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Anthony Braxton: 50+ Years of Creative Music
International Conference, curated by Timo Hoyer and Kobe Van Cauwenberghe
Wed 09 August 2023, 10.00 – 18.00
10.00 Kobe Van Cauwenberghe: The possibilities of a Creative Orchestra
10.45 James Fei: Navigating Systems and the Unknown
11.45 Workshop with James Fei for singers and instrumentalists: (Syntactical) Ghost Trance Music
We’ll be exploring the wide-ranging implications and possibilities of Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music, where a performance may be a long melody read from beginning to end or a multi-hierarchical environment where the ensemble is reconfigured constantly. No prior knowledge necessary. If you have, please bring your tablet to reduce paper copies! We don’t have piano and percussion on site, but listeners are also welcome!
13.15 Lunch Break
14.15 Round table discussion on Anthony Braxton’s legacy as a composer and thinker with James Fei, Anne Rhodes, Alvin Singleton, Tyshawn Sorey, Katherine Young, moderated by Paul Steinbeck
15.45 Carl Testa: Designing Software for Anthony Braxton’s Echo Echo Mirror House Music
16.30 Workshop with Carl Testa: Echo Echo Mirror House Music
In this talk/workshop, bass player, composer, and electronic musician Carl Testa will describe and demonstrate the evolution of Anthony Braxton’s Echo Echo Mirror House Music (EEMHM) and the process of developing software to enable friendly experiencers to more easily experience this engrossing sound world in performance. Participants in the workshop will get hands-on experience with the EEMHM scores, conducting signals, and web-based software to control the EEMHM control. No experience is required to participate in the workshop. Participants must bring a smartphone or tablet with WiFi access to access the web-based controller for EEMHM. Participants are encouraged to bring an instrument as well but it is not a requirement.
For more than half a century Anthony Braxton has played a key role in contemporary and avant-garde music as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, music theorist, teacher, mentor and visionary. Inspired by Jazz, European art music, and music of other cultures, Braxton labels his output Creative Music. This international conference is the first one dealing with his work.
Braxton’s career can roughly be divided into two working periods. The first one started when he joined the AACM in 1967 and lasted until the early 1990’s. Inspired by Muhal Richard Abrams and his fellow AACM colleagues he quickly developed his own methods for improvisation and composition using a system he called “Language Music”. He released his landmark solo album For Alto, toured with the band Circle, created his own ensembles and recorded music for a variety of labels, mostly European minors as well as for the international major Arista. In this period Braxton became a “superstar of the jazz avant-garde” (Bob Ostertag), even though he acted as a non-conformist and was thus perceived as highly controversial. As a composer he wrote music for piano, small and large ensembles, 100 tubas, orchestra, multiple orchestras and more. During these years he published his philosophical Tri-Axium Writings (three volumes) and Composition Notes (five volumes).
In the second period Braxton enhanced some of his compositional principles from the earlier period, and partly redefined and reshaped some of his thoughts about music. It starts in the mid 1990s with the creation of his so-called Ghost Trance Music, a musical concept that creatively fuses elements of composition and improvisation. It became the foundation of the twelve components of a holistic system he called Tri-Centric Modeling. As a basic premise for this period he built up his Tri-Centric Foundation and founded a record label (Braxton House / New Braxton House). As of today he works on his not yet finished opera cycle, Trillium and in addition to Ghost Trance Music he developed other compositional systems within the holistic Tri-Centric Model, such as Diamond Curtain Wall Music (a study of interactive electronic sound), Falling River Music (a system of graphic scores), Echo Echo Mirror House Music (an interactive sound collage consisting of Braxton’s complete recorded output) and his latest prototype Thunder Music, which will be premiered as part of the Darmstadt Summer Course (7 August 2023).
The conference will address a variety of topics which are central to Braxton’s work. In addition to an interview with Braxton himself and a roundtable discussion with some of his close collaborators and experts, there will be several lectures by performers and leading researchers in the field, as well as two interactive workshops to give Summer Course participants a chance to directly engage with Braxton’s Creative Music.
With the friendly support of ARIA (Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts) at the University of Antwerp