“Music is Love” – Anthony Braxton

Lately I have been more interested in creating and producing sounds than words. It has been difficult to distill my experiences of the last season in to words, so I have not been blogging. Over this blastedly hot summer “vacation”, I decided to take only Anthony Braxton’s Composition no. 133 with me to practice. Having re-visited Stockhausen’s PARADIES in May, I was eager to work on a piece that has a similar concept, that of given material in strophes where the performer has a certain amount of freedom to shape the material. Braxton’s piece allows for much more freedom than Stockhausen’s, but does not include an electronic track. But then I thought, why should it not include an electronic backing? And the thought snowballed.

There are not enough really excellent pieces for flute and fixed media, in my opinion, and even fewer that include improvisation or some sort of freedom for the performer. It seems that a lot of really experiment-oriented composers are writing for live electronics and processing. Which is really cool! But for those of us performers who want an easy set-up of solo work, some speakers and a microphone that we can play in simple venues such as clubs or art galleries where there are no technicians and only a small budget, I for one would welcome some really good new works for fixed media that include some sort of side-stepping from the fixed-composed tradition.

I’ll tell you why I think this departure from fixed composition is important at this point in time. Almost every piece that I hear for flute and fixed media is using the same flute sounds (and in some cases, electronic sounds) that have been around since the 1980s! It is time to find some different sounds. No wonder composers seem more interested in live processing flute sounds. But I don’t want the world to give up on fixed media yet because of the practicalities mentioned above, and its potential awesomeness!

I have several unhatched plans to remedy this situation which include collaboration with several artists willing to include improvisation or elements thereof in their pieces. I have been working on creating compositions of my own (not for Braxton’s piece though, I have decided to leave that alone). The learning curve has been quite steep but I am loving delving in to the world of sampling, granulation, processing, etc. So back to creating sounds instead of words 🙂

Photo credit: Hans Peter Schaefer


Composing for Flute with Text or Vowel/Consonant Sounds

Here is a tutorial for composers interested in specifying consonant articulations (p, b, k) and vowel colorations (o, a, i) for flute. Or for those who are interested in combining text with flute sounds. There are different contexts that can be applied. In the first few minutes I talk about phonemes and aeolian (air) sounds. The later bit refers to phonemes combined with a traditional flute sound, and this is where things get trickier:


Performing Luigi Nono’s Flute Music

I am very honored to have been invited by Daniel Agi and Tempo magazine to contribute my experience of performing Luigi Nono’s music. Our article has been published; here is the abstract:

“A performer of Luigi Nono’s late works is often faced with crucial questions regarding interpretation and technical details. An important tradition has evolved in performing these works, nevertheless it is not always easy to find the necessary information to play them adequately. This article attempts to answer some of the technical and interpretational questions in the context of Das atmende Klarsein and A Pierre – Dell’Azzurro silenzio, inquietum. Our hope is that it will contribute to the discussion about authenticity and freedom of interpretation and provide flutists with practical information not found in the scores.”

Here is the link to the abstract and citation.

Here is a link to a share version of the full article.