Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't put down the hybrids


Lou Harrison once said 'Don't put down the hybrids, because there isn't anything else'. The composer may have lived in a straw bale house, but he wasn't talking about the Toyota Prius. In his search for new musical contexts and new audiences Harrison produced a remarkable series of pioneering hybrid compositions. Among them is his jazz influenced 1959 Concerto for the Violin with Percussion Orchestra with a score that calls for 'found' instruments including brakedrums, flower pots and plumbers pipe. Young composers today are taking the same path as Lou Harrison and the result is a growing number of hybrid musical projects that use 'found' elements to explore new contexts and reach new audiences.


My photos were taken last night at a performance of 'The Body Electric', a new hybrid commission that uses music and light in conjunction with the 'found' element of Norwich's historic Norman Castle. The music is by Mukul Deora who is a multi-disciplinary artist from Mumbai, India. Deora has also performed at the Tate Modern in London and works with experimental sound installations. His musical style is electronica and his 2006 debut album 'Stray' reached number 12 in the Indian charts - his website has audio samples. The visual elements are by Shezad Dawood whose work, like Lou Harrison's, questions traditional assumptions about the role of art in contemporary society.


'The Body Electric' is the latest expression of a hybrid art form that started back in 1952 when, at the invitation of Lou Harrison, a 'concerted action' was staged by John Cage and friends at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. Mukul Deora and Shezad Dawood have shown that in 2008 there is an audience, a performance opportunity, and most importantly funding for this type of project. The Toyota Prius may not be saving the planet, but it has become remarkably popular. As Lou Harrison said - 'Don't put down the hybrids...'

I am sure Lou would be delighted to find more hybrids here, and to read about The Motor Electric here.
Photos (c) 2008 On an Overgrown Path. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Nice photos. I love this kind of music "reporting," and Harrison's music is growing on me as I get older.