My writing has appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals such as The Tentacle, Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, Resonance (UK), Leonardo Music Journal, Signal to Noise, e|i, The Believer, Earshot Jazz, and 21st Century Music.
I write to clarify as well as question my beliefs about performing, composing, and listening. I hope my words advocate for adventurous musics and musicians.
Below, you’ll find a representative collection of my writing, including favorite columns of “The Score,” where I covered classical, jazz, and their respective as well as collective experimental progeny for The Stranger, a Seattle-based alt-weekly from 2002 to 2010.
In his review of my N30: Live at the WTO Protest, November 30, 1999, [Soundscape Fall/Winter 2004, vol. 5 no. 2, page 48], Michael Rüsenberg asserts that I made N30 “…without the intervening instance of any production of art, even to the extent of selection and framing. And as Frank Zappa says, ‘The most important thing in art is the frame’”
Zappa notwithstanding, Rüsenberg missed that I framed sections of N30 with the following silences: 7 seconds at 06” and 3’26”; 4 seconds at 9’20”; 2 seconds at 9’36” and 9’45”; 7 seconds at 49’31”; 13 seconds at 50’33”; 3 seconds at 52’02”; and 4 seconds at 59’25” (the piece concludes at 61’28”). Now if Rüsenberg felt that the work’s continuous 40 minute segment from 9’47” to 49’31” was too long or bloated, he should have stated so, explaining why there wasn’t any “production of art.”
Regarding his accompanying complaint of “selection,” Rüsenberg flunks CD Reviewing 101 by failing to describe N30 except for the glib “…walkie-talkie type messages by security forces observing the WTO Protest in Seattle…” Rüsenberg omits the protester chants, crushing mobs, the close-up crunch of batons and rubber bullets hitting bodies (including my own), hissing tear gas, the fearlessly funky machine-gun drumming of the Infernal Noise Brigade, and much more.
On the following page, Rüsenberg’s subsequent review admits a similar confusion regarding the nature and intent of another CD, the marvelous Buildings (New York) by Francisco López. Yet López, who collaborated with Rüsenberg on the excellent 1998 album Roma: A Soundscape Remix, enjoyed the chance to answer the reviewer’s questions. Despite my publicly available email address, I did not. I will do so now.
Rüsenberg bemoans that “[a]s little noticeable effort has been put into what, among my soundscape colleagues is known as ‘recording quality,’ DeLaurenti inadvertently questions my beliefs on soundscape work, documentation and composition alike.”
N30 directly, not “inadvertently,” challenges prevailing practices of soundscape composition. A closer listen to N30 reveals that the graduated improvement of audio fidelity during the course of the composition––from clumsy lo-fi struggling at the beginning to high-fidelity captures––is a substantial structural element of the work. Although Rüsenberg does not admit me into his confraternity of “soundscape colleagues,” I would like to invite him and anyone else with open ears to consider phonography.
Field recording is over a century old, however phonography does not conform to established, commercially-driven ideas of “quality,” technique, “fidelity,” and subject matter.
As a phonographer, I seek to liberate the forbidden elements of field recording—mic handling noise, hiss, narrow frequency response, distorted proximity effect, haphazard directionality, drop-outs, device self-noise, glitchy edits—and not only erode the erroneous idea that recordings objectively represent one “reality” but admit those overt flaws as music. Today’s glitch is tomorrow’s melody. Such verboten elements can serve as a framing device, enabling transitions from transparent sequences to obviously recorded ones or may amplify, subvert or dispel the sense of place so fundamental to soundscape composition.
As a phonographer, I take a risky and experimental approach to field recording. Doubt damns my every step. For both N30 pieces and Live in New York at the Republican National Convention Protest September 2- August 28, 2004, I aggressively plunged into a violent soundscape, risking my gear and personal safety. I live in an unjust world and therefore must act, rebelling when and where I can. Nonetheless, results, not willful sacrifice or “noble” intentions, make a work succeed.
Phonographers do not always uphold the long-standing ideal of recording invisibly, standing still or moving very slowly to document nature, scientific phenomena, or folk music with high-fidelity equipment. My body moves. Sometimes I run multiple microphone set-ups concurrently, corporeally improvising in the moment with body-mounted mics to shape the stereo image, azimuth, and the depth of field while swooping an additional microphone boom for a contrasting aural perspective.
As a phonographer, I know that the use of various and varying recording fidelities won’t demolish the ideal embodied by documentary nature recording, but instead expands the palette of procedures and techniques. Some artists recording in the field deploy a variety of microphones and recording equipment––including the tiny on-board mic in cassette players, MiniDisc recorders, DAT, etc.––orchestrally, just as a composer of symphonic music weighs balances among woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings.
As a phonographer, I affirm the inevitable influence (and presence!) of the recordist and recording gear both in the field and back in the studio. Sometimes it is enough to press play, wait, listen, press stop, and then cull an unedited, unprocessed segment as a complete piece. Yet usually listeners hear me, my struggle, my “incompetence,” my fortuitous discoveries, and my frustrated objectives.
Some phonographers radically transform their material; I do not, instead relying on aggressive editing (abrupt stops, dead silence, frenetic intercutting, obviously artificial polyphony, antiphonal spatialization, the traditional transparent cross-fade) to explore the intersection of speech and music, to preserve oral history made in the moment, and to convey the truth spoken by voices in crisis.
To my ears, phonography has a different subject matter: waterworks and plumbing, close-up recordings that transcend human hearing, and other ordinary (and extra-ordinary) sounds of daily life (a popping toaster, creaking bus flaps, etc.) that often remain ignored, processed into protoplasm by the latest plug-in, or merely consigned to the margins within soundscape compositions.
The essence of phonography entails capturing and transforming field recordings into a listening experience athwart the boundary of music and everyday sounds. Music, after all, is not notes and tones, but the deceptively difficult act of listening. Ultimately, phonographers and soundscape composers—the distinction may soon disappear—want everyone to hear the music the world makes.
Published in Soundscape, Fall/Winter 2005, p. 6
“Sparkle Girl” – My favorite column.
“Gordon Hempton Seeks One Square Inch of Silence in America” – My favorite interview.
“Stan Kenton, Colossus” – I love Ellington more, but Kenton must not be forgotten.
“Acousmonium Anyone?” – Some history, agitation, and advocacy.
“Olivier Messiaen” – I almost did justice to one of the great composers of the 20th century.
