature Lives in Motion”, with a graphic score realized from found objects. (At a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Shell Club, I mentioned Deep Listening Band playing conch shells as percussion instruments; they all said it was a fascinating idea. I’m going to try it myself with a turban shell, some scallop shells – which make a very strange, haunting and slightly dissonant chiming clink – and two abalones.)

Hexafone: This is a jazz trio, led by Bruce Greely on bass clarinet. Mike Sentkewitz plays acoustic bass and Ryan Burt plays drums and percussion. They said they’re going to do some free improv, a couple of standards, and their version of a piece by Strauss (I don’t know if it’s Johann, Johann Jr., or Richard). They’ll also join me for SoundScrolls VI.

Speaking of SoundScrolls, the jinx has resurfaced – also scheduled originally was SoundScrolls VII, which calls for two recordists (phonographers) as well as piano and found percussion. Logistical problems came about almost immediately; one by one they had to cancel (including the sound person!) so I replaced the piece with the three shorter ones.

Well, that’s about it. Should be a good concert – perhaps a little more stylistic variety than at some of my previous concerts (that’s neither good nor bad, just a fact), and I’m looking forward to it…

Again, the time and place: Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, 50th and Sunnyside, in Wallingford (Seattle, WA). Time: 8:00 to about 9:45. Price: sliding scale: $5.00 to $15.00. More information at the Wayward Music Series blog.

(This posting is on 1/31/2011; 113 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Concert Review: Is that Jazz? Festival: Operation ID and Dana Reason; Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle, 1/22/2011

I couldn't make it to all of the Is That Jazz? Festival concerts, but this one at least had enough variety to be at least two concerts...

Operation ID - a photo from the Seattle Times.

“Glenn Branca meets Return to Forever with Mr. Bungle, Steve Reich, Rush, and Spock’s Beard commenting from the sidelines.” This is Operation ID – a jazz-rock fusion band of the old school, mixed with free jazz of the new school, with a lot of energy. “…Is it jazz?” The guitar player said that since the band’s inception they’ve been trying to answer than question; and when he asked Steve Peters if they could play in the “Is That Jazz?” festival, he asked, “Is it jazz?” The question gets repeated…

My answer: probably. My other answer: probably not. Neither answer affects the quality of the music.

They played eight pieces, mostly shorter than five minutes each. Most had an least one section of improvisation, either in the standard jazz sense of improvising over pre-set chords or rhythms, or in the free-improv sense of group spontaneity with nothing pre-planned. (A couple of pieces, though, were through-composed.) Most pieces started with some type of riff on one instrument, followed by the entire group exploding into action on a syncopated, heavily accented rhythm/melody; sometimes there was a little “follow the leader” session in the manner of 70’s rock, where one instrument played two or three measures and then the entire band hammered them back. Improvised sections ranged in style from chaotic free-for-all to hazy quasi-impressionism to frenetic rock; there were wailing saxophones and guitars, and moody clarinets and atmospheric hazes. The level of energy, though, never waned. In the end I would have liked the compositions to be more cyclical – in music of this sort, where everything is loud, angular, and intensely rhythmic, the listener may need some sort of home base (I know I usually write about music where this is neither needed nor provided!) but none of the pieces they played ended with the same material that they began with. Most of them sounded like two pieces that were broadly similar, stuck together with an improvisation in the middle. That’s a minor criticism though, and I expect a lot form this group in the future.

