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HERE/NOW exists to increase and diffuse knowledge
involving the intersection of Dance and Music.

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LOCATION: Open Flight Studio (OFS) 4205 University Way NE / 98105
SEATING: 730-8pm
SHOW: 8-945pm
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Installment 8 (3/12/11)

|select image for enlarged version|


Pictured above standing (l to r) are Paul Matthew Moore, AJ Lindner, James DeJoie, Andrew McInnis, James Whetzel, Ericka Kendall, Kelli Frances Corrado and Michael Maricle and sitting (l to r) are Wylin Daigle, Alex Ruhe, Jessie Smith, Hendri Walujo, Lila Hurwitz, Mary Margaret Moore, Linda Austin and Nathan Dryden.

There are very few if any art-related topics, issues, situations, angles of approach that haven't been addressed at some point by someone or a group of someones simultaneously on various levels to varying degrees shedding rainbows of prismatic light spewing in every possible direction, blinding countless innocent onlookers, audiences, subscribers, colleagues. But as a composer, musician and performer I feel there's one I personally need to address.



Hahaha... sorry, I couldn't resist.

Seriously, seriously... what needs addressing? This: at what point does sound itself become violent, the act of producing such sound an act of violence, and what are the very real and/or perceived ramifications given that that sound is occurring during a live performance where there is no button to push to make it stop? Well, not at the simple disposal of the non-performer anyway.

And why at this moment? Because: during two duets in Installment 8 (one far more than the other, truth be told) the Musicians made very conscious efforts to create sound that very purposely could be felt to be tapping on the volume ceiling. And anytime a Musician creates sound that taps on the volume ceiling there is one reaction, almost ubiquitous it's so universally present, that appears like a knee-jerk response... like blinking when something has found its way into our eyes that shouldn't be there. And that is, of course: PLEASE PLACE ONE OR BOTH HANDS FULLY OVER ONE OR BOTH EARS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

The thing about sound that is consciously created to tap on the volume ceiling is that it falls into one of two categories. One: sound created by a very attuned Musician to produce a quick climax, meant only to linger for a few seconds, to cause all listeners to "wake up" and to experience a momentary shock to their nervous system. Two: sound created by a very attuned Musician to produce a lasting sensation, meant to linger for several minutes, to cause all listeners to "tune out" and to experience a "deep tissue charge" to their nervous system. Both are employed in hopes of using the sheer spatial power of volume as a protagonist in their performance, another layer into which is injected just as much art and craft as, say, tonality or rhythm. And with this element comes a profoundly new definition of "foreground". Well, not as much a new definition, I suppose... more a new placement, a new location in the transient sonic experience. And where is that new "foreground"? Exactly: inside you, the listener. Literally. And, I'm sorry, but how awesome in the purest sense is that?

Volume, in and of itself, has little to do with any physical damage, per se. The culprit is more precisely the duration of exposure. In other words, yes, there is such a beast as a sonic version of the drip... drip... drip... drip of water torture, and it comes at you just as quietly and just as discreetly. Over time, a lot of time, sound of almost any volume harbors a very real ability to cause irreversible aural injury (please see ultra classic aural injury case study Pete Townshend, electric guitarist for The Who). But (and here's the beautiful catch, the one that those conscious Musicians will employ if and when appropriate) there is a volumatic range, a window so to speak, where sound can be heard and immediately perceived to be "dangerous" and "too loud" but in all reality it is neither. Uncomfortable? Perhaps. Jolting? Perhaps. Confusing? Perhaps. Disorienting? Perhaps. Inherently in bad taste or dangerous or violent or amateurish? Not at all.

(Sidenote: it's interesting to consider: when was the last time really great Music played loudly was a bad thing? When was the last time really crappy Music played loudly was a good thing? Conclusion: it's not the volume, it's the Music itself that does or does not deserve to occupy that much space in the first place.)

Truthfully, no permanent aural damage will likely ever come from the potential volumes from a typical amplifier being used at any HERE/NOW installment. In fact, it would take stadium-like speakers to ever hope, on average, to even begin to harbor enough wattage to cause any serious aural injury via amplified sound. Also, each duet is only eight minutes in length... not nearly enough time for damage to occur even if such sound levels were being maintained during the entire duet.

So, what's my point? Sit back, remove your hand or hands from your ear or ears and allow the sound to penetrate your consciousness, let it resonate as it is designed to do, let it become an engaging aspect to a performance that you might otherwise be inclined to deem "too loud" and, most of all, trust that a Musician, regardless of appearance, age or instrumentation, knows exactly what they are doing and is trying to give you, the listener, a kind of gift via their art that is a very rare treat indeed: an actual aural experience in the most fearless way possible: the dynamic sculpting of sound waves. But be careful... it's beautifully addictive.

