In conjunction with co-organizer Patti Deuter, Joe Lasqo will bring his imaginative approaches to indeterminacy and improvisation to the Center for New Music (CNM) at the beginning of next month with a program of two works inspired by the Japanese approach to collaborative poetry known as renga.
The first of these will be “Two2,” created by John Cage for two pianos, a reconception of the call-and-response approach to renga poetry in musical terms. That call-and-response technique is used to create five-line stanzas in which one poet gives the “call” of a three-line haiku (with the traditional 5-7-5 distribution of syllables across the lines) and the “response” continues the haiku with two additional lines, both of seven syllables. Traditionally, this was achieved through spontaneous improvisation and could involve a prodigious number of stanzas. (It was also traditional that the spirit of improvisation be encouraged through the spirits, so to speak, of sake.)
In “Two2” the five lines of a stanza are translated into five measures, each of which has five or seven sound-events corresponding to the syllable count. Thus, the composition is defined by two basic rules, the first of which gives the structural constraints for both the “call” and the “response” and the second of which requires that the “response” reflects, in some way, the “semantic content” of the “call.” Cage further specified an overall structure of 36 stanzas grouped into three sections. In addition, stanzas 5, 14, and 29 are designated as “moon” stanzas, while stanzas 17 and 35 are “flower” stanzas.
In the performance of “Two2” that he has prepared, Lasqo will perform on one piano and will be joined by Patti Deuter, who organized last year’s “tag team” performance of Erik Satie’s “Vexations,” recreating the nineteen-hour performance of this work that Cage prepared in September of 1963. In addition, dancer Nan Busse will perform choreographic interpretations of the “moon” and “flower” stanzas. Cage’s overall structure will be demarcated with ceremonial libations preceding the second and third sections.
The Cage performance will be followed by a new improvisational creation by Lasqo for nine musicians. The performers will be as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Nancy Beckman: shakuhachi, toys, and percussion
- Tom Bickley: winds, electronics, radios, and percussion
- Rachel Condry: clarinets
- Patti Deuter: piano
- Ben Kreith: violin
- Joe Lasqo: laptop, piano, mridangam, and solkattu vocalization of rhythmic patterns
- Sangita Moskow: sarod
- Suki O’Kane: percussion
- Dean Santomieri: guitars and voice
The title of this piece is “Renga-kai” (renga party). It will scale up the basic call-and-response strategy of renga to involve more players (in, at least, two senses of that noun). Dance interpretation will again be provided by Busse.
This program will be performed at CNM, 55 Taylor Street. It will begin at 7:45 p.m. on Monday, October 7. Tickets are $12 with an $8 rate for CNM members. Information about membership may be found on the Membership Web page of the CNM Web site.