Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12/18 Scratch Meeting Minutes

December 18, 2010 Chicago Scratch Orchestra Meeting Minutes

Special thanks to Dan and Clifton for opening up Brown Rice for us!

In attendance: Eric Leonardsen, Julia Miller, Joe Fosco, Clifton Ingram, Andrew Royal, Samuel Bradshaw, Chris Priessing, Dan Godston, Jeff Kowalkowski

Next Meeting: Friday, January 7, 2011, Heaven Gallery, with guest conductor Eric Rieman

Performing his score “Nursery/Machine Houses” 7 PM Rehearsal, 9 PM Concert

We rehearsed “Nursery/Machine Houses” and feel very comfortable with the instructions. We specially appreciate #11: Using your acute (or less than acute) powers of memory, attempt to repeat a lengthy-something-you-did-previously. Try to be precise, but fail.

A ScratchOrchestra: draft constitution by Cornelius Cardew, The Musical Times, June 1969, was distributed. Everyone should read this.

Chris Priessing presented “Ekphesis *score added to CSO appendix

Sam Bradshaw presented an Improvisation Rite: “Canon a2 from the Musical Offering” by JS Bach. Joe Fosco recommended a “klangfarbenmelodie” solution that sounded very good. *score added to CSO appendix

Dan Godston directed our emotional motivation: “You Are”: Mount Fuji in 19th century, Josephine Baker’s shoes, Merce Cunningham quitting Martha Graham, Francis Bacon’s Head, Jane Adams meeting Tolstoy, Bosch Ear meets Van Gogh Ear, in duos, trios, and tutti. *score added to CSO appendix

Eric Leonardsen discussed the intersection of Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and CSO, potential sound walks conducted by orchestra members and/or planted musicians in a playing environment.

Jeff Kowalkowski mentioned the possibility of collaborating with Links Hall for the Summer-dance(?) event downtown (grant park?), where-in CSO would be the “band.” This was mentioned by Dan Mohr as a maybe….might be a chance to do a Fluxus-type event with many artists participating with us…from all disciplines?

Clifton Ingram discussed his Scratchbook experiences, writing on the train, trying to write everyday, noticing patterns, repetitions of ideas done unconsciously over time. It is suggested that everyone follow the instructions for Scratchbooks in the draft constitution and prepare a SOLO score for yourself to be ready to play. After you have played it, it becomes an accompaniment, etc.

Please try to keep all handouts from all meetings and concerts in a chronological folder, and add your own pages.

CSO current repertoire appendix 2010

May Pole Howard Skempton, chord by Jeff Kowalkowski

I, Norton Gino Robair*

Penjara Clifton Ingram

UDTQ Andrew T. Royal

Nursery/Machine Houses Eric Rieman*

Scatter Paul Hartsaw

fractures Alex Feldman

Ektphesis Chris Priessing

Canon a2 from A Musical Offering JS Bach, Improvisation Rite by Sam Bradshaw

You Are : Dan Godston

*guest conductors

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Scratchbook Meeting Saturday, 12/18 1 PM!

Dear Core-Members,

The Chicago Scratch Orchestra (CSO) will meet on Saturday 12/18, 1-3PM
at Brown Rice--4432 N. Kedzie

1. Discuss the formation of individual Scratchbooks. What is the purpose and objective of making these score/journals? Develop rules for this activity. In addition to your instrument(s) please bring your own notebook and writing utensil for this purpose.

2. Discuss our goals for 2011 and several future performance opportunities. (January 7 at Heaven gallery with guest conductor Eric Glick Rieman?)

3. Play new scores and scores from the open Repertoire.

4. Distribute small tasks for everyone to do.

Please RSVP with a response to jeffkowalkowski@sbcglobal.net. Bring new members to the meeting or have them contact me. I would like to have 30-40 musicians by next year.

Thanks! Jeff

Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome our CSO! (Chicago Scratch Orchestra)

Hey Scratchers,

I am very pleased with how everything went this weekend. It was a special event, beginning what I hope will be a long and powerful collaboration. I want to especially thank Gino for helping us get started.

Here are the live recordings from the mill and also WLUW https://www.dropbox.com/home/NMGM%20101024#:::21725179

My hope is to increase the enrollment to 30 or 40 musicians by next summer. We are going to begin monthly rehearsals. Brown Rice and Enemy are potential gathering points, we need free space that we can all fit in!

What does everyone think about SATURDAY afternoons, once a month, to start?

Also, everyone should begin their personal Scratchbook if they have not already, and please read the Draft Constitution by Cornelius Cardew. I would like to structure our CSO in much the same way.

