Friday, February 09, 2007

3 Minute Climax - The On and Off Topic Blues for Alex

Alex is Alex Shapiro - composer, moderator and blogger, a tireless crusader for new music in Los Angeles. Her blog, Notes From The Kelp, could be the only music blog with more items about marine biology than Mixed Meters. Her composer website is here.

There are actually two new pieces that you can listen to. First is The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator. It's short and to the point. By itself it would be categorized as a 30 Second Spot.

Second is The Off-Topic Blues for Alex the Composer which uses the same material, lasts longer and wanders absent-mindedly off the trail, so to speak. Since I prefer you to listen to them in this order I've put both into a single mp3 file, separated by a silence.

Anyone expecting real blues music will be severely disappointed.

Listen now. Afterwards, if you're still curious, read The Backstory (below) which also goes off topic. Otherwise you uncurious types have got better things to do, right?

click here to hear The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator and The Off-Topic Blues for Alex the Composer.

Copyright (c) 2007 by David Ocker - 198 Seconds

The Backstory

It all began with THIS CONCERT about which Jerry Zinser wrote THIS REVIEW at Sequenza 21. (Note the comment by me.) Alex Shapiro, seeing this exchange, wrote to Jerry and myself inviting us to THIS EVENT.

Here's an excerpt from her email:
Next Sunday, the 21st, I'll be moderating another ACF-LA Composers Salon . . . .These are really wonderful gatherings of composer and musician colleagues that we've been doing for nearly six years, about four times a year. I know you'd have a good time!
Naturally I had no interest. This was my response:
My apologies for responding with the stark-raving truth - but a Composers Salon is the sort of event for which I have no interest or patience. I've promised myself that I'll try to use the time I would have spent attending avoidable events making up my own music.

But thanks for the invite - if I actually do write music on Sunday, JANUARY 21, 2007 from 2-5:00 pm, how about if I name the piece after you somehow?

You never know what I might come up with!
And so, dear Readers, it came to pass that on Sunday January 21, 2007 from about 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. I trekked with my laptop up to Starbucks and composed The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator honoring the fact that Alex, in her job as Salon Moderator, was at that very moment keeping people on the topic, whatever that was. And at the same time I was also avoiding the topic, whatever that was.

Alas, not long afterwards I had an idea. A piece of music that was "On-Topic" ought to be counter-balanced with another that was "Off-Topic. " And so, with the firing of those random neurons, the project was inflated beyond an excuse to avoid being bored.

I took much longer finishing "Off Topic" than "On Topic". As I got more and more off topic I was forced to reconsider what being on-topic meant - and I revised The On-Topic Blues slightly - I cut stuff out of it.

As I worked on it I passed through The Five Stages of Creativity - the emotional roller coaster which all creative artists pass through while making things up. First is Enthusiasm, then Amazement, then Disgust, then Acceptance (or Resignation). The final stage is Forgetfulness. I'm still waiting for Forgetfulness on this one. (Check out THIS INTERESTING ESSAY at Soho the Dog which provoked this idea.)

Alex Shapiro is a very active composer who writes many different sorts of music. I don't know if she's ever written any larger pieces for Concert Band. I do know that the name ARNOLD SCHOENBERG is an anagram for HER LONG BAND SCORE.

Curiously, ALEX SHAPIRO is an anagram for HIS LAX OPERA. I'm not aware that Schoenberg contemplated writing any music about Los Angeles International. (The Anagram Generator is HERE.)

A note about the pictures. The first two are of the same pipes at the same gas station - before and after they changed the color scheme. The last two are actual neon signs in Pasadena photographed last night (while on a mission to procure take-out food HERE) and Photoshopped to a flat red and blueness. Good girls should click HERE and bad girls may also click HERE.

Explanation of 30 second spots

Alex Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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