Saturday, March 27, 2010


Just finished a great rehearsal with Sumi and Ben; it's always a delight working with performers like c)i, but this concert has reminded me again not only how much is 'left of the page,' but how often that's the fun stuff.

This work is from a set of etudes that I'm working on that are etudes both in the sense of the systematic study of technical performative elements of music, but also studies in compositional technics. My program note is here, but better still to come and here it! Sunday night at 8p!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Anticipation of Meaning

For reasons likely of interest to no one, I spent some time over the last week or so in Rome, rereading Gadamer's Truth and Method and the resonance between Sunday's concert and the following followed me around the city.

The anticipation of meaning that governs our understanding of a text is not a act of subjectivity, but proceeds from the commonality that binds us to the tradition. But this commonality is constantly being formed in our relation to tradition. Tradition is not simply a permanenet preconditions; rather, we produce it ourselves inasmuch as we understand, participate in the evolution of tradition, and hence further determine it ourselves.

Hans-Georg Gadamer

Truth and Method, p. 293

Second, Revised edition


It is easy for listeners, composers and performers to simply imagine the relation to the past as static, as simply given. But what we think of as the clear and stable fact of history is in fact delineated and maintained by our attention. Each act we take reshapes and reformulates (in however small an amount and discrete a method) the tradition in which we operate.

Kyle's meditation on collapsing cultures and crumbling empires, Rogerson’s elegy on human and cultural extinction and Honett’s fragmentation of material speak to time as the leveler of mountains, while Gilbert’s lament imagines an alternate history where the lost world is found again, Halka's trio connects the cultural to the individual, and my own work figures the interplay of the sculptor and the stone as the play between the composer and history.

As Ryan Streber's introductory essay in the program book will highlight, composition is a matter of technics, and thus of adoption the project of adoption is always a project of self discover, or, better, of auto-explication. The automatic, ineluctable discovery of commonality with the past, the unpacking of the forgotten givenness of one's capacity is the result of engagement with the past— what begins in an exploration of alterity becomes an emergence of ipseity. Adoption doesn't build a bridge to the past, it makes that past part of the now. The question here is not so much eternal as it is perpetual– tradition is opportunity and responsibility, and it is always old and new as once.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prize winners on March 28th

Sunday's concert will also feature two prize winning works from c)i's 2009 composition competition. Every two years, c)i reviews works submitted anonymously from around the world, and working with a panel of respected judges, pick the works that excited us, and spoke to the c)i sound. The two works on Sunday's program are Christopher Rogerson's 'Brothers' and Charles Halka's 'Trio.'

Christopher Rogerson is a student at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studies composition with Jennifer Higdon. He has won awards from ASCAP, the Presser Foundation, the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, and the National Association for Music Education. 'Brothers' is a musical memorial to Buddhist monks executed by the Burmese army in 2007; it contrasts the bell-like tones of the temple with martial rhythm.

Charles Halka is completing coursework towards a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Shepherd School of Music; this season, his works are being performed by ONIX Ensamble, the Armonas Trio, and the saxophone and harp duo Pictures on Silence. His 'Trio' is hypotyposis of musical memories and interests, ranging across style, but striving for synthesis.

Come here these up and coming composers, Sunday, March 28th at 8 pm.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This is me talking about my piece on the show.

I find myself these days thinking about the end of empires. What was it like as the Lusignan dynasty folded into itself, overcome by the ascendant Ottomans? Did the courtiers sense what was happening? What did a court composer think of his work at a time like that? Did he question his purpose in a dusty, fading outpost, forgotten by the mainland? Perhaps he slowly turned the pages of a book of music, dreaming jealously of his more fortunate predecessors, questioning the importance of music at a time like his. Or maybe he redoubled his efforts, seeing himself as a musical witness to history. My piece for this concert, "My sorrow of rare proportion," a tiny thing, is based on the medieval rondeau, more or less. "Rare proportion" is an old-fashioned way of talking about irrational rhythms (like 7 into 3, etc.) and thus refers not only to a depth of feeling but also the supple means of its portrayal. Its two kinds of material, textures as much as tunes, evolve the way empires do. Meaning, one kind of music grinds to a halt under under the weight of its own excesses, while the other slowly disappears without a trace.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Codex Torino J.II.9 - a digital edition

counter)induction's upcoming concert features composers reacting to, responding to and generally engaging with music from the Codex Torino J.II.9, a fascinating book of music from 15th century Cyprus. We'll be posting more about the new works and the codex itself in the next week and a half, but first I thought it would be great to post a link to this incredible digital edition of the codex.

This webpage is organized and hosted by the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle Biblioteche Italiane e per le Informazioni Bibliografiche in Rome, and contains images of the entire codex, as well as a great deal of information about the codex itself, if your Italian is up to it.

There are some great recordings of this repertoire out now but I thought it might be nice to start off highlighting the physicality of the codex. It is many things, a chant manuscript, a liber motetorum, and a chansonnier, but it is also quite beautiful. The time, fire and water have weathered it, certainly, but have also given its colors and clarity that much more power through contrast— in the long fight against entropy, we have at least one exquisite survivor.

More on the music within the covers and the new works counter)induction will be performing in the next few days.