Saturday, May 09, 2009

In Partial Fulfillment of Something Or Other

My friend Scott Fessler has been scanning and publishing his collection of posters from his student days at CalArts Those were the days we called "the seventies". (I wonder why.)

One poster he scanned was for my own clarinet recital on Febrary 19, 1976. Thanks for scanning it, Scott. Now I can share it with my other two readers.

It's about 10 inches wide and four feet long. It can be viewed either horizontally or vertically. I designed and executed the beast myself using dry transfer letters and my newly acquired set of rapidograph pens. These graphic techniques turned out to be far more important to my career as a musician than the clarinet ever would. It was reproduced on the now obsolete ozalid machine.

David Ocker clarinetist recital poster February 19 1976
Click the picture for enlargement. Better yet, download a copy here. I suggest that you look at it up close to see lots of little text items and musical visual jokes. Go here to read a searchable text file of the poster.

The music, which floats on twisting curvy staves, quotes the various pieces on the recital. (Read the full program.) The guy with a clarinet coming out of his nose was obviously traced from Hieronymus Bosch and the skull playing the piano came from somewhere, Dali maybe? Does the poster remind you of my doodles?

Peppered throughout, in tiny stenciled letters, are 20th century musical events which also happened on February 19. These are quotes from the massive Music Since 1900 by Nicolas Slonimsky, which I, bafflingly, found time to read from cover to cover while I was a graduate student simultaneously studying clarinet and composition.

The beauty of Music Since 1900 is that you can learn just how much music gets written and performed that no one evers hears again. This one revelation has enriched and clouded my entire adult life.

At the bottom of the poster, inside a large mannered half notehead, are the words Sesquipedelian Macropolysyllabification, a Slonimskian term. A link to Slonimsky's definition can be found here.

Yes, I really did call my graduate recital "In Partial Fulfillment of Something or Other". I didn't think much of my CalArts degree even before they gave it to me.

Partially Fulfilled Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


ericnp said...

Nice. Who's Roy?

David Ocker said...

Roy O. Disney, brother of Walt and also an early patron of the Califinstiforniafartsitute. There's a small theater in B-block at Cal Arts (the musicians are kept in B block) which is called the Roy O. Disney Music Hall. "Roy's Hall" was a pun of aggrandizement.

Roy is also the Roy of REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) a tiny outpost of WDCH, named after his more famous brother.

Anything else?

ericnp said...

Yeah, why the reference to The Lawrence Welk Show? That program really used to unnerve me as a kid. My step dad, who was completely oblivious to music, had to watch that crap. I think that's what prompted the purchase of my 1st pair of headphones.

David Ocker said...

The little boxes on the staves are references to the piece by Sydney Hodkinson, the full name of which is "Dissolution of the Serial" in which a pianist and a clarinetist begin playing very "new" (i.e. "ugly") music and gradually add in little pits of popular style music, including, in that spot, something that sounds Lawrence Welk-ish.

By the end of the piece, the two performers are no longer playing and walk off stage together while a tape, which has seamlessly taken over the instrumental duties, plays them out with a kind of ragtime parody. I thought is was hilarious. People at CalArts were less amused.