La Monte Young Marian
Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord
a setting of
Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals
Les Subsistances, Lyon, France
+ 33 (0) 4 72 07 37 00 or on the web at www.grame.fr
March 17, 2004, 8 pm
Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin,
+ 49 30 254 89 0 or on the web at www.maerzmusik.de
March 22, 2004, 8 pm
world premiere performances of the new collaborative work by
La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela for cello and light design will
continue in Lyon and Berlin in March.
The evening-long work, entitled Just Charles & Cello in
The Romantic Chord in a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral
Phase Angle Traversals with Dream Light, is composed for
Charles Curtis, cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light design.
First performed in Paris and Dijon in November-December 2003, it
will be performed by Curtis on March 17 at Les Subsistances, Lyon at 8
pm, a co-production of La Biennale Musiques en Scène
and Grame, Centre nationale de creation musicale. The final performance will be given by Curtis on March 22 at
the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin at 8 pm, a production of
MaerzMusik 2004 and the Berliner Festspiele.
magenta and blue light design includes the projection of a calligraphic
drawing programmed to gradually metamorphose
in quadrilateral symmetry over the duration of the musical work.
Much of Zazeela’s work in light and calligraphy has been
grounded in concepts of structural symmetry.
Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals
is based on her Word Portraits series of drawings and neon
sculptures in which she has presented names, words or ideas drawn with
their bilaterally symmetrical, retrograde and mirror-inverted images, so
that the abstract form of the written word may be viewed independently
from its meaning. This
allows the visual content of the work to be considered both apart from,
and along with, the significance of the word.
In Abstract #1, Zazeela turned this concept inside-out and
created a pattern that is derived from and evocative of letter forms,
but which does not generate known words.
The projection becomes a mandala-like visual focus interweaving
through time with the performance of the musical work.
Uli Schaegger programmed the movement of the video projection and
will oversee Zazeela’s lighting installations in Lyon and Berlin as he
has in other venues.
with Young’s new works for his Just Alap Raga Ensemble, Just
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord represents his most recent
composition. Composed in
Just Intonation, which Young defines as “that system of tuning in
which every frequency is related to every other frequency as the
numerator or denominator of some whole number fraction,” Just
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord is set in the
Dorian mode. From the early
‘60s, the Dorian mode has been one of Young’s tonal resources,
providing the basis for Young’s Dorian Blues in G, which
eventually became the singular work performed by his Forever Bad Blues
Band, and for The Romantic Chord, one of the major sections of his
magnum opus, The Well-Tuned Piano.
the traditional tunings of the Dorian scale in just intonation are
factorable by the primes 5, 3 and 2, Young’s tunings are unique in
that the tuning for Young’s Dorian Blues in G is factorable by
the primes 7, 5, 3 and 2, and the tuning for The Romantic Chord is
factorable by 7, 3 and 2. As the title suggests, Just Charles & Cello in The
Romantic Chord is based on the tuning of The Romantic Chord from
The Well-Tuned Piano. Also
in G, the Dorian mode of The Romantic Chord is based on the ascending
Pythagorean series, C, G, D, A, E, with B-flat (the 3rd degree) and F
(the 7th degree) derived septimally.
The C, G, D and A are all open strings on the cello, the
Pythagorean E exists as a natural harmonic on both the D and A strings,
and the B-flat and F exist as natural harmonics on the C and G strings
congruence of pitches and strings delineates an inextricably inherent
relationship between the tuning of the mode and the instrument.
new work was composed specifically for Charles Curtis, who has studied
the performance technique with Young in the guru-disciple method of oral
transmission over a period of years.
The work is not intended to be played by other cellists unless
they study it with Young in the same way.
Curtis is perhaps the foremost performer of Young’s music in
the world today. He began
to work with Young in 1987 when he performed in the Trio for Strings
at the MELA 30-Year Retrospective Festival in New York.
Acknowledged internationally as a performer of new and
experimental music, Curtis became director of Young’s Theatre of
Eternal Music String Ensemble. He
has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's works
than any other interpreter, including major performances at the Barbican
Centre in London, the Darmstadt Festival, the Dia Art Foundation, New
York, the Inventionen Festival, Berlin, the Cathedral of Dreams
Festival, Krems, Austria, the Beyond the Pink Festival, Los Angeles, the
Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, leading the Ensemble Modern strings
for the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt, and with the Belgian ensemble
Ictus in the Brugge 2002 Festival.
Curtis is one of the few instrumentalists to have perfected
Young's highly complex just intonation tunings, and is one of only a
handful of musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young,
performing works by early minimalists Richard Maxfield and Terry
Jennings. In 1989, Curtis
began learning the Kirana style of Indian classical music from Young
through their performances together of the Terry Jennings Piece for Cello and Saxophone.
Curtis became a member of Young’s Just
Alap Raga Ensemble in summer 2003 and performed with the group at the
Ustad Hafizullah Khan Memorial concert and the Pandit Pran Nath 85th
Birthday Tribute concert in the Church Street Dream House.
Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a
medium of expression. As
artistic director of The Theatre of Eternal Music, she has created the
works that form the visual components of Dream
House, a sound and light work in which she has collaborated with La
Monte Young since the early ‘60s. In
1966, Young and Zazeela pioneered the concept of the continuous sound
and light environment, and have since presented large-scale sound and
light productions in museums and galleries worldwide for continuous
periods from one week to one hundred days, including installations in
the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; documenta
5, Kassel; Kunstverein, Cologne. Under a long-term commission from the Dia Art Foundation
(1979-85), Zazeela and Young collaborated in a six-year continuous Dream
House presentation set in a six-story building on Harrison Street in
New York City, featuring multiple interrelated sound and light
environments, exhibitions, performances, research and listening
facilities, and archives. MELA
House: Seven+Eight Years of Sound and Light, now in its
eleventh year, is Young and Zazeela's longest continuous installation to
French Cultural Ministry National Foundation of Contemporary Art (FNAC)
purchased Young and Zazeela's 1990 Donguy Gallery Paris exhibition for
their permanent collection. It
was exhibited at the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art during Musiques en
Scène, 1999. For La
Beauté international exhibition in Avignon celebrating the Year 2000,
Young and Zazeela created a four-month Dream
House in St. Joseph Chapel. The
installation featured the world premiere of the continuous DVD
projection of the 1987 six-hour 24-minute performance of their
collaborative masterwork, The
Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights, in a site-specific light
environment by Zazeela.
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord in
a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle
Traversals with Dream Light was created under a commission
from a consortium of four European organizations:
CCMIX, Paris; Nouvelles Scenes/Le Consortium, Dijon; Musiques en
Scene/Le Grame, Lyon; and MaerzMusik/Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.
The commission was initiated by the CCMIX and its director,
Utilizing pre-recorded cello samples played by Charles Curtis, the CCMIX realized a "live" computer part to facilitate real time manipulation of the cello drones. This program was written by Stefan Tiedje, musical assistant of the CCMIX, under the direction of La Monte Young and Charles Curtis, who was in residency at the CCMIX Paris in November for the realization of the program. The CCMIX is responsible for the sound production of the work for all of the world premiere performances in Europe.
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