Michael Pisaro – Only [Harmony Series #17]

“Only [Harmony Series #17]” arose, as part of the whole collection of harmony series pieces, as something of a special case. Each of the other pieces in the series tries to understand harmony as the sum of potential relationships between (human) performers. Consequently in these works, the actual harmonic relations are not prescribed, just the structure for these relationships. “Only” attempts to reframe this question in a different context. Here one is asked, under the aegis of a poem by Kenneth Rexroth, to listen to an environment for a long time, occasionally responding (by making a long tone). In performing the piece, I encounter the following questions: “What, in the sum of things occurring now, do I hear, and how do these things harmonize themselves? How can I express my relation to this harmony as a tone? What effect does this have on my continued listening? How will I spend my time? Do I experience the void or just imagine it?” Michael Pisaro

Composer: Michael Pisaro
Curated by Jason Brogan
Co-curated and Produced by Compost and Height

Sam Sfirri
A small porch in Prague.
6:09PM-6:49PM, August 31, 2009
Sam Sfirri – Only (40:11) MP3

31st August

Ryan Jewell
Afternoon, Watson’s Bay, Sydney, Australia

Casey Anderson
Laptop. 30/08/2009. 11:00pm – 12:00am. Los Angeles, CA

Casey Anderson – Only (60:00) Loseless (Please right click to download)
Casey Anderson – Only (60:00) MP3

Jason Brogan
30 August 2009, late evening, Chicago, IllinoisThe temperature was unusually cool and a breeze was present throughout the performance in the patio space behind my residence. Stimulated by the winds, the vegetation provided a continuous, rustling accompaniment to my e-bowed tones. Nearby automobiles, dogs and neighbors offered occasional contributions. In addition to Michael Pisaro and Manfred Werder, the performance was dedicated to my sister, whose birthday extended the harmonic complexity of the realization.

Barry Chabala
August 29. 2009 2:00PM at Park’s Lake gazebo. Rockaway, NJ
Only – Barry Chabala (32:33) Loseless
Only – Barry Chabala (32:33) MP3

Manfred Werder
28th of August, 3:32 pm to 5:37 pm
Gessner-Garten of the Old Botanical Garden, Zürich.
Performance: Manfred Werder
Audience: Passer-by visiters of the Botanical Garden.
Bright sun, around 27°C. A strong wind moved the clouds which produced beautiful and abrupt light changes. The whole flora in the Gessner-Garten, on a little hill centrally located in the inner city, was sounding, moved by the winds – all plants and trees with their each different white noises, and all that mixed with the sounds of near traffic and city life. Getting lost in the great late summer abundance of the garden’s vegetation.

Ben Owen
Recorded august 28 2009. Jacob Riis park far Rockaway Queens NY
A very windy day, in growth a short walk into the dunes from the ocean. a louder tone, then quieter, quietest.
Only – Ben Owen (54:14) Loseless
Only – Ben Owen (54:14) MP3

James Saunders
Location: 52.022981, -1.868205
Realised near Broadway in Worcestershire. 27th August from 15:00 – 15:30

Richard Kamerman
August 26, 2009; 10:30pm PST. Parking lot of the Deluxe Inn; Redding, CA.
Buzzers, batteries, alligator clips, performed whilst Anne and Billy stayed in the room to watch Delta Force 2.
Only – Richard Kamerman (50:36) Loseless

Jez riley French
My intention was to give myself the space for a first try at this score. I recorded this version outside Rowley Church in East Yorkshire, not far from my home. I wasn’t aware of an attempt to ‘perform’ the score, instead I was exploring it and thinking about different things. In that sense this is a record of a non-performance. I don’t want to detach myself from who I am, how I feel. At the time of this recording I wasn’t only thinking of the score. It is an intuitive response.
Jez riley French – September 2009
Performance recorded on August 26th, 2009 – outside Rowley Church, East Yorkshire, mid-afternoon
Only – Jez riley French (24:36) MP3

Joseph Clayton Mills
Performed 26 August 2009 from approx. 12:30 pm through 1:30 pm at the Osaka Japanese Garden on Wooded Island in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
The Osaka Garden is an oasis of relative quiet in the midst of an otherwise very noisy urban environment; the small waterfall near the teahouse dominates the soundscape, but other less bucolic sounds intermittently intrude—traffic, airplanes passing overhead, the nearby commuter train, and the voices or footfalls of other visitors to the garden. This particular day was unseasonably cold, windy, and overcast, with the result that I largely had the garden to myself for the duration of the performance; the weather seemed to suffuse the park with a lonely and somewhat melancholic atmosphere.
Having spent some time considering the score—and closely considering the Rexroth text, in particular—it seemed appropriate to me, on several levels, to perform this piece using one of my late grandmother’s hearing aids. When clasped in my palm, the hearing aid produced quiet, gently modulated feedback; on opening my hand, the feedback ceased. I spent approximately 1 hour sitting, listening, and occasionally responding to the surrounding space or the course of my own thoughts by closing and opening my hand.
Only – Joseph Clayton Mills (09:15) Loseless

Sarah Hughes
Recorded in a field by Lonesome Lane, Y Drenewydd
Date: 24/08/09 Time: 8pm
Only – Sarah Hughes (20:08) Loseless

Vanessa Rossetto
Recorded at 2 pm on August 23, 2009 in Austin, Texas. 104* F Wind NE at 3 mph Humidity 31%
Only – Vanessa Rossetto (24:29) Loseless
Only – Vanessa Rossetto (24:29) MP3

Adam Sonderberg
Adam Sonderberg, oscillator (82Hz sine tone) w/ volume pedal
Realized outdoors in Chicago on Friday, 21 August 2009 @ 3.25 PM
Duration: 30 minutes
No recording was made.

