Philip Glass: Classic or Dud? Search and Destroy

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An interesting note from the producer on the organ used to record Glass Organ Works (from the review section of the Discogs listing of the cd (http://www.discogs.com/Philip-Glass-Donald-Joyce-Glass-Organ-Works-Music-Of-Philip-Glass/release/854995):

I produced this recording and need to correct one thing and also tell a bit about its creation.

The "Genre" that is listed here on Discogs whether selected by Discogs, BMG/RCA/Catalyst or any other entity that provided information about this CD, is wrong. It is labeled "electronic". It is completely the opposite. The music as played is based on 17th century mechanical technology. That was the point of using the organ that I will describe to the reader now.

I had thought that we would be using one of New York City's better organs; something that thundered and snarled. But once I had read the music and spoken to the organist Donald Joyce, I knew that just the opposite type of organ was required. There were only a few real "trackers" that is, fully mechanical organs, that could be found anywhere in New York State that also had the right accoustics surrounding it. I never expected to find our treasure in, of all places, a small town in Tennessee named Collegedale. It is located about 40 miles N/E of Chatanooga, TN, if that helps. Donald found our tracker in the Collegedale Church after getting a tip from a friend. Six months had passed before the discovery was made. It was the "Heiller Memorial Organ" made by Brombaugh. This instrument was hand built and required 48,000 man hours to complete both in the Brombaugh shop and the church itself. This tracker is a fully mechanical organ. It contains 4,861 pipes, 70 completely manual (mechanical) stops. The "stops" are 10 inch long pieces of 1 inch square wood with a handle attached that is located on the outside of the organ; one pulls or pushes them out or in to open or close a diffent set of selected pipes and ranks of pipes through which the air flows. The actual pitches are controlled from four (yes four) 56 note mechanical keyboards (also called manuals), and lastly there is a mechanical 30 pedal board for the lowest notes. Electricity is only used to power a blower that fills two wedge shaped bellows. So one can easily see this is about as far from an electronic instrument or sound as one can achieve from an organ.

During the recording in the Spring of 1993 we "set up" for two days prior to actually recording anything for posterity (I did keep all the practice hours on tape just in case, but they were never needed.) Getting all the requisite sounds from the organ meant that we all worked from 10PM to 6AM as the sun rose. While this was ultimately a bit exhausting, it paid off because we were far off in the woods, and no external noises interfered with our work. We used David Hewitt's large soundtruck with a full 32 track Neve mixing board. (His company, Remote Recordings is credited in many live TV events as well as CD recordings.)However, we used only 3 microphones throughout the entire process. The recording method was actually that of the early days of stereo when 3 tracks were all that could be lain down at any one time. Left, Middle, Right. We chose six newly refurbished Neumann M-50 microphones which gave us a very clear "sonic picture" of the organ, (no more than 3 were ever in use, the others were for backup purposes and were turned on at all times in case we had to suddenly "change out" a faulty main mic. We recorded from about 70 feet away from the organ at a height of approximately 30 feet.

Balances between the various registrations took a very long time to choose and to integrate into a whole and each change was compared to the previous one by having everyone listen back after we had recorded a few variations. This alone took a day and a half to coax out the sounds that we felt were best at each point in a given piece. We then recorded for three days. We rarely deviated from our previously chosen settings and thus those first two days were vital to having smooth sessions later on.

In post production we added nothing. There was very little editing needed. I will end this long saga by saying that this recording is not for every musical palate, that's certain. But speaking only for myself, I can now say because of the relatively recent resurrection of the 17th century tracker organ, we achieved true 21st century effects that are as engaging to the attentive listener as any other good music.

