After a two week break (sadly, an unforeseen one), XEN RADIO returns with our occasional “single-track” show. This week featured Alvin Lucier’s Small Waves. This unique work is best described by the record company’s website:
six glass vessels, some partially filled with water, are mounted on pedestals scattered around the performance space. Microphones are inserted into the mouths of the vessels, then routed through compressor-limiters to amplifiers and monitor speakers. During the course of the performance, the volume levels of the amplifiers are raised and lowered, causing feedback at pitches determined by the size and shape of the containers and their proximity to the loudspeakers. Following a sequence notated in the score, the players closely tune with the feedback strands causing interference patterns. At times, two water pourers empty water from one container to another, raising and lowering the pitches of the sounds from those containers.
This week’s XEN RADIO is a more eclectic mix that usual. Opening and closing the show is the microtonal punk group, Jock Tears, and they’re joined by music from Gamelan Degung, Harry Partch, Horse Lords, and others.
Bohlen-Pierce tuning, which divides and octave and a fifth — or, the tritave — challenges the concept of the octave, and removes its centrality from music. This week we listened exclusively to music that uses Bohlen-Pierce (BP) from a variety of styles.
On July 21, 2019, Ben Johnston passed away. He is most well known for bis pioneering work with microtonality—especially just intonation. Unlike Harry Partch, whom he studied with in the 1950s, Johnston composed music for conventional instruments. One of his greatest achievements is his cycle of 10 string quartets, which have recently all been recorded by the Kepler Quartet. In memory of Johnston, the July 23 episode of XEN RADIO was completely dedicated to his music. It featured his sixth string quartet, selections from his song cycle, The Tavern, the Suite for Microtonal Piano, and his Trio for clarinet, violin, and cello.
After two weeks off to catch the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Convention and Competition (congrats to Signature on their well-deserved win), and to take some time off, XEN RADIO returns with some non-western music from Kurdistan and India, along with some rock, electronic music, and jazz.
In commemoration of Harry Partch’s 118th birthday on June 24 (the day before the broadcast), this episode features the new recording of Harry Partch’s Sonata Dementia by the Los Angeles group, PARTCH. The work is a bizarre parody of sonata form that uses Patch’s brand of microtonality to mock the modulations of the classical form. Alongside Sonata Dementia are works by Ezra Sims, Ben Johnston, Terry Riley, and we completed our journey through Veli Kujala’s Hyperchromatic Counterpoint.
This week’s XEN RADIO featured some contemporary works along with some noise by David First and Chicken and the Chick Flicks, and of course, we continue through Veli Kujala’s Hyperchromatic Counterpoint.