Sunday, January 23, 2011

Drawing Music :: Sō Percussion with Dan Deacon

So Percussion and Dan Deacon

On February 20, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, Sō Percussion collaborated with composer Dan Deacon for a night of unprecedented experimental music. Imagine: the audience was orchestrated to play their cell phones, and musicians on stage jammed with fizzing carbonated soft drinks.  These are the highlights from that mind-blowing night. 

Dan Deacon and the noise-making audience. 

Somehow, when you consider anthropological origins of music, that show is not so far out all of a sudden. Contextually, it's a product of it's time and serves the same purpose as it did for, say, aborigines centuries ago. 

Prehistoric music originated from imitations of nature sounds and animal sounds by humans for reasons of communication and survival.  Language developed alongside, on a parallel path. Fast forward to 21 century and we still imitate our immediate surroundings through music and language in order to exchange emotions and ideas. In the case of Sō & Dan Deacon's sold out performance, it was cell phones (primary communication device) and sweetened carbonated soft drinks (big part of our diet). Imagine 500 strangers who synchronize their mobile devices to "perform" together, and who are told to yell-stomp-clap-sing-breathe together. 15 minutes into the aural madness, the crowd managed to get into a strangely tribal groove. The experience of this half-hour mass noise production was quite…bonding, actually. Our group cacophony was the thing that made us one. It made us feel so good, in fact, that there were massive outbursts of laughter. Anthropologists wonder whether musicality was naturally selected over non-musicality as an attribute of survival. Why? Because it's a non-violent way to resolve conflict. 

So Percussion playing with soda.

*Drawn on my iPhone
Composer Dan Deacon

Now, I'm not a sociologist, nor an anthropologist. I'm an artist whose job is "to make drawings, not sense" (William Kentridge said that.) I admire Dan Deacon for the way he thinks and plays with ideas (good pun?). As for Sō Percussion, they never seize to amaze. I love how daring they are in pushing the limits of possible. And yet they always manage beautiful harmonies and hypnotizing rhythmic patterns.  Here are more drawings from that night.

 So Percussion's magic


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