Tag Archives: experimental music

Procrastination Destination: BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Are you sick of the pleasant hum of jazz and coffee grinders in Espwesso? Does the dull roar of Olin’s main room make you want to peel your skin off? Has the humping of thesis writers in adjacent carrels gotten to you yet? Throw on a pair of headphones (or get ready to annoy your neighbors), because we have a sonic treat for you.

Oye, if you want to skip past the extensive discussion of experimental music borne out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and get straight to a hands-on procrastination tool, click here and get your experimental music on, ese.

Founded in 1958 in London, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was much more than a Raygun Gothic name and a studio. In the late 1950s, the BBC Third Program—which was eventually folded into BBC Radio 3—was ramping up their dramatic output. Seeking atmospheric, ethereal sounds that couldn’t be produced through traditional sound design or instrumental techniques, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was created in service of exploring then-cutting edge production methods to accompany the BBC’s radio productions. The resulting soundscapes resembled musique concrète and were prescient in the development of the electronic and experimental music that we have come to know and love today.

Click through to see more about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s creative output from the ’50s to today.

Winter Electro Bonanza

Alex Lough ’13 is sitting in a room different from the one you are in now, namely the CFA Hall:

come watch twentyish music majors play music while the music plays
them right back. these are dangerous explorations of sound and vision
that are meant only to be handled by professionals so you’ll want to
be there in case we burn our eyebrows off. if you want your Wesleyan
music experience to be more mind-expanding, come let us tenderly
inject multimedia into your veins.

you will witness the work of 

Photo Evidence: Music House Gets Authored, Punished

Last night, industrial noise-maker Author & Punisher brought his doom-inspired sounds to Music House. If nothing else, the performance marked a special occurrence in my Wesleyan career: it was the first time I have seen an experimental musician make use of Eugene Onegin as live gear on stage.

Festivities kicked off with hardcore powerviolence quartet Backshi, whose subject matter is described as “pegging, bodily functions, queer shit, more hateful than ever.” Featuring Jason Kilbourne ’14, Stephan Stansfield ’13, Max Seppo ’14, and Mike Massone ’14, the band previously performed at last May’s Weezer/Green Day showcase. Their energetic stage presence and general exuberance leads me to endorse them enthusiastically for Spring Fling 2013. Here’s a video:

Friday: Aural Wes Launch Party

Bummed you waited in that absurdly long line in Usdan today and still didn’t get a ticket to Danny Brown? Don’t worry. That’s not the only show happening at Eclectic this weekend (and this one’s free). The long-awaited Aural Wes redesign is finally going live this weekend; to celebrate, Prince Rama and a plethora of Wes artists are performing. Here’s the write-up on Aural Wes:

Prince Rama is a Brookyln-based psychedelic rock band made up of sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson. Later this fall, they will be opening for Animal Collective in London, and they are on the label started by Animal Collective, Paw Tracks. Their music reflects the sisters’ experience being raised in a Hare Krishna-heavy community in Florida (they use sanskirt chants and tribal drums!). Check out their latest single here.

Opening for the show will be Wesleyan’s very own Guy Fridge, who was featured on Wesleying last year and whose music can be found here.

DJ CROOK$HANKS, whose mix tapes have spammed all over this blog, will also be playing a set after Prince Rama.

Date: Friday, September 21
Time: 10pm – 2am
Place: Eclectic

From The Argives: 100 Years of John Cage

Were he still alive, experimental music messiah John Cage would turn 100 this week. Consider taking a moment of silence today in honor of Cage’s genius. Or four and 33 seconds.

The man responsible for such works as 4’33”, Indeterminancy, A Valentine Out of Season, and Cartridge Music was affiliated with Wesleyan on and off from 1955 until his death in 1992. He first came to campus to work with composer David Tudor on the prepared piano, performances described by The Argus as “clunks, clanks, plinks, and plonks.” Cage continued working with members of Wesleyan’s music faculty (particularly Alvin Lucier) and was a Center for Advanced Study fellow in 1960–61 and 1969–70. In this role, he taught classes in experimental music. In 1961, Wesleyan University Press published his book, Silence, followed by M and A Year From Monday. (Here’s a review that ran in the October, 1961 Argus.)

