Monday, March 16, 2015

A milestone for me!

A great thing happened to me yesterday. I produced my first song. An Israeli company wanted a pop song to promote their new product. The company CEO had a few ideas about some tunes, some chords and the themes he wanted the song to convey. With the help of the Lord above, I managed to create the lyrics, work out the melody, play the music in the studio, direct the singers in their various parts, supervise the sound technician and bring a fully functional pop song into existence. I had great help from a team of fine, knowledgeable and skillful people including CEO and Inventor Benny Gold, my son, artist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Moshe Glick and the fantastic sound engineer from Jostudio in Ashkelon.
I am pleased to say that the song is completely conventional catchy and commercial. That was the goal. But don't think that means that I have become conventional or commercial. I remain as I have always been, unconventional to the core. Its a matter of knowing I can be commercial, not believing in it. Some of us wanted a more distorted "heavy" type sound, with more reverb and effects, but the CEO thought that keeping everything as close to natural helped the words be heard. In this case, I quite agree. So everything was done using acoustic guitars and drums.
As I said, this is a personal milestone. I have gone from sound tinkerer to song producer. Which means, once again, that if you have music in your heart that you want to share...You may benefit greatly from working with me and the team at!!! We have a solid team in place.

Unfortunately, for the time being, I can't post any links to the song. It also appears that the full length song (3 min 60 seconds) will not be used for the promotional video. Rather I had to shave it down until I had a version that clocks in at under 2 minutes. So I am a little displeased about that. Frankly, they picked the shortened version that I thought was most choppy and rough. But that is what happens when you work for other people. They get to call the shots. And they are happy with the final video too. But the original version will still get out and be used in other ways.

So everybody can wish me a happy graduation! As soon as the video is released I will put up a link to it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Artifacts and Curiosities

Here is a list of all the old stuff I have tucked away online in various sundry virtual nooks and crannies.

I know that there are some people out there who download this stuff, despite the rather uneven quality of the recordings. Oh there is so much I didn't know back then!

So if you are feeling brave or foolhardy or just curious, follow these links to my old material graciously stored by the  internet

What follows are my first attempts at creating sound constructions. Maybe one day I will come back and rework them. In the meanwhile you can listen to them in their original raunchy, noise encrusted forms. I know that at least somebody likes them, because they get downloaded occasionally. These brave souls who do this have my warmest regards!

Messages in a Bottle

My very first experiment, using  my super sophisticated  Henri Mancini nylon string guitar (originally purchased for about 20 bucks at a flea market so my daughter could take lessons) with some added voices by me and  my wife, all re-scrambled using Nero Wave editor. In "Glass Tonality"  I also made use of a souvenir of my US Army sponsored trip to Bavaria. It is a beer glass from the Toering Brewery, complete with a picture of the founder, Ignaz, Baron of Toering, wearing his powdered wig, heavily embroidered waistcoat and silk sash.
As for the sound, my apologies if this all sounds less than professional. I'm still learning.
There are three constructions here, which explore the hidden spaces within perception, the body and in relationships. I wrote a poem for each one of the constructions to give some sense of what I was going on with me as I worked.
Track Listing: 
1)Glass Tonality 2)Interior Designs 3)Words and Laughter
For downloading or streaming go HERE

Here are the Poems: 

Glass Tonality
This is the sound of truth
Clarity in glass
Direct awareness
A crystal chime
A radiant mirror
A waking dream
A troubled sleep.
It is slavery by perfection
In the bureaucratic maze.
It is freedom won not by
Tranquil contemplation
By anger management.

