A couple planks of wood might not sound like the most riveting orchestration—but it turns out the musical possibilities are endless!
This Saturday on Second Inversion: Knock on Wood! We’ll hear from composers who have built entirely new sound worlds from some very humble lumber. From the warm wooden tones of the marimba to literal two-by-four planks of wood, we’ll hear from artists who have logged some serious hours exploring the timbre of—well, timber.
For vacationers, beachgoers, and students fresh out of class, summertime is all about good vibes. But what about musicians and concertgoers? If the seasonal concert slump has put a damper on your summer, cheer up with Good Vibes Only: a one-night-only concert event featuring music for marimbas and vibraphones that’s sure to lift your end-of-summer spirits.
For Seattle-based marimbist Erin Jorgensen, the mastermind behind the concert, Good Vibes Only came about rather organically as a way to showcase local percussionists. Set for August 30 in the historic Washington Hall, the concert presents minimalist works in a laid-back atmosphere, with immersive visuals designed to enhance the music.
“Basically, I was thinking ‘summertime’: there are a lot of good players here, mallet music sounds very summery,” Jorgensen said. “And along those same lines, I love minimalism, so I wanted it all to be in that kind of vein.”
These things in mind, Jorgensen pulled together an all-star lineup—including local musicians Storm Benjamin, Rebekah Ko, Kerry O’Brien, Kay Reilly, and Melanie Sehman—to put together a program of minimalist and post-minimalist grooves for marimba and vibraphone. From the phasing patterns of Steve Reich to the bouncy, rhythmic melodies of Ivan Trevino and the funk-inspired energy of Marc Mellits, the concert showcases many different interpretations of minimalism.
And if the label of “minimalism” sounds too academic, Jorgensen certainly doesn’t want it to be. She has ambitious plans to create a one-of-a-kind concert experience for Good Vibes Only, complete with original lighting design and other DIY visuals. She’s working to tailor these visuals to the program, whether that be the colorful neon of Mellit’s “Gravity” or the more sprightly and summery marimba duet “2+1” by Ivan Trevino.
“I’ll just listen to a piece and get an idea or visual, and then think about how I can execute that myself without a big crew,” Jorgensen said.
The resulting concert environment envelops the audience in sound and color, transforming the way they experience the music. It also allows both the performers and the audience to connect with the music in a different way, free from the prescriptions of classical concert etiquette. For this performance Jorgensen and the rest of the musicians are forgoing the formal concert attire—and the stage.
“There’s something about that [formal] environment
that makes you expect a certain thing,” she said. “You definitely are in a
certain headspace, you’re dressed a certain way, you’re listening a certain
way, so I think if you can kind of circumvent that a little bit people can
enjoy it more.”
This ethos is behind the decision to eschew the hall’s raised stage for this concert, but it also guides a lot of Jorgensen’s other projects, whether that be her ambient Undertones Podcast or her Bach and Pancakes series, in which she performs Bach’s cello suites on marimba while the audience eats pancakes. What these all have in common is a more immersive, contemplative experience of the music—something that Jorgensen feels drawn to. Rather than taking the audience on a journey, she encourages a more laid-back, audience-guided listening experience where you’re welcome to close your eyes or daydream along with the music.
“I like being in those kinds of environments,” Jorgensen said. “I’ve done a lot of art shows with DIY lighting and things like that, and I think you can make that really magical. It’s also a product of being tired of people thinking that there’s only one way to do a concert, when really you can do it however you want.”
With its relaxed atmosphere and groove-driven tunes, the concert will provide something many of us might be in need of as the summer winds to a close: good music, good friends, and good vibes.
Good Vibes Only is Friday, Aug. 30 at 8pm at Washington Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.
You’ll find Seattle artist Erin Jorgensen right on the corner of waking and dreaming life, floating above her five-octave marimba and whispering elusive melodies amidst a cloud of sleepy radio snippets and atmospheric static.
Or at least, that’s where you’ll find her this weekend. The Universal Language Project is proud to present Undertones: a concert experience that invites you to dream. The performances, which take place this Friday and Saturday, feature a rare collaboration between Jorgensen and pianist Cristina Valdés, one of today’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music.
Photo by James Holt.
