I bought this book almost a week ago, and I've read it through twice now. the writing is beautiful – dense indeed but lucid and full of intention, never a wasted metaphor (Vuong's experience writing poetry is intensely evident).
in particular I loved the way the narrative is structured, how integrated it all becomes despite its fragmentary surface. toward the end there is a chapter that refers to remembering as "putting back together" – re-membering – memory as a creative, re-constructive, active process. the book proceeds by way of subtle changes between first/second/third person, near-constant shifting between separate threads of memories, stream-of-consciousness episodes "out of time" – as like remembrance – voluntary or involuntary, vague or indelible – of experience, necessarily ephemeral.
how does the memory of trauma – collective or personal – affect how we love and relate with each other? how we see each other, or are seen (or not)? how do we hold on to our lived experiences, and what they mean to us, when so much in the world tries to ignore – or even erase – us? this book is filled with questions, "maybes", and "perhapses" – it is shot through with uncertainty, but also an openness to possibility, a joy for living in the question. some have already called it wonder.
one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at MSM was this collaboration with New Zealand composer Salina Fisher on a brand new piece for solo piano. the piece is inventive, heartfelt, mysterious… a joy to perform. cozy up with a pair of headphones and take a listen!
"Uchi-Soto" (which literally translates to "inside-outside") refers to the differentiation between 'in-groups' and 'out-groups'; a concept that permeates Japanese society and language. Varying levels of politeness and respect are embedded in the language, reflecting the complex and changing layers of personal relationships between 'uchi (内)': typically family members and close friends, and 'soto (外)': strangers, customers, and also foreigners (外人). In reflecting on my own relationship with this concept (particularly in my identity as both Japanese and 'foreigner'), I became interested in finding a musical language in the layers 'in-between'; the subtle gradations of a single instrument's physical 'uchi' and 'soto'.
– Salina Fisher
each other (2015)
for any two wind instruments (as long as one has a lower register than the other), and optional bowed crotales
With this piece, I’ve attempted to recapture the intimacy of a particular moment. I was falling asleep with someone in the earliest hours of a Sunday morning – in the quiet of the room, all I could hear was the soft rising and falling of our breathing, a duet out of phase.
The sound of gentle, independent breathing, lightly amplified by the clarinets, forms a backdrop out of which wisps of a Bach invention surface and vanish. If Bach’s music, with its tight contrapuntal intercourse, might be likened to harmony between souls, I hope that my effacement of it evokes such a harmony in an even tenderer, fragile space: two lovers whispering, or dreaming of each other.
First performance by members of 15.19ensemble (highSCORE Festival, Pavia, Italy; 8/2015; Soundcloud audio below)
Additional performances by:
Nicole Galisatus and Dalton Tran (UCLA, 11/2015; video below)
Wild Up (UCLA, 3/2016; as part of “Faded Songs”)
Learning Nancarrow’s Canon A (5/7)
5 = 2+3; 7 = 2+2+3; think of each bar as a 3 against 2 but with one of the beats elongated.
Meter more about inflection than precision of duration.
I am living and breathing for Cecily Strong and this incredible sketch.
Recent interests – discontinuity, pieces that sound like they are eternally beginning (Irving Fine on Martinu: “stringing together of introductions, never a consequent phrase”
memorable Cage moment:
in our edition of Atlas Eclipticalis, there was a system that ended with an entire quadrant of silence. conducting (i.e. moving my arm very slowly) through this long empty time felt like a bad dream – standing in front of a group of musicians not making any sound for 30 seconds while an audience watches your back? surreal.
Recent rabbit holes:
Today’s rabbit holes:
music should always be a little:
Kacey Musgraves, “Love is a Wild Thing”, “Happy and Sad”, “Space Cowboy”, “Rainbow”
Charlie Sdraulig, “collector”
Kunsu Shim, “A Lasting Song for Geha”
Ariana Grande, thank u, next
Terry Riley, The Heaven Ladder, Book 5
Arthur Berger, Five Pieces
Robert Palmer, Sonata for Piano (Four Hands)
Stefan Wolpe, “Form” and “Form IV”
Brian Ferneyhough, “Lemma-Icon-Epigram”
in search of a sensible complexity…?
– Erik Satie (from A Mammal’s Notebook)