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Pisaro's Harmony Series revolve around the process of translating poetic works into text scores, which are then analyzed to find change in the implicit sound of the text, and developed into graphic scores for the performers; here presenting 9 of 34 pieces from the series.

Pisaro, Michael
Harmony Series 11 - 16

Pisaro, Michael : Harmony Series 11 - 16 (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Label: Edition Wandelweiser Records    
Released in: Germany    

"any tone, any tuning

The world of Michael Pisaro's Harmony Series revolves around the process of translation. In this collection of thirty-four pieces (nine of which are presented here) the composer translates a wide variety of poems into text scores. The first step is to literally trace each poem, as if one were making a stencil. A five-line poem might become a five-minute piece through this procedure. This kind of action is direct and purposely simple and it will provide a stable space from which each piece will develop. Call this architecture.

In the second step the composer seeks out the internal forces of the text. For example, a text suggesting proliferation is read as a shift from a barely to a clearly audible, multi-faceted sound. As the poem is already in motion, the composer seeks to harness energy rather than block flow. Evocative readings are eschewed in favor of direct transmutation. Asymptotes are drawn to the poem, resulting is an extremely fine mist of possibilities for the performers to tune (and detune) in performance. Call this material.

A piece is set in motion when the mist is sprayed - always lightly - through the stencil (think pathway, pinprick, or filter). This action creates a dynamic situation. As performers our ears focus as a version begins to take shape - it is unmistakable when this happens. A small flutter appears in the fabric of the piece. We notice sounds that cannot be traced back to any of the individual performers. Drawn in by the fluttering, one starts to know (or sense) what sounds are correct to play, even when there are no explicit rules for how they are to be chosen. The piece is thinking. Call this the point of contact.

To the performers the distance between score and realization will often seem impossibly large. To travel this distance is the defining experience of this music. Along the way, each realization establishes its own kind of weather system wherein complex relationships are created not only between (and within) the sounds but also the performers. On the other side of the stencil we are in unknown world - sun-distant, alive - immersed in a gently spinning mixture of tone, noise and silence, the radio having been tuned to a previously unheard channel. Call this harmony."-Greg Stuart

"Michael Pisaro was born in Buffalo in 1961. He is a composer and guitarist, a member of the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble and founder and director of the Experimental Music Workshop, Calarts. His work is frequently performed in the U.S. and in Europe, in music festivals and in many smaller venues. It has been selected twice by the ISCM jury for performance at World Music Days festivals (Copenhagen,1996; Manchester, 1998) and has also been part of festivals in Hong Kong (ICMC, 1998), Vienna (Wien Modern,1997), Aspen (1991), London (Cutting Edge, 2007), Glasgow (INSTAL 2009), Huddersfield (2009), Chicago (New Music Chicago, 1990, 1991) and elsewhere.

He has had extended composer residencies in Germany (Künstlerhof Schreyahn, Dortmund University), Switzerland (Forumclaque/Baden), Israel (Miskenot Sha'ananmim), Greece (EarTalk) and in the U.S. (Birch Creek Music Festival, Wisconsin). Concert length portraits of his music have been given in Munich, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Vienna, Merano (Italy), Brussels, New York, Curitiba (Brazil), Amsterdam, London, Tokyo, Austin, Berlin, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Zürich, Cologne, Aarau (Switzerland), and elsewhere.

He is a Foundation for Contemporary Arts, 2005 and 2006 Grant Recipient. Much of his music of the last several years is published by Edition Wandelweiser (Germany). Several CDs of his work have been released by such labels as Edition Wandelweiser Records, Compost and Height, confront, Another Timbre, Cathnor, Nine Winds and others, including most recently "transparent city, volumes 1-4", "an unrhymed chord", "hearing metal 1", "A Wave and Waves" and "harmony series (11-16)".

His translation of poetry by Oswald Egger ("Room of Rumor") was published in 2004 by Green Integer. He is Co-Chair of Music Composition at the California Institute of the Arts near Los Angeles. He has performed many of his own works and those of close associates Antoine Beuger, Kunsu Shim, Jürg Frey and Manfred Werder, and works from the experimental tradition, especially John Cage, Christian Wolff, James Tenney and George Brecht."

-Wandelweiser (

"Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/silence and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition, performance and listening. Current collaborations/projects include: Antoine Beuger, Alessandro Bossetti, Lucio Capece, Olivier Di Placido, Jrg Frey, Chris Heenan, Christian Kesten, Annette Krebs, Luke Munn, Koen Nutters, Michael Pisaro, Derek Shirley."

-Johnny Chang Website (

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Product Information:

UPC: 4011778041566

Label: Edition Wandelweiser Records
Catalog ID: EWR 0710
Squidco Product Code: 21819

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2007
Country: Germany
Packaging: Cardstock 3 page foldover
Recorded at Los Angeles/San Diego, 2006/2007.


Michael Pisaro-composer, guitar, sine tones

Johnny Chang-violine

James Orsher-harmonium

Kathryn Pisaro-oboe, english horn

Marc Sabat-violine

Mark So-piano

Greg Stuart-percussion

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Track Listing:

1. 16a Where There Is 3:49

2. 11a Zwei Finger Im Abgrund 2:21

3. 12a Is 20:11

4. 13 The Shipwreck Of The Singular 5:03

5. 14 A Single Charm Is Doubtful 13:54

6. 15 No Longer Wild 6:08

7. 12d The Best Thing 16:14

8. 11c Sonnenfern 2:33

9. 16b Tomorrow 4:29

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