 Interior Designs
Life is a code spoken in subtlety
Being is permutations in energy
Membranes are the threshold.
From where comes the inwardness?
Within the blue room, you find destiny
The orange room, fire bold
In the white room you awake in blessedness

 Words and Laughter
I ask for your aid
With a brief melody
You toss your hair
And laugh graciously.
At first I am not aware
How you cut like a blade.
The labyrinth of doubt
Opens beneath my feet.
Everywhere all about
On wires tenuously drawn
Messages entreat
Like vivid scenes at dawn
Or owls at night
In mysterious flight;
Water flowing out of sight
Through midnight caves
Caressing eyeless life
That yearns not for light
But knows all in liquid waves.
I remember…
Love’s union and harmony;
And still…
Jealousy’s sinister chemistry
Grows the labyrinth
Until your laugh again
Restores the joy of day.

Embryonic Movements       at the Center of a                     Galaxy

 For my next audio affliction I offer you, gentle listener, an hour long cosmic concoction.
Once again, using my highly sophisticated, advanced, uniquely modified and revolutionary Alberto Mancini Nylon String Guitar (last used to bang a CIA operative over the head in Havana, some time during the Revolution) and assisted by my ever ready side kick Nero, I laid down an hour  of banging, gurgling and vibrating which reminded me of...well you know...embryonic movements in the heart of a galaxy.
For streaming or Downloading go HERE:
Waxing philosophical which I often do at such times, I contemplated the recursive relationships between the super giant and super tiny structures of our universe, and realized that while there is certainly an intelligence to the universe, it most likely operates without what we know of as thought, but by simple thoughtlessness and interpenetration. What would happen if the embryo at the center of the Galaxy felt a nervous tingle, or some intestinal gas? Absentmindedly, I twirled a dust bunny between my thumb and index finger as I pondered this weighty matter. The dust bunny was not amused.
Then I wrote this little poem to accompany the construction:

Embryonic Movements at the Center of a Galaxy
Horizon stretch reach
Dream sound flame
Peace endless echo
Here everywhere nowhere
Now never
Rush of neurons liquid spinal
Gravity electricity
Particles planets
Intestinal rumble
Fire exploding sun
Forever law of thought
Never awake
Truth no limit
Many one one many
Peace dream

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Edgard Varese and his Electronic Poem

Edgard Varese never became really popular, even as far as  atonal modernist composers go. In the most unapologetic of ways he created what he called organized noise. However, he is justifiably considered one of the founders of electronic music. He also inspired the young Frank Zappa to become a serious classically trained musician. According to Zappa, when he first heard Vareses' music, he was overwhelmed by its beauty. This is surely an indication of the unique wiring Zappa had in his brain. At any rate, Varese can be credited with creating one of the first extended piece of electronic music. It was meant for the 1958 world fair, held in Brussels. One of the pavilions at the fair was commissioned by Philips, an electronics company based in the Netherlands. The pavilion was designed to house a multimedia spectacle that was intended to celebrate postwar technological progress. The building was designed by Le Corbusier, one of the 20th centuries most radical modernist architects. Much of the project management was assigned to Iannis Xenakis, a composer, music theorist and construction engineer. The people from Phillips were really interested in having Le Corbusier as architect, and was he who insisted that Edgard Varese be hired to create the music. The Phillips people were not much impressed, and still Varese managed to spend a gigantic amount of their money creating the kind of electronic sounds that had nor yet been heard by human ears, mostly because Le Corbusier threatened to walk out of the project if Varese was sacked.

As visitors stood in the dark interior space of the pavilion, various images were projected on the inner walls while the Electronic Poem surged through the emptiness projected by the large array of unseen speakers. As visitors entered and exited they heard Xenakis' composition "Concrete PH". The Phillips pavilion of 1958 was truly a historic event, the first time that recorded sound and projected images converged in a single presentation. Some 400 speakers were strategically placed at various locations throughout the interior, creating a dynamic sound and space experience. Of course, reviews were mixed at best. The piece challenged audience expectations and wrecked havoc with conventional means of composing. It also brought electronic aural and visual media into profound synthesis. Some two million visitors witnessed the presentation.

