New Musical Resources by Henry Cowell is one of my favourite books. I remember circling paragraph after paragraph, jotting notes and ideas wherever I could find free space, the ideas seemed to spring out of nowhere simply from reading this small old classic. I wrote all through that book, most likely in a lovely pencil manufactured by the Lee Valley company of Great Britain, that I had purchased from a bookbinder I had worked with. She knew all the cool tools. I still have a few of those Lee Valleys left.
Most of that scribbling was done on the public transport of Montreal to and from the University of Concordia. Bundled in winter-wear, I began, reading that book, to feel the beautiful bumps and valleys that arise out of the layering of sound units who occupy different temporal realms. It seemed more natural, in the sense that related actually to nature, quite more so intact than the human being constructed marches and waltzs and boom-baps, and 4s to the floor. The resulting ‘chaos’ of overlapping time units seemed much more in accordance with birds flying over trees, who in turn are surrounded by bushes, who then underneath have a line of ants parading their way to achieve some task.
That book was the greatest to me at the time. Henry Cowell was a pretty cool guy, who helped other cool guys like John Cage become cool. I like that.
Here’s a new piece most definitely indebted to those cramped pencil handed bus and metro rides through the province of Quebec, when some ideas came.
Listen to it HERE
Check out the score HERE