Dana Reason, a photo from the Nonsequitur blog

The second half was a piano solo, and it couldn’t have been more of a contrast. That (I think) was precisely the point. I’d heard Dana Reason play before, in California; she was a good and inventive pianist then, and now she has even more impressive technique, inventiveness, and nuance. Much of the music dealt with subtle disassociations in one way or another. There were little snow-flurries of notes that resolved into single-note trills (tremolos) that were not on the expected note but hung there in a kind of meta-harmony; there were unexpected resonances that appeared in the middle of a chord (she was using half-pedaling techniques that made the piano sound like a couple of different instruments); and little snippets (sometimes no more than two or three notes!) of classical and jazz standards. These musical disassociations had a visual element. I mentioned the pedal techniques; these were extremely visible as she bounced her foot up and down often in the “wrong” place(s) during a phrase, sometimes more than once for a single note. The trills were likewise “wrong”; her hands seemed to extend and bend in ways that aren’t used in piano music, and were almost dancelike. This visual element reached its climax in a piece called “Common Sense” – in what would seem like a mere gimmick until one thinks about it, she played the piano backwards by lying down on the piano bench and reaching up over her head. Thus the left hand was where the right should have been, and vice-versa – quite startling to watch, since the hands seem to be backwards and in the wrong place (they shouldn’t bend that way!). The reason behind this was not just a visual novelty (though it certainly was this) but a way to un- and re-learn the piano, approaching it as if it were something entirely new. The usual rules for playing simply aren’t there any more – the thumbs are in the wrong place, higher notes are now played by the right hand, backwards, and the keys are not even completely visible! Yet for all of this, the piece was intensely elegant in style and inflection.

Of course “Common Sense” was only one piece, and it was short. The other pieces were played in the conventional sitting position. She ended her set with a meditative piece by George Lewis (often pentatonic, hints of Lou Harrison, melodies based on 5ths, 6ths, and an occasional sharp-4th) and a classical “mash-up” that used the Beethoven Fifth as an idée fixe in much the same way as Ives used it in the “Concord” Sonata, though here it was underneath little bits of Chopin, Ravel, and Gershwin. Actually a fairly quiet piece, if still with those rapid flurries of notes, and it ended the program on a sense of quiet expectancy for other music.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Instrumania Part Two: Giant Windharps and Richard Lerman

A friend sent me this link a week or so ago: Harp Spectrum. This is of the same ilk as the “instrumania” (see my 1/11/2011 posting) but on a grand scale. I’ll have to check this out.

The Puget Sound Giant Windharp,
a picture from their website. There's also a "giant space harp".

I haven’t seen (or heard) anything quite like this, but I have heard some vaguely similar windharps on the CD “Within Earreach” by Richard Lerman. This CD features “field recordings” made with home-made micro-mikes that attach to objects (in the manner of pick-ups) and record not only the ambient sound but the response of the amplified object to those sounds. Fascinating, and actually quite relaxing once the listener gets past the “low tech” surface that it seems to have at first.

I’ve also seen Mr. Lerman in concert, some years ago. In one piece, he continued the idea of the mini-mikes, attaching them to sheets and slabs of metal that he suspended like gongs and “played” with a blowtorch. They made otherworldly, reverberant booms and yowls (the latter sounded as if there were tiny, spectral wolves howling within the metal). He also cut up amplified plastic drinking straws with scissors, producing a series of “plinks” that moved up a scale (or a rough overtone series) – each cut was successively shorter so the tone was higher. The whole performance was put onto a series of tape loops that echoed in surround sound. In both pieces, the whimsical visuals were in complete contrast to the apparent solemnity of the music (for the blowtorch piece he wore a hazmat suit and danced around as if trying to avoid radioactivity from the pieces of metal!). A study in contrast.

The idea of the small mikes was one inspiration behind my “Eco Slab Gong” piece. It only worked once and (in that form) is available on my CD “Abstracts” – and an excerpt from the same version is in part of the “StormSound” cycle. See my 6/17/2010 posting for the time it didn’t work, but led to the use of the slab gong as a percussion instrument – and indirectly, to the "StormSound" cycle itself.