Feel free to send any ideas along, or visions of how to proceed with the SCRATCH!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gino Robair and Andrew Royal on Airplay, WNUR 89.3

Gino and Andrew will improvise on Airplay this Friday at 2pm. Here is a link:


ROSTER as of TODAY and Call Times for this Weekend

Three Scratch Events, attend one or ALL

Saturday 10/23--ESS Scratch Orch arrive at 3:30 PM, recording 4-6 PM

Sunday 10/24--Green Mill 2-5PM

Sunday 10/24--WLUW Something Else, arrive at radio station 9:30 PM

Clifton Ingram
Jeff Kowalkowski
Julia Miller
Andrew Royal
Alex Feldman
Noe Cuellar
Sid Samberg
Sam Bradshaw
Joseph Kramer
Bobby McMahon
Sid Yiddish
Rita Eye Rita
Paul Hartshaw
Dan Mohr

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phone Conversations this Week

Scratch Orchestra players--I am calling everyone this week with instructions. If you have not heard from me by Monday, please e-mail kowalkowskijeff@mac.com The Roster is now up to 14 players, not including Gino. So far, Alex Feldman and Andrew Royal have proposed their scores for part of the program, the floor is open......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

October 24 Concert Plans and Live Radio Dates

Here is the concert schedule for Sunday, October 24, with approximate durations. The Roster for the Scratch Orchestra is growing rapidly, please contact kowalkowskijeff@mac.com if you want to join. Musicians and sympathetic non-musician noise people are encouraged to work with us....or, complete beginners too.....

2:00 Tom Stevens: "Movement for Piano"

2:10 Kyong Mee Choi

2:40 Abbinanti/Gregorio/Priessing/Hatwich

3:05 AURIS

3:30 Ginor Robair with Jeff Kowalkowski's "scratch orchestra" project

Also, here are local radio dates:
10/17--AURIS on WLUW
10/22--Gino Robair on WNUR
10/24--Scratch Orchestra Project on WLUW

If you or someone you know (especially musicians who are performing on this day) would be interested in playing with the "Scratch Orchestra Project" and Gino Robair, please contact
Jeff Kowalkowski for instructions (kowalkowskijeff@mac.com)

Much Love! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 31--Scratch Two 3:45 PM--5:45 PM NEIU

Reahersal Schedule for this Saturday:

Location: FA-144 (Fine Arts Building at Northeastern Ill. U)

3:45--set up/soundcheck

4:00--4:45 recorded free improvisations/re-recordings

4:45--5:30 Open reading of participant graphic scores or directive concepts.

Rehearsal will end at 5:45 PM

questions/etc.: 312 848 7410 (jeff)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

REHEARSALS for Scratch Orchestra Project

Hello Friends of New Music at the Green Mill,

In preparation for the upcoming fall concert,
There will be two OPEN rehearsals occuring on Saturday July 17 and July 31 at Northeastern Illinois University, 4-7 PM, in Fine Arts ROOM-144 (FA-144).

Feel free to arrive late if necessary. I recommend parking on Bryn Mawr and walking to the Fine Arts Building, or you can pay $5 to park in the lot.

We have an overload of pianists, so if you can play electronic keyboard, electronics, accordion, percussion, or other instruments besides piano, please consider some creative options. Or, we can develop piano 4 or 6-hand!

If you have any questions please call Jeff at 312 848 7410, or e-mail: newmusicgm@gmail.com

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Program for the NMGM Concert May 2

A Celebration of Composed, Improvised, and Graphic/Visual Music and Sound

The Entrance (1965) Robert Ashley (b. 1930)
Julian Berke and Jeff Kowalkowski, Nord synthesizers
(originally for two electronic organs)

(something) into the Stream/(something) in the Stream (2010) for bellows and electronics
Noe Cuéllar/Joseph Kramer

Songs (2010)
Carol Genetti, voice
Frank Abbinanti, trombone

Pieces of Night, Introduction (1986) George Flynn (b. 1937)
11th Piece (2009) Sidney Samberg
Sidney Samberg, piano

Julian Berke, keyboard
Nick Alvarez, percussion


Volo Solo (1965) Cornelius Cardew (1936-81)
Julia Miller, electric guitar
Frank Abbinanti, piano

Synchronization/Pixilation for Electronic Didgeridoo
and Real-Time Video(2010)
Kyle Evans

Hypatia (for Bb clarinet, piano, percussion, and electronics)            Marita Bolles
Christie Miller, Bb clarinet
Jeff Kowalkowski, piano
Mike Charbonneau, percussion
Blake Taylor, percussion

Hedge Fund Junkies(2010)          Frank Abbinanti
written for/performed by Gimlet Eye
Julia Miller, guitar
Julian Berke, keyboard
Nick Alvarez, percussion
with Frank Abbinanti, piano

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jeff Kowalkowski's Review of Concert #68

The following are some impressions I had while listening.

