Jim Horton's Involvement With Playing Music 2of4 files
(early 1974) "Ringing the Koto Like a Bell With a Pen" Played at a concert in Jan Pusina's front yard with the loudspeakers in trees. A player on each side of a toy koto would continuously vary the pressure on a pair of specially tuned adjacent metal strings while rattling a pen between them. When played right and amplified this piece sounded like an alarm bell ringing on and on.
(Aug. 4 1974) Poem describing various imaginary sounds read at the opening of Phil Harmonic's gallery Art-While-You-Wait.
(Oct 19 1974) "Music From Mars" drone music played at Beth Anderson's Martian Art combination art show and concert in Oakland. Done on the Buchla 100 synthesizer.
(fall or winter 1974 date?) Played on Harry Partch's instruments in Palo Alto after a performance of "The Bewitched" by Danlee Mitchell's group. Partch had just died.
(1974 date?) Acquired four and a half panel Tcherepnin synthesizer -- one of the first 20 made. Serge and Rich Gold came up to CCM to find subscribers for their project. Bob Ashley ordered a machine for Mills and I put up money for a customized instrument for myself with extra very low frequency control voltage generators. The Tcherepnin had over 300 patch points, knobs and switches but it was portable and I constantly carried it from one place to another. Its two filters were especially incredible. From an interview of Serge Tcherepnin by Mark Vail in Sept 94 Keyboard magazine: "In the early days, I was really interested to see how much could be done with as little and as elegantly and unusually as possible. At Cal Arts, we developed a kit that consisted of four or five panels of modules which was more than equivalent to a Moog or Buchla system that might have taken up nine square feet of space and cost $15,000. I have always wanted to give as many possibilities of the electronics themselves to people. When I designed a new module, I would say, 'Let's see how many things I can bring out of the electronics for people to use.' It usually ended up as this incredible monster which has a lot of openings [inputs and outputs] and a lot of controls." "I'm proud of the wave-shaping aspects that I did, which originally were inspired a bit by Buchla and a bit by the fuzz box. I discovered many types of changes that you could make very simply and very elegantly to change the sound. I'm also really proud of the overall system concept, which was not to use music as the basis for making choices, but using electronics as the basis."
(1974) Twelve hour mostly automatic ambient electronic music performance at Art-While-You-Wait in Berkeley using Tcherepnin synthesizer, phaser foot pedal and tape delay. Involved long term adjustment and "tuning" for "Wildness" of the patch. I think this is the concert that I also did "Long Division" a conceptual piece based on McLuhan's ideas about media. The handheld calculator was relatively new - making division easy. Wishing to rescue long division with its long beautiful columns of numbers from the scrap heap of history by turning the method into an art-form, I carried out extensive long divisions in ink on the wall.
(1974-1976) "Tibetan Horn Music" w/ Tom Zahuranec. Jill Kroeson sent five horns and a thigh bone trumpet from Nepal. Tom organized and led the players. Horton's system included a loudspeaker on the floor with a directional microphone several feet away facing it. The horn players would play into the mic, variably attenuating the acoustical feedback path. The Tcherepnin synthesizer was played by Jim to amplify, modulate, and filter the horns, and regulate feedback while adding oscillator drone and sequencer tones to the mix. Performed many times including at Union Square SF on the bill w/ Cellar-M and at a Greenpeace benefit concert that included Cellar-M and a Richard Water's improv group at Mills College.
(fall 1974) "Proletarians From UFO." This multi-mode Tcherepnin synthesizer patch was designed to suggest among other things, traffic flow patterns; using multi-tempos, long envelopes, slow pitch glissandos and filter sweeps. Performed many times including Oct 29 1974 inside Art-While-You-Wait that Doug Hollis had converted into a camera obscura using black plastic sheeting. Beside sealing up the windows except for an aperture, he built a lightproof ante-chamber for entrance and exit. Once our eyes were dark adapted we watched the inverted and upside-down vehicle and foot traffic on busy Ashby Ave appear from infinity, accelerate, grow huge, and then, deaccelerating, recede to infinity in the opposite direction. Very satisfying.
