Gordon Monahan, Eclectic Electrics
David Weinstein talks to the composer and multi-media artist Gordon Monahan about early work as well as his latest creations. From his legendary, and truly adventurous, rethinking of the piano and how to play it (Piano Mechanics, a piece that wowed John Cage) to his downright scary performances of Speaker Swinging to his more current experiments with the theremin and a sauerkraut synthesizer. Plus the definitive version of his storefront/performance space in East Berlin known the The Glowing Pickle.
Gordon Monahan's works for piano, loudspeakers, video, kinetic sculpture, and computer-controlled sound environments span various genres from avant-garde concert music to multi-media installation and sound art. As a composer and sound artist, he juxtaposes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of natural acoustical phenomena with elements of media technology, environment, architecture, popular culture, and live performance.
The object of this series is to invite emerging and established innovators to share their work. These programs are usually a combination of an interview with a far-reaching perspective on the artist's career, some recordings illustrating this history, and something new. Open territory. The unfortunate and unintended messages that come attached to a title like Experimental Composers are many. Still it is one of the few labels to come out of the world of music that has not been co-opted by promoters, corporations, journalists, or lawyers. This one just seems to have anti-market goo on it. Hooray. It's also just bad English (as if to imply that these poor souls are themselves, in their flesh and blood, some kind of experiment and, perhaps, even expendable). And then there is the spectre of defying the wisdom of the great Edgar Varèse who said something like, "I do not write experimental music. My experimenting is done before I make the music. Afterwards it is the listener who must experiment."more