Author: Kyle Gann

  • Rock Happens

    Music moves through repetition. Through music repetition moves. Repetition moves music through. Through repetition moves music. It’s easier in notes than in words, but permutation is one of the ways in which time-based art can create variety within stasis, tickling the senses while maintaining a sense of centeredness. It was a technique favored not by […]

  • Reconstructing the Universe

    In his 1954 biography of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell told the world that Ives’s largest score, his Universe Symphony, was an incomplete and unfinishable torso. In 1986, bassoonist and founder-director of the American Festival of Microtonal Music Johnny Reinhard ran across the sketches for the Universe at composer Lou Harrison’s house and got a hunch that […]

  • Photographs of Songs

    Anybody seen the line between classical music and pop lately? I can’t seem to locate it. In the ’80s, composers and incipient rock stars played in each other’s spaces and stole from each other, the composers adding backbeats and the guitar bangers fixating on the harmonic series—but as with mismatched roommates, you could generally tell […]

  • The World in Little Bits

    Recently a young composer, analyzing a post-minimalist piece by William Duckworth, asked me what the piece meant. There are plausible narratives for a Shostakovich symphony, but we haven’t yet collectively teased out what post-minimalist music says about the world. Days later, virtual-audio artist Henry Gwiazda explained postmodernism to me as the premise that there’s more […]

  • Disorient Express

    Eric Richards is the same age as La Monte Young and Steve Reich, but until his January 21 retrospective at Lotus Music & Dance, he was no more than a name to me. His underground reputation now turns out to be such that I am chagrined, connoisseur of the unsung that I claim to be, […]

  • 200 Billion Years Ago

    I have long predicted that the orchestra will someday be replaced by the acoustic chamber ensemble augmented by electronics. The way my luck with predictions runs, that probably means my great-great-grandchildren will have season tickets to the NY Phil. Nevertheless, the orchestra was an expression of pre-WW I aristocratic opulence, and has never seemed financially […]

  • Voice Geek

    With all the heaviness going down election week, I suppose it was a blessing that Pamela Z’s Voci was little but a joyride. The Kitchen billed her October 28–30 concerts as a “polyphonic, one-woman opera,” and it wasn’t that at all. Instead, it was a series of songs built around one subject, and that subject […]

  • Extreme Makeover

    Buwalsky, like Wozzeck in Berg’s opera, is a mope, a nobody, a minor functionary snubbed by his superiors. Like Wozzeck, he’s in love with a woman who’s in love with someone else. As with Wozzeck, his jealousy drives him to murder. But there are a couple of big differences. One is that, though Buwalsky’s tormentors […]

  • Hall of Mirrors

    Calling Anthony De Ritis’s Devolution a “Concerto for DJ and Symphony Orchestra” raised not quite the right expectations. A concerto pits hero against crowd in dramatic conflict. But what if the soloist—in this case DJ Spooky, also known as Paul D. Miller, newly shorn of his trademark dreadlocks—isn’t so much in front of the orchestra […]

  • Slice ‘N’ Dice

    If I could play you the CD I’m listening to right now, I’d tell you it was by the latest 22-year-old sampling hotshot, some kid who dropped out of college because he was having too much fun subverting his laptop audio software. And you’d believe me. But I’d be pulling your leg. Then, if I […]

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