“Seattle Festival of Freely Improvised Music” – My distillation of freely improvised music.
“Dr. Lonnie Smith” – A concise portrait of the great jazz organist.
“The Rite of Spring” – My first encounter with Le Sacre.
“Pulling an Icarus” – A biting, controversial review of a new opera.
“Non Grata” – One of my favorite gigs of all time.
“Chopin Is Better Than You Knew” – A chief specimen of my debt to Jen Graves, an editor who insists on clear, compact prose.
“Coda: Departure” – My farewell column.
Why listen to misery and murder?
On June 21, 1996, Claude Matthews smuggled his microphones into the Center for Animal Care and Control in Manhattan and captured the gallows yelping, baying, and whining of doomed dogs. The resulting album, DogPoundFoundSound (Bad Radio Dog Massacre, might be the most brutal yet profoundly moving recording you will ever find:
You hear peals of yapping and barking, then a strange sudden pause; a tiny, crouched snippet of contented “oohs” flow from a distant radio. A heavy door rolls open. A dog howls again, begging for freedom (or at least attention) and the chorus of barking resumes. DogPoundFoundSound… also marks an obscure, though crucial milestone in the history of field recording.
Field recordings began with Thomas Edison. In 1877, after several attempts by other inventors, Edison perfected the phonograph, a portmanteau of the Greek words for “sound” or “voice” and “writer.” Emile Berliner patented the turntable gramophone in 1887, and soon thereafter ethnographers traveled the world recording the music and language of “primitive” peoples. The resulting cylinders and disks multiplied quickly enough for sound archives to emerge in Vienna (1899), Berlin (1900), and elsewhere to systematically collect, catalogue, and preserve field recordings. These collections, most notably the renowned Berlin Phonogrammarchiv, house thousands of recordings, all sonic spectres of vanished cultures and destroyed habitats.
But what is a field recording? Most of us listen to studio recordings; aided by engineers, a producer, and assistants, musicians record songs, symphonies, and everything in between within a controlled, generally predictable context. In the studio, the engineer mikes an amp; the guitarist may or may not play, she or he may mess up, play beautifully, or leave the room. But the building will still stand, electrical power will flow, and the door can be shut against interruptions and the outside world.
By contrast, field recordings transpire under uncontrolled, experimental, and often haphazard conditions. Even today, the gear can be balky and suddenly succumb to excess wind, rain, and temperature. Surrounding noise can pose problems, masking and distorting the desired sound. Gear can fail and die without warning—or a handy replacement. You can never bring too many batteries. “In the field” often means that the recordist is a long way from home, comfort, certainty.
50 years after Edison’s invention, the gear sounded better, but became bulky: When John Lomax set out across the American South in the summer of 1933, he and his son Alan hauled a 315 pound acetate disk recorder to record many musicians, notably the great folk singer Lead Belly. Around the same time, the scholars at Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology weren’t so lucky; their optical film recording equipment and cumbersome parabolic dish microphones weighed enough to require a heavy-duty truck.
As technology improved, the size and cost of portable recording equipment shrank while the “field” expanded. In the 1940s, Tony Schwartz took his portable wire recorder into the streets of New York City. Albums such as New York 19, The New York Taxi Driver, and 1,2,3, and a Zing Zing Zing capture street musicians (including the legendary Moondog), children’s jump-rope songs, and everyday speech.
In subsequent decades, recordists such as Bernie Krause, Dan Gibson, Lang Elliott, and many others ventured into wilderness to capture and preserve environmental sound. The World Soundscape Project, founded by R. Murray Schafer in the late 1960s, inaugurated the systematic recording and scientific measurement of noisy urban environments.
Schafer introduced the term “soundscape”—our sonic environment how we hear it physiologically, socially, and culturally—along with “acoustic ecology”—defined in the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology as “…the study of the effects of the acoustic environment, or soundscape, on the physical responses or behavioral characteristics of those living within it.” But Schafer went further, declaring in the book Tuning of the World that the soundscape—our soundscape—is a musical composition which we listeners should apprehend and accept responsibility for its form.
In the decades that followed, several of Schafer’s students such as Barry Truax and Hildegard Westerkamp as well as others influenced by Schafer’s concepts including Michael Rüsenberg and Darren Copeland created “soundscape compositions” based on field recordings; works such as Riverrun and Beneath the Forest Floor use electroacoustic means (overdubbing, digital chorusing and delay, pitch transposition, granular synthesis, etc.) to convey and amplify the “sense of place” embodied by the original recordings.
Traditional composers used field recordings in their work, too. Long before the advent of musique concrète in the late 1940s, Italian composer Ottorino Respighi requested a specific gramophone recording (issued by the Concert Record Gramophone Company, catalogue number R6105) of a nightingale in the final panel of his 1924 symphonic triptych, The Pines of Rome. Decades later, Karlheinz Stockhausen blanched field recordings from the southern Sahara, Bali, Japan, and the Amazon basin into fizzing vocodered voices, sine waves, and thrumming electromagnetic fields in his superb Telemusik (1966).
Until the 1990s, a single objective ideal prevailed, one that kept the field recordist invisible and enshrined accuracy, fidelity, and realism. Inaudible edits shored up a seamless sonic reality. Flaws such as wind rumble, excessive tape hiss, pops, microphone handling noise, and other unwanted byproducts of recording were considered tokens of incompetence, lackluster equipment, or routine bad luck.
Then several trends converged: the aural acceptance of absolutely quiet music fashioned out of digitally flattened sound (such as Bernhard Günter’s Un peu de neige salé) influenced by the music of Morton Feldman and late-period Luigi Nono (especially the 1980 string quartet Fragmente-stille, an Diotima); the appearance of the “glitch,” unprecedented spiky transients made possible by the computer-based editing and re-ordering of microloops, sonic grains, and other computer-based manipulation; the steady reissue onto compact disc of ethnographic recordings from around the world on labels like Ocora and JVC; released on compact disc in 1996, Westerkamp’s Kits Beach Soundwalk (1989) reminded a generation of composers that it was possible to include their own recorded voices in their field-recording based pieces; and most importantly, the advent of inexpensive, portable recording gear: the MiniDisc recorder.
Introduced by Sony in 1992, the MiniDisc not only peeled away a discouraging layer of hiss heard on portable cassette recorders but made it easy for anyone to index, retrieve, and frame any sound within earshot or microphone range.
