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Slonimsky Lecture MP3

Here’s another nugget from the Other Minds catalog at archive.org (aka the Internet Archive). This time it’s a 1987 discussion with Nicholas Slonimsky, the legendary musical biographer, and a humorous and insightful speaker, who passed away in 1995 at age 101. When the OM founder Charles Amirkhanian inquires how, for example, Slonimsky clarified that composer Villa-Lobos was born in 1887, not 1890, he replies: “I asked his mother. His mother at that time was 102. … I wasn’t even sure if she was alive. She looked fossilized.” He talks and jokes about musicians he has known, from Ravel to Varese to Frank Zappa. He plays a few of his own pieces, including “Objets Trouves in the Dodecaphonic Environment,” explaining that the “objets trouves” (aka the found object) is “a device invented by modern composers who were incapable of composing.” He tells the story of how he came to befriend Frank Zappa, whom he teases about the great expense of his $100,000 Synclavier. It’s a great, hour-long talk. Highly recommended. (This link should go to versions of the talk in different formats, depending on which browser you’re using.) There’s a lot more by and about Slonimsky in the Internet Archive, if you look around.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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