(This posting is on 1/21/2011; 123 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Upcoming Concerts and the SoundScrolls Jinx

“New Music in the Library”: Sunday Afternoon, February 13th or 20th, Lynnwood Public Library:

I’d like to get the “New Music in the Library” concerts going again. Both of these dates have been approved by the library staff, but I’ll only do one of course. Depends how many musicians I hear from about which date. More on that later. As before, this will be a free improvisation concert, an “open mikeless” open to anyone who wants to bring an instrument – see the “rules” for participating in my 9/22/2010 posting.

Members of Seattle Phonographers' Union (and others) play compositions by S. Eric Scribner using field recordings: 7:30, Thursday, February 3rd, at the Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle.

The cover for my “SoundScrolls” CD. I’m going to give a couple of these pieces a retry, if nothing else, to try to break the curse…

“SoundScrolls” is the name of a set of short(er) pieces (that’s relative – they’re certainly shorter than the “StormSound” cycle). I’ve been composing them since the 1980’s, though the idea actually goes back farther than that. Each of them uses one graphic score that resembles a landscape; the musicians play or improvise on the notes thus suggested. Some of them have other parts that are more traditionally notated (though still with room for improvisation); others have prerecorded parts. I’ve put out a CD or the first four of them (which are appropriately titled SoundScrolls I, SoundScrolls II, etc.).

But these “SoundScrolls” pieces seem to by jinxed. (The following discussion is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though the facts stack up oddly.)

SoundScrolls I has been performed a couple of times at open mikes, and once in at a concert in the Fukushima Ongakudo Concert Hall in Fukukshima, Japan (with Masahiro Kusaka on shakuhachi). It seems to be my most popular ensemble piece, and the jinx does not apply to it. The rest of them, though, have always been a problem. SoundScrolls II originally had a prerecorded sound part (I lost it years ago), and all performances of the piece have had at least one near-disaster. At one open mike (Freight and Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, CA), I had some of the parts on tape but the soundman ignored my cues and never played the tape (he asked afterwards if my frantic hand-waving had in fact been his cue); at another concert, the gong had a dent in it so it didn’t resonate properly and (at the same performance) the mallet head fell off and rolled into the audience. During a recording session I accidentally dropped a mallet into a percussion bowl (ka-clank!) but in this case the resulting clatter went with the music so I didn’t edit it out. The piece has never been performed again.

SoundScrolls III? Never performed live; the second movement is a minimalist phase-piece that appears to be unplayable. Several musicians have tried it. All have failed. I faked it on the CD, in a way that makes the listener know that it is really not possible to play live.

SoundScrolls IV? Exists only on a recording (I invented it as a way to round out the CD of the first three), so there doesn’t seem to be a problem with it. However, the CD of the SoundScrolls pieces is, as far as I know, the only one of my CDs that has never sold well at my concerts – even though those who have heard it generally think it is one of my best. It’s just that few have actually heard it. Nobody buys it at my concerts (the others disappear regularly). Is the cover really that ugly?

SoundScrolls V and VI? I’ve composed several versions of these. The latest was for a well-known Seattle new music ensemble, for the upcoming February 3rd concert; but one or more of them decided that they didn't want to “participate” (my guess is that it would be too much of a bother to set up all their elaborate stage equipment for a set that’s less than a half-hour). Two previous versions have similarly led to non-performance; in one case, a flutist who was planning to play it suddenly cancelled and then ceased all e-mails and phone calls a day before the rehearsal. A mutual friend just said he’d decided not to play it. I’ve never heard from him again. Weird.

So with all that, why bother with SoundScrolls VII? Well, the prerecorded part is one of my favorites so far, and I’ve taken it in a different direction. I’ve decided that, since most of the prerecorded part is made from field recordings, that I should have some of the performers be “recordists” too, such as the members of the Phonographers’ Union (see my 11/22/2011 posting). I contacted one of them; he sent out a message to the others, and two have said they were interested. But, this being a SoundScrolls piece, problems have already surfaced. I’ll see what happens here.

I defy you, SoundScrolls hex!

(This posting is on 1/20/2011; 124 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Concert Review: Deep Listening Band, Town Hall, Seattle, 1/15/2011

Deep Listening Band, a picture from their website.