In recent years, a protean group of sound artists have reclaimed the term “phonography” with its Edison-era connotations of venturing out into the world and making field recordings in unusual locations from unexpected, and at times poetic, perspectives: Albums such as the Quiet American’s Plumbing and Irrigation of South Asia, Peter Cusack’s recordings made in wintry Siberia, Baikal Ice, and the resonating wind silos of mnortham’s breathing towers teem with musical, ear-bewitching sounds.
Some phonographers bluntly rebel against the commercial values of accuracy, fidelity, and seamless realism. Phonographers may allow, and when appropriate, affirm the presence of the recordist and the recording gear, warts and all. Phonography does not always conform to established, commercially-driven ideas of “quality,” technique, or “fidelity.”
DogPoundFoundSound (BadRadioDogMassacre justifies the rebellion of phonography: Occasional disruptions, the blatant shift of microphones, and anomalous pops compel us to peer closer into the shrouded sound while reminding us that we are separate from what we hear—and thus free to act. The spectral howls and morose yelps of innocent, imprisoned animals live in our hearts, telling us that there is justice yet to be done.
Published in The Believer, July/August 2008, p. 54 then revised and expanded October 2008 and February 2012
Then, I grant you, the composer-conductor lives on a plane of existence unknown to the virtuoso. With what ecstasy he abandons himself to the delight of “playing” the orchestra!
How he hugs and clasps and sways this immense and fiery instrument!
Once more he is all vigilance.
His eyes are everywhere.
– Hector Berlioz
The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz edited and translated by David Cairns, W.W. Norton, p. 285
I have spent the last several years at orchestra concerts and ballet performances on my own singular plane of existence. Furtive, vigilant, with my eyes everywhere (for I might get caught!) and my ears carefully attuned to “playing” the orchestra, I’m on a secret mission: to surreptitiously record intermissions.
At concert halls across the country, symphony musicians often return to the stage during intermission, sometimes mere moments after the entire orchestra has officially exited. Individually or collectively, clarinetists, trumpeters, timpanists, and others warm up and work through difficult passages that await on the remainder of the program. This soundscape is not limited to American orchestras, though in my experience, visiting European orchestras, after the program’s first half, usually remain backstage until the second half of the concert begins.
Why record intermissions? One duty of the composer is to expose the unexpected, overlooked, and hidden skeins of music woven in the world around us. Culling sounds from the world as a composition subverts long-standing, essentialist notions of music as comprised of notes, melody, traditional instruments (violin, guitar, drums, piano, etc.) and so forth as well as flouts contemporary expectations of abstractly agglomerated, musique concrète-ized sound.
Throughout history, the definition of music has remained a moving target. I hope recording and presenting these intermissions in some small way abets and accelerates the ongoing re-definition of music in our culture towards moving, meaningful, coherent listening.
Making such recordings is illegal, a result of rules negotiated by the Musicians Union and various venues, yet I believe the importance of documenting these intermissions trumps antiquated copyright laws and misguided prohibitions.
There’s little money to be made – I doubt Deutsche Grammophon has plans to release a compilation such as Favorite Intermissions any time soon – and these recordings seem unlikely to damage anyone’s reputation, though it might tweak a conductor’s ego to find out that the best “new” music is heard between two halves of his or her meticulously planned concert program.
Recording these intermissions preserves a soundscape that could be blithely abolished by the arrival of a new music director – who might forbid on-stage warm-ups during intermission – or rendered extinct by the eventual implementation of noise cancellation technology that silences a room and hermetically seals conversations, confining any chatter to the person next to us.
I hope this album offers a new entryway to orchestral music; stagehands dragging chairs, instrumentalists leafing through music and trilling a few notes, close by conversations, and the distracted ambiance of the crowd combine to flatten and inscribe the aural surface. As a phonographer, I too am present, improvising corporeally as I angle my body-mounted microphones to capture the right mix of everything I hear. My voice, the flaws of my surreptitious recording system, and faults (and in “Awaiting AGON,” the incipient failure) of my equipment are all part of the music. Today’s glitch is tomorrow’s melody.
I adore listening. At the last possible moment – or when the ushers begin to eye me suspiciously – I rush back to my seat to hear even more music.
Published in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, Fall/Winter 2004 in mid-2005, p. 22 and revised September 2006 for the Favorite Intermissions CD.
Call it Cardew’s Conundrum: how can composers committed to creating political pieces – that is, sound works aiming to aid and abet radical social change – avoid cranking out amateurish songs that lack the lilt of “We Shall Overcome”? Or bypass the business-as-usual brandishing of dedications and didactic titles? Or at least abstain from abstruse programme notes festooned with fuzzy academic junk words such as ‘valorize’ or ‘praxis’ that aim to tell us what it all means?
Of course, the mere making of sonically radical music – e.g., free improvisation, lowercase sound, poésie sonore, noise, acousmatic music – is a rebellious act: Just as radical political activism questions, revolts against, and creates alternatives to established patterns of social and economic organization in life, radical music contradicts, opposes, mocks, and re-orders common assumptions, practices, structures, techniques, and styles in music through protean forms, persistent inquiry, unusual sounds, new instruments, fearless spurts of silence, pure surprise, poetic disorder, and communal action.
Surely the stubborn persistence of radical, adventurous, experimental music and its intimate contact with an audience – either in small cozy venues or heard at home by lone listeners who listen as one would read a novel – seems closer in spirit to creating a just society than the most well-intentioned, mass-marketed mainstream music. Isn’t it better to engage individual consciences than mould and manipulate masses?
I believe that honouring sound through focused listening leads one to honour the world. Given the current set of circumstances – needless war, the corporatization of democracy as well as the assorted encroachments on individual cognitive, corporeal, and commercial liberty – honour demands action: General revolt is all well and good, but how can a sound artist address and attack specific injustices?
In rare instances dedications and didactic titles do seem effective: both Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Nono’s Remember What They Did to You at Auschwitz not only acquire greater titular power but serve as moving memorials – yet neither make direct use of pertinent sonic material. Both works could easily bear other titles (as did Threnody, whose initial title was 8’37”) and no one would be the wiser. In Music is My Mistress, Duke Ellington wryly noted, “Abstraction can reach a point where it represents or says anything the artist claims. Since no one else speaks his language, or the language the pièce de resistance is written or painted in, he – the artist – is the only one to understand it.”