(date?) Performance at the Hawaii Room in the Richmond Community Center of "Proletarians From UFO" w/ oscilloscope visuals and candle light as part of an East Bay Music School event. The oscilloscope was an advanced Hewlett-Packard machine. A professional electronics engineer in the audience who was an expert user of that specific model jumped up on the stage and began playing it as I and a student played the Tcherepnin synth patch in its "doors opening and closing" mode. We all agreed, that for us, it deepened the meaning of the word "synergy."
(1974) "Sequencer Dance Music" played on the Tcherepnin w/ Jim Nollman on mandolin. I improvised vocals: "free Patty Hearst" chanted in as many ways as I could think of. Performed at "Cat's Paw Palace 24 hour dance marathon with electronic music" organized by Margaret Fisher.
(date?) Experiments with cross patching analog synths. Jim Horton and Jan Pusina.
(1975?) Participated in an electronic music improv group using the Paik-Abe Video synthesizer with video feedback as a graphic score at Sharon Grace's studio in SF. Sharon and Roger Kent played the video. I was tremendously impressed by this experience. It felt like going into and exploring an artificial, psychedelic yet deeply natural space. From Woody Vasulka's Ars Electronica 1992 catalog: "The basic Paik-Abe is a colorizer unit with seven external video inputs and corresponding gain controls. Each of the seven inputs drive various non-linear processing amplifiers. The amplifier passes low level signals but folds over or inverts the polarity of higher level signals. High brightness components are turned into "negative" video while low brightness components can pass through without change." From Chaos Theory co-inventor Crutchfield's Physica 84 paper "Space-Time Dynamics in Video Feedback": "Video technology moves visual information from here to there, from camera to TV monitor. What happens, though, if a video camera looks at its monitor? The information no longer goes from here to there, but rather round and round the camera-monitor loop. That is video feedback. From this dynamical flow of information some truly startling and beautiful images emerge. In a very real sense, a video feedback system is a space-time simulator. My intention here is to discuss just what is simulated and I will be implicitly arguing that video feedback is a space-time analog computer. To study the dynamics of this simulator is also to begin to understand a number of other problems in dynamical systems theory, iterative image processing, cellular automata, and biological morphogenesis, for example.
... For the world about us is replete with complexity arising from its intimate interconnectedness. This takes two forms. The first is the recycling of information from one moment to the next, a temporal inter-connectedness. This is feedback. The second is the coupling at a given time between different physical variables. In globally stable systems, this often gives rise to non-linearities. This inter-connectedness lends structure to the chaos of microscopic physical reality that completely transcends descriptions based on our traditional appreciation of dynamical behavior. Video feedback provides a creative stimulus of behavior that apparently goes beyond the current conceptual framework of dynamical systems. I believe that an appreciation of video feedback is an intermediary step, prerequisite for our comprehending the complex dynamics of life."
(July 4 1975 or 1974) Performance at the U.S. Steel yard in South SF. I played synth with others (including Cellar-M) in the damp hold of a leaky steam powered salvage barge while dancers danced on deck. The electrical voltage kept fluctuating down to 90 volts making the Echo-Plexes do radical doppler style pitch changes. Nick Bertoni, an ex-submariner, gave a very precise and serious lecture about what to do if any of us got electrocuted -- all the electronic musicians listened with full attention. I had gotten off to a bad start by forgetting my bag of patch-chords but I brought my tool kit. I had to strip out the electrical wiring from a steelyard supervisor's shack to make new ones. The yard was fabricating large sections and end caps for the then under construction Alaska pipeline. We played the approximately 15 foot diameter and 5 foot high bowl-shaped end caps with 2X4s and steel rods that were lying about to good effect. We also had a barbecue and all kinds of refreshments. Eventually we were evicted by highly annoyed uniformed guards driving jeeps.
(1975 or 1976 date?) Theme Music for Howard Moscovitz's semi-weekly new music KPFA radio show. w/ Howard Moscovitz. Moog/Tcherepnin processing of characteristic KPFA radio sounds done at Howard's studio.
(date?) Experiment with loudspeaker phase displacement. I bought two columns of Polyplaner speakers from Don Buchla that I put on their sides, one on top of the other and played monophonic music through them for a "wall of sound." I attached slowly revolving cardboard and balsawood blades to a small motor that I placed in front of the speakers. Different components of the sound seemed to move independently around the room.
