THIS WAY/THAT WAY thoughts on Singer’s Page/Dancer’s Page by Gavin Bryars
The work of Gavin Bryars is well known, well respected, well loved and well documented. So, you can imagine my excitement at happening upon those works of his, dating from the composer’s earliest days in experimental music, were available to view via the Collection website.
Singer's Page/Dancer's Page is one of these works and was created as two separate pieces that can be combined in any way. Bryars wrote them whilst he was living in Illinois in 1968 and it was eventually published, along with a number of other pieces in a collection - "Verbal Anthology" - that uses text notation, by the Experimental Music Catalogue that he helped to run from the early 1970s.
Okay, I’m looking at Singer’s Page and the first thing I notice is that it doesn’t have any punctuation and reads like a stream of consciousness. As a musician who happily works within the context of free improvisation /notated music, I see so many possibilities of re-presenting this text and relish the challenge of making it come alive. Basic thoughts come to mind such as “do I read the words to myself, recite them out loud, act them, Sing them? All of these things/ none of these things? Questions, questions, questions.” Thankfully, Gavin was able to point me in the right direction:
“Like many verbal pieces from that period - at least from within the English part of it - text pieces are seldom sets of instructions and can be quite oblique or poetic. They tend to combine quite precise reference with improvisatory elements, which should be done within the overall spirit of the works.”
Cool, so, there it is.
I just need to get on with it!
Elaine Mitchener is a vocalist noted for her mixture of styles drawing from sources as varied as classical music, gospel, soul, jazz, and experimental/free improvisation. She has worked with musicians and artists as Steve Beresford, Frederic Blondy, John Butcher, Attila Csihar, Max Eastley, Heiner Goebbels, Henry Grimes, Aleks Kolkowski, Christian Marclay, Phil Minton, Maggie Nichols, Evan Parker, Mark Sanders, David Toop, Dam van Huynh, Roger Turner, Ian Wilson, Sam Belinfante. Future projects include a new contemporary dance piece Gesundheit with Dam van Huynh Company and The Langston Project with Hasse Poulsen, Mark Sanders, Luc Ex.
http://www.experimentalmusic.co.uk/emc/Welcome.html - The EMC stopped its activities around 1981, but the catalogue has been reactivated by Virginia Anderson and Christopher Hobbs.