Perhaps a more direct route is to write a song. The 20th century boasts more great songs than symphonies, oratorios, concertos, etc., alas, radical-minded well-intentioned tunes like “The Ballad of Joe Hill,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Imagine” remain too aurally close to their corporate-cloned counterparts to incite any of my own radical sentiments. To me, rock and its ilk – country music, punk, hip-hop, pop, folk, the blues, metal, et al. – sound tired, decrepit, worn out, and no longer capable of challenging the ear or threatening the status quo. By their brevity, hegemony, and intractable formulae (a voice in the foreground, an unflagging tempo, prominent percussion, you know the rest) can songs really be radical? Don’t you hear the sound of people making lots of money?
My personal solution is to create compositions that use the pertinent sonic material of social change: raw recordings of protests, battlefield audio, personal testimonies, and aural documents drawn from my own experience. I use affordable devices – second-hand MiniDisc recorders bought on ebay, inexpensive microphones, castoff computers, out-of-date sound software either obtained on the cheap (such as Cool Edit Pro 2.0) as shareware, freeware or other dubious means – to make pieces that not only capture the ordinary and extraordinary sounds of everyday life but bear witness to current crises that touch my conscience and impel me to respond.
To my ears, such pertinent sonic material is real and authentic. A singer in a sequined gown ululating “Fair trade not free trade!” seems too far removed from its birthplace on the street to compare with a vivid recording of kids yelling their asses off while being spattered with pepper spray. And unlike the news media, which remains addicted to a single viewpoint delivered by paternal narration entombed in sonic wallpaper, well-edited audio propels the drama without a narrator telling anyone what to think, making it easier to create energetic, disruptive structures that emphasize passion and action.
I believe that the variable fidelities of recordings collected on cassette, MiniDisc, and DAT or grabbing audio from governmental public disclosure requests, televised press conferences, or the internet offer another expressive tool. Liberated and laid bare by high-fidelity digital audio, previously unwanted technical flaws such as hiss, pops, wind noise, compression artifacts, clicks, downsampling, boom rustling and even the off-mike intrusions of voices and incongruent sounds can serve as musically abstract signposts that alert (and pleasure!) the ears and foster in-depth, focused listening.
While I try to follow Harry Partch’s use of speech-music, I avoid languages I do not understand and instead adhere to my own language, American English. I feel that the unspoken assumption of Internationalism which permeates the wordless radical musics of today – a legacy of the Stockhausen/Boulez generation – does not meet the current need for personal persuasion, face-to-face activism, and cellular resistance of the status quo.
Such is my lot as a mostly monolingual American: The source material from attempting ‘Anthem’ is me trying to sing my “Anthem” for bass-baritone or tenor solo in my dining room. An entirely different and separate piece, “Anthem” intermingles and transposes various lyrics and melodic fragments from several patriotic American songs: “The Star Spangled Banner,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” and “The Marines Hymn.”
Making other overtly political pieces such as N30: Live at the WTO Protest November 30, 1999, its companion N30: Who guards the Guardians?, Two Secret Wars, New York: September 11th 2002, and Wallingford Food Bank prompted me to ponder Who will listen to these works? How will they hear it? What results do I want? Who will act? And most importantly, why am I comfortable with only speculative answers to these questions?
Recently, I remembered the idyllic summers spent as a youth sitting in a French garden whiling away the hours with a shortwave radio in my lap. Bestirred by odd voices between official broadcast frequencies (now known as “numbers stations”), careening modulation tones, irregular chirps, squiggles of static, and veils of hiss along with “The Archers,” BBC news reports (including a haunting profile of a Czechoslovakian political prisoner forced to walk every other 20 minutes 24 hours a day), and cryptic weather updates (“Fastnet 4. Grimley 5. Hebrides 4. Tiree…”) – all beamed through the brackish aether to lone (and lonely) listeners like myself – I dreamt of a more just, more personal, world.
Is this sonorous mirage the underlying Romantic notion which undergirds the parallel universe (or shadow cabinet) of sonically radical musics? It is for me. After many years, I replied to the radio, sending a distress call to the world: Revolt! Revolt! Revolt! Revolt! Revolt!
Published in Resonance Spring 2005, vol. 10 no. 1, pp. 33-34
In the Spring of 2000, my pal Henry, fed up with the perpetual dearth of venues for non-commercial music in Seattle (not to mention its paltry, predictably late-night presence on local radio), invited a few friends over for a “listening session.” His request was simple: Bring several pieces of adventurous music less than 10 minutes long on cassette, LP, or compact disc. The definition of “adventurous” was left to individual discretion. Everyone was expected to take a turn and only mention the composer(s) and title when the music – and any subsequent discussion – had concluded.
To keep things cozy, Henry invited less than 10 people, all of whom he hoped would be attentive listeners. Those attending knew our host had a well-nigh world-class stereo system and thus quiet, focused listening would reap rewards. After several monthly sessions, Henry moved to a new abode and, barring illness or obstreperous employment, scheduled a listening session every other week or so. The start time was fixed at 8 pm. Latecomers were expected to wait until a piece to end before entering – just like a concert.
Gathering ’round the gramophone is not new; in one form or another, music lovers have convened sonic potlucks long before the salons of 19th century Vienna and 20th century Paris harbored the famous and not-so-famous musicians of their respective heydays. Today, despite the popularity of Nuremberg-style arena concerts and the pervasive aural wallpaper polluting our public spaces, listening to music in an intimate social setting is far from obsolete. Indeed, the listening sessions sometimes hark back to an idyllic society for private musical performances. Apart from luxuriating with like-minded listeners in luminous labyrinths of sound, such sublime sonic experiences also raise issues about how we encounter, consume, respect, adore, and listen to adventurous music.
The obvious benefit of these sessions is the chance to discover unfamiliar composers, improvisors and performers. The majority of adventurous music is released by small labels who advertise very little, if at all, and press limited quantities of LPs or CDs. Corporate-owned “major” labels periodically delve into adventurous music, but never for very long. Columbia’s Music of Our Time imprint, Deutsche Grammophon’s sought-after Avant Garde series, BMG’s Catalyst line, and Sony’s aborted Ligeti Edition remain the most prominently abandoned corporate commitments to the avant-garde. Noise, free improvisation, and out jazz also appear in haphazard fashion, but usually on smaller, boutique labels.
