On ___ " American composer John Cage devised procedures for transforming
a book into a "musicircus," a mixed-media event for spoken text, recorded
sounds and live performance, in which all the elements in the event are derived
from the book itself. My realization uses as source text Jack Kerouac's 1957
classic road trip novel On the Road.
The spoken text
is a "mesostic" (Cage's variation of an acrostic), a poem composed
by drawing words from the source text in a sequential manner, greatly condensing
the amount of material and upsetting syntactic conventions, but retaining the
flavor and spirit of the original prose. [Editor's Note: You can appreciate
the evolution of this work by first reading and hearing Thorman's complete mesostic
poem, "Just a talk about except," as published
in Acoustic Levitation.]
The recorded sounds
are sounds described in the book, and recordings from locations mentioned in
the book, mixed so that they correspond to the sequence established by the poem.
Part One of Kerouac Circus corresponds to the first part of the novel,
in which Kerouac and Neal Cassady drive from New York to Denver and San Francisco.
elements include bop trio, folk singer, Mexican guitar music, and swing dance.
The complete five-part event will be premiered as part of the Biannual International
Electro-Acoustic Music Festival in New York City in November. [http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/spotlite/news/111104.htm]
Almost all of the
sounds were gathered from YouTube and freesound.org and mixed with Audacity
in March 2009.
Marc Thorman is
a composer and performer residing in New York City. He currently teaches theory
and history at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, City University
of New York. His doctoral dissertation is the first comprehensive analysis of
the use of text and speech in compositions by John Cage. Thorman has composed
works for solo piano, electronic media, and acoustical instruments, including
an opera for children through a commission from Meet the Composer. He worked
as an improvisational pianist for The Boston Ballet, and led a Boston punk rock
band that produced several independent releases. He is currently composing and
producing "Baseball Portraits," a video-sound installation, and recording
an album of original music for piano and phonograph records.