Carla Kihlstedt’s Pandaemonium

I’m still sorry to have missed “Pandæmonium,” the graphical-score composition performed by ROVA for the Other Minds festival a few weeks ago.

Carla Kihlstedt wrote the piece based on the book by Humphrey Jennings, which collects writings on “the coming of the machine.” The writings span the years 1660 to 1886, but I have a feeling their thoughts, criticisms, and fears are a lot like what we consider today. (I also have a sinking feeling that many of the fears proved true, and we’ve just adapted to a worsened world. That’s how I feel about television, for instance.)

ROVA has posted a three-part interview with Kihlstedt and her helper about the thought processes behind “Pandaemonium.”

I’d still like to hear “Pandaemonium” sometime, even on CD. But something in Part III of the interview rings true: The uniqueness of things is vanishing. A live performance, even of a piece that’ s been performed to death, remains unique.  Does a mass-distributed recording of that performance dilute the uniqueness?  What would the writers in Pandaemonium (the book) think of my experiencing the music — which includes “sheet music” in the form of one-of-a-kind cloth-stitched designs — through the lens of a recording?

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