Listeners tend to specialize, anyway. I’m chiefly interested in instrumental and electro-acoustic compositions, but like everyone else who attends the session, I’m open to the sonically adventurous or unusual. Some attendees champion undeservedly obscure musicians such as Lucia Dlugoszewski, Richard Maxfield, and MSBR. Others have brought field recordings or strange audio products such as a demonstration cd of psychoacoustic principles. A few months ago, I was enlisted to play AMK’s “the wig box” (from a 7 inch record titled Hi-Fi), which requires the performer to lift the record player’s needle from lock groove to lock groove. Such variety reveals connections among apparently dissimilar musics and underscores how little we adventurous music mavens have actually heard.
Obviously, it is impossible for one person to buy and listen to every release; adventurous music seems doomed to suddenly disappear from store shelves, or generally not make it into stores at all. The culprits include indifferent distributors struggling to market hundreds of new releases each month, record stores pushing popular music to pay the rent, and frustrated musicians who, after selling several dozen cds and not quite breaking even, stash the remaining discs in the basement and start working on their next project. I can only surmise the motivations of rock or pop consumers: Most of my purchases investigate exploratory musicians rather than serve as souvenirs of what I heard on the radio.
For those who live in the United States, the listening session offers substantial advantages over a radio broadcast. Even in major metropolitan areas, most “weird music” (i.e. anything without a steady beat) programs get shunted towards the witching hour of 10 pm and beyond, when only the devoted will hear them. Radio has other, lesser-known effects. As a radio DJ, I have often heard FM compression mutilate the carefully constructed dynamic range of music. When broadcast on FM, pieces such as Bernhard Günter’s near-silent Impossible Grey, Tom Heasley’s Ground Zero for tuba and electronics, and Luigi Dallapiccola’s Tempus Destruendi-Tempus Aedificandi acquire additional timbres, sometimes becoming different pieces altogether. As for high-bandwidth internet streaming, how many people want to run their computer’s mediocre sound card into the stereo?
Some will argue that acoustic music needs to be played by live musicians, not world-class hi-fis. As a listener, I do not heed the Musician’s Union dictum that “Live music is best.” As a lover of music, I am moved by sound, not the emotional eructations of performers. Here I should admit that my ears came of age in the stereo era; I discovered Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring not in school, or in a book, or in a score, or at a concert, but on a faux-burlap covered LP lurking atop a dusty shelf. After Stravinsky, encountering Beethoven and a clutch of classic 1970s Nonesuch LPs (Carter, Xenakis, Crumb, Ives) inaugurated my journey into Classical and Avant Garde music. Several years later, I started attending concerts of Classical, Contemporary, and Improvised music. What I heard appalled me.
While everyone is familiar with the constellations of coughing and sussurating concert programs, the attentive must also endure the bodily indiscipline of musicians. Most musicians are keenly sensitive to page turns or emptying spit valves, but corporeal control has yet to creep into the conservatory curriculum. There are still brass players who should learn how to set a mute gently on a thin foam pad, not clack it against a hard wood floor. I’ll spare you an excruciating description of the concert master who routinely (and unconsciously) scraped his right foot one beat before his solos!
My fellow concert goers remain the worst offenders. Unused to reveling in the allegedly artificial quiet of recordings and unfamiliar with ascribing meaning to the tiniest transient sonic phenomenon, too many people think that a quick whisper or a slight squirm will not matter much. To those who delve into the deep strata of music’s sound and structure, it does. The compulsive clappers who cannot wait for the final notes to reverberate through the hall also aggravate the sensitive listener. Alas, without a place to learn prolonged concentrated listening, is it foolish to expect symphony audiences to respect the music with hushed bodies and rapt attention.
I have found the quietest audiences at free improv gigs. It is marvelous when master improvisors exploit a chasm of silence and bask in the subsequent stillness of a communally inaudible audience. Unlike symphony concerts, these gigs invariably suffer from the aural contamination of passing cars, an anticlimactic toilet flush from down the hall, scattered footsteps from the floor above, or other sonic detritus common to informal ‘underground’ performance spaces.
Formal concert halls have problems too. Although rarely recognized as such, the performance space is also an instrument. Hearing a cavernous hall congeal a Mozart symphony into mush convinced me that music must be heard in a suitable acoustic setting: free improvisation, composed chamber music, and early Haydn symphonies in auditoriums and other intimate venues, Strauss tone poems in modern concert halls, and so forth. Wielding precise specifications and detailed diagrams, Stockhausen and other contemporary composers boldly treat the performance space as an instrument, but the ignorance of concert promoters and performers frequently yields a regrettable compromise. Occasionally, a spellbinding performance will banish even the most blatant distractions from my ears, however live concerts remain my most frustrating musical experience.
The listening sessions are not totally quiet either, but have proved quieter and more satisfying to me than most concerts. High quality speakers can create a rich acoustic space – without coughs, unwrapping candies, or cavernous mush. A small, comfortably seated audience of engaged listeners makes it much easier to joyfully commune with music. As a result, my ears have become more sensitive and alert; my ability to concentrate has been magnified beyond my expectations. Some listeners struggle with “trainspotting” and waste their time ascribing a piece to Gottfried Michael Koenig or Josef Anton Riedl or discerning Rashied Ali from Tony Oxley.
Where else will you find the challenge to listen to the music – and only the music – laid bare? What a pleasure it is to encounter a composition or improvisation without the burden of a title, performer, or composer! When a work is good enough to abduct the audience’s attention, the experience is thrilling. For me, such intimate, immediate, immersive contact with music, free of encumbering expectations opens the soul to the essence of sound.
Many who attend the listening sessions are musicians and a few share their own creations. Like most creators of electro-acoustic music, I listen to my pieces hundreds of times before letting them “out the door” yet all those listens cannot replace hearing my work with others in the room. We makers must be made of strong, stern stuff. Absorbing the unvarnished reactions before the creator’s identity comes to the fore can be disappointing, fortifying, crushing, instructive, and vindicating.
Several suggestions have improved the listening experience. Concealing the cd and cassette players’ time display removes another distraction and demolishes the temptation to see if the music breaks down into 5, 10 or 30 second chunks. Some have presented a suite of pieces under 10 minutes and thereby fractured others’ temporal expectations. Not knowing a work’s length hones the ears’ attention; what we are hearing might not be with us long! We have also listened to pieces much longer than 10 minutes; to allot the time equally, those who present such pieces skip their next turn. The variety of music genres and mastering jobs make calibrating the volume essential, though regular attendees soon get a feel for the stereo’s impressive dynamic range. Aside from the aforementioned ground rules, things proceed very loosely by informal consensus.