(1975-1976 date?) Participated in a composers discussion group that included Paul Robinson, Roger Mattox, Alice Rollins, Jan Pusina, John Bischoff, Kathy Morton, Rich Gold, and ?. I played detuned violin in a very nice improv session.
(date?) Review of Halloween performance by Cellar-M at Cat's Paw, in Ear. A literary encryption.
(date?) Participated in an anarchic music and dance event at a music rehearsal building in Sausalito. I played "Tibetan Horn Music" w/ Tom Zahuranec and a version of "Sequencer Dance Music". This event was interrupted every forty minutes or so in a spectacular manner as a helicopter would arrive or take off from the heliport right next door!
(1975-1976 date?) Played synth many times w/ Ron Heglin, Paul Kalbach and Tom Zahuranec at Paul Kalbach's studio in Oakland, and several times w/ Ron William's virtual acoustic-space system. Ron had built tiny microphones that he wore in his ears and [he] acted as a roving listener for others in the band and audience. By wearing earphones we could hear from his position and subjective "point of view." He moved little bells and rattles around his head as he went from one place to another. The effect sometimes was of the listener's consciousness instantly being displaced across the room!
(1976) Synthesizer band performance w/ Ron Heglin, Paul Kalbach and Tom Zahuranec at A NIGHT AT THE RENO, SLUM PALACE OF THE ARTS. We were on last at about 3:30 am. The police used fire axes to chop through the wall of the building to gain entrance but became strangely calm and confused when they found no rock and roll but only, to them, utterly baffling, chromatically wandering electronic drone "music".
(date?) Played a tiny, shrill siren at Virginia Quesada's "Wheels" event at the Reno Hotel in SF
(date?) I spent many consecutive hours tuning the international time signal on a shortwave radio at a Nick Bertoni happening at Fort Mason. Towards the end I had learned to play it as an instrument.
(date?) Participated in a monster jam at Tom Marioni's Museum of Conceptual Art in SF. I Played "Tibetan Horn Music" w/ Tom Zahuranec. Here the police had sealed off the street and eventually were able to signal us by flashing a large tripod-mounted spotlight beam through the windows. A non-uniformed officer was telling us something through a bullhorn as a crew with a battering ram attempted to break down the door. With great foresight the unconcerned Marioni had anticipated just such a thing and had the door reinforced with steel plate and multiple heavy crossbars. We waited quietly for a while until the police had something else to do and went away.
(summer 1976) Acquired my first Kim-1 microcomputer board. I taught myself machine language programming using the hexidecimal number system. I demo'd an automatic music piece at the composers discussion group.
(Late 1976?) Consulted on "Aeolian Harp" By Douglas Hollis. Named after Aeolis, the Greek goddess of wind, this wind-activated acoustic sculpture is mounted on the roof of the Exploratorium.
(date?) I did technical work on Douglas Hollis' long wire "Water Piano" installation in Seattle. I performed "Proletarians From UFO" on the Tcherepnin synthesizer in Doug's camera obscura installation at the And/Or Gallery. There was not much traffic in front of the gallery but across the street was a "Doggie Diner" fast food place. I enjoyed spending tens of hours playing ambient music to a dachshund doggie head on a pole slowly turning back and forth projected upside down on the gallery wall. I presented an informal afternoon tape music concert of Bay Aria experimental music for Seattle composers. At Doug's art opening at night I played in the dark camera, the "doors opening and closing" version of the "Proletarians From UFO" patch. I had a glowing green "Chemi-Lume" diver's light-stick up my sleeve that I would palm over the synth to occasionally see what I was doing. [this conflates two seperate trips]
(1976) I sold my Tcherepnin synthesizer because I needed the money. A mistake.
(Oct 20 1976) "Euler Music" at the Exploratorium as participant in a Real* Electric Symphony real-time composition. My first computer performance playing the machine as a real-time interactive semi-autonomous musical instrument. Implemented my first real-time interactive scheduler. The program played Leonhard Euler's (1707-1783) theory of just intonation. I would adjust parameters for the minimum and maximum of Euler's "gradus suavitatus" aesthetic measurement on intervals and transitions between intervals. I developed a home-brew automatically playable rhythmic system based on the idea of "the long and the short". The Kim was interfaced to a Lunetta style digital circuit of down counters and flip-flops. Frank Oppenheimer, founder and director of the Exploratorium and nice guy, was so interested in this system that he was continuously asking questions and leaning over my shoulder to see exactly what I was doing. I had a quart bottle of beer in a paper sack under the table and whenever I would bring it out he would elaborately turn around and stare at the ceiling so he could pretend to his staff, who were there, that he didn't see his rule about no eating or drinking among the exhibits being broken.
