INME: International New Music English and Online Identity Formation in Post-Digital Experimental Music

 

Q: How do practitioners of new music define themselves?

A: International New Music English, or INME.

There is a distinct language that composers and performers use to describe themselves, their works, and their interests. This language both reflects and performs the goals and identities of experimental music communities: its use indexes knowledge, authority, connection with an experimental lineage, and perhaps most importantly, a sociolinguistic connection with other practitioners.

Cross-posted from Cacophony Magazine, a Chicago-based contemporary music magazine. Continue reading “INME: International New Music English and Online Identity Formation in Post-Digital Experimental Music”

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The New Discipline and its Artificial Hells: On Art, Pain, and Responsibility

We are none of us inviolable. We are none of us free to craft affectual experiences without taking responsibility for those creations.

We do not have the artistic right or social license to signify recklessly, simply because we feel bored or creatively limited or unsatisfied with our current domain and have chosen to play within the bounds of another—with no examination of the contexts of ethics and consent that underwrite that craft.

This piece deals with questions of creative ethics that arose from my experience at the Darmstadt 2016 Summer Course. I specifically speak to the Composer-Performer Workshop “concert” on the night of August 10th.

My response arises from and details a personal experience that was true, non- optional, and not at all represented in either the student concert or the performances and discourses at the Summer Course as a whole.

The Composer-Performer event of August 10 was an evening of student performances, largely ill-crafted and hackneyed performance art, dealing with the representation of feelings of trappedness, psychosis, pain, and containment.

Pain is not a spectator sport. For people like me, with traumatic bodily histories, panic attacks and/or disorders, and other forms of real, present, psychic pain, trauma is not an aesthetic event.

— — Continue reading “The New Discipline and its Artificial Hells: On Art, Pain, and Responsibility”

2016 Darmstadt Summer Coursebook

An Emerging Feminist Reader

I know too well the feeling of showing up to a conference with hours of highly focused practical preparation for my presentation—in my case, solo practice, rehearsal, the technical business of working my instrument—only to discover that the tenor of the conference goes entirely over my head, with its leaders and speakers referencing essential  texts in a critical discipline that has little place in the practice room or rehearsal space.

This feeling is a small, private humiliation: I haven’t been responsible, I haven’t activated the critical nodes of the referential network, the knowledges I need to keep up are unavailable and unintelligible, the conference is winging away over my academic horizon, taking its referential network—perhaps the entire critical discourse—along with it.

In that vein, I have prepared for myself an open, growing list of sources that have come up in lectures, questions, pieces, and conversations. These are both a refresher for me on texts that I have already encountered, and a collection intended to be useful for my future reference. In other words, this works for me both as a refresher and as a reading list. I am sharing it as I collect and organize it in hopes that it will be helpful to practitioners like me, who wish to better understand and participate in extended critical dialogues at the 2016 Darmstadt Summer Course.  Continue reading “2016 Darmstadt Summer Coursebook”

Home: Finding John Muir and the Hyperobject in the Alaskan Summer

Williwaw Lakes Trail, Chugach State Park

Saturday, July 16th

9:00 PM

61*, Clear blue sky

… in these coast landscapes there is such indefinite, on-leading expansiveness, such a multitude of features without apparent redundance, their lines graduating delicately into one another in endless succession, while the whole is so fine, so tender, so ethereal, that all penwork seems hopelessly unavailing. Tracing shining ways through fiord and sound, past forests and waterfalls, islands and mountains and far azure headlands, it seems as if we surely must at length reach the very paradise of the poets, the abode of the blessed.

A hot early spring brought Alaska to full flower by the time I arrived in mid-July. In these hazy summer days, hot flares of fireweed dart along the roads and up the hillsides, early blueberries are bursting ripe from their stems, the familiar trails around Anchorage’s surrounding Chugach State Park are fretted with lush green overgrowth.

Soft white lichens crunch underfoot, the blazing midnight sun high in the sky as we crest around O’Malley Peak at 9:04 PM, nearly 4000 ft above sea level.  My mom, her partner and I are hiking Williwaw Lakes Trail, a day-hike loop that wends through a long valley and around lakes for about 13 miles, crossing a high plateau of soft mosses lichens, where millennia-old glacial movement has studded the field with a rocky trail of granite and quartz litter.  Sleek marmots with a blaze down their faces dart between their fairy-huts, pika and ground squirrels chitter out unseen from their mossy nests. 

From far across the plateau, which is known unofficially as the “football field” for its unusual flatness, we can see a pair of tent campers leaning into each other, tucked beside a small glacier as the sun makes its lateral swing around the northeastern ridge. Tenting together at that high altitude, so close to the sun, seems incredibly intimate in the largeness of the natural scope, claiming a light-filled expansive evening together. 