I got there thirty minutes late, due to traffic revisions, unavailability of parking, and a general snafu about Interstate 5 (plus I started from home late to begin with…). According to the man at the door, I got the last ticket… I made my way in quietly, and sat in the back. The surround sound of the multiple speakers all around the hall made it so that where I sat had virtually no effect on my listening experience.

What follows is not a conventional concert review. The improvisatory, stream of consciousness, ambient and environmental nature of the music makes that impossible. Instead, this will be a “nonsense” poem in the manner of Finnegan’s Wake. I’m no James Joyce, but I’ve attempted to write similar material before, including one of the texts in “Discarded Poems” (the “technique” for composing this word salad is rather like aleatory/improvisational music, involving random chance and intuition).

Pointillistic sputtering,trombone, voice and left, center left, edge of downtown. righaccorion is tunedt. Oscillating dr diverse music, arts one (likthe deep listeninge siren but slower). Voldifferent from preparedume grows. Drone resolvesfrozen imDownstairs at Townprovisation, said into harmonics, multiphonrepresented in deepics (buzz) on trombonics. Wlong revereration time busy schedule ofooshes are last vestiges of speach performer arspeutters. Drone only now, seven limit system very beautiful “environmenleft hand andtal” sound. Minor key, dramany more instrumentsone on tonic; trombone onwe improvise together 3rd, 4th, 5th, generous (outinner) spaces and flat 7th. Influential unifying presence. Bell sounds from… where? Adjustable didgeridoo made Tintinnabulation. Bird caarrived at Sea-Taclls, from… where? (Electrand found metalonic glissando upwards.) October (1998). After Bells, bass trombone, diwhistling that providedgeridoo effect, low regiwas very darkster on piano. Fade to s45 second reverberationilence. Wavesounds (trafThe recording enginesix two-story columnser, fic outside), audience coavailable at theno religious symbolismughs, then silence.

“We’re going to take a short 15-minute break, or maybe a long 15-minute break.”

Surround piano – one noearly up, andte, 7th on tromHousehomed in anombone, 2nd was very darkand major 3rd long blockbeautiful voicedmocracy and ise andof Steve Reichian soundcistern available for. Fades, trombone mutes, iWe stayed atntrodumany of Seattle's ces minor 2nds, disquiet and helpedsonance, microtones, vocarecording studio! al “doogah!” byon the cornerpianwere all sist. Dissolves into pogreat depth toints and sputters, randsimontaneously by allom notes and noises. Toy anianessential processmals (all thbusy schedule ofree players, pianispace, in effect, ist first) digital sounds (anfoot diameter spaced listening devicesqueaks) from these jointed PVC pipetoys produce humorous mishleft handculture center itandmash when processed right and scalisten intensely tottered, space sounds, ironically nrepresented in Deepo irony! Teletuon Eighth Avenuebbies. Bye bye! (riall three composerssing notintonation). Fracentral dome menbrought along althoughts of children’s songs. Nowin the Great Halstrident, algood suggestions for(four)most gagaku. Clicks and clatters, stAl todoock sci-fi “filk”, duck-calls, mothe nhood of distingext daynightkeys, vocalisms, howls. Blwell handles whistlingow through conch shover the last ll, use edge to performingconch shell as percussion (compcomposers. The instrumentstutter scatters sounelaborate window treatmentd, adds pitto one anotherches). Loud! Wave of white noisand attentiveness differente, recedes, leavinfor conversion intog didgeridoo onAs we improvilectures, meetings, andse trombone, tranquility – then (Messiaen) aphand. The voice,ocalyptic bass trombone snintermingle to make ort. Slowamphitheater-style seating of rhythm, movea collective music. s to behind audience (accordion tunacoustic resonance of organization and relies ed differently from intimate, curved, amphitheater-other instruments), betrying to seecomes free jazz. Pianist plays bell, comand off toputer scatters bell sound, acabfor dozens oflats for ecoround onec twodds threees, (shar)pitches, bell becommany more intenstrumentses maspace to manyny bells in different retransformative spatial modulations, gisters. Quiet! Tone clustarps, cleaning toolters indiverse music, artshighest registthe big dayer of piano again First Hill neighborhood, st chordrochanged by interactionne and bells, fades. Silence. End.