AG

DC_Paul, Thursday, 26 August 2010 18:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Does anybody know if he has an interest in mathematics? Obviously he is playing around with ratios between the left-hand and right-hand parts on his piano pieces and the various parts in his orchestral arrangements, but is this directly related to an interest in mathematics on his part? Sorry if this is a bit of a naive question...

jeevves, Tuesday, 23 November 2010 20:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

yes, i recall he studied math in college..and wikipedia confirms, studied mathematics at univ of chicago when he was admitted there at 15 years old

Dominique, Wednesday, 24 November 2010 22:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

Cool, thanks. That's fascinating to hear.

jeevves, Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

whoa that IS fascinating. huh.

BIG MUFFIN (gbx), Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

http://pomegranatearts.com/project-einstein/tour.html

JANUARY 2012 (Preview dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: University Musical Society of the University of Michigan
Venue: The Power Center
ANN ARBOR, MI

MARCH 16, 2012 (Preview)
MARCH 17-18, 2012 (World Premiere)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon
Venue: Opera Berlioz Le Corum
MONTPELLIER, FRANCE

MAY 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: The Barbican
Venue: The Barbican Theatre
LONDON, ENGLAND

JUNE 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity
Venue: Sony Center for the Performing Arts
TORONTO, CANADA

SEPTEMBER 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Venue: Opera House
BROOKLYN, NY

OCTOBER 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Cal Performances University of California
Venue: Zellerbach Hall
BERKELEY, CA

JANUARY 2013 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: De Nederlandse Opera/The Amsterdam Music Theatre
Venue: Het Muziektheater
AMERSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

in

Dominique, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

January 2013, check.

willem, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

The dates of the 'Einstein' revival tour are now confirmed (same link as above). I am so there, never thought I'd see this one in my lifetime. Been scouring Youtube for live footage of the original production but there doesn't seem to be any, which in a way is good. It's like the whole thing exists in some kind of dreamworld.

ban this sick stunt (anagram), Monday, 9 January 2012 14:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

bought tickets to Zellerbach

ha ha: doors open 5:30 show starts at 6

Milton Parker, Monday, 9 January 2012 23:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

bought a ticket to the Zellerbach Saturday performance, will be flying up from LA for this one

DWARF ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (jamescobo), Tuesday, 17 January 2012 20:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

I am heading to Ann Arbor for the "preview" shows this weekend. Stoked.

Stormy Davis, Tuesday, 17 January 2012 20:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

Any London PG fans with £100+ to spare, I can recommend the Einstein On The Beach production currently at the Barbican. This was a real gateway record for me as a teenager, Floyd->Tangerine Dream->Philip Glass->all sorts of weirdo shit, great to finally see it with the visuals at last.

A++++++ would deal with again (Matt #2), Sunday, 6 May 2012 23:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

oh man, did I never post after attending the Ann Arbor performance...

just ... wow. Just, wow. I really honestly haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. It is so much fun. It is so beautiful. One of the greatest experiences of my entire life. If you can, go, go, GO!!!!

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 00:20 (1 year ago) Permalink

shit i might need to road trip to Brooklyn or Berk to experience again, if they aren't sold out

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 00:22 (1 year ago) Permalink

here's PG afterward

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:44 (1 year ago) Permalink

it was honestly life-changing. hasn't left me, four months on

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:45 (1 year ago) Permalink

oh that sounds great, love Einstein so much.

hey Stormy I have yr Dead LP! email - sleeve at kittymail d0t c0m

sleeve, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:48 (1 year ago) Permalink

hey sleeve -- sorry for delay, i'm on it !

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:55 (1 year ago) Permalink

no problem man, and that concert ... jeez, so jealous! I saw a live version of "1000 Airplanes" in the 80's that was pretty good, but Einstein is one of the all time greats.

sleeve, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:57 (1 year ago) Permalink

the Ann Arbor performances were billed as "dry run" or whatever, but from my space it was flawless

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 05:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

sorry, 'preview' i guess is the industry term. Still ruled from start to finish -- flawless

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 05:18 (1 year ago) Permalink

Saw this on Saturday, thought it was absolutely phenomenal - one of the best things I've ever seen. Might be worth seeing if the Barbican has returns rather than paying 100 quid for the few tickets left - we only paid 28 quid for our tickets, admittedly over a year ago.

