Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Talk Radio, a Lost Horizon

Is it imaginable today that anywhere in the US, outside perhaps of a rare college radio station, that an hour of air time might be devoted to a discussion of new musical notation and performance practice? Here (curtesy of Other Minds) is a recording of a 1963 broadcast from Berkeley Pacifica station KPFA, 58 minutes discussion with illustrative audio outtakes among adults of a new piece of experimental music. The piece in question, Mandala Music by Loren Rush -- an influential work by an important figure in the Bay Area radical music scene -- uses a score with innovative graphic elements, involves indeterminate and improvisatory elements, and, as the title suggests, reflects interest in sources outside of the western traditions. (The mobile elements in Mandala Music would later be joined by a reduced set of tonal materials in a number of works by Rush that are part of the same tradition that would later, and more widely, gain the "minimal" label.) Another striking thing about the discussion is that it takes place among four colleague-composers -- Rush, KPFA music director Will Ogdon, Glenn Glasow and Phil Winsor -- further evidence of a scene in which participants took a genuine interest in each others' work.

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