Sound American 16: The Anthony Braxton Issue

A Constant Presence by Nate Wooley
A Constant Presence by Nate Wooley
"We all received something from Braxton with our fees for performing after the Sonic Genome. In a small envelope, written in cursive on a plain sheet of brown notepaper, was a note—the same note that everyone received, I’m sure. Written simply: 'Thank you for your music, sir. —AB'"
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"I was recently back in the old basement in my childhood home, and the extremely faded photo of Braxton is still affixed where it always has been, next to childhood heroes whose hold on me has proven far more tenuous.

 

I fixed on a mental image of that photo when, at the end of a very packed 10+1tet performance at the Big Ears Festival in Tennessee, I glanced to my right and saw an only slightly aged version next to me, holding an alto he had recently made sound transcendentally alien. [He was] smiling, on the verge of tears (as was I), at the blurry sea of applause rising out of the seats in the concert hall in appreciation of the preceding hour of pure Braxton." - Nate Wooley

Taylor Ho Bynum on Anthony Braxton
Taylor Ho Bynum on Anthony Braxton
"It is about embracing a philosophy that prizes process over product and risk over reward, yet also demands commitment, focused study, and 'doing one’s best.'"
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"Deep trees, abandoned stone foundations, wild blackberry bushes, rickety wooden bridges over muddy brooks. I felt like a protagonist in a children’s fantasy novel – finding a portal to the unexpected, full of secrets and surprise, discovery and adventure. It was a feeling I recognized from playing Anthony Braxton’s music." - Taylor Ho Bynum

Anthony Braxton's Language Music
Anthony Braxton's Language Music
"While it is not monolithic or immovable, it can be thought of as a song form of a sort—in the same way that a jazz musician may use the tradition of a Tin Pan Alley tune to channel their music."
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Download and Support!
Download and Support!
Help Sound American and the Tri-Centric Foundation continue their work by downloading the Language Music Album: The complete solo recordings made for this issue by some of creative music's brightest stars!
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"You stick with me, sir, and I'll make you a billionaire! - Anthony Braxton

Ghost Trance Music
Ghost Trance Music
"For me, GTM represents the functionality of music-making in a community. In the hope of expanding the Tri-Centric Community and creative community as a whole, the following “tool box” will contain definitions of certain symbols, terminology, and descriptions of features fundamental to Ghost Trance Music."
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"...when I find myself shutting off the radio or closing my laptop, frustrated by 'the news,' my thoughts turn to a particular memory of Anthony Braxton: boarding an international flight with him and noticing an enormous, seemingly divergent stack of printed news publications under his arm. Braxton intently leafed through this spectrum of monthlies, weeklies, dailies, glossies, and tabloids—everything from US Weekly to The Herald Tribune—for the duration of our flight. I am grateful for this memory. It very simply illustrates Braxton’s ethos: to perceive the human experience from every possible point of view. Braxton exemplifies a way of being in the world I aspire to achieve; the very effort of doing so orients my approach toward all music and lends me a greater understanding of his". - Erica Dicker

Syntactical GTM: A Conversation
Syntactical GTM: A Conversation
"It was a little stunning, after several years of performing Syntactical GTM, to discover that those letters and numbers are there for a reason. And it helped me realize that Anthony's music is full of details that can seem incidental in one context, and then in another context those same details can open up or connect to a whole other world."
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"Why would he edit the music that was recorded when he wants his listeners to be able to experience the totality of what is possible and create their own experience? Braxton isn't asking the listener to pour over every detail in every recording (though that is certainly possible); he just wants to give listeners the resources necessary to create their own version down the line and to ensure diversity and multiplicity in his massive sound catalog." - Carl Testa

"I have from the beginning taken the position that I never plan to give up anything that I’ve learned." - Anthony Braxton

The Trillium Operas
The Trillium Operas
"...he has conceived of a network of operas that '[w]hen completed…will be offered to humanity as a context to experience ‘life multiples’ and affirmation. [Braxton] envision[s] a world of ‘circumstances’ where the human experience can be celebrated in all of its splendor.'"
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Echo Echo Mirror House Music
Echo Echo Mirror House Music
" The controls embedded on this webpage represent three channels of a simplified version of the system. This example is designed to give a single person control over a small instance of the EEMHM sound collage and experiment with mixing compositions from different categories, changing volume levels, changing tempos, and fading compositions in and out of each other at different rates."
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Graham Lock. Hmmm. There are a lot of things I’d like to clarify.

 

Anthony Braxton. You realise we’re only just getting into it. (Laughs.)

"...the combined action space of Trillium E, in terms of orchestrating sonic events, is a layering principle that I refer to as my version of the Dream Space—which is very different from Wagner’s Dream Space; certainly different from Stockhausen’s Dream Space or Mr. Ellington’s Dream Space in the sacred musics." - Anthony Braxton

The Fantasy and Mystery Interviews by Graham Lock
The Fantasy and Mystery Interviews by Graham Lock
Author of "Forces in Motion", Graham Lock gives SA access to never published interviews with the composer during his transition to GTM and Trillium systems.
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