Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Travelon Gamelon

Travelon Gamelon (from http://acousmata.com/page/2) 'Richard Lerman (1944-) is an American composer and sound artist best known for his use of piezoelectric microphones to record minute natural sounds such as the falling of raindrops on blades of grass or the march of ants across the desert floor. Beyond his artistic production in this domain, Lerman has worked for decades to popularize field recording by educating people about the technical and aesthetic principles of the practice. Lerman’s most iconic composition is something quite different: Travelon Gamelon, conceived in the late 1970s, is a clever musicalization of the common bicycle. The work exists in two versions: concert and “promenade.” The concert version calls for three bicycles turned upside down and each “played” by a performer. The piece is carefully written out using a combination of conventional and graphic notation, directing the performer to create sound by plucking and bowing the spokes of the wheel, applying the brakes, and striking the frame. All these sounds are miked and subjected to live electronic modification. The promenade version, by contrast, is relatively free in structure, the sounds being generated by the impact of the spokes against various inserted materials (similar to the classic playing-card noisemaker familiar from childhood). The rhythmic whirring is captured by tiny homemade pickups, which send it via battery-powered amplifiers to loudspeakers attached to the bicycles’ handlebars. This recording is an excerpt from a 45-minute performance of the promenade version of Travelon Gamelon, recorded on July 2, 1979, on the occasion of the opening of the Boston Museum of Transportation. The recording, of course, cannot do justice to this perambulatory piece of public art; it provides, at most, what John Cage called a “postcard” rendition of the event itself. Nonetheless, one can get a sense of the spirit of the piece, which has been performed many times all over the world since its premiere. Travelon Gamelon was first released by the always-adventurous Folkways Records in 1982, and you can download the album and view the liner notes on the label’s website. It was re-released along with other Lerman compositions by Japanese label EM Records in 2006.'


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  2. Always loved this piece I'd be up for performing it sometime