Radical Glass Music #4

From Sound and Hearing
Above photo by Henry Groskinsky, from: Sound and Hearing,
by S. S. Stevens, Fred Warshosky, eds., Time Life Books,
originally published 1965, USA

Interestingly, while John Cage claimed never to have written a note for glass instrument (see interview with Miguel Frasconi in Musicworks journal, issue #17, 1981), members of the Fluxus movement embraced glass as a medium of choice, supposedly for its transparent and sonic properties – see Yoko Ono’s numerous sculptures and installations with glass, as well as the Season of Glass LP cover photo. The 4th installment in the Radical Glass Music series (where I collect and document examples of creative use of glass in music) embarks two Fluxus artists (Paul Panhuysen and Henning Christiansen) as well as Charlemagne Palestine, whose live performances always start with a prologue for ringing Cognac glass and high-pitched voice. Each artist uses glass in a personal way: Panhuysen by blowing bottle necks, Christiansen as Gamelan-type percussion, and Palestine with the usual ringing glass. The Fluxus artists perhaps fell attracted to the glass’ anti-establishment dimension, since you don’t have to be a trained musician to play it – another reason why John Cage could have composed for glass. On the other hand, composers so obsessed with unusual tonalities as Harry Partch and George Crumb inevitably had to fall under the spell of glass sounds. Crumb included water-tuned crystal glasses played with a bow in the instrumentation of his 1970 Black Angels string quartet, where they add eerie tonalities to the strings’ own special effects. Partch build several glass instruments, including the Mazda Marimba made of actual light bulbs, and the Cloud Chamber Bowls, made of half-cut Pyrex bowls from cloud chambers, of which an example is given here. Frenchmen Jean-Claude Chapuis and François & Bernard Baschet are part of the tradition of local crystal music, Chapuis on self-build séraphin (a set of empty glasses of different sizes) and the Baschets on their own Crystal.
See also Radical Glass Music #1 >, #2 > and #3 >

Radical Glass Music #4:
01 George Crumb Black Angels – God Music (3:07)
02 Jean-Claude Chapuis Luminescence (2:57)
03 Paul Panhuysen Blowing (6:34)
04 Harry Partch Cloud Chamber Music – from Eleven Intrusions (4:03)
05 François & Bernard Baschet Comme Une Autre Réalité (3:25)
06 Henning Christiansen Gibbon in Glass Sound (5:32)
07 GOL + Charlemagne Palestine Live Paris 2008 (1:32)
08 The Glass Duo JS Bach (:19)

Total time 27:30

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6 Responses to “Radical Glass Music #4”

  1. 1 Victoria May 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I just discovered your Radical Glass Music anthologies last week, and I am devouring them. With Partch and Crumb on the track list, I can already tell this one’s going to be another fabulous treat. Thanks for doing this!

  2. 2 continuo May 5, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    And thanks to you for letting me know. Very appreciated.

  3. 3 Jan May 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    A great tribute to Bach! Hope this wasn’t intended as the final, quintessential note on your radical glass compilations? Love them you know!

  4. 4 continuo May 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I’ll keep looking for additional entries in the field, Jan, but glass music, radical or not, is not that common. Maybe I’ll try my hands at some Radical Water Music sometimes. Thanks for your comment.

  5. 5 Jared May 24, 2010 at 6:11 am

    This is great – as always. Question: is the GOL + Charlemagne Palestine piece taken from their Planam/Alga Marghen LP from awhile back? Or some other obscure source?

  6. 6 continuo May 24, 2010 at 8:05 am

    The excerpt indeed comes from the Alga Marghen LP, though I also recorded the performance myself and posted it here. Thanks for dropping by.

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