Really changed how I think of certain parts of the opera, too - e.g. the prematurely air conditioned supermarket bit was amazing, but I've never noticed it that much on record.

toby, Monday, 7 May 2012 07:28 (1 year ago) Permalink

I was there on Saturday as well, amazing experience. Thought it was a bit odd that PG and RW weren't there to take a bow at the end though, they are in London after all.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 7 May 2012 08:12 (1 year ago) Permalink

Was there yesterday too, seriously thinking about going again this Sunday.

Dick Move's Wardrobe (MaresNest), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

for some reason i'm having trouble finding concrete dates/locations for this. did it already happen at Brooklyn Academy of Music? If not, when is it? Are there tickets? I really want to see this!

Mad God 40/40 (Z S), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:51 (1 year ago) Permalink

Oh wait, finally found it:

http://www.bam.org/einstein

Sep 14 & 15, 19—22, 2012 at 7pm
Sep 16 & 23, 2012 at 3pm

How difficult will it be to get tickets, for those in the know? Is this going to be some Kraftwerk shit where I hate myself all week again?

Mad God 40/40 (Z S), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:52 (1 year ago) Permalink

Crazy to think that the Berkeley dates will be an effective West Coast premiere.

Dick Move's Wardrobe (MaresNest), Monday, 7 May 2012 15:09 (1 year ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Any comments on the 10 CD "Glass Box"? Is it a good career overview or does it give long pieces short shrift?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

Fair overview but the long pieces are truncated; which is always a crime, but especially with minimal music imho.

Sebastian (Royal Mermaid Mover), Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

I think I just got the last ticket to the Berkeley shows.

hot slag (lukas), Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:55 (1 year ago) Permalink

super interesting thing upthread about glass organ works

I'm finally at a place where I can enjoy some glassworks & later stuff but glass is like...his early work is so convulsive & inventive & important & relentlessly focused and then suddenly he's not about phase & different conceptions of composition any more: he's a Composer for whom the singular focus of his earlier work yielded some melodic and strategic tools. still hard for me to deal with, the gulf between the Tomato records stuff and the almost pastoral, accessible stuff that came later. saw him twice back in the day, once at Dorothy Chandler and once at the Roxy, which was nuts - the early stuff he played at the Roxy, some selections from Einstein, had an effect comparable to a really loud metal band firing on all cylinders. Whereas the Glassworks stuff...is nice.

I have less against "nice" than I used to so it's cool, but it's weird to me that this real seismic shift in his strategies seems to be an asked-and-answered thing.

tallarico dreams (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 19 July 2012 03:40 (1 year ago) Permalink

I like the weird sort of New Brucknerism he's come to on things like Symphony No. 8. Yes, it's worlds away from Music in 12 or even Koyaanisqatsi but there's something about it. You can really bask in this shit.

Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:15 (1 year ago) Permalink

Glass played the Roxy? On Sunset? Wild. What year?

tylerw, Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:17 (1 year ago) Permalink

music with changing parts is one of the dopest things ever made

duobting tuomas (m bison), Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:21 (1 year ago) Permalink

xpost

So when do folks suggest this shift in his strategies begins?

matt2, Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

I see Glassworks as the turning point. (More on this later.)

EveningStar (Sund4r), Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:57 (1 year ago) Permalink

Glass played the Roxy? On Sunset? Wild. What year?

