Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dream House

A "culture" insert in the current issue of the German weekly Der Spiegel asks a number of artists to design their dream house.  Graphic artists, architects, writers, game designers, a comic book artist are asked, but not a single musician.  The composition and performance of music is often critically dependant upon the environment in which it is made, played and heard so musicians often have rather specific ideas about the kind of space and place in which they'd like to live and work.   For myself, I've been sketching dream houses on the backs of envelopes and margins of otherwise very important documents since I was a kid and I don't think that that's a particularly unusually preoccupation.  But musicians seldom have the material circumstances to realize their particular architectural dreams, and when, usually with great compromises.  Wagner was, of course the great rule-breaking exception, with an impressive but comfortable residence and an opera house built for specifically for his work.  The great experimental halls in the Brussels (Varese and Xenakis) and Osaka (Stockhausen) World Exhibitions were fantastic but temporary.   Stockhausen was fortunate to have a studio and residence built, albeit on a smaller scale than orginally intended.  An inheritance from Charles Ives allowed Lou Harrison to add a large room — named The Ives Room, of course; well-suited for gamelan rehearsals and complete with pit for puppeteers — to his house in Aptos, but he continued to compose in the isolation of a little trailer.   La Monte Young, at times generously supported by patrons, has never been supported to the extent that one of his dream houses could be built new from the ground up, and has had to house his sound and light dreams inside existing commercial and residential spaces.  There are countless popular musicians who are able to afford custom-designed home and studio complexes and, while I suspect that many were more inventive and productive in less luxurious circumstances, that's an area well out of my expertise.  I'm lucky to have a small basement studio that's nearly soundproof to the outside world, but it would be nice to have a better rehearsal and concert space above ground, for semi-private music-making, all adjacent to space for dining.  I'd also like a view to some mountains and a babbling brook, or better yet, my own private waterfall, nearby... you can dream, can't you?  What would your dream house look, and sound, like?


Anonymous said...

For some reason my desires in this direction are running to less, not more. I have a modest home in SoCal and with my children grown I have converted one bedroom into a sort of office/den. And I do most of my composing, practicing, etc there. It is satisfactory, and very ordinary.

But I dream of having all my work on a single portable PC, something like those netbooks that are coming out. I could compose, upload stuff to the net, listen to music, read blogs and websites - all wirelessly. My desire is to be free of the need for a dedicated space - that my work would be done anywhere I happen to be.

That to me would be very liberating. I guess I will have to quit playing trumpet and stick to playing the recorder - it is the only instrument I could fit into my new mobile lifestyle...

Anonymous said...

In Anaphoria, there are designs to build the modular theater design of Walter Gropius that got him out of Germany but was never built. It seems ideal for all types of music and performance. Perhaps Alma had more in a hand in this than known.
Personally a sound stage would also be great. tall wide and one could use the walls of old sets to reconfigure things according to the demands at hand

Civic Center said...

One of the great, erotic, mystical dreams of my life was at age 13 which is still deeply ingrained. Its climax was jumping into the back of a gypsy caravan parked at a Southern California drive-in movie theater, and the caravan room, filled with curtains and pillows and nooks yet looking out to the huge screen, became larger and sexier until it was filled with music that was so close to god that I awoke and realized that my life was going to be just fine.

In truth, light is my only essential in a dwelling and after living in a few counter-examples as a young man, that became very obvious.

Happy New Year, Boston dude.

Civic Center said...

Excuse me, I meant Coachalla Valley/Deutschland dude. This felt like a Soho The Dog moment for some reason.

Daniel Wolf said...

Mike —

Wow! I don't think I've ever been responsible for a Soho the Dog moment before. As we said in the late '70s, I hope it was good for you, too.