Monday, August 31, 2009

Chance music on internet radio


For some time I have I have been pondering on how to share with readers some of the huge selection of music that features here. My Overgrown Path programme on Future Radio, which ran for fifteen months, gained a good following and podcasts from some of the programmes are available on the right-hand side bar. But I felt the format was too rigid and production of the precisely timed programmes was very time consuming. So, as you can see from the header photo, I was back in the Future Radio studio last week preparing a pilot of a very different new programme.

When I was writing about Mario Formenti's superb linked piano cycle Kurtag's Ghosts in April I admitted:
I have always opposed the practice of breaking down complete works (e.g. Holst's The Planets) into audience-friendly samples (Jupiter). But Kurtág’s Ghosts has made me realise that, in the right context, the sum of the parts can be greater than the whole. This thought-provoking double CD has led me to question my own preconceptions, and a webcast project inspired by Marino Formenti's shuffling is under discussion. Watch this path.
Chance Music is the result of those discussions. I wanted a format that was not dictated by thematic or track timing constraints. So Chance Music is a 60 minute sequence of music and brief links determined by the 21st century equivalent of the I Ching, the iPod shuffle. Programme content is dictated 100% by the shuffle mode on my personal iPod which contains much of the music featured On An Overgrown Path. The many record company executives among my readers can relax, Future Radio is fully Ofcom licensed and is covered by a royalty agreement.

Playing truly Chance Music does bring some challenges for the presenter, such as key, tempi and level conflicts, works such as Stimmung and In C where the track bands are not linked to pauses in the music, not to mention that the shuffle mode of the iPod shuffle mode does not seem to be truly random. But there is some logic in the chance. The most substantial work in the pilot is the 13 minute Sacra d'llx by Maurice Ohana. He is a composer who desperately deserves airplay, and the random selection alighted on a self-contained work rather than a single movement. Also chanced on were works by Lou Harrison and Anouar Brahem, exactly the kind of music that I hoped the format would give exposure to. As Buddhists say 'All decisions are right'.

If the programme finds a regular slot in Future Radio's schedules I will not be listing the music in advance, because that spoils the chance element. But the pilot being aired next Sunday is a pre-record as I will have fled the country in advance of the Last Night of the BBC Proms on September 12th. So, here is the first programme of 100% Chance Music with some links to the paths the music featured in:

1. Penguin Café Orchestra - Steady State [CDV 2954]
2. J.S. Bach: Viola Da Gamba Sonata #1 In G, BWV 1027, Allegro Moderato - Jamie Laredo & Glenn Gould [SM2K 52615]
3. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) - Simon and Garfunkel [MOOD CD21]
4. J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Aria Da Capo - Glenn Gould 1955 recording [S3K 87703]
5. J.S. Bach: Viola Da Gamba Sonata #2 In D, BWV 1028, Andante - Leonard Rose & Glenn Gould [SM2K 52615]
6. Lou Harrison: Suite for Percussion, Slow movement - Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble [ART 105]
7. Diego Pisador, La Manana De San Juan - Catherine Bott (soprano) & Abdul Salam Kheir (oud) [FREDCD1]
8. Maurice Ohana, Sacral d'llx - Elisabeth Chojnacka (harpsichord) & Béatrice Daudin (oboe) [1C1161]
9. Conte de l'incroyable amour - Anouar Brahem (oud), Barbaros Erköse (clarinet), Kudsi Erguner (nai) & Lassad Hosni (bendir & darbouka) [ECM 1457]
10. Here's that rainy day - Oscar Peterson Trio [557 462-2]

My Chance Music pilot on Future Radio will be webcast (and broadcast on 96.9FM locally in Norwich, UK) at 3.00pm UK time on Sunday September 6th (time zone converter here), listen online here. There should be a same day transatlantic friendly repeat plus 'listen again' facility. I will add details of the repeat time when it is confirmed. My thanks go to station manager Tom Buckham's team at Future Radio for once again supporting lean forward radio. Can you imagine BBC Radio 3 backing this?

Photo is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2009. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Pliable said...

Future Radio have confirmed Chance Music will be repeated at 1am BST this Sunday night/Monday morning (7th Sept).

Scott said...

A small correction first - item 2 looks like it should be Leonard Rose, not Jamie Laredo.

I'll give the first broadcast a try, largely because there are a couple of pieces I'd like to hear. However, I have to admit that the approach runs up against two of my personal dislikes -

* "Bits & pieces" - No fewer than 4 of the 10 items are single movements for which I see no logic to play separately.

* Randomly-selected sequences.

The combination of the two are why I've pretty well given up on the CBC's new classical Internet channel.

Mind you, the bits & pieces approach in both cases may be driven partly by the insistence of mp3 devices on treating each movement as an individual programmable "song." And in your case, the 60 minute limit may also be a factor in using single movements.

I note that you classify this as "lean forward," which is a complimentary label I would not have put on the CBC Internet channel, similar though it is to your initiative. The only difference I see (but it's a big one) is breadth of repertoire.

Last comment - I think part of my sense of unease is whether either or both are partly catering to the much talked-about "short attention span." I've seen this called the "triumph of the pop music aesthetic."

I'm not trying to be negative. I think you're started on an interesting path, and I look forward to seeing if it provides an additional worthwhile alternative to dropping in a CD.