A few sessions have been devoted to extremely long works such as Cardew’s Treatise or Stockhausen’s Hymnen. Concert and festival directors usually shun long pieces out of practical need and pervasive fear. Not every gargantuan opus deserves sweeping swaths of sonic real estate, but listening sessions offer a refuge for such supposedly impractical, risky music.
Of course, the listening sessions are fun and filled with camaraderie. Along with knowing everyone’s name, the ability to trade seats between pieces or mutually agree to an intermission expunges any excess formality. Socializing seems integral to experiencing music. In my five short years of organizing music concerts and festivals, I found that people want to discuss or berate or exalt what they’re heard, speculate on the composer’s tools and techniques, and otherwise carouse or commiserate with fellow aficionados.
Discussions between pieces and during breaks range from quick biographical and historical details, to questions and comments (“Wow, what instrument was that?”) to outright condemnation. Not everyone agrees with what is adventurous. One person’s masterpiece is another’s trite crap, but those disagreements spur valuable discussion and debate. We’ve probed many musical issues including the essence of music (“Music is an act!”), the physiology of hearing, the nature of taste, and recording techniques of the last century.
Fortunately, the same folks don’t always show up. An irregular cast of listeners and the semi-regular nature of the session ensures diverse music (and opinions!) as well as forestalls the complacency that inevitably accompanies a regularly scheduled event. Those who miss the session stay apprised by emailed playlists that tally who brought what. Newcomers are welcome, and we’re encouraged to invite the like-minded. After a quick review of how the sessions proceed, it is easy to feel at home and join the adventure.
I hope the previous paragraphs are stupidly self-evident. Surely others around the world are also instigating the new chamber music, a new yet very old and obvious setting for adventurous musics and musicians. You too can sidestep the current concert hall system where bland new works are played to be forgotten and partake of (or establish!) this vibrant provocative arena in your community. Aside from igniting much-needed discourse and furnishing a new home for the work of sonic explorers, such sessions (why not call them concerts?) have the potential to renew what in our distracted times has become a radical act: listening.
Published as “Listening Sessions” in 21st Century Music December 2001, pp. 18-19
When grasping for inspiration, what should a musician do? Every aspirant artist must devise strategies to spur the muse or else succumb to despair and create nothing. Creativity and self-doubt inhabit the same lonely island, yet music magazines rarely convey the stammering frustration that musicians often endure. Some music makers find solutions in superstitions, prayers or consume libations of a sacred or profane sort. What, when or how much musicians drink, wear, or snort may make fine magazine fodder, but can such gossip help anyone who wants to create music? When I have run out of ideas and sit alone, seething and disgusted with my composing, playing, or myself, the following five axioms inspire and impel me to keep going.
Buy one cd by musicians who you have never heard or visit a club with adventurous live music. Most musicians are too busy or worse, afraid to investigate their peers and progenitors. If you purchase crap, console yourself, you are not as bad as you thought. Some musical discoveries have devastated me, but hearing Cecil Taylor’s Conquistador made me a better musician and human being. Keep looking over your shoulder: moldy figs don’t know they stink. If you are impoverished, go to the public library.
Have you heard my Quintuple Concerto for Corkscrew, Improvising Bassist, Murderous Sous-chef, Machine Gun and Auto-Immolating Symphonic Instruments? Of course not, and you never will. Integrating self-destructing traditional instruments and a paroled psychotic killer into a musical score may be original, but are merit and originality always congruent? No. The ethic of relentless originality, “progress,” is a 20th century invention: many great composers and players are neither original nor spectacularly inventive, but remain great composers and players nonetheless.
If being unoriginal and boring bothers you, heed John Cage, who wrote, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If it is still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two and so on. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all but very interesting.” By distilling this and the subsequent axioms from many experimental musicians and composers of the 1960s and 1970s, this article ignores originality.
All Composers Are My Ancestors
Crib, steal and pilfer any music you desire; I believe all music belongs to me because I love it. Do we judge the music of the early 20th (or any) century by how faithfully the composers and players honored copyright law? No. Created a mere three centuries ago, copyright and other constraints were devised ostensibly to protect people but now serve the interests of megacorporations and megamusicians, all of whom can spare some change and some licks. Copyright, which originated as an exclusive guarantee to sell creative work, has been perverted into a licensing lottery which most of us will not win: do as you will, and let history sort out the rest.
Sometimes a bad review or naked indifference can fatally sting musical aspirations. Having been vilified, condemned and castigated by reviewers large and small, my favorite prescription for a bad review is to read it aloud 3 times, place a hand (not necessarily my own) upon my heart and wail “From this, I will never create music again!” 6 times. If making music is important to you, such a sentiment will seem utterly false, and you will continue to create music.
If your press clips are too thin or too favorable, share your music with unsympathetic listeners. Their naive comments may not be so naive after all…
All objects, ideas and material processes are musical instruments in need of a musician willing to work towards mastery. Pick up a new instrument, make a strange act a musical one, cripple your technique with superfluous concurrent actions (shouting, urinating, reading a novel, etc.) or attempt any other acts which unsettle old habits. Be willfully weird and demolish your assumptions. After spending an afternoon composing a Duo for Mousetrap and Flute, those easy chords won’t seem so easy to play anymore. Making music should be risky, so leave repetitive reproduction to cd players and other mechanical devices.
I suspect you will find these axioms to be so brilliant, or boorish, or banal that you will devise your own, which is far better than trusting someone else, including me.
Published in Earshot Jazz, July 2000, p. 22
Un Chasseur du Son
New Orleans. The last night of Mardi Gras. Crowds drift and surge through Bourbon Street. Gaudy lights dispel the darkness. My shoulders ache and I’m sheathed in sweat. Everyone but me wears shorts and short-sleeve shirts. A snug wind breaker hides the heart of my field recording rig: an old camera case containing a portable DAT deck and a chic 1970s Italian purse crammed with extra tapes and batteries. The rest of my gear – headphones coiled around my neck and a long Y-shaped plastic tube with a microphone taped to each tip – marks me as an outsider.
