Freitag, 22. Februar 2013

HARLEY GABER - Discography


Harley Gaber - American minimalist composer, visual artist, photographer and film maker. Born in Chicago on June 5, 1943. Committed suicide in Gallup, New Mexico on June 16, 2011. He took a break from composing in 1978 (to play tennis) and didn’t resume until 2003. He studied music with Horace Reisberg, Darius Milhaud, Lejaren Hiller, Aldo Clementi, Franco Evangelisti, Giacinto Scelsi, Giulio Rotoli, William Sydeman, and most importantly Kenneth Gaburo.

from the Wire:
When Harley Gaber gave up composing in 1977 at the age of 44 to devote his attention to, of all things, teaching and playing tennis, only three of his works had appeared on disc: Kata and Ludus Primus on CRI in 1972, and 1975’s monumental 104 minute string quintet The Winds Rise In The North on Titanic Records four years later.

     Ludus Primus / Kata     
     part one            part two     

In 2007 Editions RZ’s Robert Zank, realising the latter’s appeal to 21st century listeners more attuned to drone, late Cage and Feldman and lowercase improvisation, reissued it to considerable acclaim, and Gaber set to work on digital transfers of three other pieces dating from the same period written for or created in close collaboration with his partner at the time, violinist Linda Cummiskey, Sovereign Of The Centre (1972–74), The Realm Of Indra’s Net (1974) and Michi (1972). Experimenting with superimposed versions of Michi, combining it with other early recordings and – an original move – adding a soundtrack of treated field recordings eventually resulted in I Saw My Mother Ascending Mount Fuji, which marks Gaber’s return to composition after more than over three decades away.

What goes around comes around. With its emphasis on quiet sustained sounds interspersed with stretches of silence, Gaber’s early 1970s music predated John Cage’s number pieces by 15 years and the Wandelweiser Group by 20. Though Winds made it to The Wire contributor Alan Licht’s extended Minimal Top Ten list, it would be a mistake to file Gaber away as just another minimalist. A veritable renaissance man whose artistic activities also include painting, calligraphy, photography and installation work, he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and Lejaren Hiller at the University of Illinois and with Clementi, Evangelisti and Scelsi in Rome in 1964.


Sovereign Of The Centre, scored for four violins, is more discontinuous in texture than Winds, its fondness for semitones and their major 7th/minor 9th inversions revealing Gaber’s affection for Anton Webern. “Those of us who came after Webern eventually came to understand that a so-called moment could be perceived as either an eternity or, in common parlance, a nano-flicker,” he writes, an observation that connects to his studies of Oriental thought and religion but also to Stockhausen’s concept of ‘Moment form’, in which “each and every Now is not unremittingly regarded as the mere consequence of the one which preceded it… but rather as something personal, independent and centred, capable of existing on its own.” At times Sovereign seems like a tiny moment from a Webern quartet, frozen in time and put under the microscope to reveal its inner details. It’s what Gaber calls slowed-down sound, a direction he began to explore back in 1968 with the alto flute piece Chimyaku, and in his essay accompanying the release he points to the crucial distinction between slow (he cites Feldman) and slowed-down music. Watching someone walking very slowly isn’t the same as watching slow motion footage of someone walking at normal speed. Simple musical figures – isolated pizzicati, subtle shifts of pitch and timbre – become extraordinary events, commonplace gestures become magical surprises.


     indra's net      
It was while slowing down the tape of Winds to study its spectral components that Gaber discovered the potential of bridge harmonics – varying the contact point of the bow very close to the bridge of the violin (sul ponticello) to emphasise upper partials of the fundamental tone. The acrid, metallic timbre of ponticello is present throughout Winds, but the bridge harmonics are heard to their best advantage in The Realm of Indra’s Net, in which Gaber painstakingly assembled a four-track mix of Cummiskey’s close-miked violin, instructing her during the recording to bring out particular partials using three different microtonally-inflected tunings. A bald description of what happens – the music broadens from a unison to a whole tone halfway through before eventually returning to where it started – fails miserably to explain the magic of its complex interweaving spectral melodies. Despite its instrumentation, it bears no resemblance to Tony Conrad’s 1964 power drone Four Violins. The only remotely comparable listening experience is Eliane Radigue’s Naldjorlak I, her 2005 solo cello piece for Charles Curtis.

When Gaber worked on the digital transfers of Michi, he found himself unable to remove the extraneous noise during the piece’s silences without dulling the sound of the violin itself. Superimposing several versions of the piece to cover some of the silences with sound, he began to explore the music’s hitherto unexplored harmonic potential. Aware that he was working on the 18th anniversary of his mother’s death, he began to see it as a whole new work. I Saw My Mother Ascending Mount Fuji is a spiritual journey with the violin as the principal protagonist. Finding the violin alone too austere, he added an accompanying soundscape of field recordings made in New Mexico and extracts from 1974’s The Death Of Chuang Tzu, which uses slowed-down recordings of the composer’s own breathing. He then incorporated his 1968 solo flute piece Chimyaku, slowing down and partially pitchshifting the flute until it attained a timbral quality between the acoustic violin and electronically manipulated soundscape. Gaber’s mix is exemplary, camouflaging the more obvious canonic procedures of the multitracked violins and placing the flute tones and field recording with remarkable care, as are the performances: David Gilbert’s exquisitely varied vibrato recalls the great shakuhachi master Watazumi Doso, and Cummiskey’s intonation and bow control are worthy of Irvine Arditti or Charles Curtis. The resulting 65 minute piece is a tour de force of spectral music, in both senses of the word, a remarkable journey across 40 years of artistic thought and development.

      i saw my mother ascending mount fuji      


Drawing on his 20 years of work as a visual artist in diverse mediums, Gaber constructs In Memoriam 2010 using collage techniques, drawing on fragments from composers including himself, Philip Blackburn, Kenneth Gaburo, Verdi, Beethoven, Werner Durand, Paul Paccione, and Morton Feldman. His ability to fuse these musical elements without diluting them speaks to his organic outlook on sound and musical discourse. Like his previous Innova release, I Saw My Mother Ascending Mount Fuji, In Memoriam 2010 is both harrowing and peaceful. A sense of loss may permeate these works, but it never obscures the overall sense of redemption and love.
      In Memoriam 2010      

previouslyunreleasedpreviouslyunreleasedpreviouslyunreleasedpreviouslyunreleasedpreviouslyunreleasedpreviouslyunrelease
The following treasures were never released officially, though they hopefully might see the light of day in physical formats some day in future via enlightened and audacious labels such as Innova Recordings or Edition RZ in the past. The first one is very close to In Memoriam 2010 and is called "Portrait and Dream: In Memoriam Kenneth Gaburo"
      portrait and dream 1           portrait and dream 2       

In an Interview to Robert Reigle in 2010, Harley Gaber refered to "Turning Music" a lot. The Interview can  be streamed here at Acoustic Levitation or download it here. Plus, you will find "The House of Tudor", which is a compostion of 2010 as well.


     Turning Music              the house of tudor      


Harley Gaber @ Edition RZ
Harley Gaber @ Innova Recordings
Harley Gaber's Website is this one (highly recommended)
Harley Gaber on Facebook

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