Action For Solo Violin

by Troy Schafer

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  • Troy Schafer - Action For Solo Violin (cassette)
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In an effort to remain true to the tonal values relative to the weight of an arm, tension of a bow, placement of a stick and gravity, I crafted a formal etude for critical listening and physical restraint. The score combines text and photos of my moving body with intuitive diagrams painted on transparencies. This 38 minute tape recording is a document of my 7th reading of that score as performed on violin.

-Troy Schafer

Schafer's work, a cassette release, seems to be almost as much about dance/movement/performance as music. The score includes "text and photos of my moving body" and his notes indicate concern with, among other things, "the weight of an arm". I find it almost obligatory to, when listening, imagine Schafer in motion, swinging the violin by its neck around, behind and under his body. Though bowed sounds surface every so often, the overriding impression is of pizzicato, very crisply recorded, yielding extremely prickly sensations. The sound field is very full, quite active but somehow manages to avoid feeling cluttered or overly busy, the cascade of plucks having a very natural (always irregular) cadence as though they were generated by simply sweeping the instrument through the air, the strings activated by thousands of invisible fingers. It's quite unusual and effective; I found myself wondering how it was that I enjoyed this far more than, say, any quasi-similar (not similar at all, really) music I've heard by, say, Philipp Wachsmann. The sense of a person moving in space, sounds appearing as part of this process, as a result of the arm weight, gravity and so on but in an almost ancillary manner, is striking. I don't know Schafer's music otherwise and from what I can glean on-line, this might not be typical of his work (though the notes mention that this recording was his seventh performance of the piece, so it's clearly a focus of his), but it's very much worth checking out.

- Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

Maybe it’s a pity, so I was thinking, that we don’t get to see the action as such, apart from the pictures on the cover? This is not really easy listening music. In some way you could think this is improvised music, on a violin, recorded without any amplification and consist of scraping carefully the snares with a bow, or with fingers, or both. In a way, so I was also thinking, this more like a Fluxus happening than a fixed composition or improvisation. I’m not too sure about this release. In a way its fascinating to hear, a heaven if you look for dry violin sounds of a very short nature, but beyond that I am not too sure I would easily play this again and again.

-Rafa Segura ,Vital Weekly


released September 17, 2013

Originally released on 100 cassettes via Dusty Grass Imprint

Photographs and design by Dani Schafer

Written, performed and recorded by Troy Schafer



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Troy Schafer Madison, Wisconsin



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