On Friday, August 31st, The Dymaxion Quartet was featured on WKCR, Columbia University radio playing an hour's worth of previously unrecorded music. Wanna listen? All the tracks are archived here (or they will be soon, at least). Some of this choice material includes an interpretation of W.B. Yeats, some adolescent Shakespearean drama, speaking in wooden tongues, and music in Pig-Latin.
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For a number of years I’ve had this idea in my head… that Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Jing by Lao Tzu is incredibly musical.
Music is motion and what provides that motion is some kind of back and forth… a struggle between ideas, a call and response, high and low, loud and soft, fast and slow, and on and on and on. The Tao Te Jing is full of this. It is repetition and variation as its most sublime. And the rhythms of Mitchell’s phrasing have a song all their own.
And so I have endeavored to capture this song and give it my own structure. After many months of writing (and rewriting) and a pinch of rehearsal time, TDQ is thrilled to give the first public performance of our newest work, The Way.
I have selected 13 of the 81 books from the Tao Te Jing, set them to music, removed the words, added improvisation, and strung them together into one continuous suite that will probably clock in at around 60 minutes.
That’s a lot of music without a break, so I’ve been considering how the typical audience/performer relationship might need to change a bit. To make things a bit more interactive, I’ve created a map of the piece that the audience can use to follow along. It’s a bit like a guessing game of where exactly are we in the piece, with some clues given as to what to listen for. Sort of a sonic scavenger hunt or Where’s Waldo set to music.
It also provides some more meaningful context to the piece. An hour’s worth of notes and tones can really wear you down without a story line. It illuminates the ideas behind the music so you, the listener, can hear what we think “being and non-being” sounds like, for instance. And those with a theoretical inclination will get to theorize a bit about the symetry of the overall structure of the piece and how that may or may not relate to the relentless refrences to duality and balance throughout the text.
Mostly, though, it should be a good time with some good friends. We’re utterly delighted to share this newest and intensely personal piece with you. We hope you can make it.
Show is Friday, July 29th at 8:00 at Launchpad in Brooklyn. See you there.