Robert Ashley: Musik with Roots in the Aether


Video Portraits of Composers and their Music
Produced and Directed by Robert Ashley

Philip Glass

Pauline Oliveros

Terry Riley

Alvin Lucier, Robert AShley, Anne Koren (v.l.n.r.)

Philip Makanna, Director of Photography; Maggi Payne, Sound Recordist; Jerry Pearsall, Video Recordist. William Farley, Concept Consultant; Pat Kelly, Camera Assistant. Additional sound recording by Peg Ahrens, David Behrman, Peter Gordon and Marc Grafe.

MUSIC WITH ROOTS IN THE AETHER is a music-theater piece in color video. It is the final version of an idea that I had thought about and worked on for a few years: to make a very large collaborative piece with other composers whose music I like. Originally I hoped that it could be realized as a live performance piece, in a much different form, but that was too impractical to think about for very long. Among the real choices, video is by far the best medium for many reasons.
 The collaborative aspect of MUSIC WITH ROOTS IN THE AETHER is in the theater of the interviews, at least primarily! and I am indebted to all of the composers involved for their generosity in allowing me to portray them in this manner.
 The piece turns out to be, in addition, a large scale documentation of an important stylistic that came into American concert music in about 1960. These composers of the "post-serial" / "post-Cage" movement have all made international reputations for the originality of their work and for their contributions to this area of musical compositions.
 The style of the video presentation comes from the need I felt to find a new way to show music being performed. I have always objected to the meaning that camera editing in television—which derives from the most mundane and dumbest practical considerations in film-making—gives to music. (Film is montaged, first of all, because it has to be. Cameras can’t run very many minutes at a time. Everybody who has ever tried to film music being made has had to deal with this problem. Then it got over into television from our habits.) The idea of the visual style of MUSIC WITH ROOTS IN THE AETHER is plain: to watch as closely as possible the action of the performers and to not "cut" the seen material in any way—that is, to not editorialize on the time domain of the music through arbitrary space-time substitutions.
 The visual style for showing the music being made became the "theater" (the stage) for the interviews, and the portraits of the composers were designed to happen in that style.
 I am also indebted to the artists who helped work out the realization of this music/video style in the recording process. In particular, I think that a the camera ideas of Philip Makanna and the sound recording of Maggi Payne use a kind of concentration of attention that is very new to "visual" media and that is more like music than like film or like television. — Robert Ashley

MUSIC WITH ROOTS IN THE AETHER was made possible by grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, The Harry G. Steele Foundation and Broadcast Music, Inc.


Landscape with David Behrman (57:40)
The Music of David Behrman (57:40)
 "Music with Melody-Driven Electronics"


Landscape with Philip Glass (57:40)
The Music of Philip Glass (50:57)
 "Music in 12 Parts: Part 2"
 "Act I, Scene 1, Einstein on the Beach"


Landscape with Alvin Lucier (57:40)
 including the performance of "Outlines of Persons and Things" (1975)
The Music of Alvin Lucier (57:40)
 "Bird and Person Dyning" (1975)
 "Music for Solo Performer" (1965)


Landscape with Gordon Mumma (57:40)
The Music of Gordon Mumma (57:40)
 "Some Voltage Drop" (1974):
 "Simulcast", "Schoolwork", "Telepos/Foxbat"


Landscape with Pauline Oliveros (57:40)
 including "Unnatural Acts Between Consenting Adults," a collaboration with Carol Vencius
Landscape with Pauline Oliveros (continued) and The Music of Pauline Oliveros (57:40)
 "Rose Mountain Slow Runner"

Program 6. TERRY RILEY

Landscape with Terry Riley (57:40)
The Music of Terry Riley (46:03)
 "Shri Camel: Morning Corona"


Landscape with Robert Ashley (57:40)
 "What She Thinks (It’s History)"
The Music of Robert Ashley (45:00)
 "Title Withdrawn"

Philip Makanna, Director and Camera
Jerry Pearsall Video Recordist and Technical Director
Maggi Payne, Audio Recordist
William Farley, Concept Consultant

Tom Crawford, Post Production CMX Editor
Stand-By at Matrix, Post Production

Produced and directed by Robert Ashley
Copyright © P Robert Ashley, 1976

The National Endowment for the Arts
The Rockefeller Foundation
The Ford Foundation
The Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music
The Harry G. Steele Foundation
Broadcast Music, Inc.

Lovely Music, Ltd.
a division of Lovely Communications
10 Beach Street
New York, NY 10013

All rights reserved. These tapes are intended solely for the non-commercial use of the purchaser. No part of the artistic program, whether visual, musical or verbal, may be excerpted or reproduced in any medium or electronic format without the express written permission of the author and Lovely Communications.