Monday, March 07, 2005

Markus Trunk; Games of Chance and Skill

Here's a nice interview with my composing colleague Markus Trunk, a fellow Material Press composer, in a pub over a mushroom pepperpot. Robert Ashley, in Music with roots in the aether, was wise to take interviews with composers out of boring, formal settings, and this transplantation has become a nice experimental music tradition.

I was delighted to learn that Markus used die to solicit random numbers for his pieces. When I've used chance operations, my tool of choice has been playing cards. (A) Because I'm a card player and usually have a deck handy, and (B) Because decks of cards can be quickly divided into useful smaller collections: divisible by two (colors), three (drop a suit), four (all four suits), five and mutiples of five (drop the face cards), six and multiples (drop the kings), etc.. And sometimes I weight the deck, with uneven distributions, or even a wild card or two.

Some of my favorite composers have had intimate acquaintance with games of chance and skill. Mozart was a billiard player, Stravinsky was a passionate card player (recorded in a ballet), Schönberg designed his own playing cards, Cage liked every game from Cribbage to Chess, and even let Morton Feldman teach him to shoot craps. Given such auspicious company, I should probably entertain a larger dose of such vices...

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