Cameras stalk the crowd for female flesh. Like those fleet-footed pornographers, I too hunt, but my quarry is invisible. Rather than drink, smoke, or leer at the lascivious exchange of bared breasts for beads, I listen and record. For hours, I have tramped over technicolor clumps of trash, navigated the roving archipelagos of racially segregated revelers, and aimed my microphones everywhere. I’m tired, my ears are tired, all of me is tired. I head towards dark streets to sit. I’m restless, so I keep walking.
I hate field recording. At least I do right now. I can never predict whether my perpetual worries – Will it turn out on tape? Do I need to get closer? Will the deck keep working? Am I recording the right thing? How long will my batteries last? Do I have enough tape? Are those shadows thugs? – will diminish or magnify the thrill of the hunt. Field recording requires the recordist to embrace uncertainty. Unlike studio recording, field recordings are made in erratic environmental and technical conditions. Lest some marvelous moment escape, I try to be open to sudden discoveries and ready for an abrupt technical, aesthetic, or corporeal volte-face.
I emerge from an alley onto a brightly lit plaza. I am the only white person there. Despite scattered fights and squabbles, the police are nowhere to be seen. I roll tape and stride forward, snatching fragments of combat and conversation. A cuddling couple ambles by and smiles. Someone amidst an imposing throng asks me what I’m doing. I’m too distracted, too cautious to say more than “collecting sounds.” He wishes me luck. A line of mounted police forms down the street. Anticipating the polyphony of hoof beats on cobblestones, I hurry to the horses. My hunt continues. I am on aural safari.
Composers have heard the inherent music in our world long before the madrigal “Contraponto bestiale all mente” (roughly: “Bestial counterpoint of the mind” – imagine contrapuntal a cappella voices singing like barnyard animals improvising counterpoint) of Adriano Banchieri (1567-1634). My own circuitous path began with the music of Harry Partch, whose invention of new instruments inspired me to seek out the potential music in all objects (cardboard guitar, textured magnetic tape, steamkettle whistle…), ideas (“Run Gruppen through two wah-wah pedals.” “Cultivate a pinhole embouchure.” ) and material processes (running, raining, throwing dice on a xylophone, yelling…). The out-of-print World of Harry Partch LP and Partch’s primitive recordings on CRI (reissued as The Harry Partch Collection, vols. 1-3 and now on New World Records) had a cataclysmic effect, pushing me into the world of low-fidelity recording.
Spurred to corral my music by any means necessary, I recorded early compositions like “Use the Data” and “Iszkarrchse” live with ancient low-fi equipment that would have unleashed laughter and contempt in most professional or even semi-pro “project” studios: quarter-track tape decks, malfunctioning microphone cables, and an all-in-one mixer/PA designed for rock clubs. My microphones, decades-old vocal mics, had such poor pick-up proximity and narrow frequency response that passing cars, the billowing roar of rising jets, and other external sounds rumbling through my cramped room did little to disfigure my recordings. I have no regrets; immersing myself in an unpredictable jungle of junk honed my skills for the hunt, teaching me to bide my time and stay alert for the sudden confluence of quiet surroundings, working equipment, and inspiration.
As my equipment and recording technique improved, field recording offered an exit from the safety of the studio, a chance to capture an unexpected lyrical moment entirely outside my control. Alas, I didn’t consider my own field recordings anything more than source material; I thought nothing of filtering rainforests into futuristic atmospheres or otherwise manipulating natural sounds into an unrecognizable musical oblivion. Hearing Annea Lockwood’s A Sound Map of the Hudson River and Hildegard Westerkamp’s Beneath the Forest Floor revealed the obvious and convinced me to let my own field recordings speak and sing for themselves. Notes from the Wild, Bernie Krause’s compelling account of making high-fidelity nature recordings, confirmed that the hunt for sound could be a soul-enriching quest. Yet I knew I could never match the wondrous fidelity of Gordon Hempton (notably Dawn Chorus), Lang Elliott, or Douglas Quin. So my quest continued.
Eventually, I read R. Murray Schafer’s Tuning of the World and discovered my debt to those who began charting the soundscape and leading the first soundwalks, but I did not encounter those pioneers, and their probable fountainhead, John Cage, until much later. I’m also grateful to the naturalists, anthropologists, musicologists, journalists, and other recordists who hauled bulky and cantankerous recording equipment into the field. Their purchases (and departmental requisitions) motivated manufacturers to fortify and miniaturize tape decks, power supplies, microphones, and magnetic media – innovations that make venturing into the field much easier today.
What Is Field Recording?
In general, the field refers to the outdoors, though in recent decades many recordings have been made in urban areas. Regardless of the location, the recording should be free of technical flaws such as glitchy audio, a rustling microphone boom, and the thumping crackle of onrushing wind. Any aural detail that dispels the sense of place is unwelcome, which, in the wilderness, might include the sounds of human activity (especially the act of recording!) as well as the distant hum of cars and planes. Upon returning to the studio, many recordists remedy such sonically incongruous interference with discreet editing, filtering, or other invisible post facto processing.
Although I’m lucky to have captured field recordings that needed neither editing nor filtering (Capitol Rotunda, “Riding the 44 Back to Ballard”), I believe it fruitless to debate the acceptable degree of studio procedures or the merit of supposedly pure recordings over doctored agglomerations. Even if all recordists always told the truth (and listeners read the liner notes, both of which seem unlikely), no recorded sound is heard pure anyway. Recording is transduction, the conversion of acoustic sounds to electrical impulses; microphones and other audio gear transform sound permanently. While I treasure the rare happenstance and compelling circumstantial polyphony of raw audio, I also want some of my field recordings to communicate the act of the hunt – the aural safari.
Aural safaris seek to convey the audible drama of hunting sound in an unstable, perhaps dangerous environment. To do so, I try to incorporate – and when appropriate, affirm – the inevitable influence and presence of the recordist and recording gear both in the field and back in the studio. Aggressive editing (abrupt stops, dead silence, frenetic intercutting, obviously artificial polyphony, antiphonal spatialization, the traditional transparent crossfade) and audibly risky tactics (quizzing street hustlers, sidling up to riot police, bobbing through mobs), as well as the varying and variable fidelities of microphones, tape hiss, technical flaws (wind noise, boom rustling and even the off-mike intrusions of voices and incongruent sounds), and the deck itself all help relay the struggle, frustration, and (occasional) triumph of the hunt.
