Earle Brown | Available Recollections: Recordings

Bruno Maderna’s legendary recording of Earle Brown’s “Available Forms I (1961)” recorded in 1967

What happens when Available Forms I or II is recorded? A result somewhat like the Calder sculpture that does not move at the Hirshhorn: it takes on a fixed shape in space and time. Listening to a recording of Available Forms I or II, or to any of Earle’s open-form works, many times will elicit an unintended through-line. So, optimally the work should be performed a few times during a concert.

Here is an alternative approach to experiencing this work: with today’s computer technology, a website similar to Earle’s homepage, http://www.earle-brown.org/, could show the score and the listener could click on different sections (that had been recorded by a real orchestra or spliced from existing recordings) and thus act somewhat like a conductor telling the musicians which section to play and when.

(As of this posting on WordPress, Earle Brown’s Novara was recorded by the ensemble Alarm Will Sound. However, it was not recorded for a one-time linear experience. The various sound constellations in the score were recorded separately. These “sound objects” will ultimately be manipulated via a program allowing anyone – and not only a conductor – to “collaborate” with the musicians and composer.  An accessible graphic user interface will allow even a novice an interactive experience to shape the ordering of the piece and sculpt the sound in much the same manner one can move a Calder mobile and alter its shape.)

Originally published in: “Earle Brown: From Motets to Mathematics” Contemporary Music Review, Volume 26, Issue 3 & 4 June 2007 , pages 371 – 375


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