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Glasow14I’m excited about this concert Thursday night on the California State University, East Bay campus, where my new chamber piece for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano will be performed. It’s called Fits. I’ve been working on it all year, and it will be fascinating to hear it – for real – for the first time. The concert will also feature pieces by CSU students, faculty and alumni Austin Graham, Paolo Terresani, Ryan Rey, and Jeffrey Miller, all performed by the great great great Redshift Ensemble.

I’m about to go rehearse the piece with them, basically for the first time. It’s a strange thing to spend months and months working on a piece, either at the piano, computer, or if you’re really good, at your desk, and really not know what you’re writing until you hear people play it for the first time. The real performance can be very difficult to evaluate at first, since it always sounds so different played by real people. It’s always better, but you have to listen as if you’ve never heard the piece before.

One thing I’ve noticed is that musicians’ tempos are often slower than the computer’s, but the nuances of a real performance bring so much energy into the music, that, even at a slower tempo, it feels just as fast. Or, to turn it around, the lifelessness of computer performance makes you crank up the tempos just to get the piece to feel like it has energy. I’m using the computer less and less these days, which I consider a huge leap forward for me. Hell, that doesn’t just go for composing, the less computer I use, the better, basically. But that’s another subject for another day.

I have to go start looking over the score, and getting mentally prepared for this rehearsal. We’ll make it good, I know. Those of you in the area, I would love for you to come hear my piece and the others on the program. Fits plays with questions of how things fit together, how individuals fit into groups, and more than anything, how a group may or may not fit the individuals it contains.

The group of people at the concert on Thursday night would like to contain you.

Michael

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IMG_6653My most recent post is from November 2013, and it says “I’ll be doing this tomorrow,” which now makes no sense. Maybe it’s partly because of the sour taste that event back in November left in my mouth, or maybe it’s something else, but I haven’t felt any desire to post anything. It’s not that nothing is happening; I think I’ve just been enjoying keeping to myself lately.

Scott Pinkmountain and I had a conversation about ambiguity in which I artlessly referred to Lorde’s song Cities, among other things. It’s a hard subject, and plus I’ve talked so much about ambiguity in the past, mostly with friends like Scott or in other places, that my ideas seem pretty stale to me, but in case you’re intrigued (and if you want to read Scott’s really insightful comments), check it out here. It’s part of Scott’s “Surviving the Arts” blog on Pank. Scott is great, he’s doing so much cool stuff, look him up and check out his music and writings.

As for the event last November, I played some Pink Thunder songs at a TEDx event near Boston. I specifically decided not to give a TED talk. I don’t think anyone who speaks for himself as an artist can take on that whole breathless, technological-utopian TED talk thing. We have our own voices, and that’s how it should be. I played the songs and said a few words, like it was an annotated concert, rather than a talk with a few songs in it. The whole time I was performing, I felt like I was a mile away from the audience and the lights and cameras and the big timer ticking down etc. I stood on one of those red TED carpets.

IMG_6656I think they were expecting me to talk about digital music and technology, two subjects about which I can go on at length, but almost entirely in a negative direction, which, again, doesn’t really scream TED. I actually want to say some things about music, the internet, etc at some point (not right now – see above), but why go there to scold people? I stood there for new possibilities for songs. I’m happy with that. It felt bad but probably wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed. I got two comments after I played, both of which were essentially of the “I don’t get it” variety. There is a video of the performance (you can look it up if you really want to, but I’m not sending anyone to it), and the only comment there (as of a few weeks ago) is “I don’t get it.” I think, all things considered, I can consider that a good thing.

I’m finishing a new composition for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. It’s called “Fits,” and after spending most of the past 9 months or so on it, I feel like I want to make it much simpler, which I can’t really do without totally changing its nature. I have a week coming up where I can totally focus on it and try to make all the parts as playable as possible. It feels like a luxury. It will be performed in May.

I’m also starting to think again about the record of new songs (technically) that I started back in 2011, or was it 1011? That’s going to happen this summer.

IMG_6737My studio partner Jon from Exray’s and I just moved to a new rehearsal/recording space, and I softened up the concrete walls in the back with this —>

It was a fun thing to be obsessed with for a minute.

Nate and Merrill aka tUnE-yArDs have the space next door to us and I’m sure everyone knows to be on the lookout for their new record Nikki Nack on May 5th. It’s nice when great musicians are also great people.

There, I posted. Play on, players. I’ll be back.

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I’m in Boston and tomorrow I’ll be playing some Pink Thunder songs at the TEDx Beacon Street event. I am very glad to be here and interested to see “TED people” up close. I will report back.

cheers,

mz

TONIGHT!

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Event # 43:

43. Pink Thunder Presents…Ex Verba: Concert, Art Show, Happening

7:15 – 8:15 pm

Amnesia, 853 Valencia St.

A night of songs, music, art, and projections. Non-poems made from, with, around, and through poems.