Alan Tormey's "Delaytude" created a relaxed environment at the Green Mill to start the concert. Minor suspension-chords, Frisell, Metheny, Fripp, 80s sound, portrait palindrome, a mesmerizing performance, an infinite feel to the gentle ostinati, beautiful chords and arpeggios.

"From here on out sweetness is banned."

hans w. koch:
Modest level feedback. "We are not at Woodstock here." Random generator Max selects frequencies and applies pitch shifts, "if the alchemy works it can be very beautiful." Huge texture from a very simple, small patch-up, huge frequency range, difference tones, sounds that probably sounded similar in 1960. I had a memory of leaving my room after casually placing my guitar on top of my amp, returning to a gentle bell-like tone welling up like a ghost. You might call it an "ah-ha" moment for a composer. Koch's conception, with it's unexpected triggers, random clusters of complex frequencies; in this environment a slight shift of position results in a completely new and unexpected section of the piece.

The Huge variety of thick robotic textures created by a guitar face-up on a practice amp impressed me. Crispy-crunch fuzz toneMax-patch as score. If--then. No duration specified. All performances are slightly different, and sound installation and performance are wonderfully blurred and confused.

Seth Cluett
One-inch speaker in sound hole, harmonics, open strings, edge of audibility, loud environment, ambient Green Mill makes the piece more surreal, (beautiful) soft little tones sustained from within the guitar. Ancient plucks harmonic, dyads/sine-tone swells, koto, Feldman's pacing, vast, delicate, disciplined economy of materials, mute string, bounce harmonics, 8 second pauses, the audience begins to count the talea and pulsate in a glacial unison.

Gavin Bryars' texts for the back of the mind seem similar to an idea found in SATIE. For example in his piano music you find notes like "white and motionless" or "think about yourself" and "too proud." In Bryars' work table Guitars are used a as keyboards, playing long chains of lower-neighbor walking patterns. Bryars' music is minimalist meeting post-minimalist, neo-romantic, re-inventor, (like Miles). If it has not been done yet, I think this piece should be adapted for Chapman Stick or Stick(s).

Morton Feldman

"The strings (of the electric guitar) are constituted in such a different way than the other instruments that the pitch goes into another domain whatsoever."

This "reenactment" of Christian Wolff's version from the late 60s was the highlight of the program. Especially impressive was the comparison between the reenactment and the "buffed-up" modern transcription by Josel played on a completely different guitar and amp. I absolutely love hearing pieces twice in a row, and it reminded me of what Ralph Shapey used to do with the Contemporary Chamber Players, they would repeat premieres, so we could hear all the splendor of the music a second time after the initial shock wears off, and you can concentrate on finer details.

This Feldman "score" conjures such a meloncholy sound for me that I do not know of any other music like it. The loveliness of a fender tube amp sounding a single pitch; economy of means is brought to a new level with Feldman. Much of this music is monophonic, the timbre of cello glissandi, electrified, paced into vast slow patterns and shapes. A mountainous ascent up the modified harmonic series lifts the listener to higher realms of perception.

All of this metaphysical music making would not be possible wihout the depdth of dedication and soulfulness of Seth's guitar playing. As pianist Dimitri Paperno would say, "he has convinced me."

---A dramaturgical line to Christian Wolff---

In Christian Wolff's prose works, the musicians are given directions, and the duration is open. "Play" was the commentary piece within this program. The impeccable ability of Seth and Julia as improvisers/interpreters, showed dynamic extremes, perfectly sloppy gestures that shocked me at times. Where does this aural image originate? At times the duo seemed to be intentionally competing for the same registral segment. There was nothing "polite" about this rendition, and that is why I found it satisfyingly cathartic.

High altissimo solo angelico, water drops below, guitar tones rhyme with cash register, and loud people giggling at the bar, the clink of the glasses enter the vocabulary. Randomizing improvisatory motions, similar to Meredith Monk's "Paris"
(1970). Smack and rub with bottle-neck, slide and table guitar truly played. We hear the importance of the click and buzz, faulty pickups, metallic sounds, the modern harp is the electric guitar.