My chief inspirations for making aural safaris are Glenn Gould’s Solitude Trilogy, Annea Lockwood’s inexplicably overlooked Delta Run, and the work of Hildegard Westerkamp, especially Kits Beach Soundwalk. I marvel at Gould’s masterful polyphony; the layered conversations are a wonder to wade through. Lockwood and Westerkamp are both adept at letting sounds be themselves without resorting to excessive processing. Randy Hostetler’s Once Upon A Time, Claude Matthews’ DogPoundFoundSound, Rachel McInturff’s By Heart and Charles Amirkhanian’s Pas De Voix all make dramatic use of lo- and multiple fidelity field recording.
So far, my own aural safaris (cocaine, N30: Live at the WTO Protest November 30, 1999, and “Your 3 minute Mardi Gras”) embody my quest for the musical confluence of everyday speech, environmental sound, and the act of recording. I refuse to perpetuate the myth of impartial reportage by spouting narration; there are enough people (journalists, advertisers, and other salespeople) in the world telling us what to think. But I do heed Partch’s insistence that everyday speech can be music; stories, sayings and other verbal flotsam are fair game if it propels the drama of the hunt. And what about those who cannot understand English? I see no reason why my aural safaris should have a universal appeal. I hope non-English speakers will make their own aural safaris. The impulse to reach everyone stems from the desire to sell everyone the same brand of soap, or looms in unspoken Messianic urges. My own urge is that of a maker. I go on aural safari for the thrill of the hunt, to find what I hope others will enjoy, and to satisfy my own love for sound.
Published at phonography.org
Getting a gig is not hard, but landing a well attended, properly promoted, and paying gig is a challenge. Like many performers who persist in the backwaters of Jazz, Classical, and their radical offshoots, I have played many gigs – not a few of them sparsely attended – for a percentage (referred to as a “cut”) of the door and occasionally signed a contract for a fixed fee (“a guarantee”). I have also agreed to contorted hybrids that have paid “…your guarantee or 60% of the door whichever is greater minus $50 for the sound guy if over 50 people show up and we’ll kick in dinner but no desserts for the group.”
Playing one or two packed houses makes the deserted ones even more frustrating, yet most of us refuse to equate money with musical success and keep gigging anyway. On good nights, gigs are at least good for gas money or a new shirt. Sometimes, albeit rarely, you will earn enough to invest in the tools of our beloved trade and repair your instrument or take care of a long-standing expense like rent.
Some musicians are just happy to have a gig, two drink tickets (sorry, no doubles unless you know the bartender) and bounce through the changes with grace and wit. Others, styling themselves as musical Crusaders, seek the Holy Grail of an attentive audience and perform to propagate their music. Of course, guessing which musicians will get along at the gig is impossible. Ideologies or lack thereof aside, pre-performance rituals such as warming up, smoking out or chowing down can ignite camaraderie or abet habitual indifference. After the introductory handshakes, musicians might compare common acquaintances and trade war stories or recede into a cool demeanor born of intense concentration, aloof posturing or plain nervousness.
A few months ago, I was asked to open a club gig for some crusading out-of-town improvisors. I assumed everyone, including the headliners, knew the score: clubs sell drinks to stay in business. The scraping chairs of casual seating and the serving of alcohol mar all but the loudest of music. Avid fans of Charlie Parker who treasure lo-fi live recordings of Bird in wondrous flight must also endure the accompanying clack of forks on plates, clinking glasses, and cretinous laughter punctuating the susurrating babble. At this gig however, all was quiet, including the musicians. Everyone shook hands, took the drink tickets, and returned to their respective tables. The subsequent performances are of no concern here; instead, I must rue the evening’s bitter conclusion.
The dirty business transpired after midnight. The headliners asked me to inquire after the money. Without the shield of a manager or a lackey, musicians usually take care of their own financial arrangements, so I thought the request odd. Awkwardly, I asked “What was your agreement?” One of them mumbled an unintelligible string of vowels and concluded with “… of the door.” For musicians, “The Door” is a holy sum that often initiates drunkenness, and for some, decrees success or inflicts despair.
The gig was sparsely attended, so I expected to bear bad tidings. Yet out of respect for the headliner’s fine performance, I hopped off the stage and sidled up to the bar. The bartender obliged and proffered some bills. Scant monies in hand, I returned to justifiably sour and stony faces. The Door inflicted despair: the headliners had journeyed from afar and played their asses off for two pitchers of cheap beer. Paranoid, I worried that my fellow musicians suspected me of skimming The Door.
One of them, perhaps reading my mind, went to the bar and demanded a full account while his comrades groused about the loss. Annoyed, the bartender approached the stage, lamented the low turnout, and confirmed The Door as well as my honesty. The headliners packed up their gear. A drunk bawled “You guys sucked!”, an unjustified accusation: the vociferous thug and his toad-mouthed wife had heard only half of the headliner’s second set.
The musicians stormed out, bemoaning a $200 loss (not my math, but reasonable nonetheless) which several sold CDs did not salve. I had hoped to have a beer with them and plot plans, compare notes, and perhaps enter that Avalon where musicians speak truthfully to one another and offer honest praise and criticism. I can’t fault their exit; The Door will frustrate and cheat those who equate money with musical success. My feeble goodnight did nothing. I left a few minutes later. Serendipitously, I bumped into an old friend, wolfed his roommate’s wine, and waxed fruitlessly about the missed opportunity.
Together, we could have asked, Where were the other good and bad gigs? Who paid what and how much? Could you cadge more drink tickets? Who was a scumbag promoter and who was a saint? Did the doorman let regulars in for free? Musicians do discuss these questions from time to time, but I think we should end our silence over wages and put the dirty business of performing, the money, and the gripes out in the open.
Until musicians build a close community or reform the selectively impotent Musicians Union, some sort of grapevine, a hybridized gossip column and harbingering hobo graffiti, could let musicians know the score. Decoding musicians’ argot such as “Hey man, it’s a door gig” (i.e., expect less than $50) should not take years, but only a few words, a pat on the shoulder, and a sagacious smile from a wizened elder. Let us be frank about society’s ingratitude towards musicians and let beginners know what they’re in for: if you’re not in it for love, a lotta hate – maybe some of it your own – is gonna come your way.
Published in Earshot Jazz, December 2000, p. 14