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    Mark Applebaum – The Metaphysics of Notation

    February 8th, 2011

    Mark Applebaum - The Metaphysics of Notation

    Mark Applebaum’s The Metaphysics of Notation is a musical composition based on a purely graphic score with no written or verbal instructions. For a whole year, this document, which more closely resembles abstract art than traditional notation, hung on a series of panels and mobiles in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, its quirky shapes inspiring 45 of Mark’s fellow composers and other players to improvise their little hearts out. Push “Play” on this DVD, and you’ll encounter musicians who play instruments not to form a song, but to play with space. And there’s plenty of that in the Cantor, which supplies a long natural reverb. A one-minute excerpt from each musician’s performance was masterfully edited together by Mark to form one long, flowing, 45-minute piece complete with a slide show of the players. (Unfortunately, these photos look kind of grey, as if they were uploaded straight out of a point-and-shoot camera and left as is. Someone should have elbowed Mark out of the way to boost the contrast and sharpen those pups!)

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    Mark Applebaum – Asylum

    December 29th, 2009

    Mark Applebaum (born 1967) is a composer of solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic and electro-acoustic music, and a jazz pianist who also builds sound sculptures. He earned a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California, San Diego and is now the Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Stanford University. Asylum is a collection of nine tracks that translate mental illness into music. Clocking in at 22 minutes, the opener, “The Blue Cloak,” is a composed sprawler that sounds for all the world like a lengthy acoustic free improv workout, what with its never-ending layers of outbursts from clarinet, electronics, flute, mouseketier (one of Mark’s electro-acoustic sound sculptures), percussion, piano and violin. But, rest assured that it’s completely notated, as it offers up a detailed sonic tour of a wimmelbild painting (in which masses of small figures create one large scene) called the Netherlandish Proverbs (1559).

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