Thursday, April 30, 2009

Revisions & Rehearsal

Viola 01
So when I'm not pondering the deep questions of being I still occasionally write music. Kyle has just posted a nice thought about the mutuality of performance, and i thought I'd echo it, having just come out of a fabulous first rehearsal of my 'Deixo | Sonata' with Jessica and Steve Beck. Two thoughts came to mind during our session which connect to and expand Kyle's point.

The first is the extent to which scores underdetermine performances, but that that is a good. One way of looking at that is completely selfish– i much prefer to play with people and try things out and uncover things about that work through a discussion, through the interplay of engaged musicians sharing openly. A 'perfect notation' (i.e. a notation which somehow captured that perpetually elusive 'intent' of the composer) would amplify the power dynamic which has evolved between composers and performers, but would (imho) limit how good a piece could get, since the would then be the result of one perspective, rather than several. Certainly, as composers, we have developed models of performers that we use in constructing a piece, hopefully somewhat more sophisticated than 'I hope this triple stop isn't too hard,' but similarly conditional. My model will never match the insight that a Jess or a Steve bring to the process of developing a work, though the better the model the more efficient that process can be.

The second thought follows on from this; if I am to take the above point seriously, than I need to take seriously the fact that other are contributing in non-trivial ways to that collective activities that we refer to as a particular 'work.' I've just been thinking a bunch about how as composers we are both individual actors and inheritors of the concepts and traditions, and how the interference pattern between these two fields is what makes us who we are, not only in the sense of providing influence and provoking responses, but truly making us, giving us the opportunity to be. But if that is that case, then I must have a similarly interactive relationship with the colleagues with whom I'm working on these projects. Kyle in her post mentions generosity, which I think is a good word for it, but I would add openness, openness to the intermingling of self and intent that is musicking. Revisions are literally what this is all about.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brand New Anniversary Podcast!

In celebration of c)i’s 10th birthday, we’re reaching into the archives to revisit some great performances of concerts past.

Our first retrospective podcast takes us back to this seasons’ opener, a show called ROOT, BRANCH, CRYSTAL, from last October at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City. On that program we performed Caroline Mallonee’sThrowing Mountains This piece tied for first place in c)i’s first composition competition back in 2006. The band was especially attracted to the piece’s vivacious extraversion, strong lines, and general all-out rockingness.

Caroline MallonĂ©e says about her work: “Throwing pots” is the terminology for the process of creating a ceramic piece using natural forces and natural materials. The momentum of the wheel allows the potter to create symmetrical objects out of earth and water. Throwing pots is also a fun and loud way to dispose of thrown pots. In Throwing Mountains, ranges and peaks arise from the momentum of the music. Throwing mountains in the end might also be said to be a fun and loud way to dispose of thrown mountains.”

Don’t forget to join us on Monday, June 15 for our concert “Rewind>>Fastforward: 10 years of counterinduction”. This Merkin Hall program will celebrate our decade of great new music and great performances with world premieres by Eric Moe, Douglas Boyce, and Kyle Bartlett, as well as the winner of our 2nd Composition competition. To find out more visit us at and on Facebook, and don’t forget that there are more great c)i podcasts to be had on iTunes.

c)i podcast: Mallonée's Throwing Mountains

To subscribe, click here Or visit and search for counterinduction.

The granularity of work

I’m currently working on two pieces.  One is The Lost Child, a kind of “opera” for flute with electronics, percussion, recorded sounds, and actor. It’s by far the biggest project I’ve ever done, both aesthetically and in terms of logistics.  At the same time I am working on Adagio sostenuto for our June 15th anniversary concert.  It’s my sixth work involving the whole c)i instrumentation, which I find surprising. I had no idea! What’s impressive is that I still feel like I’m just getting started with this sonority, I’m just digging into the possibilities not only of the instruments but also of the expressive characters of the c)i performers.  Like Doug, when I write for these musicians I feel I’m not just writing for the instrument, I’m writing for the player.  It is a privileged position to have a long-term relationship with a group of such virtuosic, dedicated, creatively astonishing and generous people.  With these musicians I never feel worried about the piece not being understood, or not being prepared.  

 But how did we get to this place?  I’ve been thinking a lot about continuity; that’s what Adagio sostenuto is about, I think.  I get confused when I’m making a piece. I often forget what came first: some nameless creative impulse, a certain “taste in the mouth” of what the piece should be, or my fine philosophical justifications for those impulses and vague notions. The program notes! Anyway, I had already been working with these mass textures made up of tiny events, like clouds or swarms.  The surface sensation is of a solid substance, but when you look closer it is really many tiny grains of sound.  Then I started to think that being in counter)induction is like that.  When you say “10 years” it feels like some big object, some Monumental Achievement. But what it really is, is countless individual rehearsals, meetings, hours at the desk composing, mountains of press releases, postcards, emails (God, the emails!), writing grants, setting up chairs before a concert, playing the concerts…  Countless individual acts that add up to ten years of effort, ten years of music.

Welcome, Ryan Streber!

c)i is very excited to welcome Ryan Streber to the group. Ryan is a great composer and we've enjoyed working with him so much in the past that we decided to invite him to come on board! You can read about his many projects and works here.We'll be performing his Partita for solo cello at our June anniversary concert, and he's already put together an program for us for next year's season, about which you'll hear more later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Violas, Sonatas and Barn

I'm happy to report that I've just finished a new work for viola and sonata which will premiered by Jessica at the counter)induction's anniversary concert at Merkin Hall on 15 June.

The work is tentatively titled Deixo | Sonata. Deixo in the Greek connotes both a logical proof and a stylish display of oratory in the presentation of that proof. Jessica has several times over the years asked for a viola sonata from me, and as I settled down to work on the piece, it struck me that she was asking for a performance from me as well. To compose a piece as squarely in the tradition of sonatas for soloist and piano is to strike a balance between expectation and opportunity, between that which is constitutive and essential and that which is potential and unexpected.

I've been lucky to have this time at the Millay Colony to focus on the final stages of preparation; the grind of editing and making parts is always a drain and having a view like this, good food and interesting interlocutors helps keep ones nose to the grindstone. The next step is the most rewarding one, and the one which c)i was built to cultivate. I have been writing for Jessica for over a decade, and so I've written the work both as a summa of the techniques and approaches the Jessica and I have worked on over our time together, and as a show piece for her skill and artistry. This kind of collaboration is the goal of counter)induction, not merely a coming together for a single performance or premiere, but the commitment over the long term to cultivating the capacity for imagination and craft and performers and composers. Hopefully I've made the page-turns in reasonable spots!
Posted by Picasa

The First Post

Welcome to counter)induction's weblog, where we'll be posting about upcoming and past shows, compositions and thoughts about things musical. We hope to get c)i performers and composers contributing, and also some talks with guest composers and performers.

So subscribe to the RSS feed, and check out the band's podcast at the iTunes store, and stay tuned for more news soon!

~ douglas