Tag Archives: Transmorphous Sound Ensemble

A Tribute to John Cage concert

Sometime during the late summer of 2016, I was spending a lazy Sunday afternoon listening to music. On this specific occasion, one of the CDs that I was playing was called Fifty-Eight by the American composer John Cage. As I scanned the liner notes of the disc, it suddenly occurred to me that 2017 would mark the 25th anniversary of Cage’s death in August of 1992. This made me reflect upon how the words and music of John Cage made their way into my life.

Back in the early 1970s, I found myself gaining an interest in avant-garde music of the contemporary classical variety. I was still living in Windsor at the time and would spend a great deal of time at the downtown main branch of the public library. It was there that I delved into books about this genre of music and could also borrow LPs from the library collection.

After reading a number of books, the one name that seemed to crop up more than any other was that of John Cage. His way of composing involved processes which likely sounded pretty crazy to many listeners of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

Cage would experiment with putting bits and bobs between the strings of a piano in an effort to completely change the sound which it produced. This became known as “prepared piano.” He also composed percussion works for ensembles which included such items as automobile brake drums.

He used the I Ching as well as maps of constellations in order to explore new and different ways to create compositions. He also found much of interest in using chance operations and indeterminacy. These parameters could create a new sounding work each time that a composition was performed. Some works could also be performed by superimposing one composition on top of another for an even greater end result.

By 1980, I had purchased my first synthesizer and used it to create abstract sounds and compositions which no doubt owed some debt to John Cage among many other contemporary composers.

So, in 2016, I had the idea to create an event which would celebrate John Cage in a novel manner. Instead of simply arranging to have people perform his works, I wanted to present an example of how, some 25 years after his passing, his ideas and sounds continue to be an influence on composers and performers into the 21st century.

With this idea in mind, I approached Museum London to see if they would be interested in helping to present this performance to the public. I was very pleased to hear of their enthusiastic support for the idea. And now, almost 25 years to the day (he actually passed away August 12, 1992), we plan to celebrate the ongoing influence of Cage’s work.

The evening will feature three performances of new works. Timothy Glasgow will create sounds using a modular synthesizer setup. This assemblage of electronic modules is especially interesting in that the results of turning a small dial or flipping a switch can reveal unintentional and surprising sounds. This is an excellent example of Cage’s approach to randomness and indeterminacy.

Alex Schmoll and Angie Quick will present another take on Cage. For their contribution, Alex will create a backdrop of synthetic sounds while Angie reads extracts from Cage’s numerous writings. The snippets of the writings will be arranged in a random manner in order to create a unique presentation.

The evening will conclude with a performance by the Transmorphous Sound Ensemble which consists of myself along with Richard Moule. For our contribution entitled 1+1 4 JC, I will utilize a prepared table-top guitar setup while Richard will use a prepared violin. This will be accompanied by a new video work which I have created specifically for this event.

In keeping with the idea of a 25th anniversary, each performance is set to clock in at 25 minutes.

Event details:

Ocean of Silence: A Tribute to John Cage

Transmorphous Sound Ensemble

Alex Schmoll & Angie Quick

Timothy Glasgow

Thursday, August 24, 7:00 PM

$10 advance / $15 door

(advance tickets available @ museumlondon.ca)

Museum London, 421 Ridout St., London, Ontario, Canada (519-661-0333)


Wrapping up 2015

Well, I guess that 2015 has turned out to be an eventful year after all. Back in April, I celebrated my 25th anniversary on the radio at CHRW-FM here in London. I took that opportunity to announce my retirement from the airwaves. I’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of the folks who I’ve known at the station over all of those years. It was a lot of fun to be able to share music with my listeners over all of that time.

Before I left the radio station, I decided to continue to share my thoughts on music and create this music blog. Since I’ve had several hundreds of articles and reviews of music published over the years in various publications, it seemed like a natural progression. Since it’s introduction at the end of April, the Wired for Sound Blog has received a steady stream of hits and I’m very pleased with the positive feedback. It’s also nice to continue to receive musical contributions from a number of the musicians and record labels who had previously sent me music to feature on the radio programme. Thanks to all of the folks who have continued to visit the blog over the months.

Over the year, we’ve lost a number of important musicians and composers. I’ve written about many of them in the pages of the blog including Daevid Allen, Ornette Coleman, Dieter Moebius, Chris Squire, John Renbourn etc…

While I didn’t see a lot of concerts during the year, it was a great pleasure to attend the 50th anniversary performance of the Nihilist Spasm Band at Museum London. It’s always a special event to hear them play. Joe McPhee was a special guest at the show, too.

As a music fan, I’m always pleased to discover music by new artists. This year, two of my favourite new discoveries were Courtney Barnett and Ryley Walker. Their recent LPs have been spinning quite a bit around here during the year.

It’s also been another great year of sharing information and stories about music over at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Many thanks to all of my friends there who enjoy spinning vinyl and relating their stories. It’s my favourite place to visit here on the webernet.

It’s also been another productive year of music making for me, as well. I’ve had many enjoyable recording sessions with my friend and music partner Richard Moule with a number of excellent pieces of Transmorphous Sound Ensemble pieces now in the archives. We also had a great time performing at Grooves for Nuit Blanche back in June, Thanks to Troy and the folks there for allowing us the opportunity to perform in their space.

The year also presented some challenges. Back in March I had a scheduled surgery but, that was accompanied by another unexpected emergency surgery two weeks before that. Thanks to Richard for his help at that time. Also, thanks to all of my other friends for their well wishes and support. It was greatly appreciated.

So, now it’s time to look towards 2016. I’m looking forward to heading to England once again. It’s always a great time staying with my friends Simon and Ann. I’m also looking forward to performing again with my musical friends Martin Archer, Nick Robinson, Mick Beck and Charlie Collins.

Wishing everybody a happy and healthy 2016!