The following video presents the Electronic Poem along with the original visuals. Obviously, the original experience was far more intense. But for those of us born too late, this is probably as close as we will ever come. Of course I can't be sure that these really are the exact images, but based upon the research I have pulled together, they seem correct.

Since the experience could not be considered complete without Xenakis' composition, I have included a recording of his Concrete PH for you to hear. I don't know anything about the visuals.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Way Back in 1972 (I was 12 at the time) I was suddenly overtaken with a powerful urge to make some music. Unfortunately, although I could sing rather well, I couldn't play any instruments at all. This put a serious kink in my musical yearnings.

I came up with the idea that perhaps music didn't have to be played. It could be constructed out of many of the ordinary sounds of life. Using my handy portable cassette tape recorder I set about constructing music out of running tap water, clanking glasses, creaking doors and ringing bells. I also found an old busted up guitar with two base strings that I realized could be used for lots of noisy extemporizing. Needless to say, I never succeeded in actually recording anything, mostly because I could not afford decent equipment

Little did I know back then that the notion of making music which sounds like life (or like weird noises) was neither original nor new. Avant-garde composers had been at it since the beginning of the century.

Over time I became a fairly proficient if totally amateur guitarist. One day I discovered that the recording program on my computer could actually do a whole bunch of interesting things. I hesitatingly laid down a few bars and …presto! By cutting, pasting and clicking a whole long construction came into being. More constructions followed. At first the sound quality was not professional, but I have gotten better over time. Today I find my recordings to be quite listenable and evocative. I have even published two professionally released albums that are available for through portals like iTunes, Juno and Amazon.

That being said, one of the pioneers of the ambient/experimental genre within the classical tradition was John Cage. He created some amazing things over the course of his career...even a piece of un-music called "4 Minutes 33 Seconds" in which everyone goes to the concert, the orchestra get set on stage, the piano soloist takes his seat at the grand, the conductor picks up his baton and then....nothing...silence. I happen not to think of it as music, but more of a philosophical exercise. Cage also experimented with exactly the same notion that caught my attention as a youngster...could it be possible to generate music out of the sounds of ordinary life?

The following delightful video is of John Cage, graced with good humor and a fine touch of humility, performing a piece entitled "Water Walk" on TV in 1960. The anchor and the audience cant make up their minds whether to try and be serious about this avant garde creation, or to laugh as one might at a comedy skit. Cage himself seems to be telling everyone "However you take it is how it is meant to be taken!" The audience interpretation of the performance is part of the performance itself. Amazingly, the whole thing seems to have gone over rather well!

It is heartwarming to see one of the great grandparents of Ambient music perform with such aplomb.


And of course, don't forget to check out my music site

Monday, March 31, 2014

What Ambient Means to Me, or How do I know it's Good

by Nathan Glick. 

Let me begin by saying that I truly love Ambient Music (these days it is also known by a host of other terms including Chillout, Newage, Moodmusic, Spacerock, Drone, Soundcape and many others.) Ambient, or course, was the term first coined by Brian Eno on the occasion of the release of his groundbreaking album “Ambient 1: Music for Airports” back in 1978. It might be said that this album came about through a kind of “Inverse Inspiration.” Eno found himself one day stuck in a boring German airport with some very annoying “easy listening” tracks playing endlessly that seemed to want to take possession of his brain with their syrupy lumpiness. Eno found himself thinking about what kind of music could be created for an airport that would be at once unobtrusive, but interesting enough to be listened to if one was to actually lend an ear. So the concept of Ambient Music was born.

One can quibble over how well Eno’s Ambient musical offering would have fared in a real airport. The music, while slow, stately and relaxed, still has a certain avant garde edge to it which I imagine would actually annoy the average passenger with conventional musical tastes. Call it New age, Chillout, Drone or Meditation Music, the Ambient  genre still does not rate well with listeners whose tastes music fall within the pre-patterned or the predictable confines of Pop Music. At any rate, Music for Airports was for a while installed in one section of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. It did not stay there long.

