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natewooley on 06/29/2011 at 12:15PM

Regeneration Through the Simple Act of Paying Attention: Matthew Welch on Morton Feldman and FREE TRIAL of DRAM!

I was sick this weekend.  That kind of sick where you actually feel like a new man when it is done.  The kind of sick where you spend the last day making deals with yourself about how you'll do things different when this is all over.  That kind of sick. 

One of the realizations I had was that it was time to stop taking in brand new material...mentally...musically...and put energy into drilling deeper into works that had proven their worth to me over a long period of time.  As Aldous Huxley said in one of his essays on aesthetics...the work of art that makes you continuously return to find a new point of entry is a great piece of art.  Please forgive my paraphrase. Basically, I have a need to find an artistic regeneration through the simple act of just paying better attention, being more rigorous about the information I already have, and in general allowing myself to probe deeper into the music I already know.

Just in case you think this is a personal tirade, I can assure you this has everything to do with DRAM, FMA, and the music that I've attached for download here, Dante Boon's spectacular reading of the first movement of Morton Feldman's Last Pieces (Edition Wandelweiser).

I've been asked by a number of FMA readers about individual subscriptions to DRAM, and the response has been strong enough that we've been able to make DRAM free on a trial basis for those interested in checking out the site.  Just by a stroke of luck, this trial period happened to coincide with Bowerbird's American Sublime Festival on Morton Feldman, and wanting to find a way to support the work that Dustin Hurt and Bowerbird were doing in bringing some of the great interpreters of Feldman's work to Philadelphia, we partnered with his organization to give away free trial subscriptions to those people visiting the American Sublime site.

Also, in the spirit of the festival, composer Matthew Welch wrote a series of short articles on Feldman's music: a playlist of good entry points to Feldman's music from the DRAM archive (which has one of the most extensive collections of Feldman's recorded output) as well as a two part paper on the composer's late period works (Triadic Memories and Patterns in a Chromatic Field) and an analysis of the movement of "Last Pieces" featured in this post.

Welch's insights sum up this idea of digging deeper into a subject you love...paying attention....paying deeper attention...and finding some new lights in which to see a subject.  Any fan of Morton Feldman's music knows about the composer's connection to the Abstract Expressionist painters in New York, or his fascination with middle Eastern rugs near the end of his life, but Welch takes apart the nuts and bolts of this "intuitive" composer and shows the elegance of the "machine" portion of the "ghost in the machine".  His papers talk about tendencies of semi-tone voice leading, registral displacement, oblique motion, and asymmetry brought about by Feldman's specific use of notational methods.

Now is the time for us all to dig a little deeper into this great composer's work.  There is so much more there than an iconoclast with thick glasses writing his scores on the wall.  To learn more about Feldman, you can read Welch's posts or download pdf versions of Welch's paper (with musical examples) here, and to get FREE TRIAL ACCESS TO DRAM!, go to American Sublime here

Once at the site, scroll to the bottom where you will find the DRAM logo.  If you click on that logo, a new page will open which will tell you how to gain free access to DRAM on a trial basis.  THIS TRIAL WILL END ON JULY 5TH, SO ACT NOW!!!!


This is a fantastic recording of Feldman's "Last Pieces" from a great Dante Boon recording on Edition Wandelweiser that also features pieces by John Cage, Juerg Frey, Tom Johnson, and others.  I featured Juerg Frey's "Sam Lazaro Bros" in my first FMA blog post on the great German label, and this remains one of my favorite recordings.



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