Saturday, March 7, 2009

LaMonte Young's "Dream House"

In the Albert Fine archives that I just posted about, there's a curious typescript from early "minimalist" composer and conceptualist LaMonte Young entitled, typically, "The Ballad of the Tortoise or PIERCED EARRINGS: DRONE RATIOS TRANSMITTING THE MANIFESTATION OF THE TORTOISE CENTER DRIFTING OBSIDIAN TIME MISTS THROUGH THE SYNAPTIC STEPDOWN BARRIER," from the time that future Velvet Underground-er John Cale was in Young's long-running Theater of Eternal Music collective. The typescript is as obtuse as anything coming from Young, and--not being a Young specialist beyond some basic familiarity with him--I was struck by his thorough explanation of the "Dream House" concept that has been central to his work.

Being an Iowan and not a hip New Yorker, I was not aware that Young is currently producing one of his Dream House exhibitions with Marian Zazeela at the Guggenheim through April 19, 2009 courtesy of the MELA Foundation.

Here's an excerpt from that vintage typescript. In the name of fair use, I've only reproduced 7 sentences:

And in the life of the Tortoise the drone is the first sound. It lasts forever and cannot have begun but is taken up again from time to time until it lasts forever as continuous sound in Drean Houses [sic] where many musicians and students will live and execute a musical work. Dream Houses will allow music which, after a year, ten years, a hundred years or more of constant sound, would not only be a real living organism with a life and tradition all its own but one with a capacity to propel itself by its own momentum. This music may play without stopping for thousands of years, just as the Tortoise has continued for millions of years past, and perhaps only after the Tortoise has again continued for as many million years as all of the tortoises in the past will it be able to sleep and dream of the next order of tortoises to come and of ancient tigers with black fur and omens the 189/09 whirlwind in the Ancestral Lake Region only now that our species has had this much time to hear music that has lasted so long because we have just come out of a long quiet period and we are just remembering how long sounds can last and only now becoming civilized enough again that we want to hear sounds continuously. It will become easier as we move further into this period of sound. We will become more attached to sound. We will be able to have precisely the right sounds in every dreamroom playroom and workroom, further reinforcing the integral proportions resonating through structure (re: earlier Architectural Music), Dream Houses (shrines, etc.) at which performers, students, and listeners may visit even from long distances away or at which they may spend long periods of Dreamtime weaving the ageless quotients of the Tortoise in the tapestry of Eternal Music.

Makes Milton Babbitt seem pretty clear. Unlike the lucky tortoises, you can only go to these installations from 2PM til Midnight, so if you're in New York, go. You'll have a heavy freak-out experience, bro, until you bug out. Dig?

Via MELA, Kyle Gann has a math-nerdy explication and appreciation of the installation he wrote for the Village Voice.

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