Music by Peter Hatch (Texts by Gertrude Stein)
Performed by NUMUS. Catalog: ART-011
The story so far...
by Christopher Fox
For the last fifteen years Canadian Composer Peter Hatch has been steadily generating a remarkable body of work, remarkable not only because its good to listen to but also because it's capable of stimulating our intelligence as well as our ears. This is the first disc to be devoted exclusively to this music.
Two things become clear about Peter Hatch from this disc: one is his delight in the very stuff of music, the pleasure he finds, and wants us to share, in listening to sounds rubbing together, or stretching out, or bouncing off one another; the other is his fascination with the words and ideas of Gertrude Stein. Of the five works recorded here, three are specifically connected with Stein: in A Chopsticks Fantasy and Reflections on the Atomic Bomb, texts by Stein are spoken during the music (something Hatch does elsewhere in his When Do They is not the same as Why Do They , one of the most striking recent additions to the solo percussionist's repertoire); in And As He Stein's words are sung. And As He is the middle movement from Hatch's largest work to date, Mounting Picasso (1993), which projects Stein's "If I told him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso" into an evening-long piece of music-theatre.
It's hard to think of a composer (certainly not since John Cage in the 1940s) on whom the writing of Gertrude Stein has had such a profound influence. But Hatch's work was Stein-ish even before it began to make specific reference to her; indeed if Gertrude Stein hadn't existed Peter Hatch would probably have had to invent her eventually.
Blunt Music is an example of Hatch's pre-Stein Stein-ish-ness. In the north of England (my home), the expression 'to put it bluntly' is not so much an apology for a lack of verbal precision as a promise that what is to be said will be said clearly, without affectation. This it seems to me is part of what all Peter Hatch's work (and not just Blunt Music) is about. Hatch is not afraid to appropriate musical figures and forms with which we are already familiar, like the simple tonal harmonies which form the materials of Blunt Music or the folk-clarinet figures ofEurhythmy. What Hatch recognises is that the very familiarity of these sounds breeds the ambiguities on which his music thrives. Again there's a debt to Stein; as in her work the words may be simple, but combined they form complex ideas. Or as she said herself, 'sentences are not emotional and paragraphs are;' in Stein and Hatch's art expression lies not in the formation of bon mot but in the twisting and turning of gathered evidence.
What are the notes F and G when they're sounded together on a piano? Sometimes they're the sound of a piano, sometimes they're a major second, sometimes they're the first two notes of the third inversion of a dominant seventh chord in root position, and sometimes they're the beginning of Chopsticks. In A Chopsticks Fantasy Peter Hatch makes his music in this space between the signifier and the signified and the result is both exciting and witty. (I particularly like the moment where the piano idiom veers sharply towards avant-gardiste chaos, the sort of piano writing of which conservative listeners say, 'A three year old could do better' -- But three year olds like to play Chopsticks too!)
The moment when things turn out not to have been what we thought they were is a moment that Peter Hatch is fond of visiting. On this disc there are at least three examples, none more spine-tingling than that at the end of Reflections on the Atomic Bomb when Stein's chillingly acute observations, not so much about the atomic bomb as about humanity's capacity for disinterest (if it's not The Bomb then it's Bosnia, if it's not Bosnia then it's a bomb in a building full of children) are spoken over music whose components we thought we knew. Until this coda begins , we believe that we are listening to a beautifully crafted piece of ensemble music. There is much to enjoy: the unfolding of long-legged melodic lines, subtly graded harmonies and a sophisticated two movement form which nests disruptive elements of each movement in the heart of the other movement. None of this prepares us for the sting in the tail, but that story is best told by the music itself...
Christopher Fox is a composer/writer who lives in York, England.
�1995 Christopher Fox
About Me —
2017 • 90 minutes • Two Mezzo-soprano, two percussion, bass clarinet, physicist (Text by Adam Cowart)
Entangled is an immersive and intermedial (music/sound/theatre/video/physics lecture) performance that explores how the contemporary phenomenon of algorithmic programming is having a profound effect on our society.
