from Saturday, February9th of the year2008.
Sam Amidon’s album All Is Well got a great review on Pitchfork! I’m really happy for him; this album is a real triumph and was one of the most exciting things I have worked on in a long time. It also represents an extension of the principles behind Bedroom Community, which is to say, it is a collaborative effort between Sam, Valgeir, and me, which took place over several months in different countries. One of my favorite things to work on was the track Little Satchel, mainly because I stole part of my arrangement from John McGuire’s 48 Variations for Two Pianos, and another part from the countermelody in Sweet Caroline…a little of everything! I am particularly pleased with these arrangements because Sam allowed me to have a real interaction with the music; oftentimes people are so anxious when working with an arranger and end up trying to control the relationship and it ends up feeling very much For Hire. In this particular case, I felt like Sam invited me over to help him cook, in a sense, and as such, my own techniques and proclivities were in his service but not his control. Enjoy it, and please buy it the minute you have the opportunity.
[audio:07 Little Satchel.mp3]
Sam Amidon Little Satchel
And here is the original on which I based some of the patterns in my arrangement:
[audio:01 Variation 01.mp3]
McGuire Variation No. 1 from 48 Variations for Two Pianos
In other news, I have finally perfected a method of red-cooking pork belly, which is particularly exciting because I have a source for Obscenely Cheap pork belly here in chinatown. Also, gÅngxÇ fÄcÃ¡i, everybody. My neighborhood turns into a completely different place during the New Year celebrations; the day before yesterday, the drums and cymbals were so loud from the street, six floors below, that I just gave up on writing in my apartment. The cats were completely terrified. I ran out to buy some vegetables and while I was in the supermarket, a lion totally came UPP INTO the market and venerated the squid area. Evidently, it’s a whole thing:
During the Chinese New Year, lion dancers from martial art school will visit the store front of businesses to “choi chang” (æŽ¡é’ lit. picking the greens). The business would tie a red envelope filled with money to a head of lettuce and hang it high above the front door. The lion will approach the lettuce like a curious cat, consume the lettuce and spit out the leaves but not the money. The lion dance is supposed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the dancers receive the money as reward. The tradition becomes a mutual transaction. Wikipedia
The lion dance is kind of great, actually, because the musicians (playing drums and hand-cymbals) have to follow the actions of the lion. There is a whole matrix of different gestures and they each have special music that goes with them, check out this page with General MIDI (my favorite) recordings. I’d sort of love to write modular music like that, to be performed in a neighborhood. Maybe I should devise some kind of weird slow-motion Robert-Wilson style thing to happen on the Upper East Side around Holy Week, where it’s like the stations of the cross parade around town and go up into Eli’s and Saint AmbrÅ“us accompanied by nine violists and a giant drum. Also:
The lion will then pick up the green in his mouth and “chew” it. The person manipulating the head first removes the “lay see” and places it inside his shirt, so as not to drop it, which would mean bad luck. Then he will tear the lettuce apart and throw it out first to the left, then to the right and then to the middle to help spread prosperity in all directions. The music will then change to “high dance” and the head will be raised and moved as if the lion is happy to have consumed his prize. source
In other æå–œå‘è´¢ news, I want all my percussionist friends to learn how to do this lion dance drumming. The essential rhythmic cells for the drums are well demonstrated here, even though this is slightly faster than what was going on on Division”“Street:
I am off tomorrow to Iceland to do a little conducting. Hit me on the +354!