32 E-bow samples with added voices live, VIDEO (do we need it Mr. Niblock?):
Woman pulling bricks from barrow to barge, fisherman's mesh, shoveling shrimp and fish from wicker baskets, e-bows throb, room shakes, difference tones, roofer repairs the thatch roof, balancing with tiles, vast garden-plucking greens--compost shredder, shredding grain, as a listener I feel as if I am experiencing turbulent lurches on a plane in mid-flight, the minor-ninth interval, swoozy nausea to enjoy.

All the field workers have blue shirts, careful attention to intervals, a chord arrives, beautiful constellations of e-bow, swoon music of a new kind, difference tones beeping in higher partials, sound bath--spectralist, spreading hey on the fields, spackle and brick work, using a piece of string to measure a foundation, ancient stone mason techniques, hammer and spike curving. Distractions. I close my eyes. I much prefer to close my eyes.

I open them and peek again.....

Women planting seeds in crumbling earth mud. Bulbs and flowers. A rickety old man splitting rocks. I close my eyes...

I open them an peek again....

A butcher and meat hooks. Bagging pig entrails. The nasty work of the butcher. I close my eyes again, no interest in the video!

Sound ends with slaughterhouse video image........

Consider the semiotics of isolated intervals: A Perfect-fifth (P5) fuses as women cut straws in the factory, rolling the bunches up in the old newspapers.

In our visual culture, eye trumps ear. No need to contribute to that disbalance. I don't need the video for this music.....close eyes, open ears.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seth Josel on NMGM

Seth Josel will perform a concert of music for experimental electric guitar on a special New Music at the Green Mill series concert. The program will feature “The possibility of a new work for electric guitar (1966)” by Morton Feldman, and will also include works by Bryars, Niblock, Wolff, Tormey, Koch. Assisted by Julia Miller. Sunday Feb. 21 from 2-5

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jeff Kowalkowski's Review of Concert #67

I immediately recognized the textbook counterpoint as I entered the Green Mill. The sound of the flute and oboe playing Intermissions was wonderful! My first thought was that this composer has studied counterpoint! It is true, John Weinzwig was Patrica Morehead’s favorite harmony teacher at the University of Toronto.

Andrew Gallovich pitch mapped Let It Be in an awesome manner, to my ear it sounded tri-tonal, as if individual tracks from a pop-sheen basement studio build-up were detuned slightly in both directions (up and/or down). His beautiful mix sounded magnificent through the monophonic system at the Green Mill. It is what Ives might have done if he had Pro-Tools. I felt the song was a powerful choice, in terms of the recontextualization into polytonality. After listening to a Gallovich piece, “normal” music in standard tunings sounds dull.

Marcos Balter’s Memoria featured Russell Rolen on cello, with his intimidating display of bow technique! Rolen rivals bassist Stefano Scodanibbio in his mastery of the subtleties of harmonics both natural and artificial. Memoria is truly an excellent piece, the formal construction is evident upon first hearing. Balter has an incredible knowledge of contemporary string techniques, but the music does not sound overly calculated, instead it is very soulful.

Extreme registers of the alto flute are beautiful sounds! Caroline Pittman is a master floutist. The tri-tone theme in Robert Lombardo’s Dark Side of the Moon sounded mesmerizing. This piece sounded like a classic, in league with: syrinx or density 21.5….

Joanie Pallatto’s sad and beautiful songs moved me very much, broke me out of my selfish head. Her songs are very real to me: “my city shines” “private detective as fat as his gun” “selling streetwise with a grin” Foxtrot-Sondheim soliloquy songs, Brill building songs about age-ing and homelessness. Sparrow played the exultant continuo….

Tom Steven’s Suspension Fantasy displayed his precise, gentle, and clear keyboard technique in a rondo format. The piece runs a gauntlet of refrences to my ear: Brubeck, Rzewski, Fats Waller, Danny Elfman, Lou Harrison, Satie, Meredith Monk, big band breaks, extended octave unison lines, and even some radical mood changes in the spirit of C.P.E. Bach.

Janice Misurell-Mitchell Rocket-ed-dah-baby with this historical enactment of the lecture-performance genre. A channeling of Schwitters/Berbarian, this was just as refreshing as it was in 1995 when the work was first composed. Janice is a master performer, amazing vocal range, extremely precise ear for interval inflection, shape-shifting facial expressions and gestures. Like a musical Zelig for each situation in the score, she ridicules the Ready to ROCK mantra. This piece got the most visceral reactions from the audience, it is undoubtedly very funny at times, and scary at other times. You wonder if she is stuttering, or perhaps possessed! It reminded me vaguely of the shaman-performances that Sam Ashley was doing in the late 1990s, or the extreme vocal solos of Jaap Blonk.