Ask past participants AJ Lindner (professional audio engineer), Kelli Frances Corrado, Timm Mason, Briana Jones, Beth Fleenor, noisepoetnobody (aka Casey Jones) or myself. All of whom would be happy to elaborate on the topic I'm sure. In fact, you just might get an earful. Wah wah wah.

Exit. Stage wherever.

~ Christopher

For me, Installment 8 brought up questions about personal thresholds. What compels performers to push thresholds, their own as well as those of the audience? What can be gained from witnessing and experiencing the perception of a personal boundary being pushed? Installment 8 opened with a shock. Within the first minute of Wylin Daigle (Dance) and Michael Maricle's (Music) duet, Wylin completed a back handspring into the splits - while wearing socks! My eyes jumped out of my head, and I uttered to myself, "Wait a minute! Did that just happen?" I had no idea that she had formal training in gymnastics. Toward the end of the duet she launched into an aerial and her head was an inch off the ground. While it was obvious these movements were known, there was a slight unfamiliarity in their execution, like they were a past experience that unexpectedly came for a surprise visit. The charged setting of HERE/NOW summoned this risk. It invited her to push a personal threshold.

In the following duet between Jessie Smith (Dance) and James Whetzel (Music), Jessie slid onto stage with a chair in hand, unable to walk because she had an injured left foot. She arrived to the event on crutches, curious about how her limitation would create new possibility. I partially held my breathe while watching Jessie not only push the limitation of her injured ankle but also the healthy ankle by letting it constantly give way as if both legs were debilitated. There was a willingness to overcome a perceived fragility. While watching her move, I saw a struggle between the desire to explode into a virtuosic physical dance and the real limitation of her ankle injury. James performed on the sarod, an instrument primarily used in classical Indian music, and it poignantly highlighted this struggle. It was a cinematic sound weighted and introspective. Incidentally, it exposed and supported the honesty of the dance and the internal world of the dancer.

During the fourth duet of the evening, AJ Lindner (Music) created sound from modular and home-built analog synthesizers at a frequency and amplitude that was both exhilarating and physically challenging. The music was invigorating because it felt all consuming and immersive. I was not so much listening to but feeling it. My chest vibrated, my blood circulation increased, my ears pulsed rapidly. He improvised with Mary Margaret Moore (Dance), and as the HERE/NOW format seems to continuously produce, I found them to be a perfect pairing. While watching Mary Margaret, I could see her mind explore and work. There was an unusual sync between thinking and physical expression, so much so that I wanted to know what her mind was doing in the same way that I could see the movements of her body. The duet was an experience of loud, penetrating sound and dance imagination. AJ provided the dense electric current that was both a vital impulse and a cumbersome obstacle for Mary Margaret, who curiously navigated through and around this inspiring impediment.

Alex Ruhe (Dance) and Andrew McInnis (Music) also pushed boundaries. Influenced by Butoh, the dance was confined mostly to one space and explored inner emotional and energetic states. Andrew's percussive sounds excavated and brought to life Alex's internal landscape. Together they created a suspenseful and supportive environment, which reminded me of taught aluminum wire. Alex mentioned beforehand that he normally wears white makeup and decided not to for HERE/NOW, which felt vulnerable. Normally the makeup enhances Butoh's concepts. Conversely, in this performance, no makeup lifted a veil to expose dynamic and volatile human states.

I am continuously reminded that the HERE/NOW format is itself uncomfortable and creates a heightened listening and responsive state, which leads to the creation of a charged and honest experience. The format itself pushes boundaries. In this process of boundary pushing, change occurs and new possibility emerges.

~ Paige

The evening's duets in chronological order:

1. Wylin Daigle (D) + Michael Maricle (M)
2. Jessie Smith (D) + James Whetzel (M)
3. Lila Hurwitz (D) + Kelli Frances Corrado (M)
4. Mary Margaret Moore (D) + AJ Lindner (M)


5. Linda Austin (D) + James DeJoie (M)
6. Hendri Walujo (D) + Paul Matthew Moore (M)
7. Alex Ruhe (D) + Andrew McInnis (M)
8. Nathan Dryden (D) + Ericka Kendall (M)

If you attended this installment take a minute and share your thoughts. What did you feel was the most engaging moment of the evening? Whose duet resonated with you the most? How did you hear about HERE/NOW and why did you feel as if you wanted to attend? Were you familiar with any of the participants? Did the evening serve as a catalyst for discussion amongst friends?


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