Irrational Music meets Nightingales in Berlin
Wednesday 12 June 2019 – doors 7.30pm – music 8.00pm | £6 adv / £8 door BUY TICKETS
Elliott Sharp is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer. A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over 30 years, released over eighty-five recordings ranging from orchestral music to blues, jazz, noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction. His collaborators have included Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt; Manuel Göttsching, Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Kronos String Quartet; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; pipa virtuoso Min-Xiao Feng; jazz greats Jack DeJohnette, Oliver Lake, and Sonny Sharrock; and Bachir Attar, leader of the Master Musicians Of Jajouka. Sharp is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 Fellow at Parson’s Center for Transformative Media. He received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition from the American Academy in Berlin.
Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds Sing, Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful and many other books, published in at least eleven languages. He has more than twenty CDs out, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House which came out on ECM, and most recently Berlin Bülbul and Cool Spring. He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Elliot Sharp, Iva Bittová, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. Nightingales in Berlin is his latest book, CD, and film. Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Jem Finer is an artist, musician and composer. Since studying computer science in the 1970s, he has worked in a variety of fields, including photography, film, experimental and popular music and installation. His 1000 year long musical composition Longplayer represents a convergence of many of his concerns, particularly those relating to systems, long-durational processes and extremes of scale in both time and space. Recent work, focusing on his interest in long-term sustainability and the reconfiguring of older technologies, includes Spiegelei, a 360-degree spherical camera obscura and Supercomputer, a sculptural machine composing micro-minimal musical scores which opened in Cambridge in June 2014 and is now sited in London.
£ 6 advance £ 8 door
Nightingales in Berlin: Searching for the Perfect Sound
A celebrated figure in myth, song, and story, the nightingale has captivated the imagination for millennia, its complex song evoking a prism of human emotions—from melancholy to joy, from the fear of death to the immortality of art.
But have you ever listened closely to a nightingale’s song? It’s a strange and unsettling sort of composition—an eclectic assortment of chirps, whirs, trills, clicks, whistles, twitters, and gurgles. At times it is mellifluous, at others downright guttural. It is a rhythmic assault, always eluding capture. What happens if you decide to join in?
David Rothenberg shows in this searching and personal new book, the nightingale’s song is so exceptional in part because it reflects our own cacophony back at us. As vocal learners, nightingales acquire their music through the world around them, singing amid the sounds of humanity in all its paradoxes of noise and beauty, hard machinery and soft melody. Rather than try to capture a sound not made for us to understand, Rothenberg seeks these musical creatures out, clarinet in tow, and makes a new music with them. He takes us to the urban landscape of Berlin—longtime home to nightingale colonies where the birds sing ever louder in order to be heard—and invites us to listen in on their remarkable collaboration as birds and instruments riff off of each other’s sounds. Through dialogue, travel records, sonograms, tours of Berlin’s city parks, and musings on the place animal music occupies in our collective imagination, Rothenberg takes us on a quest for a new sonic alchemy, a music impossible for any one species to make alone. In the tradition of The Hidden Life of Trees and The Invention of Nature, Rothenberg has written a provocative and accessible book to attune us ever closer to the natural world around us.
UK publication by University of Chicago Press on 4 June 2019 £20
For over five decades, Elliott Sharp has been engaged in a quest at once quixotic and down to earth: to take the music he hears in his inner ear and bring it to life in the real world. In this vivid memoir and manifesto, Sharp takes us along on that quest, through some of the most rugged, anarchically fertile cultural terrain of our time. Sharp, a mainstay of the New York Downtown scene beginning in the 1980s, has been a pivotal gure at the junction of rock, experimental music, and an ever-widening spiral of art, theater, lm, and dance. Rooted in blues, rock, jazz, and the twentieth-century avant-garde, Sharp’s innovative music has encom- passed fractal geometry, chaos theory, algorithms, genetic metaphors, and new strategies for graphic notation.
In IrRational Music, Sharp dodges fake cowboys’ real bullets by the side of a highway near Colby, Kansas; is called on the carpet (“Improvisation… I don’t buy it”) by a prickly, pompadoured Morton Feldman; segues from Zen tea to single malt with an elfin John Cage; conjures an extraterrestrial opera from a group of high-school students in Munich; and—back in his own high-school days—looks up from strumming Van Morrison’s “Gloria” in Manny’s Music on 48th Street to see Jimi Hendrix smiling benignly upon him. A mix of tales from the road with thoughts on music, art, politics, technology, and the process of thinking itself, IrRational Music is a glimpse inside the mind of one of our most exacting, exciting creative artists.
Terra Nova Press / MIT Press £ 20