(spring of 1977) Played on Harry Partch's instruments twice; after concerts by Danlee Mitchell's group that included "Barstow" at Dominican College in Marin and at the Oakland Museum's Partch show.
(1977) First network music piece by Jim Horton and Rich Gold at Mills College. A version of Euler Music interfaced to Gold's cartoon-language conversational micro-artificial-intelligence.
(date?) "Modulation" Performance and demonstration at the CCM area of the First West Coast Computer Fair. The computer would set up and execute a peculiar chromatic modulation; trying to pass off a 7/5 tritone as a 3/2 fifth. This effect needed a waveform with no even partials (ie. square waves) to (sometimes) work. Played through a rare Fender space warp reverb, the piece tried to and occasionally suggested old-time radio dramatic interlude music. Luckily Phil Loarie's piece "Digital Dronezilla" played through "Tubatrons"--speakers inserted into long blue plexiglass tubes carried the day. Bob Gonsalves demo'd his ultrasonic motion interface. Rich Gold made some enthusiastic claims about his Kim-1 based cartoon-language conversation system and the A.I. pioneer John McCarthy picked up his ears from across the room and began examining it in close detail after which he said "You know; it really IS the world's smallest true artificial intelligence program."
(early 1978) Interviewed Lou Harrison w/ LuAnne Daly. Published as a two part series in Ear Magazine vol. 6 no. 2 March-April 1978 and vol. 6 no. 3 May-June 1978.
(May 1978) Computer music performance at Blind Lemon/New Works. Adapted from LuAnn Daly's Ear article: "The grand opening and celebration is an all-day affair, on Saturday, May 6. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., more than a dozen sound artists will be performing, making a joyful noise unto everyone. (The musicians, in alphabetical order: Sam Ashley, Ken Beckman, Nick Bertoni, John Bischoff, Jan Bright, Don Cardoza. Also, Paul DeMarinis, Elastic Ensemble, Jim Guzzetta, Jim Horton, Toni Marcus, Jan Pusina, Dragon's Den, Virginia Quesada, and Mimi Shevitz.) There's something new in Berkeley, and Bay Area lovers of New Music and its whole mixed bag of related arts have reason to celebrate. It's that old bohemian bar Blind Lemon, and it's been taken over by a loosely organized band of experimental musicians and filled with new juice. Now, in the best of the new American tradition, the performance club on 2362 San Pablo Avenue is born-again as "Blind Lemon/New Works." It's a dream come true for instrument builder and music maker Erv Denman. With a very small inheritance, Denman was able to make the down payment on the building, and has done most of the renovation work himself. The dream is to provide the East Bay with a small, intimate place to find New Music, video art, text/sound poetry, live performances, as well of course, with works in that ubiquitous, good-for-everything category "other related arts." Support comes from fellow artists: Chris Aldrich, Jim Guzzetta, Jim Horton, and Ran Sliter make up Blind Lemon/New Work's Board of Directors. The entire venture finds legal shelter under the protective wing of Ubu, Incorporated, a non-profit artists' association which also houses Ear and San Francisco's concert/theater Pangaea."
(1978) Jim Horton and John Bischoff computer network music. On the bill w/ the East Bay New Music Ensemble, at Saint John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley and at a concert hall in SF. Possibly it was at these concerts my computer played a program that interpreted philosophical diagrams based on justly intoned matrixes found in McClain's book "The Myth of Invariance."
(date?) Lecture/demonstration at the Lawrence Hall of Science Berkeley on micro-computer music by Jim Horton, John Bischoff and Paul DeMarinis. In exchange for a teletype printer for CCM.
(date?) I gave a lecture to David Doty's class at New College on the relationship between artificial memory systems as data structures, diagrams based on justly intoned matrixes, and various historical tunings of the music of the spheres.