Conductions 143/ 1 143/ 2
Conductions 143/1 and 143/2 Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris and Novamusica Ensemble CONDUCTION®: a vocabulary of ideographic signs and gestures activated to modify or construct a real-time musical arrangement or composition. Each sign and gesture transmits generative information for interpretation by the individual and the ensemble, providing instantaneous possibilities for altering or initiating harmony, melody, rhythm, articulation, phrasing, or form. ____ Conduction embraces as many styles of attack and comportment as it meets. It's power and artistry lies in compelling from musicians an enviable allegiance to clarifying intentions in an exceptionally vital space where music is born, and dialogues evolve, fracture and meet again. As an extensive medium, Conduction will establish it's allure over time, seizing upon intensities that flower and decline if only to return renewed. That Conduction finds sustenance here revives it's initial promise: to develop and discover in ensemble performance. In this sense, Conduction is significant for the evolution of 21st century music and musicianship; for it holds up to both a mirror and a prism: where we hear in the music before us the music to come. The one propels the other. And time, the time of performance, becomes a medium for constructing result and possibility. Truth, mask, jest, analysis, cathexis, sublimation, architectonics, and more, shade and illumine this sculpting of music. Where duos, trios, quartets - drawn from the ensemble -- suddenly shatter into fraught mnemonics of where and when and why, Mr. Morris is there to challenge us. He does so with an intelligence and sensitivity that his decades of perfecting Conduction have gained him. And we, his musicians and audience, are all the better for it. In November of 2004, Mr. Morris performs two Conductions (each in five movements) in Venice and Berlin with Ensemble Laboratorio Novamusica, which concentrates on modern classical and new music. Instrumentation is octet with flute, trumpet, trombone, viola, two pianos, double bass and drums/percussion (and several substitutions, including harpsichord). Over the combined, near 100 minutes of Conduction, Mr. Morris will ask several questions and offer several strategies. In recognizing how the ensemble plays, and is used to playing, he will offer a means to deepen their compass. In pursuing what they discover along the way, he will engage their virtuosity as musicians while requiring that they shape themselves poignantly through interpretation of the Conduction vocabulary. This method, which we know from Mr. Morris, magnifies our attentiveness. Dissatisfied with previous conquests, and the styles that made them possible, Mr. Morris will ask that the ensemble, and audience, jettison a priori expectations. In Conduction, the doing is formative, and the form a matter of presence, response, risk and empathy. On 2 November 2004 Mr. Morris and Novamusica perform Conduction 143/1 at Teatrino Groggia, Venice, Italy. At first the space breathes, the playing is strong against a muted percussive background. The musicians listen to each other but what do they hear collectively? Will the viola's melodic, enhanced up by the piano, be enough to carry them forward? Mr. Morris constrains the momentum. Tension builds slowly. Immediate positions harden and merge. The viola's melodic balances the drift. And a resonant palette, variously diverse, at times nearly cuneiform, allows the ensemble to draw it's portrait. Secure, insecure, sustained or pizzicato, the Conduction establishes an arc. And again the viola's opening melodic, a refrain that resonates outward from it's own solitary thrust... By movement 2 all is forte, the concentration inward. Abrupt decisions, taut scans, bright steps lift the "dance." And the "dancer," with mechanical forge, emerges from the back and forth with a tough, coy smile that compacts into the night. For Mr. Morris, recognizing need in the movements that he and the ensemble unfold has become an art nearly in itself. And through movements 3, 4 and 5 he conducts not only to keep the ensemble porous to it's eight constituents but to enrich, with hints of humor, an evolving reciprocity between performers and audience. Where have we come to? What horizon is before us? In self-recognition there is selfless ignition; in precise delectation, deft incisions. The ordinates shift. We walk on the sky. But as we step we step firmly. The beginning renews. And end... Three days later at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Conduction 143/2 enters with certain ferocity. But something has changed. Mr. Morris senses the opportunity. The ductility of execution carves an illimitable will to explore musical significance. A harpsichord, high-string glissandos, soft trumpet -- the piano discerns tempo as a terse correlation between instrumentalists: harpsichord, flute and bass included. Will listening translate into a motive force that scrupulously convinces us that this rising spatial arch is there to lift us with it? Don't we want to be consumed? And why, as movement 1 closes with clean stretches of silence, do we no longer thirst for sound? Slowly, by degrees, a unique, and uniquely felt, landscape informs and distinguishes. So be it. This is Conduction. The immediacy of creation mediated by interpretation pushes all else aside. And the code is strung with exclamations, asides, capillary detours, those striking puce blossoms that flex mockingbird wings and scratch names on roiling suns. Conviction and convection; mimicry notwithstanding - the playing retorts. And when you strike or stroke or pluck or tap or bow or slide or blow, you do so from deep within the body of the ensemble; from the coiling gut of a dominant tone. Resonance by implication compounds the measure. Solos? The ensemble is on stage. The music swarms, plunges and stills. It is now and it is here, and it's chief reference is where Mr. Morris takes it. Join him and Novamusica. Together, you will remake the encounter into something of what you are and will be... -- Allan Graubard November 2006 (Allan Graubard has collaborated with Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris as poet, playwright, librettist, and writer on Conduction since the near inception of the form. His books, plays and texts are.