la gioiosa macchina da guerra


Tony Conrad, TODAY in Berlin! by DuChamp
February 17, 2012, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, weirdness | Tags: , ,

Galerie Bucholtz, today! Fasansenstrasse 30, Charlottenburg
”Invented Acoustical Tools”
Instruments 1966 – 2012
February 17th 2012 – April 14th 2012
Opening reception on
Friday, February 17, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 pm

Tony Conrad
“Invented Acoustical Tools”
Instruments 1966 – 2012

17 February – 14 April 2012
Opening reception on Friday, 17 February 2012, 7-9 pm

In late 1962 I began playing improvised music with La Monte Young, Marion Zazeela,
John Cale, and Angus MacLise in a group whose purpose, as I understood it, was to
uproot and dismantle the cultural function of the Western serious music composer.
It was helpful in this nihilistic undertaking to have other classical traditions as models
for comparison, and classical Indian music, with its emphasis on sustained sounds and
finely regulated pitches, was certainly an influence for each of us in different ways.
Two years earlier I had attended a lecture on South Indian music at Harvard by
Professor H. S. Powers in which he had explained how the elaborate vocal tradition
of this music arose through a genealogical relationship it bore with the vina, a stringed
instrument with very deep frets that allowed for “pulling” pitches in an elaborately
nuanced way. By comparison, I saw that the Western instrument most responsible
for the classical tradition was the piano — and this understanding of the linkage between
the form and structure of a central instrument and the corresponding evolution of a
compositional practice impressed me deeply. Clearly, if this were the case, the invention
and modification of instruments could be viewed as a meta-compositional intervention,
or even as the inauguration of a virtual “compositional” modality. And of course the
historical record bears out the accuracy of this perception, both on a grand scale (as
with the introduction of the violin family, for example) and on an individual basis (as
in the instance of idiosyncratic musicians such as Harry Partch or Conlon Nancarrow).

 

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