Sunday, January 31, 2010

Note on Electronics and Empowerment of Poetics

In the day, Ed Sanders’ notes on futurist performance modes of investigative poets were a resonant signal – Achilles meets RoboCop! He presented the picture of a modern troubadour wired for total full-metal cyberpoet attack. There was some useful irony after all in the idea that the work of the technology infused artist Jimi Hendrix could be used to dissemble or baffle at least the technology infused uber society of the Johnson-Nixon era military complex. Witness Hendrix’s rendition of the StarSpangled Banner.

The electronic music components a’ brew in the mid-‘70s – with synthesizers on chips and associated circuitry on the shelves at Radio Shack - could carry the poetry forward. These considerations came to Sanders as he ratcheted down a rock music career, to focus on poetics.

In Investigative Poetry he writes:

“Poets will, in the new few years, be able to affix “tone rows” or tangible tone triggers on, say, their forearms, or knees, or thrill nodes, so that during a poem, merely by touching themselves, they can produce, by beaming signals to a noise source, concomitant chords, noises, heart beats, animal songs, percussion, friendly wafts of negative ions, or even projected images that speak in exact harmony (as an overdub in a sound studio, but instanter) with the flow of bard-babble…”

We will take the electronic equipage he conjures in 1976 in “Investigative Poetry” as a bit of a starting point as we look through the inky paisley veil of time to observe a set of electronic devices Sanders built beginning in about 1975. His musical inventions each took names – the Talking Tie, the Pulse Lyre, the Light Lyre, the Microlyre, the Mona Lisa Lyre, and so on. Together they are known as The Electronic Bard System. The first public appearance of such an instrument occurred at Naropa Institute.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Note on "Investigative Poetry" and ‘the public performances of investigative poets’

Around 1975 Ed Sanders included some observations on ‘the public performances of investigative poets’ as part of a lecture prepared for sessions at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The lecture, which called on poets to “again assume responsibility for the description of history,” became the basis for Investigative Poetry, City Lights, 1976, and a signpost for Sanders’ subsequent work – a steady stream of sidereal poetry marked recently by a four volume verse history of 20th Century America. Educated in Greek at NYU [1964], Sanders saw special lyric possibilities in combining investigation, poetry, and electronic musical instruments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Note on The Pelican History of Music Volume 1 – Ancient Forms to Polyphony

Among the formative influences in the development of western music are some that arise out of the world of the Ancient Greeks, the myth and the epic. Western literature also springs from this same font. Bards sang or talk-chanted the national epic poems describing the gods as they strummed lyres – and ‘poetry and music [were] one in execution.’ It is thought that preludes and interludes played on the lyre were part of the presentation. The term for ‘instrument’ was ‘katharsis’ taken now in English to stand for ‘relieve of emotion.’ Reed-pipes also became part of the act, especially among the Dionysian crew that followed the paths of the vineyards. “Lyric poems were so called from their being sung to the lyre.”

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