Finally, in early 1988, Wesleyan hosted a massive week-long festival-symposium celebrating his 75th birthday. (Here’s coverage in the Argus and the New York Times. Also, Ampersand coverage, featuring “indeterminate typing.”) When I took Experimental Music with Alvin Lucier in 2009, Cage’s music stayed prominent on the syllabus. Lucier spoke of his old friend often, and passionately.

In Memory of Pi(e) Day: A Sensory Experience of Sight, Smell, Taste, and Sound

Pi Day? Pie Day. It’s been 12 days, but it’s never too late to celebrate pi(e) day, says Alan Rodi ’12. Experimental Music students and pie-eaters, take note:

A concert in three movements of flavours.

$2 suggested minimum donation for a slice of pie; proceeds go to Brighter Dawns. There will be a limited number of slices available.

The piece is an attempt in making experimental music accessible. Inspired in part by In C, musicians will follow a score of a section of melodic passages around a shifting tonal center, but the means of getting from passage to passage is indeterminate and the only time marker is a single bell that rings between the three movements.

The concert runs exactly 30 minutes with an additional short intermission between the second and third movement for pie distribution. Note: scented incense and deliciously smelling pies will be used during the performance. Any additional musicians should please contact Alan Rodi at arodi(at)wesleyan(dot)edu and be prepared to meet an hour before the schedule time to briefly review the piece.

Purity Ring @ Eclectic

From Eclectic Haus:

Purity Rings (also known as  abstinence rings) are worn as a sign of chastity. The practice originated in the United States in the 1990s among Christian-affiliated sexual abstinence groups. Wearing a purity ring is typically accompanied by a religious vow to practice abstinence until marriage.

 Tonight, Purity Ring will perform a set of songs at Eclectic. C¥BERGIGA (Sam Lyons ’12) is opening.
For the event page, click here.  For Purity Ring’s Myspace, click here. For  C¥BERGIGA SoundCloud, click here.
It’s a Tuesday. Come get piped.

Date: Tuesday, March 6
Time: 10:00 pm – 12:01 am
Place: Eclectic (200 High)
Facebook event: link

Simons ’09, Ruder ’05 Reinterpret Robert Ashley Television Opera

Former WESU personalities Aliza Simons ’09 and Dave Ruder ’05 write in from beyond the void (there’s life out there, it seems, if you look hard enough) about a pretty cool project they’re involved with this week. The two are members of composer-performer collective Varispeed which, just last week, performed a newly arranged rendition of composer Robert Ashley’s 1983 television opera Perfect Lives. (Ashley’s name should be familiar to students of Intro to Experimental Music: the acclaimed composer was a member, along with Alvin Lucier and others, of the Sonic Arts Union collective, and his pieces have been prominently featured in Lucier’s syllabus.)

“Dave and I were both members of WESU Middletown 88.1, too, where we both found a lot of inspiration,” Simons writes. The project was featured this week in a NYT article examining new interpretations of Ashley’s work. (Not that the 81-year-old isn’t still active in the scene.)  For an excerpt:


Experimental Music Group presents:

SPILL – Magda Mayas and Tony Buck

  • When: Thursday, Oct. 13th @ 9pm
  • Where: in the Russell House
  • Cost: free

Magda Mayas (inside piano) and Tony Buck (percussion) performing/improvising in duo.

bUTTErkNiFe PrESenTs ::: DROne SET 1 & 2

New Wes music. New tangentially unrelated images. New experimental sounds from the fluid Butterknife collective. Go to Bandcamp for the blissfully free downloads!

Here are my impressions of Drone set I, which clocks in at 23:32:

  • Holy shit, I’m in space!
  • Much more variable than what I usually expect of drones.
  • Why do I even have a set of expectations for drones?
  • ak;jviji;dk;vvvvvv

Thoughts on Drone set II and some words from Butterknife on the creative process follow.