Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Soundtrack 19

Leoš Janáček 's music, as used in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Rodgers and Hart, "Blue Moon"
American folksong, "Turn the Glasses Over"
(though I prefer Sue's brandywine to ginger ale)
1960 Porsche 356 convertible, "le grenouille" (a.k.a "Grenny")

vroom vroom, fortissimo vroom!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Upcoming Performance

Sidecar performs at the Oaktown Creativity Center
447 25th Street (near Broadway)
Thursday July 5th, 8pm

The Oaktown Creativity Center is a new working studio and performance gallery created by artist Joell Jones. Anne composed music for Jones' Eight Emotions (an installation of paintings, lighting and soundtracks) in 2006, and Sidecar performed at the old studio space in 2005. Please come support all of us. There's no piano (except for the tiny toy) but you'll likely see some video by moi!

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Sleepless Happenings

With time based art--music or video--how does one dodge the "but what happens" question? People expect happenings. A piece begins, it unfolds over time, it ends. Something happens. We analyze its development, its harmonic changes, how motives transformed from this or that. But what if nothing really happens? I am beginning to realize with some of my own projects that I am quite content to reveal my ingredients--a sound, an image, a combination or plurality of the two--but I am less interested in making something happen with them. (I also have long arguments with myself about a certain very bad word: laziness.) I do insist upon time frames--three minutes here, eight minutes eight seconds there--and so in that sense I still feel very connected to the "time based art" forms. Given a slice of time, I like to pose something. And maybe it's such an intense, visceral, quirky, fanciful thing that I've posited, that maybe you--YOU--walk away and in your own head something happens. But I didn't need to make a "happening" in any certain way for you. In theory I like this idea (no, I love it!). What worries me is how to convince an audience that nothing needs to happen.

I want to tell people, "It's like adding a flutter to "still" art." Somehow that resonates more truly with me than thinking that I am stilling the ephemeral qualities of music and the moving image.

I think these things while not sleeping.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Washing the Ashes from Little Feet

At one in the morning on June 22, we no longer sit on the cusp between spring and summer. The solstice day itself is magical and indeterminate, an end and a beginning--spring, summer, which is it--but by midnight it seems more officially a new season. At one in the morning on June 22, I was still trying to negotiate balance, albeit on the edge of my bathtub, washing dust and ashes from my feet. I had celebrated this year's precarious day of in-between barefoot, inside a mausoleum, playing toy piano and accordion, and cutting moths from natural history texts.

Sidecar performed at Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes and Columbarium on Thursday as part of the Garden of Memory walk-through concert/event. Our set consisted of electronic soundtracks, Anne's recent composition Monoliths (for live and processed voice and electronics), radio feedback play, songs by Charles Ives and Hanns Eisler, and clapping games. This was the first incarnation of The Children's Hour, the show we will be presenting throughout the remainder of the summer. The lighting in our little Chapel of Remembrance--one of hundreds inside Julia Morgan's maze of sacred nooks and crannies--provided the perfect ambiance for our dreamy reimaginings. Were these reimaginings of Ives' song, of our own youth, of eras and childhoods that we did not ever know? Maybe. Perhaps. Yes and no. No and yes.
between the dark and daylight...comes a pause in the day's occupations...flightless...cutting moths from natural history texts...dying moths...making radios squeal and shriek...what if little girls took apart radios instead of dressing and undressing their dollies three...friends or enemies...dying moths...flightless...two little flowers...Edith and Susanna...scissors and radio stations...the children's hour...
I hesitate to write much more about the program or its concept. It would be like saying I Love You too soon--too soon to a new season that only a few days ago was somewhere and something in between. But perhaps I have something to learn from the dirty feet. Kids sit on the cusp all the time, but they are not afraid to leap off with grand, shrieking I Love Yous. Seasons and cusps be damned. The sentiment is sincere. Hmm...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Breaking Crayons

new_in_boxMy second year in college I lived down the hall from a woman whose grandfather invented Jiminy Cricket. The fact that she was related to an original Disney animator only meant that she had some good stories to tell; she was otherwise fairly humble and modest about her family ties. Late at night, hers was the perfect room to stop by for spirit-reviving conversations (I'd always been too long cloistered in a practice room). The meandering chats sometimes kept us up until four in the morning, but they were oddly addictive, as profound as they were silly.

One time, she told a story about Ward teaching a beginning drawing class. The students--adults with the eager-to-please attitude of elementary schoolkids--arrived with their art supplies: proper paper, drawing pencils, paintbrushes, a box of pastel crayons. He began the very first class by asking the students to take the crayons from the box and break them. Unwrap them. Snap them in half. In thirds. Most students resisted the request; after all, who doesn't love a perfect, brand new crayon? Who wants to destroy their newly purchased supplies?

carnage3Kimball offered an explanation only after getting the students to perform some carnage on their precious instruments. He demonstrated how the broken crayons could yield all kinds of different shadings, textures, and widths of color. Simply picking up a new crayon and holding it "right" side up, with the narrow (or stubby--yes, I do realize that Kimball's "crayons" were likely not from the Crayola box) point poised over the paper, limited the tempo and the articulations of the act of drawing. And if the practice of drawing is thus inhibited, what could one hope to produce? How could one explore a range of dynamics? It is absolutely true, and yet, how many people think outside the box, tear the labels off their crayons, break them in half, roll them sideways or scratch the finest edge across the paper? Too often, we probably just pick it up like a basic pencil and draw as if we were penning someone a letter. We limit our creative visions because our idea of how to use the tool is limited.

I often sit at the piano and wonder how to break crayons. What am I doing out of lazy habit? Am I limiting myself? Ok, how? When am I just mindlessly pulling a new crayon from the box and putting its tip to paper? What do I do because I feel it is technically the "right way," the way I've been schooled and trained, and what way, however unorthodox, might actually lead to some stellar bit of piano playing, to a decidedly original piano_crayonsinterpretation? I often think of this story, of breaking crayons, and I feel myself right there on day one in a Disney animator's class. I may not have many answers on breaking crayons at the piano, but I "get" the concept, and it certainly keeps me at play.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

How a Bird Sleeps

Exhilarated and exhausted from flying (practicing my heart out and then performing Fauré beautifully!) -- from gathering bits of silver string (composing soundscapes with audio recordings of one creaking swingset and a pair of snipping scissors) -- and from patiently deciding what branch to alight on next. Now it is time for this bird to sigh...and, tucking beak under feathers, sleep.

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