Curated by Seattle new music luminary James Holt, the concert is based on Jorgensen’s weekly podcast series of the same name, which is perhaps best used as a soundtrack for dreaming, staring out the window, or receiving outer space transmissions. The music blends together marimba melodies, improvisation, spoken word, radio scraps, found sounds, and anything else that happens to float through Jorgensen’s dreaming or waking life that week.
“The podcast’s only specificity is its relation to what is happening in my life at the moment,” Jorgensen said. “I often use snippets of things I am obsessed with on the internet, or things I happen to hear on the radio, or musical improvisations I come up with that day or week or right in the moment of recording. It might sound like a slowly drifting change of radio stations or the randomly associated thoughts and patterns that drift through one’s mind as they stare out a window or are in a state between sleep and wakefulness.”
Photo by James Holt.
The atmospheric podcast, which Jorgensen began about a year and a half ago, caught hold of Holt’s ear—and when Common Tone Arts asked him to curate a performance on their Universal Language Project series, all of the pieces came together.
“Erin Jorgensen is one of the most inspiring musicians I know, a longtime friend, and someone with a wholly unique musical voice,” Holt said. “The mix of live performance, improvisation, spoken word, and creatively mixed sound design really blew me away—and when I saw that she could do all of this live, kind of like a one-woman-band, I wanted more people to experience it.”
Jorgensen and Holt worked together to integrate these nebulous musical musings with additional solo piano music by three other composers. The result is an evening of music which seamlessly drifts between (and beyond) Jorgensen’s surreal musical subconscious and Valdés’s ethereal piano performances.
“I love the atmosphere that Erin sets up in her podcasts,” Valdés said, “Where the listener feels almost as if they’re having an out of body experience and is able to see and hear things both close up and from afar.”
Photo by James Holt.
At this weekend’s concerts, Valdés will become a part of that musical atmosphere with her performances of Ryan Brown’s softly twinkling “Ceramics,” Madeleine Cocolas’s interstellar “Static” and “If You Hear Me, I Hear You Back,” and two piano miniatures from Whitney George’s somber Extinction Series, which is comprised of musical obituaries for extinct animals. Though wide-ranging in their musical inspirations, each work connects back with Jorgensen’s original podcasts through a larger musical stream of consciousness.
“Erin has a gift for creating musical worlds that encourage you to retreat into your mind and contemplate ideas, think about the world around you, and ponder why we do and say the things we do and say,” Holt said. “The audience can expect the opportunity to do that during these performances. It will be something beautiful and it will be something you surely haven’t experienced before, but will want to experience again.”
Of course, Jorgensen’s music presents an opportunity to not only look inward, but also far beyond ourselves—to quietly dream into distant galaxies and imagine the space between the stars.
Photo by James Holt.
“‘Outer space’ in this context is more of a poetic metaphor for me,” Jorgensen said. “I like the idea of floating in space or the idea of the undiscovered space around us—’us’ being individual humans or the entirety of planet earth.”
Though as Jorgensen points out, humans can’t actually hear anything in outer space, at least not in our traditional understanding of sound.
“I think the actual music of outer space would sound like something humans aren’t able to comprehend yet,” Jorgensen said. “For me personally, outer space music could be tuning in to all the different sounds and thoughts that are happening all over the universe, just for a second.”
Performances of Undertones are this Friday, March 31 at 8pm at Resonance at SOMA Towers and this Saturday, April 1 at 8pm at the Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse. For tickets and more information, pleaseclick here.
SMQ thinks way outside the box when it comes to percussion – and classical music. Join us for a showcase classical favorites (Bach, Mahler, Ravel), a unique blend of drumming styles from around the world, and modern marimba repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. Best of all, YOU will have a chance to learn and perform Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and African drumming rhythms right along with them! Presented by Second Inversion, KING FM’s project dedicated to rethinking classical music.
SMQ formed in 2007 by members Christian Krehbiel, Chris Lennard, Craig Wende and Brian Yarkosky while earning music degrees at the University of Washington. SMQ strives to engage audiences with their unique blend of drumming styles from around the world, as well as modern marimba repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. Much of their current repertoire consists of their original mallet keyboard arrangements with works by such composers as Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Mahler, and Bach. SMQ’s showcase of the diversity of percussion makes for an interesting and entertaining concert experience.
