Spontaneous Miscellaneous

From time to time SF Guerrilla Opera will spontaneously share miscellaneous news. Here are our first three segments:


1. Guerrilla Opera as Culture Jamming:

SF Guerrilla Opera was mentioned today in a blog post published by A World Without Borders. The post, titled “Police State vs. Democracy:  Culture Jamming as Creative Resistance #OpBART“, discusses increased, and arguably illegal, policing during recent demonstrations in the United States. Examples given are the #OpBART demonstrations and the arrest of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman while covering the 2008 Republican Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Halfway through the post the focus switches to “Culture Jamming“, citing SF Guerrilla Opera’s Canyouhearmenow? and Anonymous’ Tunak Tunak Ton dance as examples of the mode. A World Without Borders writes:

During OpBART 1, a group called the SF Guerilla Opera aided the operation, turning the platform into a stage to act out the scene: “Can you hear me now?” Their act engaged a playful artistic space to show what is happening to our rights. This type of stunt was a good example of culture jamming in a politicized scenario.

By turning the street into a theater, one has a chance to convey a message by changing the context, shaking up public perception. For example, what if a bunch of protesters with Anonymous masks engage in a creative performance in numerous BART stations at exactly the same time dancing the Tunak Tunak Tun. [sic] Non-confrontational and spontaneous artistic acts might change things enough in the moment to disarm the guarded defense of BART police. Such unexpected creative action opens up previously closed perception.

The post continues with further exploration of the dynamics of and possibilities enabled by Culture Jamming: “What would happen if the joy and celebration that activists bring to the space becomes contagious and commuters and even police join these actions outside of the fare gates and in the streets?”


2. Space Opera Takes to the Streets in L.A.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/27353553]

On July 30, 2011, Geneva Skeen and Mathew Timmons staged a “space opera” called The Saffron Green. After an extended overture at Los Angeles’ Human Resources, the 30-person opera moved to Chung King Road. The press release best explains this (guerrilla?) opera:

A Space Opera in three movements written for voice, walkie talkie, megaphone and radio composed by Geneva Skeen and Mathew Timmons (radio score by Garrick Hogg, Andrew Lessman and Max Mayer). Employing a minimal modular score The Saffron Green brings together multiple analog technologies to explore the concept of both an outer space opera and an opera in public space. Taking the structure of a space opera and bringing it to street level, The Saffron Green borrows liberally from sci-fi operatic soundscapes and matches it with protest chants from the “Arab Spring” revolts. The People Want to Topple, The People Want to Overthrow, The People Demand the Fall. The performance will extend throughout Chinatown, using Human Resources as a staging ground and as home base from 5:30-7:00 pm and culminating on, in and above Chung King Road performed by a group of roughly 30 people from 7:15-7:45 pm.

Although SF Guerrilla Opera was unable to attend, the documentation we’ve seen shows the opera was a success–sustained  durations of text- and sound-driven personal, interpersonal, and spatial discovery accompanied by playful dissonance and chance harmonies. Of note are the charged libretto–the repurposed protest chants from the Arab Spring–and the opera’s use of repetition + variation. This minimal method seems key to propelling and sustaining an open-form, public opera.

Timmons’ Vimeo page for the above video alludes to forthcoming opera footage, calling the video a “First Preview Cut…”  We will post that footage when it becomes available.

Recommended listening: The opera’s Radio Score (mp3).


3. Playing Punctuation

Another project from Los Angeles, Marya Alford‘s “Franny (and Zooey) for Piano Duet” is a sonic interpretation of punctuation found in two J.D. Salinger short stories. Alford introduces the piece on SoundCloud:

“Franny (and Zooey) for Piano Duet” is a work conceived as a performance of two pianists, one male and one female, performing a musical composition based on every element of punctuation in J.D. Salinger’s short stories, “Franny” and “Zooey”.

The composition consists of the artist’s transcription of the various punctuation from each line of “Franny” and “Zooey” to a blank page of manuscript paper. Each color designates a different type of punctuation in the story. For instance, pencil stands in for periods, orange for commas, green for question marks and so on. This system also designates each type of punctuation as a certain type of note (periods equal whole notes, commas equal quarter notes, apostrophes equal grace notes, colons and semi-colons equal dotted half notes, etc.) Marya Alford has been working with musician and pianist, Ron McBain to finalize the composition for piano duet. Phrasing and dynamics have been added to the piece and the music has been translated to readable musical notation. Please click here to listen to a short excerpt of the music.

Images of the score can be found on Alford’s website. Also on this page is a bit of information missing from the above text: It appears that Alford acknowledged the spatial, and therefore temporal, relation between punctuation by tracing the punctuation directly from the book onto manuscript paper. See the images below the title “Tracing”. Here we see the movement from “Tracing” to “Manuscript” to “Score”.

If you’re in L.A. this Tuesday, you can check out a live performance of the piece followed by literary readings. The Facebook invitation can be found here.



That’s all for now. Check back soon for information concerning Guerrilla Opera #5 on October 26, our collaboration with 100 Thousand Poets for Change (finalizing the plans this weekend), and the Guerrilla Opera reading series.

One Comment on “Spontaneous Miscellaneous”

  1. Can’t wait to hear the plan!!

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