Friday, February 22, 2008

Farewell, and thanks for everything....

I know we're long past the point in our cultural history when information is thought to reside primarily in texts, but that's how it is for me - even trying to think about certain kinds of practice or ideas summons to mind a book for me even more often than I think of a person.

So it's almost impossible to imagine analog synthesis without seeing a copy of Allen Strange's book Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls in my hand, all dog eared and the non-acid-free pages doing their color-changing thing. But today I'm thinking about the man who wrote it - Allen Strange. I'm greatly saddened by the news of his recent passing from among us.

It's often the case that, as a reader or listener, you form an image of the person who made the object of your attention. I think we are always doing that, in some way or other, or it's possible that this is one of the tendencies that marks me as a dinosaur in the new century/Dispensation - that desire to embody things as people. While my life is strewn with the debris resulting from the discovery that the person I imagined was kinder or more generous or decent or less [articulate in your favorite source of disappointment here], my own limited encounters with him were always a pleasure. I remember him as being nicer to me than his books were, and he really had nothing to gain from being particularly charitable to me. Maybe that's why I'm sad - I am afraid that this quality is a threatened natural resource.

Here is a live recording of Allen with one of the live ensembles he worked with - Biome. It's from the 70s, four Synthis.

The thing in the midst of this that made me smile is the following comment in the guestbook where I read the notice of Allen's death, and it seems the proper note to close this on.

silver lining:
God's Buchla will finally be patched correctly.
let the thunder roll