Monday, September 08, 2008
P4P Video - John Zorn's Cobra
Here's a new feature at Pound for Pound, as we're gonna get all visual on your asses. During my hiatus, when I was studying for the GRE, I spent much of the time scouring Youtube for cool music videos (and videos on cysts, big boobs and Flyers fights). I'm gonna try to give you the results of those searches once a week from here on out, hopefully everyone enjoys the videos.
Here's one of my favorites that I encountered, a part of the 1992 Channel 4 TV documentary On The Edge: Improvisation In Music. This segment looks at John Zorn and his game pieces. I can't say that I am an expert on these, but having had the fortune to finally see a live performance of the most famous game piece, Cobra, conducted by Zorn at the Music Under the (Brooklyn) Bridge series a month or so back with that hyphenated girl JH-B, I wanted to talk a little about it.
It was amazing to watch it live, as Zorn conducts the ensemble through note cards that indicate specific rules which denotes what a performer can do, in essence a set of rules that the performers must work with. The music almost becomes secondary, as the real thrill is watching people communicate with each other in order to create the small groups they want. There's a lot of pointing and eye contact, sometimes subtle, occasionally over-the-top. Zorn explains it much better in the video: "It becomes kind of a scary, frightening thing, to be in front of that band, to see these people, kind of, blossom and become the assholes that they really are." Check this wikipedia page for more info on Cobra and the game pieces. Most definitely watch the video, as it gives great insight to what the pieces are all about, what Zorn is trying to do with them, plus it's a great interview with the reclusive Zorn.
Most of all, the video will remind you of just how exciting it is to hear from someone who lives and breathes music, whose . I'll have a lot more to say about Zorn down the road, as he is a key figure for my own musical development and a big part of that early 80s downtown NYC scene that is at the heart of this blog.