Joined: May 09, 2009
Location: New Jersey
|Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:33 pm Post subject:
come make strange noises in the NYC area!
|This is a casting call for an audio performance project I'm starting.
Thank you in advance for reading it. I would appreciate it if you
also forward it on to anyone who you think might be interested in
"I don't give two splats of an old negro junkie's vomit for your
politico-philosophical treatises, kiddies. I like noise. I like
big-ass vicious noise that makes my head spin. I wanna feel it
whipping through me like a fucking jolt. We're so dilapidated and
crushed by our pathetic existence we need it like a fix."
-- Steve Albini
Inspired by this quote -- which I found on Wikipedia of all places --
I've decided to start a new project. Normally I do this kind of thing
by myself, but this time around I'd like to put together a relatively
large group. I'm inviting many people, and even posting it on some
smallish public internet forums. Please also forward this to people
you think might be into it, even if I've never met them before.
What will it sound like? What will we do? We will perform in
composed structures for large-group improvisation. A score like this
is given at the end of this message. We will also attempt some kind
of cover of Big Black's "Kerosene", since it is the song version of
that Albini quote. There will be plenty to try before the first
rehearsal, and we'll know by going where next to go. Base material
(who plays what, compositions, other structure) will be settled
between rehearsals one and two. We'll aim for 30 to 45 minutes of
material total. If you come to me with a score titled "In Dm -- the
saddest of all keys -- and fuck you very much Terry Riley", I can
nearly guarantee we will play it, and all four of your friends that
show up to our three shows will love it. If after hearing the name
"Steve Albini" your mind immediately goes back to trying to think of a
joke to top "The Bird is the Most Popular Finger", I can nearly
guarantee you will love this project.
Here's what this needs:
CREATIVE DIRECTOR -- That's me. I compose and perform, and get
final say on everything. I'd put more breathless details about
myself here, but if you're gonna do this, you'll have to trust me
one way or the other, and if you're going to trust me, I may as
well be in charge.
GENERAL MANAGER -- That could be you. The GM keeps me focused. I
will almost certainly lose momentum, but I am susceptible to
pestering. The GM also keeps everyone else focused and clear of
obstacles. The GM finds venues and wrangles dates. This is where
~a miracle~ occurs. You may also be a player, or an engineer, but
I doubt you'll have time. You have a turbo-charged and
micrometer-accurate bullshit detector, and are not afraid to use
it, even on yourself, even on your own bullshit detector.
COMPOSER -- That could be you. You take part in mostly email and
maybe some non-rehearsal meetings to hammer out performance
systems and compositions. Right now, for example, Butch Morris'
Conductions are on the dissecting table. You have a way excellent
bullshit detector. If you have legitimate musical training, you
are completely willing to whip it out, or to throw it away
entirely. You should also be a player; this will be time
PLAYER -- That could be you. You can play any instrument you
like, although you shouldn't switch around too often. Anything
from hurdy-gurdy to fourteen-ipods-attached-to-a-mixer is
completely fair game. You need not have played this instrument
before. You need not be able to sight-read, although you should
be able to suss out a simple melody on a G clef given enough time.
The nature of the work is not something that is going to require a
lot of finger training; just emotional intelligence and the
bravery to wag it around in public. If you want to play video
instead of or in addition to audio that's fine but you need to
talk to me about how that works in a shitty venue.
ENGINEER -- That could be you. You don't want to actually be up
there making the noise, but you help the players set up and tear
down, and you otherwise hassle with the venue's inevitably
super-shitty theatrical technology. Your friends are disturbed by
your love for LEGOs, you have been accused of or diagnosed with
OCD, and you feel strangely cleansed after setting up some very
complicated Rube Goldberg contraption such that it works on the
first go. You also record the shows and rehearsals.
SET / COSTUME DESIGNER / CONSTRUCTOR -- That could be you. After
observing the first rehearsal, you design and build a means to
sublimate player egos, which may include sets or costumes or both.
Money and portability will be giant production constraints for
you; most of your creative energy will be spent battling them.
You might also be a player, or an engineer, but I doubt you'll
I'm holding what amounts to auditions for this through May 13th. You
should email email@example.com if you're interested. If you email me back
saying you're interested I will take you out for coffee, ask you some
questions about performing, answer your questions, and maybe also try
to talk you out of it. If you have demo recordings on the internet,
or even a description of what you're into as a performer, please
include them. Sending me an email saying "fuck no you crazy retarded
lamer" is absolutely fine too. I may frame a hard copy of such email,
in fact, or otherwise use as fuel for the engine in my own bullshit
Everyone who is *in* will be expected to come to all rehearsals and
shows, and to put in a fair amount of effort in preparation for them.
There will be no issue integrating this project with a 9-5 job and a
pleasing relationship with a significant other. The goal is three
rehearsals and three shows in the order: rehearsal, rehearsal, show,
rehearsal, show, show. All these before Winter 2011 comes.
Everything takes place in NYC, or close enough so that if you can
carry your instrument you won't need a car. There is some money for
rehearsal space rental.
Contemporary music is ego, and I struggle with that. I'm not one of
those "ego = bad" people; I like my self just fine. But it's gotten
to the point where most of the creative work I see is viewed as an
all-or-nothing rock-star lottery. (This turns out to be the case with
computer programming too, but then that's another story.) There is a
solution to this, discovered by various nerdy human subcultures from
the dawn of humanity -- they *pretended to be someone else*. We all
do this all the time; we are slightly different people at work, with
our families, making art, in different social circles, and so forth.