Continue reading “Home: Finding John Muir and the Hyperobject in the Alaskan Summer”

OPENSIGNAL: IDIO SoundLab

IDIOGallery, Brooklyn

Friday, July 1st

8:00 PM

70*, Thunderstorm

 

If the outside corresponded to the inner life in people, we couldn’t have “bodies” as we do. The inner life is too complex, too various, too fluid. Our bodies incarnate only a fraction of our inner lives. Given that they would still have  inner lives of the energy and complexity that they have now, the bodies of people would have to be more like gas–something gaseous yet tangible-looking like clouds. Then our bodies could metamorphose rapidly, expand, contract–a part could break off, we could fragment, fuse, collide, accumulate, vanish, rematerialize, swell up, thin out, thicken, etc. etc… (233)

 

IMG_4363.

 

Today’s rainstorm met me for the second time as I resurfaced from the L at Grand Street, filling the streets, muscular drops bouncing off the stairway to the upper world. I stood at the base for a while. Fellow commuters formed a growing cluster, waiting out the most torrential part of the storm, standing mutual witness to each other’s lives for the sake of a brief moment out of the rain. A dark-haired mother, late for a birthday party, calls her daughter; a tall, blond, angular man with a bike, watching my legs tenaciously as the wind whips my skirt higher and higher. Weston appeared at the top of the stairs, his pink shirt soaked through, his bag of books clutched protectively in his arms. I ran up to meet him, giggling reflexively at the cold draft of rain. We ducked into a bodega to buy umbrellas before walking across Bushwick Avenue–the wide, wet street that meanders through East Williamsburg like a lazy river–and down Grand Street.

Continue reading “OPENSIGNAL: IDIO SoundLab”

Retrospective: Beginning Soundscapes

This is a piece I wrote one year ago. I was living in Chicago, finishing my undergraduate studies at Northwestern, and becoming interested in the process of making field recordings in public spaces and then finding satisfying ways to describe them. I am about to start doing so again.

The following is a guided walk-through of the Art Institute of Chicago on a cold, rainy Sunday in the spring of 2015. It accompanies a set of field recordings to be found here.

Gallery spaces will be indexed by names and room numbers, in reference to this map; only permanent exhibitions were visited. Not all recordings taken will be discussed here; some extras are included in the interest of comparison and to give a slightly more continuous sense of the aural experience. Also, turn up the volume and check out the recording of Modern Wing elevator.

Christopher Small writes in his Prelude to Musicking: “The fundamental nature and meaning of music lie not in objects, not in musical works at all, but in action, in what people do.” (Small, 8) I find that this notion equally applies to the objects of art in a museum, and the soundscape made for an ideal and incredibly moving vehicle by which to explore the depth and variety of interpretive meaning as it is being made in the museum. Continue reading “Retrospective: Beginning Soundscapes”

Virtual Reality

Times Square, New York City

Saturday, June 18th

9:15 PM

75*

 

It’s my little sister’s last day in town after a week-long visit. We spent the day walking around Bushwick, drifting between bakeries and bookshops, watching the beautiful young people. We crossed the Williamsburg Bridge as the sun set, standing in the first train car. My sister held her phone against the front window and took a time lapse of our ride across the bridge. I stood beside her and watched the colors play out in front of me in the sky, and then inside her little screen. The variations in the two window panes refract the light, spreading the switch lamps into ever-diminishing copies, each light a phase diagram of itself, a halo around every headlight flickering between the trusses from the highway. In her world, the variations in the two window panes refract the light, spreading the lamps into ever-diminishing copies, a halo around every headlight flickering between the trusses. She watches the video over and over as we wait belowground to transfer at Delancey Street, sending it to people she loves.

Continue reading “Virtual Reality”

Wet Ink: Large Ensemble Concert

St. Peter’s Church, Chelsea

Friday, June 10th

8 PM

72 , Partly Cloudy

1. The state of things becomes tangled, mingled like thread, a long cable, a skein. Connections are not always unravelled. Who will unravel this mess? Imagine the thread of a network, the cord of a skein, or a web with more than one dimension, imagine interlacing as a trace on one plane of the state that I am describing. The state of things seems to me to be an intersecting multiplicity of veils, the interlacing of which bodies forth a three-dimensional figure. The state of things is creased, crumpled, folded, with flounces and panels, fringes, stitches and lacing.

 

 

I am reading Michel Serres’ The Five Senses. I pass from “Veils” into “Boxes”, from new territory into familiar. I am reading on the train, closing my eyes, whispering each of his translated sentences in my head, feeling the connections between his words.  

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, a Gothic revival embedded in the brownstones and New School-cool of Chelsea on 20th Street and 8th. Shadowy and solemn, with serious dark-stained pews that open with hinged doors, regular quatrefoil patterns deeply carved in the wall paneling. In an upper corner, a water stain reveals hidden variegated shades of cream and green behind its dark surfaces. The ceiling penetrates downward with dramatical ogival arches, and as the sun sets over the course of the concert, simple pendant lamps hanging between them will warmly light the room. A large gilded statue of an eagle is poised to take flight on the left side of the stage. Tilework and stained glass windows shimmer behind a stage cluttered with percussion instruments, a gleaming piano, and and the paraphernalia of a new music concert: more stands than chairs by half, cables crossing the stage, mics and speakers in all the corners closest to the stage, a table with a laptop surrounded by electronic gear butting against the first pew.

Continue reading “Wet Ink: Large Ensemble Concert”