Lone Monad (Don Malone), my favorite DJ on the planet, entertained us while we took a cake break. I would like Don to do an entire set at the Green Mill at some point, perhaps with some live musicians thrown in the mix? Put it on the list for next year!

Nina Corwin “my unquenchable hope hums along as I nail it to the wall” “like a soiled baby on the welcome mat, screaming for change”—This duo of Nina and Bill Harrison (Bass Magician!) was a complete joy to listen to. The virtuosic beat poetry, which reminded me (distantly) of Dick Buckley, captivated me. The commitment of the performers was obvious, and appreciated. The line is blurred between poet/composer—an ancient ideal. Janice Misurell-Mitchell joined in on the third song with impeccable microtonal flute lines in response to Nina’s speech-song delivery.

Tim Bowlby’s Just One More Time was expertly performed by Alicia Tate (the first woman to receive a doctorate in English Horn performance from Juliard). This angular oboe solo requires considerable trill dexterity. The disjunct melodies in extreme registers resemble bird-song in the regularity of phrasing and the pauses which occur at regular paces. The snake-like melodies expand in contrary motion, and the piece evokes a fanfare mood.

August Read Thomas’ D(i)agon(als) was then played by Cory Tiffin, a virtuoso clarinetist, who made the piece sound easy! Especially impressive was the final pitch in the very highest register of the clarinet, this note rang out with total confidence. The title reflects the shapes you find while listening, gradual unfolding lines (contrary motion), like jagged diagonals, sound like the shape a bird might make in casual flight. Sudden launches into melismas, and extreme octave displacement is combined with unexpected dynamic contrasts. If Weinzweig’s duo is exemplary counterpoint, Thomas’ solo is masterful textbook melodic writing.

Kathleen Ginther’s Epousailles had only one flaw. It was too short! Having expert musicians Julia Bentley and Claudia Lassareff-Mironoff for only one short song was like arriving at the theater only to find that the show is sold out. I would have liked to hear an entire collection of these beautiful settings for voice and viola., or the entire cycle with flute and harp. Maybe next year Kathleen??

George Flynn’s Flamboyance was performed by Frank Abbinanti and Eliza Bangert with an impressive calm precision. Once again, the players make these pieces look easy! George’s signature tri-chord keeps echoing throughout the piece, interrupted by his unique mercurial canonic alchemy. It seems to me that George’s technique can be re-cast using any combination of instruments and/or voices. His sonic fingerprints are unmistakeable.

The oldest piece on the program, George Crumb’s Gnomic Variations, was written for Jeffrey Jacob in 1981 and performed at the Green Mill to end this concert. Jeffrey mentioned that many people feel this is Crumb’s best work for solo piano, and he should know--he has recorded every piece in Crumb’s catalogue. As I am a collector of garden gnomes, I was saddened to learn that Crumb’s intended reference in the title was “gnomic: an embedded idea that is very large, contained in a pithy phrase.” I wanted to see the little elfins running around in the yard. However, while listening to the performance, the structural philosophy became evident; the alternate meaning of gnomic became clear. Jeffrey’s ability to play inside the piano, just as proficiently as he plays on the keys, made this piece seem like a duo for one performer, or a duo for harp and piano. His control of the harmonics, plucked/auto-harp techniques, Cowell clusters, and muted strings struck with the keys was ear-opening. I would have to look at the score, but I sensed that this piece may be palindromic on some level, with thematic shapes returning in opposite registers/timbres. Jeffrey Jacobs is truly a world-class performer, with piano technique of impressive depth and accuracy. I hope he returns to New Music at the Green Mill with his own music! Indiana is not far away…….

Thursday, January 14, 2010

66th concert--Sunday, January 17

Sun Jan 17, 2010

66th in a series

$5 cover

featuring performances and/or compositions by:
Frank Abbinanti
Eliza Bangert
Mark Baldin
Marcos Balter
Tim Bowlby
Nina Corwin
George Crumb
George Flynn
Andrew Gallovich
Kathleen Ginther
Joanna Jamroziak
Jeffrey Jacobs
Luis Kinugawa
Eric Malmquist
Don Malone
Janice Misurell-Mitchell
Pat Morehead
Joanie Pallatto
Russell Rolen
Bradley Parker Sparrow
Tom Stevens
Alicia Tait