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Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies, CD 4 - Sonic Dreams: Folk Music For The Millennium
Artist/Band: Ron Pellegrino
CD 4 - Sonic Dreams: Folk Music for the Millennium presents examples of my real time compositional work that emerges from daydreams guided by special kinds of consciousness that serve as launchpads for shaping the riches of the collective unconscious with a personal perspective. Our language has a plethora of words that flit around the notion of those special kinds of consciousness-words like museful, contemplative, reverie, pensive, and meditative; words that suggest intuitive flavors rather than strictly rational emphases as drivers of the creative process.
Beginning in the 1970s, to facilitate communicating with the public, I took the tack of composing a stream of accessible pieces I thought of as "folk music for the millennium". After I used that expression in a 1977 interview with a Berkeley journalist, it appeared as the heading for his review of a festival I had just produced.
Early on I realized that playing the "what if" game is a great technique for discovering compositional playgrounds. All it takes is being open to suggestions offered by materials (instruments and sounds) with strong inclinations as to how they prefer to be shaped. For example, "what if" I put myself in the middle of a huge glass harmonica and with it sculpt sounds that carry the psychological power of audio feedback (there's natural fear of positive feedback loops-left ungoverned, they will explode)? (Track 5, alphaGlasssongs.) "What if" I were to compose dance music for mating whales? (Track 9, Loving Leviathans) "What if" l designed and played in real time a string orchestra? (Track 10, alphaSunset) "What if" I translated faithfully the melodies and chord changes of songs from the Great American Songbook such as Fascinating Rhythm and Stella By Starlight and came up with pieces that sounded neither derivative nor jazz-like but sprang more from the notion of "seed and bloom" rather than "theme and variation? (Track 2, FascinBloom and Track 5, StellaBloom). "What if" I designed a system that when played would give me the feeling of conducting a Balinese gamelan orchestra. (Track 7, alphaSpring) "What if" I discovered swirling liquid sounds that could become more or less viscous according to how I initiated them and what context I gave them? (Track 14, Cymatics Sails Again) "What if" I put together a band of student and faculty musicians to play only in the real time mode and to open my Texas experimental music shows? (Track 12, Lubbock's Dorian Rain)
One might ask what if the "what if" game doesn't lead to much of value every time? So what? Who realistically expects to find gold in every pan? I think of the "what if" game as planting and caring for a fruit tree that may take seasons (sessions) to bear fruit. The most powerful benefit of playing the "what if" game comes from exercising one's creative urges in ways that integrate them with the fabric of one's life so that the urges lead to engaging life as infinite potential rather than mechanically determined events.
Any composer who enjoys playing the "what if" game will likely be prolific, but not all the pieces will bear repetition in public. As personal study pieces most should have value, but the issue of concert appropriateness is another matter. My solution to that problem is that 1) when I'm no longer moved by a piece or 2) with subsequent hearings I don't discover anything new, I throw it out. So I first test it on myself and then normally on visitors to my studios. If a piece passes those tests I'll give it a public concert field test. If it works in one of my concert contexts it'll become part of the concert rotation. Even if it's part of the concert rotation but eventually fails tests 1) and 2), out it goes to make room for another piece because, for dreamers, there's no such thing as writer's block-the collective unconscious is infinite in its potential and always welcomes dreamers.