John Luther Adams – Winter Music

I recieved my copy of John Luther Adams’ Winter Music from Amazon today and am very much looking forward to reading it. For a long time I’ve been an admirer of his music and work, as well as his character. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book also comes with a CD of some of his pieces (it’s stated on the site but I didn’t notice it the first time). Such a nice way to start the weekend. ^_^

Anne Sofie von Otter

I have for a long time very much loved a recording of hers of Swedish songs, entitled “Wings in the Night“, and while in the store yesterday I came across her albums and purchased “La Bonne Chanson“, an album full of French songs which is absolutely delightful. Her voice is as beautiful on this recording as the other I have, and only makes me want to purchase everything she’s ever done, as her voice is certainly amongst my favorites. (I have quite a love of mezzo-soprano voices…).

(All of the albums I’ve had the fortune of getting yesterday have all been wonderful, and it’s quite a joy to be so interested in listening to music actively. It seems to come in waves lately, the desire to spend time really listening to music and spending time otherwise, perhaps just a matter of the music I’ve come across. It really is such a joy to find new music that one finds so much in…)

Jim Fox – the city the wind swept away

I came across this cd while looking at the cold blue music website which I found after looking at John Luther Adams‘ website, and finally got around to purchasing it at Tower Classical Records yesterday. How absolutely gorgeous! It makes very much sense to me that these two should be on the same label as they seem to have very similar aesthetics, an aesthetic which I very much love. Quiet, serene, lush sounds floating along…

Feldman – Triadic Memories – Marilyn Nonken

I had known of this album for a while but took a while to find a store that carried the DVD version of it. The DVD feature interview with Marilyn Nonken (a performer who I absolutely adore and who I’ve had the great fortune of seeing perform many times when I lived in New York) is quite a treat as she shares her stories of encountering Feldman’s music and what care she’s taken in performing this piece. The recording is much slower than the other recording I have and it’s something I appreciate very much about it, as the performance is quite fantastic. The recording also seems to have captured an absolutely wonderful piano sound, and on DVD, listening to the performance is unbroken (the CD version is on two CD’s). All in all a wonderful piece performed by a wonderful performer and all very much worth the wait of getting on DVD.

Slowly Composing Away

I’ve been working on a piece lately and although I’m quite fond of the material, I’ve been at somewhat of an impasse. The form of the piece really has yet to reveal itself, so I’ve been patiently listening, contemplating, wondering where the material wants to go, trying to cultivate a calm and open mind, to see how the music will take its shape…

Tomita- The Planets

After talking about Wendy Carlos with Nick, he mentioned Isao Tomita‘s music, which I had never spent very much time with. I think I wasn’t so interested in it as most of his music, just from looking at the package, seemed to be just electronic performances of pieces I already knew.

However, Nick picked up Tomita’s version of Holst’s “The Planets” and let me check it out. I was astounded! The sounds which Tomita gets is really quite phenomenal. Lush, organic, alive…

I’ve been really floored as of late by the sounds of Tomita and Carlos. The sound worlds they achieve are very much of interest to me. Aesthetically, I think I am after different ends, but the I think that somehow this music of theirs will play a part in my own.

Casino with Family

So this past week my Mother was visiting my Grandmother in LA, and on Saturday they drove up to Fremont to see my Aunt. After a phone call around 6:00pm, I took the BART down to Fremont, and after a small dinner, the four of us went to Cache Creek, a reservation Casino about an hour and a half outside of San Francisco.

Arriving around ten, we played mostly slot machines until nearly 4:00AM, at which time I was exhausted, practically passing out while standing. At that time, my mother tricked me with “Okay, here’s the key to the car, go to the car and we’ll be right there”, which I did and fell asleep in the car, only to wake up at 8:00AM, thinking “What the…?” and then falling asleep until 10:00AM when my Aunt came by to get me and say “Let’s go get breakfast.”

So… we had breakfast at the buffet there, then after that, my Grandmother says “Let’s play just one more hour.” I was blown away! I had slept 6 hours in the car and was still pretty tired, but here they were, all three of them still going. In the end, after losing my Aunt for a while, we ended up leaving at 2:30PM, back to Fremont.

I have to say, all in all, I enjoyed spending that time with my family and enjoyed watching them all have fun with the different slot machines (my Grandmother’s favorite was “The Price is Right” machine; I remember growing up–I must have been 4 or 5 at the time–and watching that show with her), and in general just being with them.

Other Observations

The building was quite a beautiful building, if you could imagine it without all the madness of the slot machines and card tables there. Marble floors with beautifully colored carpets, the wood lining the different shops all that very classy dark stain, with gold trim on store names. The windows of the casino all revealed the beauty of that reservation, the hills in gold, the deep blue sky…

The wash of sound in the casino was curious, the way the slot machines would emit beeps that were the first, third, fifth, and octave of a scale, over and over. Some machines would also play half-phrases of music on one spin, then the other half the other spin. I have to believe there’s a psychology to it all that only draws in the customer to keep spinning, perhaps all in desire for a resolution to the group chord…

p.s. It guess it wouldn’t be a trip to a casino without seeing the lady with the O2 tank hooked to her nose, sitting in the smoking section! =o

Tron, Wendy Carlos

I recently watched Tron with my friend Nick, the first time I had seen the movie in a very long time. I was really blown away by the movie: the visual style style was absolutely gorgeous, the story being much more curious than I remember, and the music and sound effects were fantastic. “The Making of Tron” documentary, included on the DVD, was also very interesting to watch as it really shows how groundbreaking the movie was in its production.

I don’t think I even knew who Wendy Carlos was when I first watched the movie. The music and sounds from the movie really made quite an impression on me… I’m listening to the soundtrack now and find the timbres that Wendy Carlos used to be so rich and organic, the blending of the digital, analag, and natural instruments done so tastefully. I’m definitely interested to go back and listen to more of Wendy Carlos‘s music with this fresh perspective.

Looking around Wendy Carlos’s site, I came across this picture, an absolutely wonderful shot of a modular synthesizer in her early studio. It really amazes me at how complex patching seems to be in all of these old pictures I’ve seen of synthesizers, and it makes me wonder if my own instrument patches are really complex enough to give them a really organic sound…

Pete Escovedo at Yoshi’s

Today our friend Therese from t’ai-chi class invited us to go see Pete Escovedo and his Latin Jazz Orchestra at Yoshi’s in Oakland at Jack London Square. The jazz club–it was our first time there–was absolutely wonderful, one part being an excellent Japanese restaurant with beautiful decor and a warm atmosphere, the other part being a perfect venue for jazz music. Pete Escovedo performed with his Orchestra as well as his two sons and his daughter, Sheila E.. The whole family was fantastic, the music sizzling and absolutely alive with energy, and the night altogether a pleasant experience. I’m looking very forward to spending more evenings at Yoshi’s.

(I often feel grateful for having found t’ai-chi as the community of people with whom I’ve had the great privelege in getting to know has often enriched my life in so many ways. I’ve found many new friends of all stages in life–most of whom I don’t think I’d ever have the chance to meet otherwise–through t’ai chi, and many of their interests have become my own. Tonight I am glad our friend Therese had invited us out to share this experience with her.)