Brian Eno, while often considered the progenitor of Ambient Music, is in actuality more of a popularizer than a creator of the genre (which is certainly not to imply that Eno is lacking in any creativity or that Ambient Music has achieved wide popularity.)  The basic forms of Ambient Music have deep roots in extreme psychedelic rock music, electronic music experimentations, jazz and of course, the modern classical tradition. Eno has been pivotal in calling attention to the ambient musical form and pulling together the scattered themes and influences and adding a sense of musical legitimacy. One could say.”Well I don’t just listen to weird insane sounds…I am a fan of Ambient!”

Trying to define a genre is of course, a futile quest. No sooner has one provided the ultimate all encompassing definition of the essence of Ambient, that someone will create a piece that defies that essence. Regardless, I can’t help but say a bit about what Ambient Music means to me.

Music is about feeling. That is so obvious that it hardly requires mentioning. There are certain feelings that we like to feel, be they joy, sadness, anger, hope and even depression. A Feeling encased in a musical vehicle can resonate with our deepest experiences, or they can open our hearts to feelings experienced by others. This is why much of the music we appreciate has a fairly predictable structure. It serves to connect people into larger social groups. Indeed the music one listens to serves as a major marker of one’s social affiliations. Unfortunately today, social groups seem to reflect various modes of consumption and a person’s musical preference is part of an overall style of consumerism that includes clothing, movies, foods, ideas, values and whatever else the marketplace seems to hold. Musical forms evolve, but they also maintain a solid kind of predictability that insures that be you Valedictorian, Stoner, Goth-punk, a Rapper or Good ole Boy…the music will reinforce your sense belonging. In addition, songs and other relatively predictable musical forms work their magic by awakening feeling, creating some kind of tension and then bringing the tension back to equilibrium, generally by repeating a chorus.

In contrast, Ambient Music works by awakening feelings but then refraining from channeling them in a conventionally structured way. The music does not take a specific course, but flows this way and that. Often the timing is slowed down, as in Chillout, or expressed by sound loops and other repetitive strategies. Ambient will open your feelings outward towards the environment, instead of constraining them to comfortable conventions. Ambient subverts your obvious sense of identity and weakens the hold of your consumerist label. I also imagine that by listening to Ambient, New age, Drone or Meditation Music, you are letting yourself step outside the constraints of ordinary awareness and into a revelatory space where you can discover new vistas of feeling and life formations.

To my mind, great ambient music breaks conventions and frees the listener from pre-packaged identities or established modes of perception. So far, it seems that Ambient is marginal and non-commercial enough to remain authentic. But then again, Ambient can become as conventionalized as anything else. It may also become a predictable commodity for consumption by an exclusively small group of people who consider themselves “with it.” Here then is the challenge for assessing the quality of Ambient Music. At some stage, as you listen, you need to ask yourself: “Is this music pushing me out of my comfort zone? Is it opening me up to something new? Is it presenting me with unheard of possibilities or just re-enforcing what already is?” Well, if you like your old familiar ambient melody and you think it’s cool to get in to experimental music that only a few people like…Hey, why not? We are all members of one clique or another and feeling a sense of belonging is part of our human nature. Belonging to a fringe group as opposed to a mainstream group probably does say something about your bravery and unwillingness to conform. Still, it would be a loss if Ambient Music lovers become just another consumer group doing what consumers do in the early 21st century.  There is always a danger that one’s spontaneity and freedom will turn out ironically to be just another episode of “Welcome to the Machine.”

So to my mind, good Ambient Music is that which keeps you challenged and keeps you open. The best of Ambient, Chill-out, Experimental, Space-out and Meditation Music holds the hope for breaking free of social constrains and pre-fabricated perceptions of reality…of opening our hearts outward to new experiences and vistas of possible worlds. That is the hope that drives my own humble musical quest.