Arrived at Issue at 3:00 for soundcheck/rehearsal with the 12 other guitarists who were to play "SyndaKit." The last time we performed this piece here, each musician played only into a direct box and stood under one of the 16 speakers suspended from the ceiling and was bussed to one speaker as a monitor and also grouped for random spatialization controlled by a Max/MSP patch. Because of the expected high attendance for this event, the audience was to be seated in a traditional arrangement and we set up only in the stage area with a stereo mix for monitoring. Each individual guitarist's sound was also bussed to the 16 speakers with the spatialization patch in effect.
Rehearsal finished, next Orchestra Carbon set up for the premiere of "Flexagons," not a fixed composition but a set of melodic modules that may be looped, chained, superimposed, or used as source material for Butch Morris' conduction. Thanks to a small grant from Meet The Composer, the rehearsal was open for free to the public and included a post-rehearsal discussion moderated by Luke DuBois with Q&A. I first outlined the use of the composed modules after which Butch explained the basics of a few of the operations from his Conduction language - we then played a number of variations to an audience of about 30. The post-discussion was lively thanks to Luke's astute moderation.
A break for dinner while Bert Shapiro's documentary on my work, "Doing the Don't" was screened. I then took the stage for 30 minutes of Octal variations, plugging the outputs of the Koll 8-string into two DI's splitting the piezo and magnetic pickups for a stereo spread from the P.A. After the solo, Orchestra Carbon returned to the stage for "Flexagons," running down an intense 45-minute version, Butch bringing out many subtleties from the score as well as catalyzing huge sonic eruptions. The ensemble included Rachel Golub-violin, Judith Insell-viola, Ha-Yang Kim-cello, Reuben Radding-doublebass, Oscar Noriega-bass clarinet, Briggan Krauss-alto sax, Chris McIntire-trombone, Curtis Fowlkes-trombone, Jenny Lin-piano, Danny Tunick-vibraphone & percussion. I played the Koll with MXR compressor, Rat distortion, and TimeFactor delay into a Fender Twin.
Next up was Jenny Lin performing "Oligosono," a 20-minute through-composed solo that takes a few simple gestures (oligo - "a few" sono "sounds") through radical variations in dynamics and timbre to produce many sounds not often heard from a piano. In some ways it's an etude though I hope it does not come off as rhetorical. "Oligosono" really needs a full grand piano to allow the resonances to fully work but the Issue piano did acquit itself reasonably well with a bright hard sound.
Quick changeover for Bootstrappers, my frame-name for an improvising ensemble (the premier edition in 1988 featured Mike Watt-bass and George Hurley-drums, both of Minutemen/Firehose). This version included some of my favorite musicians: computer-music pioneer Carl Stone, pianist Anthony Coleman, laptop artist/producer J.G. Thirwell (AKA Fetus and many other identities), Melvin Gibbs on electric bass, and Don McKenzie on drums. I retained my setup of the Koll/Twin. No instructions, just a suggestion that crosstalk rather than solos ruled our improvising and the groove above (and below) all! Forty minutes of ever-shifting dynamics and furious rhythmic tension followed - I think we were all stunned with what we had just put down.
Another changeover: now for Marco Cappelli to perform "Amygdala," my 2003 composition for his "extreme guitar." Finally, lots of guitars: Ben Tyree, Marco Cappelli, Angela Babin, Marc Sloan, Ron Anderson, Zach Layton, Dave Scanlon, Debra Devi, James Ilgenfritz, Anders Nilsson, Christian Amigo, Zach Pruitt, and myself performing what could very well be the best all-guitar version of SyndaKit yet: a bristling pulsing mass, sometimes tranquil and lyrical, sometimes seething with electricity.
It was after 1:00am when we finished. Everyone, from the large audience to the many musicians, expressed joy and exhaustion - a good combination. I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the fantastic musicianship and generous spirit.
Butch Morris: http://conduction.us
Doing the Don't: http://www.pheasantseye.com/films/elliott-sharp-doing-the-dont.html
Jenny Lin: http://JennyLin.net
Extreme Guitar Project: http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/157cappelli.html