And – SMQ has just released their new album, A Thousand Pictures, which offers a great preview of what you’ll hear live on Saturday, March 11!
Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.
Loop 2.4.3 has been producing percussion and electronics-driven music since 2004. Founder Thomas Kozumplik guides the ensemble, varying in size from solo to octet (but most often 2-3 performers), through his vision of exploration and freedom. The group’s name comes from a place near and dear to Thomas’ heart – Powers Hall 243 at Central Michigan University, where he and a “Loop,” of close friends spent countless hours making music together.
Time-Machine_music is an entirely solo composition and performance venture for Thomas. This 6-track collection has juxtaposing acoustic and electronic textures in every pore and fiber of the 36 minutes. Thomas’ electro-acoustic percussion set-up includes Chinese tom-toms, Indian bells, crotales, log drums, tambourim, bass drum, percussion sample pad, tape echo, and delay. The fun doesn’t stop there – he also plays marimba, vibraphone, Thai gongs, piano, Wurlitzer, steel drum, kalimba, and uses vocal samples.
(this album is no longer available for streaming via Second Inversion, but you can visit Music Starts from Silence to order your copy!)
As the name of the album implies, time is of the essence, and explores manipulations of time through a cathartic journey. Thomas goes on to elaborate that Time-Machine_music, “explores the vast and tiny spaces, the worm holes, or the connections between points in time, and even singular points of time where an overwhelming multitude of thoughts, ideas, and emotions occur simultaneously. It acknowledges that brilliance and sagacity may come from a place that is entangled with conflict, controversy, emotional instability, and the surreal, hyperreal, hallucinatory receptors of the mind. It explores the illusion of the individual trapped in the phalanx of society, moving forward, backward and sideways all at once. It is an overwhelming cry for life and freedom, an escape from a world trapped under its own weight.”
Loop 2.4.3’s sound is rooted in classical chamber music, but with psychedelic rock, jazz, and improvisation influences, stemming from Thomas’ upbringing playing in garage bands, metal bands, thrash bands, and jazz bands in Michigan. I might describe it as minimalism meets heavy metal meets techno DJ beats. “Art music” is how Thomas best describes it, and goes on to say, “It’s definitely longer listening than pop music. It takes time to build, but then you get the reward. I suggest you turn it up really f*ing loud (laughing).” Agreed! The opening track, “Out to War,” is anything but a subtle introduction. The opening throaty, dark, repetitive “Mind Control” chanting hearkens back to acidic rock from the past, but soon breaks free to ambient piano, steel drums, and textures that are beautiful, calming, and serene.
The use of human voice is eerie and captivating throughout the disc. Events in Thomas’ life inspired the lyrics, but tie into broader topics. Stay tuned for the full scores with lyrics which will soon be available from MusicStartsFromSilence.com. Voice sampling opens “MK Ultra,” unfolding in a long form to cascading, pattering, sounds of the marimba that interweaves with the voice and flow back into the keyboard percussion. The title track, clocking in at a significant length of 12 minutes, was the genesis for the body of work and holds the foundation of instrumentation, sounds, and approach. The voice is presented differently here, in single-word, echoing samples from this poem by Thom:
“Stories of power, control, love, and enlightenment are a constant in the history of man. Our idea of TIME is shaped by personal and cultural events.
The history of man floats in the ether of deep SPACE. We must venture there, to learn the secrets of our elders.”
While much of the material in this work has a rather dark quality, “Moving Finger of Time” has a lighter feel to it – more straight-ahead in form and with a bit of humour. The final track in the collection, ironically called “Prelude (for Sophia)” brings the distortion of time full circle. The dedication to Sophia means something to Thomas, like much of the other music here “is open for immersive experience and interpretation.”
Ultimately, I was curious about Thomas’ goal with Time-Machine_music. His response? “I’m not sure it’s about a specific accomplishment. The need to create and express things is most important. I suppose I hope to share it with people. Maybe the biggest accomplishment would be keeping my sanity by spending time working through things and being absorbed in the music. I hope that people will listen to it and know that it’s okay to feel things…to confront the darkness but also to see the beauty. Sometimes the world makes you want to scream… and sometimes maybe you should.”
Whether you scream, cry, laugh, it’s always better out than in. Go forth and express!