Last night’s 11th installment of ASSEMBLE pretty much blew my mind. The sheer power that descended on this group of 11 to play my TRANSMISSIONS drone piece in A and E was transformative, dark, uplifting and as I was told, tear-inducing. A couple people in the audience told me they cried. That’s about the best compliment ever and truly a testament to the A and the E as reality-altering, transcendant pitches. Every performer brought something different to generate the tones. Brian Chase made drones from his drums, Sabisha Friedberg manipulated oscillators, while Dana Schechter played a lap steel, among others who played instruments like synths, bass, bari sax, viola and tape loops.
At first the crowd noise was louder than the ensemble volume, but our collective effort kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. When I wrote and designed this piece, I intended for it to do just that, i.e., crescendo.
Through my cell phone and the Tone Generator App, I was able to keep working the A at 440 hz., then at 220, hz., then at 110 hz., then at 55 hz., then to the Theraminator App, which allowed me to push the A at 880, 440, 55…but this time with an arpeggiated, but subtle square-wave rhythm. Speaking of square waves, I kept blending those and sine waves, which bore mysterious overtones, which I think helped usher the spirit into the piece.
I was simultaneously looping the sustain and drone on two loopers, one left, one right, each with a two minute interval. At 30 seconds into a loop, I would fade the signal down with volume pedals, then reintroduce the signal at one minute, then start fading it again at 30 seconds. This provided dynamics on both loopers and kept the drone from getting old. And also, when I felt there was getting to be too much high end, I’d bring back the 55 hz. to ground it all. And yes, this is why bass rules. It keeps the whole picture pleasing and balanced.
The power of the sound morphed into a daunting, haunting, uplifting gentle giant. And as I mentioned spirit earlier, this is the form it took for me.
The best vision I had all night, which was generated by the sound, was a swirl of clouds in the middle of the room that looked like thunder heads ready to drop rain.
And make it rain we did.
Pat Spadine, Jeanann Dara, JG Thirlwell, Greg Fox, Jeff Tobias (props for filling in at the last moment) Camilla Padgitt-Coles, Melissa Moore, Sabisha Friedberg, Dana Schechter, Brian Chase, Rachel Mason and Matthew Caron on projections all changed reality for this one hour. Pat brought his bells that were in the key of the piece and I handed them out to friends in the audience to ring for the last ten minutes of the piece. Another joyous element of this night that I feel made people happy, which made me happy as well.
Ben Sisto did an amazing job by getting BLACKSTAR to donate 11 amps for the night. He provided us all with appropriate power, chairs and more. Maia Ibar brought us all drinks while we played.
So many kind and cool people…
I love working with people who are up to a challenge and who have a deep belief in the power of collective expressions. Last night was that for me.
It was truly one of the best nights of my life and I felt so much love between us, the performers, and friends and some strangers in the audience. ASSEMBLE XI, IS OVER. On to the next…
Now, can’t wait to play PICASSO MACHINERY this Friday night.