We contain multitudes. But who we are and what we create are
inseparable; this is tautological, yet it needs to be said. What
you'll be asked to do as part of this is to "go meta" and spend some
time thinking about the persona you're doing this as. Simple,
understated costumes and sets may be used to reinforce whatever you
figure out. It will be nothing you're uncomfortable doing. In fact,
if you want to wear a size 22 high-top sneaker and/or a pipe cleaner
model of a crown of thorns on your head for this project, I will have
to say no, although it will pain me to do so.
Costume and set elements should generally distract from you and allow
more focus on sound. Neither I nor anyone else should care if you're
tall, short, thin, fat, fair, dark, homely, comely, young, old,
famous, or unknown, with regard to whatever is happening. The most
important thing should always be what sound is happening. We may use
set or costume elements to make sure this remains the case.
Also, in any event, this will not be popular music. It is important
to disabuse yourself of any notion of being or becoming in any way
closer to a rock star by doing this. Here is the litany I read aloud
in front of the mirror from time to time.
- It will not make you rich.
- It will not make you famous.
- It will not make you sexy.
- It will not otherwise glorify you.
- It will not repair you.
Finally; nobody should plan on getting paid. Recordings will all be
given away for free on the Internet under a Creative Commons BY/SA
license. Assuming there is any income at all from any of the
performances, it will almost certainly not be enough to cover our bar
tab, but if it is I'll divide it up evenly among whoever wants a share
(I don't). I have some money to do this with, so you won't lose any
money you don't want to. All you need input is time, sanity, and
I know, sounds like *so much* fun, right?
So, in summary:
- Do weird shit in my new vague facsimile of a band!
- Do not get paid or aggrandized!
- Three rehearsals and three shows, NYC area, done by September!
- Let me know soon, so we can talk it over before May 13!
Contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
* Puncture Still Water
This is a score for three or more players of any musical instrument or
sound producing device.
Puncture Still Water should scale from three to any number of players
playing any instruments. All players must read and understand this
Performance requires a signal like a flag or a baton, and a clock.
All players must be positioned so that they can easily see the signal
and the clock.
One player is appointed the conductor. This is usually the instigator
of the event, but may also be selected by drawing straws or voting.
The total duration for the performance is decided by the conductor.
The conductor must make sure all other players are also aware of the
duration. The total duration must be less than fifteen minutes.
One player other than the conductor is appointed the interrupter.
This must be done in secret, so that nobody else knows who the
interrupter is. To accomplish this, a deck of playing cards is
prepared with one card per player other than the conductor, such that
the ace of spades is in the prepared deck. Each player other than the
conductor is given a card at random, and the player who receives the
ace of spades is the interrupter. No player may reveal, hint at, or
even think about whether or not they are the interrupter until the
proper moment in performance. This point must be taken very
seriously, so that the interruption is as much of a surprise to
everyone as is possible.
Players must be able to manipulate their instrument to create a very
long uninterrupted drone sound, possibly several minutes in duration.
Failing that, players may remain silent until the appropriate point in
Players may decide to plan more structure for their playing than this
score provides, for example by preparing a chord chart. This is not
strictly necessary, but it is perfectly acceptable if it happens.
After all preparations have been made, the conductor raises the
signal. When reasonably sure all players are aware it has been
raised, the conductor lowers it, and the sound begins.
*** Still Water
Players immediately create a drone sound meant to evoke a lake of
still water. This sound must not fade in, but begin immediately
medium-soft upon the conductor lowering the signal. This sound must
remain very steady in tone, timbre, and loudness, and may only change
at such a speed that the changes are not easily perceptible.
Players must pay strict attention to what is going on, despite the
monotony of the performance of this phase of the composition. Just
like still water, they must react immediately and naturally to the
interruption to come.
The interrupter decides upon a time to interrupt the still water.
This should not occur too near the beginning or the end, but it should
surprise everyone. It must be abrupt, very loud, and violently
different than the "still water". All players should join in playing
such a sound as immediately as possible. The transition should be
immediate and jarring.
Anything loud, other than a drone, will work. Players continue to
play interruption at maximum intensity for five to ten seconds after
it begins, and then slowly begin to move the sound back to still
water. Return to stillness should go so slowly that the state of
complete stillness should not be reached by the end, but not so slowly
that the change is unnoticeable.
At the end of the stated duration, the conductor raises and lowers the
signal again. As it lowers, all sound from all players stops
Do a short level check before performance begins, if possible, so that
none of the amplification devices break when the great change in
It is remarkably easy for such a simple score to go wrong, as one
player can accidentally begin the avalanche of interruption by making
a mistake in playing. At the same time, the surprise and spontaneity
of the performance is lost if it is rehearsed at all. With larger
numbers of people, it is prudent for someone familiar with the score
to run through its sequence once without sound of any kind, just
marking the signals and the interruption, reviewing the choices
performers can make at each juncture, reminding them to play medium
soft in the beginning, and to be ready to stop abruptly at the end.
Also, or instead, just embrace any and all mistakes for the especially
surprising conditions they provide.