“Glass is fragile. Glass is easily broken. Most glass instruments ignore these facts and instead focus on the material’s delicate beauty. With my particular instrumentarium of glass instruments I embrace the danger this fragility evokes. The possibility is allowed for these instruments to shatter at any point during performance. When this happens, the music is changed by the new tones that emerge, dictated from the object’s harmonic fissures. It can be unpredictable and not always welcome but always accepted.
Almost all the sounds in this particular piece, Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage), come from one quartz crystal glass bowl which had been struck a bit too forcefully during a rehearsal a few months before. The instrument was still whole but there was a clean fracture from it’s rim to it’s base. Right away I knew I needed to record the attempts to complete the breakage. I was curious to hear which new pitches would result from splitting apart the original pitch of G#.
But once again glass proved to be unpredictable, this time in its refusal to break further. As hard as I tried throughout the recordings for this project, the bowl would not continue to crack. Many wonderful sounds were coaxed from this one object in its unusual state, particularly the vibrations resulting from rubbing and striking near the fissure. But short of taking to it with a metal hammer, the bowl remained magnificently intact. By altering and manipulating these sounds, I believe the result is as mysterious as the material of glass itself.
This piece is dedicated to the late experimental filmaker Stan Brakhage, who on occasion closely filmed glass objects. He was also friends, from a very young age, with my teacher and mentor, composer James Tenney.”
Miguel Frasconi is a composer and improvisor specializing in the relationship between acoustic objects and musical form. His instrumentarium includes glass objects, electronics, laptop, and constructions of his own design. Miguel’s unique glass instruments are struck, blown, stroked, smashed and otherwise coaxed into vibration. As a composer his works include chamber music, operas, film & dance scores. His new opera, Hand To Mouth, was recently premiered in northern California.
Miguel’s activities have included collaborations with the Balinese composer Dewa Berata on music for a large-scale shadowplay, with tenor John Duykers on unique music/theater events, and with the Tibetan songwriter Techung, with whom he has toured throughout India. Miguel has worked closely with composers John Cage, Jon Hassell, James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, and has collaborated with many choreographers, including Alonzo King and modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin. He was a founding member of The Glass Orchestra, Toronto’s internationally renowned ensemble featuring all glass instruments (1977-86), and the San Francisco sound-sculpture band Möbius Operandi (1990-95).
released November 27, 2015
Composed, performed, recorded and edited by Miguel Frasconi, March/April 2015
Recorded and mastered at Well Weathered Studios, Norwalk, CT, USA
Cover art by Miguel Frasconi