DaiCast, “Roots & Return” edition

Head on over to the ICEcast to hear a podcast for an interview with composer Dai Fujikura, whose pieces ICE and returning will have their Chicago premieres at the Roots & Return show.

Dai talks about developing ICE with ICE, why he can take risks with the band, and why he didn’t use tremolos in his music for the longest time. Check it out on the blog; and for you iTunes users, subscribe to the ICEcast here.

daiPhone (iv)

Doesn’t have to be daiPhone — could be daiBerry Storm, androiDai, HelioDai; you get the idea.

No matter your mobile, crank this ringtone of flutist Claire Chase from Dai Fujikura’s ICE.

To download, right click on the above link and select “save link as.”  To upload the ringtone, connect your phone to your computer by cord or bluetooth, or email the file to your phone.

“Always historicize.”

That quote from Fredric Jameson is a good reason why you should check out this introduction to Saturday’s show from music writer (and core member of team ICE) Whit Bernard.

In 1906, Vienna was a messed up place. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose disintegration would launch all of Europe into a devastating war just eight years later, was beginning to crack, and a fatalistic anxiety pervaded. Late 19th-century wars in Crimea and North Africa had made plain the full extent of modern technology’s capacity for human destruction, and many began to quietly wonder what the demise of the Ancien Régime—when it inevitably came—would look like. The Hapsburg capital was overcome with a pall of restlessness and decay portrayed vividly everywhere from Freud’s notebooks to Schiele’s ghostly portraits.

One response to all of this unease was, not unexpectedly, denial. Read the rest of this entry »

daiPhone (part III)

More Dai for your phone, this time featuring the plucking of kalimba & guitar over swelling string glissandi. Turn that ringer up!

To download, right click on the above link and select “save link as.”  To upload the ringtone, connect your phone to your computer by cord or bluetooth, or email the file to your phone.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Wayback Machine edition 1: Pierre Boulez on Charlie Rose in 1999.  The word “music” is said 321 times in the span of 19 minutes.

Oh, and just in case you forgot:


We were recently given these animated GIFs by Chicago-based McFabulous and now we’re giving them to you. Please try to view these gems while listening to this:

If this doesn’t get you hyped to see Roots & Return, I don’t know what will.

ROOTS & RETURN preview

The good folks over at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago put together this promo video for Roots & Return.  Check it out–Claire is wearing a fun hat!


Discussion of James Joyce’s influence on Pierre Boulez (via John Cage) from Scott W. Klein’s excellent paper, Music After Joyce: The Post-Serial Avant-Garde:

“…[Boulez] had read Ulysses in French, and in a letter to John Cage in 1950 he thanks the American composer for his gift of a copy of Finnegans Wake, calling it “almost a totem,” while admitting “reading it was slower than slow, given the difficulty of deciphering it.” Boulez was interested in avant-garde literature in general, admiring Mallarmé particularly for his density and obscurity. Boulez thought of Joyce as a key figure for the way in which avant-gardism in literature tended to precede avant-gardism in music. In his essay Recherches Maintenant in 1954 he asked for “a new poetics, a different way of listening,” noting “Neither the Mallarmé of the Coup de dés nor Joyce was paralleled by anything in the music of his own time.” In a 1961 lecture at Darmstadt, Boulez noted that he was after something deeper than mere provocation, wishing to emulate the subtlety and engagement with tradition of Joyce rather than the antics of the noisier avant-garde: he wrote, “Satie included typewriters in his orchestra, Webern did not. The surrealists shouted in the street and Joyce shut himself up with old Irish songs and Italian operatic airs. Which has proved the greater provocation? Which is the provocation recorded in the pages of history other than in a footnote?” His implicit claim is that Boulez, and his generation, could accomplish in music what Joyce had in literature.
Boulez never set Joyce’s texts, and one might wonder what appeal Joyce, with his baroque aesthetics of elaboration, might have for the post-Webernian Boulez. Yet Webern was perhaps the first Western composer whose compositions cannot easily be divided into its constituent musical parts; that is to say, one can scarcely make a piano reduction of Webern, because the ‘narrative’, the melodic forms, are inseparable from structure and timbre. In an analogous way, the same is true for Joyce: by the time of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake there is no longer ‘plot’ and ‘style’ separate from one another; all of the aspects of prose, including the sound of the language, are integral to the meaning of the whole. Indeed, when recalling what drew him to Joyce, Boulez cited “the specificity of technique for each chapter, the fact that technique and story were one.” It is not too farfetched to look at Boulez’s Marteau sans Maître, where each movement has a different orchestration, and see behind it not only the example of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire but also the changing styles of Ulysses.
Most of Boulez’s published references to Joyce occur in the 1960 essay Sonate, que me veux-tu? (Sonata, what do you want of me?), an essay on his Third Piano Sonata. Of the sonata, Boulez wrote, “It may well be that literary affiliations played a more important part than purely musical considerations” noting that “some writers at the present time have gone much further than composers in the organization, the actual mental structure, of their works.” Boulez explicitly compares the innovations of his sonata to those of “Joyce’s two last great novels.” “It is not only that the organization of the narrative has been revolutionized,” Boulez writes, but that “The novel observes itself qua novel, as it were, reflects on itself and is aware that it is a novel.” Boulez compares the construction of the sonata to the self-consciousness of technique in two particular chapters of Ulysses, Scylla and Charybdis, where Stephen Dedalus lectures on Hamlet, and Oxen of the Sun, where the “growth of a foetus in the womb is suggested by a series of pastiches in which the evolution of the English language is traced from Chaucer to the present day.” In the Third Sonata, this auto-referentiality is mainly a function of the various ways in which the movements can be structured and played. Originally in five movements, or ‘formants’, only two have been published by Boulez. They can be played in a variety of configurations, particularly in Formant 2, titled Trope, in which the constituent parts, Glose, Text, Parenthèse, and Commentaire (all literary terms) can be reordered according to a fixed set of permutations. When listening to the Sonata, one cannot tell that it is based on Joycean ideas, but for Boulez the idea of mobility of structure and innovation of language was Joycean above all else…”

A Portrait of the Artist…

"Self-Portrait" (1910)

How appropriate that ICE is performing Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906) at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. The composer (b.1874- d.1951) was also active in the visual arts, creating a number of paintings and drawings. His work, including the self-portrait shown here, was displayed at the MCA in 1978 as part of their exhibit “Art in a Turbulent Era: German and Austrian Expressionism.” See more of his art here.
Just for comparison, check out this mugshot:

daiPhone (Part II)

Welcome to the second installment of daiTones for iPhones.  Last week, “ICE by ICE for ICE” generated such an amazing response from the global internet-using community that we felt compelled to develop it into a six-part series. These sonic jewels have been handpicked by the master himself to give you, the listener (incoming call receiver), the greatest diversity of timber and dynamic range. Enjoi!

To download, right click on the above link and select “save link as.”  To upload the ringtone, connect your phone to your computer by cord or bluetooth, or email the file to your phone.

©2010 International Contemporary Ensemble