Patrick Farmer
Pwll Penarth, Y Drenewydd, Powys, Wales. 21/08/09. 11am. Large singing crystal bowl, tuned to G.
Left ear to the door. After ending first tone the river distorted. Whilst in the middle of the tone the flow of the river fragmented, separating the process, hearing water in its myriad formations. Upon ending the piece the weir at my back developed two distinct tones, though I cannot remember the difference between the two.
Time is not quiet, I hear it but I do not know how to hear it, I can’t go back to it because I can’t remember it.
Only – Patrick Farmer (11:05) Loseless Excerpt

Jason Kahn
Some Notes on Making the Recording I recorded this version of Michael Pisaro’s composition “Only [harmony series no. 17]” in the swiss Alps, about an hour’s hike from the village of Brüsti in the state of Uri. After reading the score I instantly thought of doing the recording here. I’d been to Brüsti several times with my family for holidays, so I knew the area relatively well and was confident I could find a good spot to record. I made the recording with a large steel bowl I bought at a flea market in Zürich. I played the bowl with one hand, using a soft vibraphone mallet. After arriving in Brüsti I walked further up in the mountains, trying to find a place away from the hiking trails. I settled on a small ridge rising between two valleys, with a view of the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) in front of me. The elevation was around 2000 meters (6000 feet). I spent a good deal of time finding the right position for the microphones and the steel bowl. It became immediately apparent how far removed this site was from the cliché of the alpen idyll, as a steady background of cowbells, rushing water, wind and the occasional airplane made for a very dense and sometimes loud environment. The cowbells came from a herd of cows far down in the valley behind me, as did the water which flowed from a slowly thawing patch of snow around the size of a football field. As I was using very sensitive microphones, all these sounds tend to take on more of a presence on the recording than they did when I was sitting there listening and playing. The sound of flies buzzing past the microphones or even some of the birds singing were not audible to me until I listened back to the recording. The wind played a great role in both my playing and the recording. At times I was engulfed in fairly strong gusts blowing in from the valleys below. This had the effect of either sweeping some sounds away or amplifying them. I sometimes had the sense that the cows had moved away or that the river was slowly drying up. But as soon as the wind receded these sounds returned to their previous levels. At one point the wind even made it possible for me to hear the steam ships down on the Vierwaldstättersee blowing their horns as they headed into port. On the recording the wind becomes especially evident when I am playing the bowl. I had the feeling that I played at fairly constant dynamic levels and also rather softly, but, depending on the direction and intensity of the wind. the sound of the bowl would either almost disappear or become more audible. In any case, my aim when playing was to somehow find a way of co-existing with the sonic environment up there on the ridge. In a way, I didn’t want to concentrate as much on my playing as on all the sound events occurring around me. I’d have to say that the first time I played the bowl on the recording, after sitting still and listening for around ten minutes, I experienced the strange sensation that I was somehow encroaching on the natural sound environment, so alien did the steel bowl sound in relation to everything else. After several minutes of playing I started to feel more comfortable with my role and found a way into the sounds around me.
Technical Information
I made this recording with a mid-side array of Sennheiser MKH30 and MKH60 microphones going into a Sound Devices 702 digital recorder. The microphones were set up around twelve feet from the bowl. I wanted to make sure I had a good balance between the signal coming from the bowl and the natural environment. It seemed that having the bowl close mic’d would be going against the spirit of the composition.
Back in the studio I rolled off the bass frequencies below 60 hz. Other than this, there was no noise reduction, compression or any other post-production applied to the recording.
Recorded August 18, 2009. Brüsti, Switzerland.
Only – Jason Kahn (43:07) Flac
Only – Jason Kahn (43:07) MP3

Rhodri Davies
Recorded early afternoon at Hafod Woods. August 17th 2009.

Julia Holter
Union Station, Los Angeles, CA, August 7, 2009 10:30-11:30 pm
According to the station site, Union Station is only closed for one minute everyday.
The hour before this minute must be really different than all of the other hours. The performance took place during the first half of that hour. I wasn’t there for the minute.
Many people had questions for me while I was at the station, including security, the ventilation system, and a travelling college girl. People, as they pass, might not notice how long their voices will survive without them in the reverberant lobby. In a space with so many questions and only one minute of answer, it was nice to perform the activity “Only” sets up: to listen to the voices–dependent and independent of their sources, to think about how to respond, and then to respond, sometimes all at once.
Only – Julia Holter (59:01) Loseless

Steve Roden
10:45 pm 2nd August
front lawn / darkness / crickets & cars / body on grass / face up / eyes at moon / through a tree / stars / harmonica / voice / breath / airplane / fourteen minutes…
Only – Steve Roden (14:05) MP3

Julia Eckhardt
The beach of St.Idesbald on the belgium coast
8.00pm. 1st August.
Only – Julia Eckhardt (13:25) Loseless

Michael Pisaro
Neufelden, Austria, 2pm
“This mono recording is a ca. 15 minute excerpt of my performance of “only: harmony series no. 17″ on the afternoon of 1 August (2009) near the Austrian town of Neufelden. I walked along a path following the Grosse Mühl until I came to a nice peaceful spot to spend a long period of time. The recording captures mainly the sound of the river itself and the nearby birds, with the occasional airplane. After a while I begin playing. This performance, like the score itself, is dedicated to Manfred Werder.”
Only – Michael Pisaro (15:07) Loseless
Only – Michael Pisaro (15:07) MP3

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