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Nov 132013
Rodger Coleman shows off the Stan Link score he will play Thursday

Rodger Coleman shows off the Stan Link score he will play on Thursday

Composer and Blair School of Music professor Stan Link returns to Zeitgeist Gallery‘s Indeterminacies program on Thursday, November 14th. He’s joined by moderator Mark Volker and pianist Rodger Coleman, both Indeterminacies alumns.

Indeterminacies is a series of performances at Zeitgeist Gallery organized by Lesley Beeman and Lain York. It’s based on John Cage’s idea about creating processes with no predetermined outcome, welcoming the unexpected and learning from the accidental.

In a recent video blog, Rodger Coleman discusses the upcoming performance. The relevant bit starts at 1 minute 40 seconds, synced-up here if you want to check it out. Rodger says that he will be performing a score for piano that Stan wrote while still a student in Vienna. At the time, Stan was studying under Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, a pioneer in the compositional technique known as graphic notation. For this piece, Stan invented his own graphical notation that maps the movement of the fingers. In the score sheet that Rodger is holding in the picture above, the lines refer to specific fingers. The dots represent when the fingers move in time. Rodger discusses the challenges of translating such a score into something musical in the video blog.

There may other compositions on Thursday’s docket, but we’ll just have to wait and see. RSVP on the Facebook event page.

Stan Link appeared previously at Indeterminacies in 2011 and 2012. Theatre Intangible recorded the 2011 performance and released it as a podcast here. We also recorded Mark Volker’s 2011 Indeterminacies performance, available here. Rodger Coleman performed with Sam Byrd at a 2012 Indeterminacies.

Indeterminacies with Stan Link, Rodger Coleman and Mark Volker
Thursday, November 14th, 2013, 7 p.m.
Free and open to the public.

@ Zeitgeist Gallery
516 Hagan Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

May 072013

Photograph by Gus Powell

The Chestnut/Houston/4th-Avenue art triangle I like to call “NoHo” is the place to be this Friday. In my last blog post, I told you about Robbie Hunsinger’s reactive sound sculpture opening at Seed Space. That exhibit is open from 6pm to 8, but you should plan to arrive right at 6.

That will give you enough time to head over to Zeitgeist Gallery at 7pm to catch NYC avant jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson‘s new band Secret Keeper (with double-bassist Stephan Crump). I’ve been to nearly all of the Indeterminacies programs, and this one has me the most excited.  Rodger Coleman writes on his blog NuVoid,

I was recently asked to curate the May 2013 “Indeterminacies” event at Zeitgeist Gallery. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do but after some thought, I decided to really go for it: Why not bring Mary Halvorson to Nashville? Well, as it turns out her new band, Secret Keeper, a duo with bassist, Stephan Crump, will be touring the states in support of their upcoming CD on IntaktSuper Eight. Fortuitously enough, we have them confirmed for Friday May 10! … The New Yorker has labeled Mary Halvorson “the current it girl of avant jazz guitar” while The New York Times just decreed Nashville “the nation’s ‘it’ city.”  I suppose this is just a confluence of events. Whatever, it is going to be awesome!

Nashville writer, artist, and overall cool person Veronica Kavass will moderate. More info on the Facebook event page.

Friday night at Zeitgeist also marks the opening of Greg Pond‘s new art exhibition. Greg is an installation artist, hacker, 3D printing pioneer, filmmaker, musician and Associate Professor of Art at University of the South in Sewanee. He most recently created, along with Benton Bainbridge, the interactive installations at the Ballet Mécanique show at Blair School of Music. I’ve certainly gushed about him in the past.

Greg writes,

I have a solo show of sculpture, images generated from software, and sound for the first exhibition at the new home of the Zeitgeist Gallery. It will be on view from May 10 to June 8. The reception for the exhibition will be June 1. On the evening of May 10 there will be an Indeterminacies performance in the gallery. I will be on hand during this event.

stumpERupts3Squaresled2photo (9)ih-11-4d-Press

Greg also recently completed a multi-year documentary project about contemporary life in Kingston 12, Jamaica called Born in Trench Town. Greg will screen the documentary at some point during the exhibition’s run. I’ll let you know the screening date as soon as it’s announced. Based on the trailer below, it looks like a must-see!

Oh, by the way, all of these Friday events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

Born In Trench Town Trailer from Greg Pond on Vimeo.

