Kristian Garrard - February 14th, 2010
The “Flat” Composition
In keeping with the ceremonial music theme we’ve had going for one week, I’d like to present a piece inspired by another type of ritual music. I’ve been listening a lot to this CD I found called “Tibetan Ritual Music,” specifically a track called “Offering to the Savior Gompo” performed by Gelugpa Order. The piece starts out with a group of horns and cymbals doing a loud fanfare, which dies out after a minute, giving way to a group chant accompanied by a drum/cymbal pulse that is kept up for the remainder of the track, until the last minute, where the fanfare returns. I love the flatness of this whole middle section, and while it’s certainly not meant to be home listening music, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it as a musical composition.
I’ve also been listening a lot to a contemporary band called Sun Circle [not to be confused with Sunn O)))], who specialize in long form, monolithic compositions. Unfortunately all the recordings of theirs I have are on cassette and vinyl, so I can’t upload any to this page, but you can check out their myspace site and watch some excellent live videos, should you desire. I would highly recommend the performance called “On Land”. There is a limited cassette release of this show that slays big time (the youtube video is not the whole concert). http://www.myspace.com/suncircle
A lot of intensity can be generated in long passages of music where little changes. The focused listener is drawn deeper and deeper into this sound world and begins to rely on the steady repetition. The longer this can be sustained, the better, for when a shift eventually occurs, no matter how subtle it is, the effect can be universe altering.
The challenge for us, as players, will be to remain in the meditative zone for long enough to give the composition meaning. I have attempted performances like this before, thinking to myself beforehand, “OK Kristian, now just stick it out, don’t give in to that urge to move things.” My level of success has varied, as performance anxiety takes over and I sometimes revert to chaos to cover up my nervousness. We’re going to have to work hard to separate our egos from the performance and participate more as listeners than “musicians”. In this music, it is important for the performers to be deeply concentrating on the sound,
Our performance will be structured in a similar way to the “Offering to the Savior Gompo”, beginning with a loud fanfare to purify the air and make way for the long, hypnotic drone that is to follow. As a listener, try to get your head as far into the sound as possible. Listen to overtones as they play against one another. Think about the stories that happen between hits of the drum. Allow yourself to disappear.
I also included in the listening a piece by French Modular Synth composer Eliane Radigue. (CLICK) It’s a long (24 minutes) meditative synth wall that changes veerrrrryyyy slowly. If you have the patience for it, it’s a very cool experience.
This piece will be performed by:
David Balatero - Cello
Kristian Garrard - Guitar/Laptop
Chris Icasiano - Drums
Andrew Swanson - Korg DS-8/Saxophone