The project began development in 2014 and continued to develop in the direction of rich and mysterious patterns of relationships in physics, in the more recognizable world of business and, in the most recent version, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Little Mermaid.
Entangled brings together musicians, theatre artists and a theoretical physicist in a creative dialogue with workers in an industry that is transforming the industrial, cultural and virtual landscapes that surround us. Our goal is not just to create great theatre and music, but to bring authentic voices from other sectors: our scriptwriter, Adam Cowart, brings first-hand experience of the corporate business world; our physicist, Lin-Qing Chen, is a Ph.D. candidate at Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, specializing in one of its most adventurous branches, quantum gravity.
The performance is structured as a theoretical physics lecture that sets off a series of other ideas and events expressed in music, narrative, physical scores, digital scenography, and acoustic mapping. The audience members are fitted with identical ‘open’ headphones, which allows for both hearing acoustic sound and material introduced through a local FM broadcast. This material, which ranges from music to simultaneous translation to whispering, provides three-dimensional listening for the audience, supporting a highly entangled, immersive experience of the performance.
Presented as part of Kitchener’s IMPACT ’17 Festival in 2017, ENTANGLED is the third incarnation of an immersive and intermedial (music/sound/theatre, projection). Its first two incarnations, under the title ALGORITHMYTH, took place at the. University of Waterloo’s Quantum-Nano Centre in 2014 and 2015.
An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem solving operations, especially by a computer. This definition begs many questions, including: who invents the rules? how are these sets of rules “followed?” This project started as an attempt to generate conversation and understanding about how the contemporary phenomenon of algorithmic programming is having a profound effect on our society, and how this phenomenon can be seen to have deep, historical or “mythic” patterns in human behaviour and cultures. The project not only explored what happens when algorithms are driven by very strong mythic forces, including the imperatives of neo-liberal capitalism but also how they are also incredibly powerful tools available to us and used in all kinds of positive ways. For instance, using random variables but following specific directions, they were used as tools to generate musical material, much the same way a fugue or sonata form might be used.
According to quantum physics, “entanglement” refers to particles that become permanently dependent on each other’s properties, even at impossible distances, or what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” The layering of this relational concept with algorithmic programming became the central focus for ENTANGLED, and as such, we began to consider the paradox of our social worlds becoming increasingly intertwined with that of algorithmic methods which mediate our everyday lives: from stock market high frequency trading to Amazon purchases, and from Netflix film and television viewing to online dating. ENTANGLED is a story about relationships - person to person, person to system, formula to algorithm. It is a story about intimacy -we shape and are shaped by the algorithms at the heart of so many systems and the effects of this shaping are from impossibly far away. One experimental aspect of the piece involves all performers and audience members wearing “open” headphones. These headphones, which give us all a slightly cyborgian appearance, allow for sounds to occur in very intimate ways while also allowing us to continue to hear the outside acoustic world.
ENTANGLED joins emerging artists in our region with mid-career artists who work across the country and internationally; it brings together musicians, physicists, mathematicians and theatre artists in a creative dialogue with workers in an industry that is transforming the industrial, cultural and virtual landscapes that surround us
Cast and Crew:
Text by: Adam Cowart
Music/Sound by: Peter Hatch
Physics by: Lin-Qing Chen, Aida Ahmadzadegan
Directed by: Andy Houston: Continuum (Dramaturg, Co-Director )
Paul Cegys: Space (Scenography, Video Design, Co-Director)
Peter Hatch: Time (Music/Sound, Co-Director)
Colin Labadie: Sound
Andrew O’Connor: Sound/FM Broadcast Design
Kaylee Lock-O'Connor: Video, Installation and Promotional Design
Pam Patel - soprano/actor
Bó Bárdos - mezzo-soprano/actor
Dan Morphy - percussion/actor
Richard Burrows - percussion/actor
Kathryn Ladano - bass clarinet/actor
Lin-Qing Chen, Aida Ahmadzadegan – physics lecture
Chelsea Vanoverbeke: Scenography