So long Robert Ashley. You remain a major influence. Below I’ve posted String Quartet Describing The Motions Of Large Real Bodies for an electronic orchestra of 42 sound producing modules, this version was recorded using only seven sound producing modules. Recorded at the Center for Contemporary Music, Oakland, 1972., the cover of which I have pictured below. This is the Alga Marghen edition.
Which sounds like:
I’ve also chosen to post his own presentation in the series Music With Roots In The Aether.
“Music with Roots in the Aether is a music-theater piece in color video. It is the final version of an idea that I had thought about and worked on for a few years: to make a very large collaborative piece with other composers whose music I like. The collaborative aspect of Music with Roots in the Aether is in the theater of the interviews, at least primarily, and I am indebted to all of the composers involved for their generosity in allowing me to portray them in this manner.
The piece turns out to be, in addition, a large-scale documentation of an important stylistic that came into American concert music in about 1960. These composers of the “post-serial” / “post-Cage” movement have all made international reputations for the originality of their work and for their contributions to this area of musical compositions.
The style of the video presentation comes from the need I felt to find a new way to show music being performed. The idea of the visual style of Music with Roots in the Aether is plain: to watch as closely as possible the action of the performers and to not “cut” the seen material in any way–that is, to not editorialize on the time domain of the music through arbitrary space-time substitutions.
The visual style for showing the music being made became the “theater” (the stage) for the interviews, and the portraits of the composers were designed to happen in that style.” – Robert Ashley
Simply click THIS LINK and then choose “Robert Ashley,” however, that series is his brainchild, so you can learn a lot about the man by the questions he asks his contemporaries like Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, et. al.
No doubt Robert Ashley will be missed, for his contributions to the avant-garde, for redefining opera, recontextualizing it for a media-blitzed, technologically driven culture, for being an individual, for having guts and for his fresh, often odd and always provocative sense of humor.
The first time I heard String Quartet Describing The Motions Of Large Real Bodies it was on par with any major, mind expanding experiencing. Instantaneously, the definition of music, or the relationships of sounds and focus on specific aspects of sound, opened up for me. Though for some, String Quartet isn’t thought of as a “major” work like The Wolfman, Perfect Lives, In Sara, Mencken, Christ And Beethoven There Were Men And Women or Automatic Writing, it stands out in my mind as one of his most phenomenal and ambitious works, an extension of Cage and a wonderfully challenging listen that can appeal equally to noise brats and schooled avant artists alike.