miscellany: Music Notes

Duplex Planet Stories told by David Greenberger
Music performed by Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
Notes by Michael Bierylo
1001 Real Apes is a spoken word/sound collage performance by David Greenberger and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. David Greenberger is the originator and publisher of The Duplex Planet, a magazine of interviews he conducted with elderly residents of The Duplex, a nursing home near Boston. For this performance David Greenberger will present selected stories from The Duplex Planet, with music and sonic landscapes provided by Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. The stories are alternately funny, moving, wise, silly, and inspirational, and provide a unique vision into the minds and souls of older people’s streams of consciousness. The nature of these stories provides fertile ground for an exploration of how text, music and sound can co-exist in a performance. The focus of the performance will be to give life to the stories as well as the states of mind they come from.

From a musical point of view the question is: How does one compose the soundtrack for a person’s life? The text in this case presents no real conclusions. Where there is narrative, the story doesn’t necessarily end; stream of consciousness is usually telling us about something beneath the surface. Film history provides us with numerous examples of how composers have dealt with this, most often by calling the current “new music” into complicity, as it is often thought to provide an easy rendering of states of confusion. Reading The Duplex Planet , though, one is struck by the fact that these characters are not confused. They have their own reality, their special place. And it is from this place that the music and sound for this performance needs to come. 1001 Real Apes will run as a continuous performance piece for one hour followed by an intermission and a short set of new works and improvisations from Birdsongs.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic is a four-piece electric new music ensemble exploring and expanding the boundaries of contemporary music. The group has earned wide critical praise and international recognition for its innovative music, an unusual mix of classical, rock, minimalism, jazz, and free-form sound. Founded in 1980, Birdsongs has released material on the Rykodisc, Cuneiform, and Ace of Hearts labels. These recordings have been distributed and reviewed internationally, and the band has appeared live on both US and Canadian network radio broadcasts.

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