Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pauline Oliveros Duet with Dog

Dear Jackson and Jasmine,

I heard this and knew that you would love it.

The performer is Pauline Oliveros, one of the grand dames of the experimental music of the 20th century. She always talks about deep listening. I think that the dog in the background was listening more deeply than anyone in this audience, although everyone seemed to be paying attention.

Apparently she likes dogs.

The performance reminded me of John Cage. I remember discovering his music when I was in college. I found a book by him at the library. It contained pieces of fur. It was designed so that the reader/performer could stroke the fur and the experience was music. . . fur music. I can't find any information about this book online. Perhaps it is out of print? If you two were here, sitting by my side, I could play fur music with you. I would stroke your heads, (music for two hands) and listen, and feel the rhythms. You might add your own vocalizations.

I heard a story about John Cage once, a myth perhaps. Once upon a time he was playing a piece for a friend but the window was open and the traffic passing by distracted the listener. That person asked if he could close the window and if Cage would play piece once again. "We can do that," Cage said, "but it would not be the same piece."

Cage wrote instructions for the work he composed entitled, Empty words. The instructions are as follows, "At this point all the doors and windows are to be opened, allowing the sounds of the morning to enter.
One reviewer recounts that he was listening to Cage perform Empty words on the radio in 1981.
"I did as he suggested in my own apartment. The bird songs mingled with his own vocalizations — inside and out, everyone was singing together." This approach to music does work. It doesn't work like Bach or Beethoven, but it does work, and in a very inner way, it may work better than the tunes of those old masters.

In 1960, John Cage, a good humored man, made an appearance on the TV show, I've Got a Secret, and performed a composition entitled Water Walk. The audience at that performance added their innovation to the opus, which as you can see was pretty unforgettable.

Bow Wow!

BRD (Nana to you)


cadh 8 said...

Jasmine: This is so great. I love fur music! In fact, just this weekend mom and me and my uncle Stevie and dad sang a little fur music. They were practicing a song called "Love Divine all Loves Excelling". I wanted to sing along, so I harmonized with mom. What fun!
Jackson: You would have to sing "experimental" type music for it to be any good!! Ha Ha.
Nana, I look forward to my head pat.

cadh 8 said...

What strange music. My feeling about the accordian was remembering when I used to sit in front of Gram's piano "composing". It was not necessarily "good" but I was feeling it, you know. This accordian player was feeling it certainly. Now how she convinced people that she was doing more than what I used to do at the piano, I have not idea. Really, that dog had the right idea. That was terrible. But you know, you go girl. And the guy with the crazy stuff making sounds. Wow. Looked like fun. But I do contend that "music" is different than simply making sounds, although what is beautiful to one may sound horrible to another, still isn't there more to music than sound?

brd said...

One of the things to listen for with Pauline's music is all the overtone stuff that is going on. I'm sure that is what dogs would "like" about it. It is possible, I must admit, that the dog in the background was a recorded element and was playing on tape. How would one really know? Perhaps we could find the guy smoking the pipe in the background and ask.

brd said...

By the way, I agree, there is more to music than sound, but I don't agree that music must fit into certain limited categories. Varese says that music is "organized sound." I'm not sure. I tend toward, "organized sound that carries meaningful content." However, the content that the sound carries may not be intelligible in the same way that words are intelligible.