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Wish I Had a River I Could Skate Away On

Several good reasons to be glad you weren’t a child prodigy.  Oops, forgot.  Some of you probably were.

Morton Subotnick. Discuss.


Comment from Jeff Harrington
Time: October 24, 2007, 2:03 pm

I had the great privilege of getting to work with Morton and Joan (and Woody and Steina Vasulka) at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 1993. It was a one month retreat and we worked together on Jacobs Room.

That was one of the high points of my musical life and when you add in J&B Fish Camp at New Smyrna Beach and the fresh pompano fillets we had almost every day after going to the beach (we played hookey a lot) it was just super-inspiring. He’s a good composer; cool to see him getting into the laptop scene.

Comment from Jeff Harrington
Time: October 24, 2007, 2:35 pm

Also as far as being a child prodigy goes. When I finally asked to take piano lessons after trying to teach myself for 2 years – I was 16 – my dad asked me, seriously, ‘You’re not turning into a homosexual now are you…?’

He wasn’t joking. ;)

Comment from Anthony Cornicello
Time: October 24, 2007, 2:54 pm

Ah, the other Morton…
I only wish these reviews would have a little more depth. Are there any on-line clips (audio or visual)?

Comment from zeno
Time: October 24, 2007, 2:56 pm

“… cool to see him [Subotnick] getting into the laptop scene.” (jh)

He was actually one of the first, Jeff!

Comment from Jeff Harrington
Time: October 24, 2007, 3:05 pm

Oh duh zeno, yeah I’m being an idiot. Ouch…

I always think of him and all these Mac’s and synths stacked up off stage. And an unfindable line hum. ;)

Comment from Mary Jane Leach
Time: October 24, 2007, 3:47 pm

A few years ago I heard one of Mort’s concerts announced by one of the local announcers as a concert by Morton Subtonic – I’m still giggling.

Comment from Joseph Benzola
Time: October 24, 2007, 4:39 pm

Jeff Harrington: The Idiotic Homosexual. I knew I liked you for a reason :-)

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: October 24, 2007, 5:54 pm

I worked with Subotnick right after Until Spring came out. Of the early Buchla pieces, it and Touch are still my favorites. For very different reasons: Until Spring is all lean etched muscles and tendons; Touch is spacious, dense and lush.

One thing that would be very different in this surround-sound version of Until Spring would be, well, the surround sound. One of Until Spring‘s most notable qualties was its flat stereo field; it was conceived and executed almost as a crisp, close, elastic bas relief. Touch, on the other hand, was originaly created for quadraphonic LP, so not much leap to go to Dolby Surround.

Both of those works have some absolutely beautiful Buchla-specific sounds and textures (much like traditional instruments, to synth-guys each instrument has very distinctive qualities. A Moog and a Buchla and an ARP are not all “just synths”; they had very specific sound-qualities, and rabid partisans for each).

Comment from Marilyn
Time: October 25, 2007, 12:57 pm

I had the pleasure of playing with Mort on this concert. It’s a beautiful, elegant piece and nice to see it getting so much play.

Comment from Anthony Cornicello
Time: October 25, 2007, 6:42 pm

I’ve got to hand it to Subotnick – have you ever taken a good look at the Buchla? It looks a little more confusing than the Modular Moog, which I’ve worked on; Subotnick’s 1960s stuff with the Buchla is a testament to his own musical abilities! I agree, though, those classic instruments aren’t ‘just synths’ – especially since they didn’t come with presets (or manuals, from what I’ve heard!). If you wanted to hear any sound, you had to truly work for it.

Great, now I sound old. And crotchety.


Comment from Steve Layton
Time: October 25, 2007, 9:36 pm

Where I did my undergrad study (The Evergreen State College), we had a big modular Buchla, which you can actually see here (though without the jillion patch cords hanging down). I still have recordings of pieces I did on it. It’s still there as far as I know. It had its own dedicated studio, with full quadraphonic sound and two 1/2″ tape decks.

In another studio we also had a Buchla Music Easel (just recently stolen from the college, you can read about it here), two ARP 2600s, and a Synthi AKS.