Infinite Ear : Title Withdrawn

Title Withdrawn is a film based on the music of his piece Automatic Writing. Ashley used his own involuntary speech that results from his mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome as one of the voices in the music. The second voice is a French translation of his ideas. Ashley was intrigued by his involuntary speech, and the idea of composing music that was unconscious. His interest in the use of voice and words went beyond their explicit denotation, believing their rhythm and inflection could convey meaning even if one does not understand the actual phonemes. It features David Peterson and Donald Renzulli from the California School of the Deaf signing the involuntary speech heard in Automatic Writing.

Title Withdrawn belongs to a series of videos, Music with Roots in the Aether, directed by Robert Ashley, in which he establishes a panorama of the New York experimental scene of the early 1970s through interviews and concerts by Pauline Oliveros, Philip Glass and Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, Terry Reiley and Robert Ashley himself.

Watch the film on UbuWebfilm (min 57'43'')

“Music with Roots in the Aether is a music-theater piece in color video. It is the final version of an idea that I had thought about and worked on for a few years: to make a very large collaborative piece with other composers whose music I like. The collaborative aspect of Music with Roots in the Aether is in the theater of the interviews, at least primarily, and I am indebted to all of the composers involved for their generosity in allowing me to portray them in this manner.

The piece turns out to be, in addition, a large-scale documentation of an important stylistic that came into American concert music in about 1960. These composers of the “post-serial” / “post-Cage” movement have all made international reputations for the originality of their work and for their contributions to this area of musical compositions.

The style of the video presentation comes from the need I felt to find a new way to show music being performed. The idea of the visual style of Music with Roots in the Aether is plain: to watch as closely as possible the action of the performers and to not “cut" the seen material in any way--that is, to not editorialize on the time domain of the music through arbitrary space-time substitutions.

The visual style for showing the music being made became the “theater” (the stage) for the interviews, and the portraits of the composers were designed to happen in that style.” — Robert Ashley

Robert Ashley, Title Withdrawn (Music with Roots in the Aether), 58:40 minutes/color/NTSC, Lovely Music, VHS, 1976

Director and Camera: Philip Makanna;
Audio Recordist: Maggi Payne;
Video Recordist and Technical Director: Jerry Pearsall