Richard Friedman, in a comment on my Xenakis disappointment aside, suggests I clean out my ears. Ok, that's not exactly what he said but his comment does raise a good point -- how does one listen to music when starting from so much pre-conceived opinion, belief, and experience?
So, as an experiment, I'm going to try listening in the tradition of downbeat magazine's blindfold test where a journalist plays a handful of selections to a musician without revealing the source and the musician comments.
I do find the identification part of these exercises can either be annoying when the response represents way too much knowledge and perception:
Hah. an old favorite. That's an alternate, unreleased track from 'Trane Plays the Music of Zoot Sims, starting at bar 37 when Buddy Rich comes in. I hadn't noticed this detail before, but in the middle of the chorus, you can hear producer Ned DeBartolo puffing on his cigarette, probably a Camel although I know he later switched to Lucky Strike.
or else embarrassing:
musician: Don't know this one. Maybe some La Monte Young blues thing from his early days?
journalist: Actually, it was Bill Frisell playing, in reverse, the lesser-known Schoenberg twelve-tone arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner.
musician: Oh. As a period instrument oboist, I'm not so much into the guitar electronics but I can respect where Bill's coming from. I'll give it one and a half stars.
So, the goal is to gauge my visceral reaction to the music with as few preconceptions as possible although I'm sure I will be compelled to guess who it is. The candidate tracks will be everything of a decent length I've ripped but not listened to. I have a good backlog so hopefully it won't be obvious what I'm hearing.
Track 1: It's a solo organ piece. Sombre and sparse and surprisingly quiet for organ.
Unfortunately, the only organ music I know I have that remains to be played is either by Sowerby or Rorem and I assume it's the latter, which I already knew I liked. I give it 73 out of 100, 63 if it turns out to have been written by Sowerby (just kidding). /Fantasy. Ned Rorem. Ronald Prowse./
Track 2: Solo piano with some convoluted but not uninteresting lines although the piece is possibly too long to sustain interest given its muted nature. After all the Nancarrow I've been listening to, this sounds so tame. And it's not sophisticated enough to be Carter. 58. /Metamorphosis. John Cage. Herbert Henck/
Track 3: Is this a choral piece? Why was that female voice wavering? Hopefully it wasn't just poorly executed vibrato. A throaty male sound although probably not David Hykes. Now more wobbly voices have joined in. Disquieting. The lower, droning voice sounded a bit like a digeridoo and another voice a mouth harp. Too many special vocal effects overall. Lesser Meredith Monk? 47. /Between Stars. Toby Twining/
Track 4: Good, some higher energy string orchestra music. I like the motion in the accompaniment although not the melody. This could be John Adams if he had never moved to California. Ok, it's multi-movement. First movement was the best. A bit conventional. A nice loopy sound at one pont. 44. /Rounds for String Orchestra. David Diamond. Gerard Schwarz/
Track 5: In a Landscape by John Cage, obviously. Herbert Henck again? Except for the occasional chords, not the more robust playing I vaguely remember from Stephen Drury. 67. /In a Landscape. John Cage. Herbert Henck/