09 November, 2009

Music for 100 Carpenters

On Sunday night, a small warehouse full of people showed up to hear a "theatrical surround-sound music performance, enlisting 100 skilled and unskilled tradespeople." The performance was written by Douglas Henderson, a celebrated sound artist and composer. In his words, here's what he was going for.

Prying at Stockhausen’s convolution of rhythm and timbre, 100 hammers, 100 blocks of wood and some 10,000 nails of varying sizes are brought to bear in a real-time, real-world articulation of complex computer synthesis. Under the guidance of job supervisors, thousands of hammer blows become waves of tonal murmur, threaded with rustlings of nails and occasional snarls of righteous indignation. The performers are organized into work crews with lists of tasks and closely timed schedules, and arranged in a circle around the audience. Toolbelts, sweat and lunchboxes are part of the score.

(photo courtesy of David Scher)

My favorite part of the 30-minute performance came after the first round of synchronized nailing into 2x4s, when all the carpenters took a granny smith apple from their metal lunch boxes, and bit into them.

From Nov. 13 - Dec. 20, a video and 6-channel surround sound audio recording of last night's performance will be projected at the site of the performance, where you can see "debris from the show left in place."

Go Listen. It's worth it.


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