Wednesday, April 1, 2009
She Was A Visitor
A piece by Robert Ashley. A professor of mine, Maggi Payne, had been a student of his and turned me on to his mind melting creations. He was one of the early electronic music pioneers that came out of the scene centered around the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early 70’s. Now he is probably best known for directing operas but back then he was known for a piece called Automatic Writing. She Was A Visitor was included on the same CD as that classic composition but for whatever reason Visitor has always resonated with me a bit more. It is a experimental work for voice from 1967 performed by the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus directed by Alvin Lucier.
Ashley's notes on the piece: "She Was a Visitor is a form of description, it is intended to be understood as a form of rumor. The chorus is divided into groups, each headed by a leader. A lone speaker repeats the title sentence throughout the entire performance. The separate phonemes of this sentence are picked up freely by the group leaders and are relayed to the group members, who sustain them softly and for the duration of one natural breath. The time lag between the group leaders' phoneme choices and those phonemes being picked up by members of the group produces a staggered, chant-like effect, with the sounds moving outward from the nearest performer to the farthest".
Play it loud.
Stream or download:
Robert Ashley - She Was A Visitor