Raylene Campbell, therovox
Raylene Campbell’s performance is built on a search for subtle sound textures, mixing instrumental samples and found sound, performed with Ableton Live and Therevox. Raylene gently moves into chosen sonic spaces and takes time exploring and experimenting with the emerging materials of the improvisational moment. Raylene will be performing both improvised and composed work (i.e. “Slipping through the veil”) for this event. Raylene’s layered sound dances throughout the space and resonates within the audience, creating a profound, visceral conversation between the performer and listener.
Shawn Mativetsky, tabla
An engaging combination of virtuoso tabla playing and electronics with music by Tawnie Olson, Taylor Brook and Frank Zappa.
Alap (2003), by Payton MacDonald
Tabla Solo in Teentaal, Traditional, arr. Shawn Mativetsky
Something to Say (2014), by Tawnie Olson
Coil (2013), by Taylor Brook
The Black Page No. 1 (1977), by Frank Zappa with special guest, Ben Reimer, drum set
Alap is the first piece of a trilogy for solo tabla, which also includes Jor and Jhala. The titles come from the first, second, and third parts of the melodic introduction to a North Indian Hindustani classical music performance. These pieces are fully written out, with no improvisation. An alap is a slow, stately exposition of a raga with no regular rhythmic pulse. Just as a melodic musician will unfold a raga one note at a time, so does the tabla drummer gradually reveal the different tones of the drums. The tension and density of the phrases also gradually increase.
Coil, for solo tabla and tape, was written for Shawn Mativetsky. The tape part for Coil was made in the Winter of 2013 and was produced with a custom-made computer-improvisation program of my own creation. After making an extensive sample library of an acoustic guitar, a MAX/MSP patch was created that improvises pitches based on probability curves. What is unusual about this program is that it understands pitch as interval and may call upon a rich palette of extended just intonation ratios. After writing the rhythms of the solo tabla part, these notes were elaborated upon and fed into the computer improviser to create a kind of extended rhythmic unison.” – Taylor Brook
Something to Say (2014) John Cage once famously declared “I have nothing to say, and I am saying it.” As I was writing this piece, I wondered what the opposite of Cage’s statement would be, and thought it might be “I have something to say, but I am not saying it.” I think the latter statement describes how we often relate to one another. I know that when people say things to me that hurt or upset me, I can have difficulty responding; I might be too upset to speak, or worried about overreacting, and decide to say nothing. As part of the process of composing “Something to Say,” I wrote down some things said to me by family, friends, and colleagues. Since none of these things were recorded at the time they were spoken, Shawn and I asked friends to read and record these phrases. (For the record: none of these readers believe what I asked them to say!) I used these recordings in this piece, and I also borrowed from a genre of traditional tabla music, called “bol paran,” in which the tabla imitates the sound of human speech. If you listen carefully, after you hear a recorded voice you’ll often hear Shawn reproduce part of the spoken phrase on his instruments. I am so grateful to Shawn Mativetsky for asking me to write this piece, and for playing it so beautifully. It is dedicated to him and to Equality Now.” – Tawnie Olson
Traditional, arr. Shawn Mativetsky – Tabla Solo in Teentaal
In the Benares baaj (style), the art of solo tabla performance is greatly respected and very highly developed. There are more than twenty forms of composition in use, many of them unique to this tradition. Some are theme and variation forms which require spontaneous improvisation by the performer, while many others involve sophisticated compositional techniques with fixed pieces handed down from generation to generation. In addition, there is a well-defined procedure for joining the various types of compositions to form a logical and pleasing performance. The solo also includes vocal recitation of tabla compositions, using the traditional ‘solfege’ syllables called bol. A tabla solo is traditionally played in a sixteen beat taal, a rhythmic cycle, known as Teentaal. Throughout the performance, an aural outline of this taal is maintained by means of a cyclic melody known as a lehra.
Frank Zappa – The Black Page No. 1 (1977)
Tabla arrangement by Shawn Mativetsky (2017)
The Black Page No. 1 is probably Frank Zappa’s most well-known composition. Originally written for drum set and melodic percussion, it was later rearranged and exists in numerous versions, including the so-called “disco” and “new-age” versions, amongst others. The version that you will hear today is probably the first to include tabla. Originally written for famed drummer Terry Bozzio as a sort of musical challenge, a response to studio musicians in LA fearing arriving at a session and being faced with a ‘black page’ full of notes. Zappa’s Black Page involves numerous complex subdivisions of the beat and polyrhythms, making it both challenging and enjoyable for percussionists to perform, as they tend to enjoy this sort of rhythmic language. By today’s standards, the piece is no longer perceived as being as complex as it once was, but nevertheless, it still holds an important place in the evolution of the drum set repertoire, and is a brilliant gem in Zappa’s oeuvre.
Ben Reimer, drum set
Ben Reimer presents a unique program for solo kit drum and electronics by Eliot Briton, Nicole Lizée, and Stuart S Smith.
Blue Too (1983), Stuart Saunders Smith
for drumset solo
Train Set (2006), Eliot Britton
for drumset and electronics
Katana of Choice (2014), Nicole Lizée
concerto for drumset and percussion quartet (prerecorded)
Stuart Saunders Smith has devoted much of his career to writing for the kinds of ensembles that don’t tend to get lots of popular exposure: instrumental solos and eccentrically constituted small groups, frequently involving percussion. The piece Blue Too for solo drumset is a great example of this devotion.
Blue Too occupies a world of continuous interrupting.
Blue Too exists just on the surface of structure, a tumbleweed , no roots.
Blue Too is stuck deep in the best, inert.
Blue Too contradicts.
– Stuart Saunders Smith
Trainset grows out of a childhood spent near railways, paying attention to the rhythmic rumbles, clicks and apocalyptic sounds that accompany each metal beast as it roars across the prairie. The piece is about zeroing in on the patterns present in various dimensions of the train experience, from sleepy passenger to exhilarated onlooker. Near my grandparents’ home in Headingley, Manitoba, there is a particularly large, black and imposing train bridge with three piers and a tall geometric grid of intersecting beams. Multiple generations of Brittons have used the bridge as a shortcut across the river, each listening carefully for the train whistle, carefully measuring spaces between the railroad ties, and mentally mapping a path to the nearest safe spot. The bridge and the trains were a regular part of life, a source of constant anxiety for parents and endless fun for children. When I was about nine years old, I froze when I heard the whistle and was past the point of no return. I made a silent note to myself that as a last resort I could always jump off the bridge and take my chances with the river. Luckily for me, I was near the middle pier and could crawl down into the old wheel house that once housed the engine that rotated the central span to allow boats to pass though. From that close proximity I heard and felt the train’s patterns, saw the shifting lights, and smelled the tar and machine oil in the most visceral way possible. Not an experience to be easily forgotten.
– Eliot Britton
Katana of Choice is a simulated duel-based ‘visual novel’ type video game in which the graphics, soundtrack and narrative are provided exclusively by the live ensemble. Inspired by wuxia martial arts and film noir (Five Fingers of Death, Enter the Dragon, Kill Bill, The Warriors), the pace is relentless, moving quickly from scene to scene with unexpected twists in which members trade off, pushing one another technically and sonically. The ensemble writing depicts semiotics of the genres acoustically, while analogue synths, cap guns, acoustic guitars in specific tunings, foot stomps, hand claps and call-and-response vocalizations all become percussion instruments and visual enhancements. Panning, stereophony and spatial treatments are carefully considered to evoke an immersive, sonic 3D, otherworldly experience.
– Nicole Lizée