If anyone could read all of that, they’d realize that the music made by Pauline Oliveros (accordon), Stuart Dempster (trombone) and David Gamper (piano) – collectively called Deep Listening Band – is improvisational, and in this concert, augmented by live surround-sound computer processing. A single note (or effect) played by one player resulted in a refractive cavalcade of echoes from all directions, often changing in pitch. The result was alternately meditative or chaotic (sometimes both at the same time!). There was a humorous moment when they played toys as instruments: the squeaks, digital noises, bye-bye!s, and whistles from stuffed animals, teletubbies, etc., joined into the computerized soundscape. The concert was in Seattle’s historic Town Hall, a former church, which has distinctive architecture.

Matter-of-fact descriptions like that are okay, but the stream-of-consciousness “nonsense” fits the nature and ambiance of the music much better.

(This posting is on 1/19/2011; 125 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Instrumania with Jay Hamilton

At first the rounded metallic contour looked like a Tibetan bell. Then Jay pulled it out of the box, to show the rest of it – it was an adapter to fit different sizes of plumbing pipe together, and looked nothing like a Tibetan bell. “It is, though, a random thing made of metal,” he said, and struck it (klong!) with a mallet. The box, I could see, was full of random things made of metal – all potentially percussion instruments.

Jay was showing me his collection of mostly hand-made instruments, with the possibility of using one or more in the StormSound Cycle concert. Besides the random things made of metal, the majority were home-made zither-like instruments – the ones that I thought would work best in the concert and the ones I had originally intended to see.

First, there’s the Ycrix (ee-kree), a pseudo-French name for an 18-stringed box derived from the ancient Chinese cheng (not the more modern and more harplike jeng). It is good with the ringing harmonics and bending, almost bluesy bwayowng! sounds of its predecessor.

The Qulp, originally designed for the Quixotic String Ensemble; maybe related to the Ycrix – though its sound is more metalic.

The Cannon: Music students insisted on calling this one a bazooka, but it’s not! It’s not! It’s an instrument of music, not of war, so it’s called a cannon. Musically it sounds rather like a banjo or even a dulcimer. There are longer versions of this, such as the klool, which is bowed (and has the strings of a viola da gamba).

The dragon: tuned in just intonation, this can be guitarlike, or bowed, or played as a struck chordophone. Resembling instruments from the “stans”, it could be a central Asian addition to the Harry Partch instrumentarium.

“Zither” is, of course, now a class of instruments, not any particular instrument. But, these last two aren’t “zithers” at all. This unnamed length of conduit with a saxophone mouthpiece sounds rather like a contrabass clarinet; I had expected it to sound like a sopranino didgeridoo (wow, was I wrong!).

…And a resonant bass xylophone.

There were a lot of others, including a couple of other zithers, several types of percussion made from plumbing (and tuned to just intonation), and a small harp that does amazingly funky (twowng!) pitch-dives. All in all an interesting set of instruments, some of which I will definitely use in the “StormSound” – probably most would work best for the sounds of the “nocturnimals” (along with the recorders and/or bass clarinet) in the piece “Night Signals; Journey to the Sea”.