Secret Keeper (Mary Halvorson / Stephan Crump) Indeterminacies / Greg Pond Art Exhibition Opening
Friday, May 10th, 7pm, free
Zeitgeist Gallery (new location)
516 Hagan Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Sep 062012


Rodger Coleman. Photo by Kim Sherman.

Tonight at 6pm, Zeitgeist Gallery‘s fantastic Indeterminacies series is kicking off the fall season with a free improvisation duet between Nashville pianist Rodger Coleman and Richmond, VA drummer Sam Byrd. Rodger writes the excellent music blog Nu-Void, and I believe I’ve seen him in attendance at every Indeterminacies show.

The discussion will be led by composer, former Indeterminacies guest, and Vanderbilt professor Stan Link. Up until this year, I released the Indeterminacies shows as podcasts, and you can hear Stan’s among the rest. (I had to stop because of time constraints.)

Rodger wrote a commentary on his upcoming performance at Nu-Void. It’s a really thoughtful read, and I recommend you check it out. Like any self-reflective artist, he begins with trepidations:

On Thursday, September 6, I will be playing improvised piano/drums duets with my friend and former bandmate, Sam Byrd, at the opening Indeterminacies event at Zeitgeist Gallery. This will be first time I have performed in public since the dissolution of UYA in 1995 and the first time on piano since…when?…1984? I can’t remember. I’m a little bit nervous—not so much about the music (Sam always inspires me to play beyond my abilities—which is why I insisted he travel from Richmond to join me)—but more concerned about the discussion segments, which will be led by Vanderbilt professor, Stan Link. Stan is a good friend and I’m sure he’ll go easy on me, but he is a brilliant and articulate composer with deep suspicions about the whole notion of improvisation as a legitimate artistic practice. Of course, this is what makes Indeterminacies unique: these are not concerts per se; they are investigations into the phenomena of performance and reception, critical thinking and audience participation. The result is unscripted, deliberately indeterminate and always challenging. We will be required to explain and, perhaps, justify and defend whatever it is we’re doing from rhetorical attacks from Stan and a potentially hostile, disapproving audience. Maybe not, but I’d be disappointed if we weren’t.

Stan goes on to quote Christopher Small in his book Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately on the nature of art, aesthetics, and the limits of our judgement calls, and Small’s quote really struck a chord with me:

Music is not a thing at all but an activity, something that people do. The apparent thing “music” is a figment, an abstraction of the action, whose reality vanishes as soon as we examine it at all closely. This habit of thinking in abstractions, of taking from an action what appears to be its essence and giving that essence a name, is probably as old as language; it is useful in the conceptualizing of our world but it has its dangers. It is very easy to come to think of the abstraction as more real than the reality it represents, to think, for example, of those abstractions we call love, hate, good and evil as having an existence apart of the acts of loving, hating, or performing good and evil deeds and even to think of them as being in some way more real than the acts themselves, a kind of universal or ideal lying behind and suffusing the actions. This is the trap of reifications, and it has been a besetting fault of Western thinking ever since Plato, who was one of its earliest perpetrators.

When we say a piece of music is “good” or “bad,” some of us mean more than an aesthetic choice. Some of us really believe that the work is intrinsically, inherently imbued with this quality. “Mozart’s music is beautiful, and if you don’t agree, you are wrong.” (Substitute Mozart with Brittany Spears, Kandinsky, or any other artist.) But an aesthetic judgement means nothing without an observer. And observers see reality through their own customized filter of life experience and perceptive and cognitive uniqueness (for example, the degree one is able to perceive pitch or taste bitter). I get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach when art professors authoritatively stamp good and bad, right and wrong. But this doesn’t mean the role of critic or theory professor is useless. Because of the professor’s point of view, not in spite of it, she can steer students towards different approaches in understanding. The professor can make comparisons and present an aesthetically constructed narrative. But we have to be careful to not see it as gospel. It’s a point of view. The aesthetic judgement is just a link between the observer and the observed. It’s not an inherent quality of either.

In other words, if a person’s opinion contributes to your understanding and appreciation of a piece of work (whether that person is a professor or a blue-haired teenager), take it. If it doesn’t, leave it.

And if they say you are wrong, tell them to go fuck themselves.

Do read Stan’s commentary. The aesthetic link between me and it is this: “It’s great.”  I really look forward to tonight’s Indeterminacies.

More info on the event’s Facebook page.

September 6th, 6pm
Indeterminacies with Rodger Coleman, Sam Byrd, and Stan Link

Zeitgeist Gallery
1819 21st Avenue South
Nashville, Tennessee