Daniel Redman has been setting Walt Whitman’s queer epic Leaves of Grass to music for the last seven years.  He has set and memorized forty-seven poems to date, and he sings them.

Exray’s –  Jon Bernson and Michael Falsetto-Mapp specialize in lo-fi electronic pop made with precarious beats, short circuited melodies and voicemail vocals.

Pink Thunder Portmanteaus – Combination music-player / art-objects containing songs from Pink Thunder – songs made from unchanged poems by living American poets.

Jorrit Poelen projects distorted, noisy collages of animated images onto skin, screens, walls, and floors using “Pooks,” a custom-built visual instrument.

Michael Zapruder writes songs and composes concert music. His recent Pink Thunder fashions free verse pop-art songs from poems by eminent contemporary American poets.

 

http://litcrawl.org/sf/events/43-pink-thunder-presents-ex-verba-concert-art-show-happening/

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thumbs_lcsmbugWe are thrilled to be curating this event at LitCrawl in San Francisco this year.

Ex-verba means “from words” (we think. roughly). So for LitCrawl we dreamed up this one-of-a-kind show of non-poems made from poems.

Including:

Jorrit Poelen’s projections of distorted, noisy collages of animated images – MADE FROM LETTERS OF POEMS! – onto skin, screens, walls, and floors using “Pooks,” a custom-built visual instrument.

Live performances of songs from Pink Thunder, Michael Zapruder’s project of songs made from awesome poems by living American poets. EX-VERBA

Daniel Redman’s settings of Walt Whitman’s queer epic Leaves of Grass to song. EX-VERBA

Exray’s live performance, based on their multi-genre Exray’s XII project. EX-VERBA

AND

See some Pink Thunder portmanteaus, interactive music player/visual art objects that play one of the Pink Thunder songs and disply an object conjured from the world of that poem. EX-VERBA

Mark your calendrinos for SATURDAY OCTOBER 19th!

mz

This Sunday!

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Very excited about this event on Sunday! It’s Sylvie Simmons’ book release party for the paperback edition of her Leonard Cohen biography I’m Your Man. Lots of cool LC-related stuff (I expect Sylvie will do a reading), plus a bunch of people will sing Leonard Cohen songs.

I’m doing “Going Home,” from Old Ideas.

Here’s what the New York Times said about the book:

The major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves … Mesmerizing.

See you there!

mz

 

Pere Lachaise in Paris

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Some photos from my too-short stroll through this famous cemetery in Paris.

As I was walking there, it occurred to me to wonder whether Francis Poulenc might be buried there. He is, and his memorial was my first stop. The composer of some of the best melodies ever, including Le Bestiaire and Tel Jour Tel Nuit, gets first billing for me.

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I stopped by to see Bellini, whose memorial was steps away, and made a commitment to investigate his music more thoroughly.

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Went up the hill a bit to see Chopin’s grave. When I visited Kafka’s grave in Prague I left him a pen; I left Chopin a small piece of blank staff paper (if you click on the photo, you can see it rolled up in the fence there on the right).

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Not sure how I missed this, but wow – thanks to Hinged Journal of Converging Arts for this review, which is not only very thoughtful and insightful, but which, in a dynamic that no longer comes as a surprise, is a much better music review than any of the actual music critics have written.

Pink Thunder in Hinged Journal of Converging Arts

Notable quotes:

“… a remarkable converging arts conversation piece. The friction between these two forms throws into relief the stark limitations we assign to poems and songs individually.”

and

“In the poem-songs, instead of a title the listener receives first a pitch and pattern of sounds composed of instruments and vocals that accompany the words of the poem. This composition colors the words a particular and limited spectrum of emotions. “Opera” as a song does not speak its own title, but instead begins with high piano key chimes that quickly shift into a minor-scale of uncertain and ponderous notes as the voice joins. An unmistakable element of loneliness exists in the spectrum of minor notes and the slow drop of each note.”

Thank you HINGED!

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Deepest thanks to the wonderful musicians in the Redshift Ensemble, and to the Cal State East Bay Music Department and Composition faculty for making this performance happen.

And thanks to you for watching/listening!

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The great folks at Largehearted Boy invited me to do a Book Notes for their blog, so I did!

Here it is.

mz

 

Gallery of the Portmanteaus

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Song_Original_16x12_Adj_Web_Web2Ah, the portmanteaus. They are in boxes, currently somewhere between Chicago, IL and Oakland, CA.

I’ve been wanting to find a way to incorporate them into this website, but until now everything has either been impossibly awkward or too complicated to set up. I found a gallery hosting site (it’s called carbonmade, in case anyone’s interested – I am not affiliated) and so now there’s a portmanteaus page here.

Hoo ray! The new page has some info on what they are, and a link to the gallery:

See it at Portmanteaus.

cheers,
mz

 

Zyzzyva Interview

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The very good, thoughtful Christopher Connor interviewed me for Zyzzyva about poems, songs, Pink Thunder, and that is here.