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15 January 2014 | Ken Vandermark - musician & composer

15 January 2014

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All Ears Music Festival

“So we postwar prosodists came in, then, basically on the coattails of the classicists, of Pound and Williams and Marianne Moore. Except that by our time, you see, Pound had stayed in Europe, and so he was researching in historical variations, ancient articulations of local speech. Williams stayed in our local area and Pound wrote to him: ‘You are interest in the raw material, and I am interested in the finished product.’ And Williams said he was interested in the raw material because an American poetry had yet to be invented.”

-Allen Ginsberg, from “Allen Ginsberg, spontaneous mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996,” (Perennial: 2001), edited by David Carter, pg. 117.

12/30/13: I started composing for Audio One. The night before I had a dream of high contrast music being the solution for the feeling of reaching a compositional dead end- I’m going to take that and run with it (concept from Godard: film what says something, don’t explain something due to conventions- extreme contrast leads to a potentially new experience and understanding). Watched “The Mexican Suitcase” documentary by Trisha Ziff; an amazing story and complex narrative, told fairly well but in a somewhat simplistic manner- there ARE complex issues regarding the images, who they “belong to” (Capa’s family or the Spanish citizens/refugees), but there is no chance for the ICP “cultural imperialists” to respond to allegations from the Spanish, there is no discourse. And the irony is that a lack of discourse ALWAYS leads to misunderstandings, which is what the Spanish are currently suffering from due to a lack of resolution to the aftermath of their civil war.

1/1/14: Annual bad movie day at my friends, Amy and Seth Bowers. “Samurai Cop,” directed by Amir Shervan is outstanding and hilarious, others bad and somewhat enjoyable or at least strange. I learned the algorithm of contemporary Hollywood thinking: Ghostbusters – Men In Black – True Grit รท the CGI direction of Green Lantern = R.I.P.D.

1/2/14: I finished the primary parts of the 1st composition for Audio One- goal is another 9. Watched several episodes of “Breaking Bad;” somehow it feels less revelatory than “The Wire” and less subversive than “Mad Men,” despite its subject matter and the quality of the plot and acting (though there are aspects of the plot that are already starting to feel stretched thin, such as the DEA agent from New Mexico who really can’t speak Spanish and is given a promotion to work in El Paso and deal directly with the Mexican drug cartels…

1/3/14: I began work on the 2nd piece for Audio One. My laptop was STILL at the shop after days of waiting for the hard drive to be replaced. I celebrated by watching the original version of “The Housemaid,” from 1960 and directed by Kim Ki-young, restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. On one level, an extreme melodrama, on the other, a world class example of camera use and cinematography; in some ways it reminded me of Douglas Sirk’s films.

1/5/14: My computer collapsed a second time. More work on piece #2 for Audio One. Dave Zuchowski sites that “Fabric Monument” and “FSA Color” are the same composition on “What Country” and “Head Above Water” by the Resonance Ensemble. I go back to the albums to listen, incredulous, but he was right- they are essentially the same structure, using the same sequence of modular sections, with minor alterations. The essential difference is the sequence of soloists and the approach they take to the material. Without any plan and a year after the first recording, I organized the same form for the band at the concert in Hasselt- complete chance and I was completely unaware of this until Dave pointed it out. Interestingly, it did completely underscore the impact of the improviser on the organization and feeling of the composed elements- fascinating.

1/6/14: I got my computer back and it actually worked. The ultimate irony is that it was basically back where I started, with the original operating system in place- the upgrade installation of Mavericks seemed to be the cause of all the trouble, thank you Apple. At least it was functioning correctly again and the Time Machine backup worked perfectly- I didn’t lose any of my files from the hard drive crash. I finished the primary aspects of 2nd piece for Audio One; ideas already moving for additional compositions for the group. Later, I watched more “Breaking Bad” but I keep finding flaws with the premise (such as Walt’s sudden rages, yeah he’s repressed, but where does this self assurance come from out of nowhere?). I close out the night by watching another Godard, “Alphaville,” which is again an outstanding experience. Everything he does with symbols and signs, patterns of behavior and genre expectations, reinventing what you think you know and see right in front of your eyes by assigning different meanings to what we think we already know- this is the music I want to create.

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