Nonesuch Instrumental with a Stick

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Nonesuch Instrumental with a Stick

“To use art not as self expression but as self alteration.” John Cage.

In this work, the thrill of working with Steve (a fellow student here at IMRC) was (and is) something that is worth mentioning up front. He’s great, wise, calming, and insightful. Along with the idea of alto-clarinet, trombone, and hurdy-gurdy in a piece done with a stick, this work of mine continued on with the object-scoring, something that started with my Clothesline Piece back in April. From my notes, some of Steve’s words were: “graphic scores typically make a player play somewhat differently than they normally would, but not dramatically so. Like when you and I played the stick, we still sounded like us; it was procedurally differently than what we would have done otherwise, but not an entirely new language.”

What does change, I think, is the mood of what performing is and, perhaps, how the mind comes up with improved ideas. Also, and to me, this seems interesting, that attention would be given to an object that otherwise would not be seen as part of art.

I think that the stick does limit out thinking in a way that is very much intended. As a composer I wanted to affect thinking. Composers don’t traditionally try to affect the musician’s mind or spirit, but I do try to do that. Otherwise, who would ever care to look at the ground and notice one stick. The stick didn’t change, but we did.

Music is to be not just the sound alone– thinking this to myself. I’m trying to affect a conversation that emanates from doing something strange. If I tell you to find an “interesting stick” would you really do it. Right? You might laugh, and probably so, yet, if, as a composer, I tell you to do that, you probably would. I don’t just see music as the end product of its sound; the social discourse, the aesthetics of the stick itself, the curiosity of finding something thought to be worthless outside; making the musician go outside and bring a stick on into the studio; the idea of a music stand or computer screen holding a stick, and even the mere idea of saying the word stick so many times; these are, to me, aspects of my musical composition. Music is a social discourse, not merely a sound object.

A small stick was taped to the screen to become the score overlaid upon the GUI from software. I thought of the idea to zoom the play-head ruler to fit the length of the stick. I wanted time as a primary ruler and, so, in a sense: the stick is 5 mins & 11 seconds long and/or the music is one stick in length. We subtracted some information so as to let the stick dominate our thinking. We playing on different days, then un-muted channels, to hear what we had left to hear.



About the Author:

After Jim Winters arrived as a jazz trombonist for years, he now has now finished his second year as a graduate student here at IMRC. He owns two hurdy gurdys, thus exploring drone-musical work and the aesthetic value of unfinished music. His concentration ranges from experimental-musical composition to photos, sometimes wondering about the colonization of 12-tone Western music vs. noise.

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