Row, row, row your boat!

Singing this on New Year’s Eve, we marveled at the profundity of a children’s song about this dream we call life. Thinking about that song now as I launch my boat on a year long voyage through Terry Riley’s mystical marvel of a composition, “In C.” Jim Kellough introduced me to “In C” and I felt a connection to the piece immediately: fifty-three melodic phrases played in sequence over an eighth note pulse. A little direction and ALOT of space. I love it! So The Idiosyncratic Beats of DeJacusse featuring Jude Casseday will spend the year playing and exploring this incredible sonic space in a variety of contexts with many collaborators

Why now?

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of Terry Riley’s acclaimed musical work. The piece premiered on November 4, 1964 in San Francisco and was recognized even then as a landmark, revolutionary piece. Riley’s directions for playing “In C” are basic, and encourage a serious playfulness. An eighth note pulse grounds the musicians as they play through each phrase, usually staying within 2 – 3 phrases of each other. Since there is no downbeat, a single phrase can end up with multiple iterations over the pulse. There is a feeling of moving in and out of time with amazing counterpulses and otherworldly harmonics created whenever the piece is performed. No wonder San Francisco music writer Alfred Frankenstein called it “Music Like None Other On Earth.” Upon receiving performance permission and purchasing scores in September, 2014, I began selecting voices and creating clips for the 53 phrases of “In C” in Ableton Live digital audio workstation (DAW) software. Ableton Live is my music gymnasium/playground/laboratory. (I will devote some future posts to Ableton.) Once all the phrases were plugged-in and instruments chosen, I began to play with “In C.”

What is the intention of this exploration?

I am curious about how far we can deepen into this piece of music. It invites us to enter with ears wide-open into a sonic world. There are rooms in that world I want to explore. For example, the composer recommends that as the musicians play through the phrases, they stay within 2 to 3 patterns of each other. This approach creates a particular sonic movement that is intentional. I am intrigued with combining the phrases that are further apart. I have been playing with the phrases in various combinations ( i.e. all long tone phrases, all 1-2 note phrases) and the depth and variety of sound with just the Ableton instruments are amazing. A different song everytime!
The second thing I am intrigued with is what more can be heard when the Ableton renditions are diffused into acoustic spaces with other instruments. My plan is to perform “In C” at various venues with groupings of live musicians throughout 2014. The year long celebration culminates with a 12 hour happening of “In C” in the Fall of 2014. And I am very interested in how people will receive this work, especially when we do longer forms of it.

I hope that you all will come along on this journey. If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, I hope you will come out for some performances. If you are a musician and would like to play the piece (no one has to commit to every performance or the whole 12 hour happening) or if you have an event happening that “In C” might be a part of, please contact me at
I am so excited to begin this journey!! I will update this blog at least weekly, so stay tuned.

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