Date of Submission

Fall 2013

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Marina Rosenfeld

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Trofessor Creason is an old man I met over the summer during an internship I had working for the artist Robert Whitman. Robert is of the older generation of downtown NY 1960’s artists and I was helping him and his work partner, Julie Martin, digitize documentation of a 50th anniversary performance they had put on of Erik Satie’s Vexations. They also asked me to write an article on the cultural significance of Vexations and particularly its connections to John Cage and improvisation.

When I was preparing my research on the history of Vexations, Robert and Julie gave me Trofessor Creason’s contact info, as he is a preeminent scholar of Experimental Music of the 20th century. He conveniently lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which is only one hour and half from my parent’s place in uptown Manhattan. He has no email address, cell phone number, or answering machine, so needless to say it took me a few days to actually hear his voice. To make things more difficult, it seems that he spends the majority of his days at the local public library studying, so I could only catch him on the phone very early in the day or between the hours of 7:00 and 7:30 PM. After 7:30, he disconnects his home line in order to be able to write without any interruptions.

So after a few confusing plans that inevitably didn’t work out, we were able to meet a small Russian pastry shop near his house. He ordered three baklavas and by the time we paid and were about to leave, he had only taken one bite. Never taking off his black leather gloves (this took place in the middle of July, mind you), he basically lectured me on Vexations for an hour and half. His unbelievable database of dates, names and events was amazing to say the least. However, it was perhaps his full commitment and passion to Experimental Music History that really shook me up. I had never seen or experienced a human talking about historical events in the same manner as one would if they were talking about a dead mother, a newborn child, or falling in love with their one true soul mate.

As we left the pastry shop, he invited me to a trecture he was giving in a couple weeks at Columbia University on the History and Development of Electronic and Experimental Composition in the 20th Century and then scurried off to the library. Although I felt like I would need at least a month to process all the information and history the Trofessor had just laid upon me, I knew I would be missing out on a true academic event if I didn’t attend his trecture.

The trecture, of course, was transcendent and highly informative, and wholly baffling to once again hear his beyond encyclopedic capacity to name names and list lists. I was so inspired by his trecture, I (boldy) invited him to collaborate with me on a trecture with live performance. My idea was that he would give an abridged version of his trecture on the Development of Electronic and Experimental Composition in the 20th Century, and I would compose short examples of the different compositional forms. My hope was that this would enrich his very wordy trecture for people who have no experience with these various forms.

For whatever reason, he agreed. And together we worked on the performative trecture for weeks, which included 6 musicians and myself. We decided upon 8 iconic forms, and a final free form composition of my own that incorporated parts of all the forms. We decided that we would go back and forth between trecture and musical performance.

The result is my senior project.

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