Friday, October 10, 2008

Long term music

In my last post, I mentioned that Neal Stephenson's recent novel was at least partially inspired by the millenial year clock currently in design at the Long Now Foundation. There are a couple of musical parallels. La Monte Young's performances can last for several hours, and some fully notated pieces (such as Morton Feldman's second string quartet) do the same. Several years ago, Scandinavian sound artist Leif Inge slowed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony sufficiently to require 24 hours for a complete performance. 9 Beet Stretch has been played several times since its initial concept in 2002, both as installations and as a concert. The most notable long-form project currently underway to my knowledge is the organ performance of John Cage's ASLSP that takes the inspirational abbreviation "as slow as possible" beyond the capabilities of human comprehension. Starting on the composer's birthday in 2000, a performance in Halberstadt, Germany, is projected for 639 years, with a metronome mark of quarter-note = four months (only one month if it's marked staccato). Tone changes, when specified in the score, occur on the fifth day of the month.

Somewhere in between these extremes lies the work of Craig Colorusso, whose MB 89 is a continuous piece that spans the greater part of his life, with spaces between performances treated as musical rests (video excerpt above).  He realizes and acknowledges the presence of MB 89 in his life, although he continues to perform other music as well.  First presented as a weekly radio broadcast at the University of Massachusetts over ten years ago, MB 89 has evolved into a timeless environment, including light and sculpture in an installation, from which Colorusso performs a drone on bass clarinet with various digital delays.  He had an installation earlier this year in Las Vegas, which I unfortunately missed, but he will have two performances at the end of this month in Wisconsin: Saturday, October 25 at The Borg Ward Collective in Milwaukee, and on Sunday, October 26, at the Escape Java Joint & Art Gallery in Madison.  If you're in the neighborhood, wander in and check it out.


Rod Jones said...

There's also a generative piece for the sounds of singing bowls called "longplayer" by Jem Finer which is intended to run for a thousand years! I think it has some direct connection with the Long Now Foundation and is also remarkable for being composed by a guy who used to be in the pop band The Pogues. More details here

David Beardsley said...

La Monte Young's Dream Houses last for years.

Tom said...

A 1000-minute long section of Longplayer is actually going to be played by live musicians for the first time on September 12th 2009 at the Roundhouse in London. It will be performed on a massive 20-meter wide instrument by 25 musicians. Here's the link: