Sounds Like Ligeti, Cage’s ASLSP.

I went to the composers’ concert at Webster University the other day. Unfortunately, I only had time to stay for the first piece, which was a new work called ‘Kyrie’ by Ken Stallings. I think it would be alright to say that I enjoyed the piece- it employed a neat sort of ambient neo-tonality. If György Ligeti came back from the dead and wrote an original score for The Passion of the Christ, I assume it would sound something like this.

I’m considering investing $20 in this blog so that I can post music on it. I feel like having some kind of music sample in every post would be really neat. I’m not really sure that people actually read this, so if anyone has comments for or against this idea, please let me know. And I’m guessing it would be out of the question to see if anyone wanted to donate some money to help me get the ball rolling. It never hurts to ask.

I was talking to Bob Chamberlin yesterday, and he showed me the coolest website: a real-time streaming of a live performance of John Cage’s piece ‘ASLSP’. Upon further reading, I found out that it is currently the longest lasting music performance, and that it will not end until the year 2640. Lets work backwards: John Cage wrote the original version in 1985 for solo piano, stating that the piece should take between 20 and 70 minutes to perform. Two years later, he changed the instructions, saying merely that the piece was meant to be played as slowly as possible, which is where the name comes from (As SLow aS Possible).

The piece is currently being performed in the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany. When a group of musicians proposed a start date in the year 2000, they calculated that because that original St. Burchardi organ was built in 1361 (639 years ago), the piece should take 639 years to perform. Therefore, starting the piece in 2001 meant that it would end in the not-so-near future: the year 2640.

The performance began on Cage’s 85 birthday, September 5th 2001. In order to keep the same specifications of the original 8 page piece, the aspects have been elongated proportionately. This performance of the piece began with two years of silence. On Feb 5th 2003, the first chord (G#-B-G#) began and lasted for exactly two years. In 2004, the chord was colored by two lower octave E’s, which created an E major chord. After the original chord ended in 2005, a new chord (A-C-F#) was played over the existing E’s, adding a tritone to the mix. Bob told me that the next change is this May, but on the official website the next change appears to be in May of 2010. Here is a link to the website, where you can hear the drone, see the score, and learn more about the history of the piece:

I think that’s all I’ve got right now.

I guess to round out the 20th century-ness of this post, I’ll say that I’ve been listening to Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint for the past half hour.


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