(This posting is on 1/11/2011; 133 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Concert Review: Seattle Composers' Salon, Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle, 1/7/2011

The concert began and ended with ensemble pieces. The first of these was the cryptically titled “Gemtian Songs” by Christian Asplund, for tenor and various instruments (this performance was for acoustic guitar, French horn, clarinet, and string bass, though judging from what was said about the piece, it has been played by completely different ensembles in the past, and may actually be for any, unspecified, instruments). Whatever its intended instrumentation, the piece relied much on timbre for its overall effect and even its form. The fact that I could not hear the words distinctly (nor was I supposed to, I don’t think) only added to this. There were five songs (of a set of six) performed. In each, aleatory and improvisatory elements combined into textures: pointillistic sputters on a single pitch; drones with varying overtones; scatters of individual phonemes pronounced by the instrumentalists (and later the tenor soloist); and at one point a jazz/minimalist ostinato that fragmented and slowly disappeared into an evolving drone/chord. The overall feeling was meditative, particularly since the volume level was low throughout.

Afterwards, an audience member asked how they’d chosen to do the specific five songs from the set of six. The answer: “Well, the other one asks the instrumentalists to sing… No, actually, we had to cut one because of the time, so if we had to cut any, that was the one.” Another humorous moment: an audience member asked about the French horn player's unusual instrumental accessory. “What type of mute is that?” Answer: “An Opel.” (Meaning, of course, the Buick – it was a hubcap.)

The second piece was the shortest: an untitled “Prelude” by Michael Nicolella, who played it on the classic guitar. He first gave a short introduction, saying that he wanted to achieve a pianistic sound for the guitar. The piece did have some of the quality of keyboard writing, with an ostinato (what would be played in the left hand on a piano) and a melody that slowly revealed itself floating above it; however, to me it had the feel of Spanish classical guitar music (not Flamenco) more than a Chopin prelude.

Christopher DeLaurenti followed this with an electronic piece for negative soundspace. He took the sounds that were not originally intended in a performance of a string quartet by Luigi Nono (page turning, shifting positions of instruments, breathing by performers) and amplified these, leaving blank spaces where the notes of the string quartet originally were. The piece succeeded on two levels. In one way, it was a continuation of the “silent” music of Neal Meyer’s “Gradus” and Gust Burns (and ultimately of Cage) – serving as a vehicle to bring one’s mind to the silence and unintended sounds between and among sounds. But also, Chris gave a long spoken introduction, then had the lights doused, and he performed in near darkness with only his face visible, moonlike and expressionless in the pale gleam of a laptop – it was a startling visual performance piece that caused the audience members to focus on the small details of light and darkness that were dimly visible here and there (the glint off of a piece of jewelry, the shadows cast by the glow of the laptop) in the same manner as they focused on the sounds.

The last three pieces were all very short and for a very large ensemble: members of the Seattle Rock Orchestra (so called because they often do arrangements of rock and other types of popular songs). They are basically a full chamber orchestra, notably lacking percussion (probably to avoid any stereotype sound of “arranged pop music”) and heavy on the bass instruments – trombones, bass clarinet, and I counted five string bases. The three pieces were by brothers John and Scott Teske: two (from a set of six) untitled graphic scores by John, and a fully-notated post-Romantic piece by Scott. In the first of John’s graphics, low menacing microtonal drones gradually opened into larger sounds – very reminiscent of some of Ligeti’s “Atmospheres” pieces. The second started with a vast bang and a tumult – by far the loudest single ecstatic explosion I’ve ever heard at a Composers’ Salon – and then gradually fell apart, returning to the drones of the first piece (letting a didgeridoo give a primordial growl in the process). Scott’s piece finished up the set by beginning with a chord much like one of the drones in John’s pieces, then evolving melodically into a short symphonic slow movement with traces of Mahler and Richard Strauss. By itself this piece would have seemed too short (and even unfinished); but in this set it sounded like a finale that returned the listener to familiar territory after the two graphic pieces. One less string bass (the bass player was now a conductor) didn’t detract from it piece at all.

As Tom Baker (curator of the Salons and guitarist in “Gemtian Songs”) commented, something great about the Salons is the variety of pieces that could be presented. This concert was no exception.

(This posting is on 1/10/2011; 134 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)