I think '82 or '83? It was right after Glassworks came out. It's a tiny stage, I've played it myself; the sound in that room when they got into the Einstein stuff was fucking amazing

tallarico dreams (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 19 July 2012 16:19 (1 year ago) Permalink

I like the weird sort of New Brucknerism he's come to on things like Symphony No. 8. Yes, it's worlds away from Music in 12 or even Koyaanisqatsi but there's something about it. You can really bask in this shit.

pretty interested by this by the way. the last time I was paying any attention to Glass he hadn't written any symphonies at all, so I should really check this out.

tallarico dreams (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 19 July 2012 16:19 (1 year ago) Permalink

should I take acid before I go see Einstein on the Beach? I am leaning toward yes.

With enduring faith, W. Cunt. (jamescobo), Thursday, 19 July 2012 16:56 (1 year ago) Permalink

xpost Sym 8 is def my fave so far, though I haven't heard every one of them. The first couple of them were the Bowie-Eno-derived ones.

Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 19 July 2012 17:07 (1 year ago) Permalink

The first couple of them were the Bowie-Eno-derived ones.

see and that is sort of where my inattention to Glass since The Photographer felt justified to me. I love Bowie & Eno, think they're great, but as sources for symphonies? That feels gimmicky in the worst please-pay-attention-to-us-we're-the-classical-world way: and I say this as a guy presently doing work in that same rock-meets-elsewhere world. But I don't know - I feel like there's a certain way of doing it (Kronos on Hendrix, I fear, which I feel guilty saying, but) where it's just kinda sad.

I know I know without actually having listened to them I'm just being a grouch, but it just looked like Glass's careerism at its worst. Can't begrudge a guy trying to get the loft paid off but still.

tallarico dreams (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 19 July 2012 18:33 (1 year ago) Permalink

Total trainspotter Philip Glass question : in the credits to Koyaaniqatsi it says something like "additional music by Michael Hoenig", who I guess is the Agitation Free / Tangerine Dream guy. So does this mean Glass didn't actually write all the score? Something like this track doean't really sound like him, for the first couple of minutes at least :

don't slip in mud (Matt #2), Thursday, 19 July 2012 18:41 (1 year ago) Permalink

The first couple of them were the Bowie-Eno-derived ones.

see and that is sort of where my inattention to Glass since The Photographer felt justified to me. I love Bowie & Eno, think they're great, but as sources for symphonies? That feels gimmicky in the worst please-pay-attention-to-us-we're-the-classical-world way: and I say this as a guy presently doing work in that same rock-meets-elsewhere world. But I don't know - I feel like there's a certain way of doing it (Kronos on Hendrix, I fear, which I feel guilty saying, but) where it's just kinda sad.

I know I know without actually having listened to them I'm just being a grouch, but it just looked like Glass's careerism at its worst. Can't begrudge a guy trying to get the loft paid off but still.

Oh i totally agree with you, it turned me off big time. But I think he's got to a more interesting 'nothing particular to prove' zone with his symphonies now and I really dig it. Do try #8.

Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 19 July 2012 23:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

There was a two month period in 1999 where I could listen to nothing but The Photographer

Listen to this, dad (President Keyes), Thursday, 19 July 2012 23:29 (1 year ago) Permalink

The Photographer is FAR and away my favorite thing he's ever done. it reminds me of Lindstrom for some reason.

With enduring faith, W. Cunt. (jamescobo), Friday, 20 July 2012 00:34 (1 year ago) Permalink

In 92 I was a junior in high school and I took the photographer LP out from the library and taped it. I'd drive around town with my windows down totally blasting it. I don't love a lot of his stuff just before or since but definately have a soft spot for it.

dan selzer, Friday, 20 July 2012 02:24 (1 year ago) Permalink

Checked BAM for tickets today and can't tell if I missed them or the general tix aren't for sale yet. I know a guy touring as part of the tech crew so maybe he can help.

dan selzer, Friday, 20 July 2012 02:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

Just got tickets to Einstein on the Beach for Sat, Sept 22nd! :) Waaaaay back in the balcony, but I am so, so pumped to finally see this!

Thanks WEBSITE!! (Z S), Monday, 13 August 2012 14:14 (1 year ago) Permalink


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