Revolution 9 Press from the Bang on a Can Marathon

It’s been a long time coming. Literally, directly after the performance up until a couple days ago I was away from regular internet access, so I couldn’t really do a nice long post. Anyway, here are some more interesting things that were said about my arrangement of The Beatles’ Revolution 9, performed at the 2008 Bang on a Can Marathon by Alarm Will Sound:

The vibrant chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound kicked off the proceedings at 6 p.m. with a movement from John Adams’s “Son of Chamber Symphony,” and much later offered a staggeringly creative arrangement of the Beatles’ abstract sound collage “Revolution 9,” arranged by Matt Marks. – NY Times

Matt gave a very entertaining introduction to his arrangement, wherein he likened Alarm Will Sound’s penchant for creating acoustic reinterpretations of electronic music to Harry Potter fanfic: “Basically, we’re giant geeks.” So yeah, it’s pretty much straight-up fanservice for the small but obsessive subset of Beatles fans who were actually intrigued by the White Album’s penultimate, ah, “tune.” (A Venn diagram would probably show considerable overlap between that set and the set of people who show up at the Bang On A Can Marathon.) Anyway, this painstaking recreation is wholly absurd and I loved it — Matt’s chart is wildly entertaining and theatrical, with members of the band honking car horns, screaming into mutes, imitating backwards tape loops, and screaming in each other’s faces. (“Hold that line! Block that kick!”) Does my fanboyish enjoyment of this arrangement make me a giant hypocrite? Yeah, probably. So what else is new? – Darcy James Argue

The next notable event was music collective Alarm Will Sound’s orchestral re-interpretation of the Beatle’s “Revolution #9” sound-collage off the their 1968 White Album. Though the piece didn’t quite sit with me, the performance was solid, with individual members doing a great job of both playing their instruments with precision and providing their own vocal interpretation of the multiple sampled voices in the original work. Justin at Hey Student

Matt Marks’s arrangement of Revolution 9 (performed by Alarm Will Sound) was also delightful and endlessly imaginative (although there seems to be some disagreement over this piece in the NewAm camp… more on that later). Michael Hammond on his New Am Blog

UPDATE: Forgot about this one, they call me Matthew so I missed it:

Because Revolution #9 wasn’t notated (it’s a sound collage), AWS member Matthew Marks took it upon himself to transcribe the piece in its entirety for the 20-person ensemble. And it’s a knockout. Hundreds of sounds are replicated with precision and impeccable timing. Tip o’ the cap to The Kitchen for presenting this piece and others by AWS earlier this year. Plog

Here is an highly unauthorized video of the performance (I may be dooming its existence by even posting it, but it’s kinda fun):

My favorite part: at the end of the performance, the guy taking the video says, “That guy that said that’s his favorite song on The White Album’s a fucking idiot!”. I can’t remember if I said that in my introduction or not. Ha, I probably said some shit like that! Oh yeah, and according to the YouTube description, we are apparently a “String ensemble”…

Here’s a couple cool vanity pics taken from Darcy’s review:

“Um, we’re like geeks and stuff…”

“The Good Fish iiiin the Ke-ttle, agaaaaaaiiinnnnn, in the Ke-ttle…”

Cool, it was a blast. If you missed it, please come check it out when we do it again and again this coming season, all around the country. If you were there, and wrote anything on it, good or bad, or have any pics, please let me know! I’d love to see/read it.


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2 responses to “Revolution 9 Press from the Bang on a Can Marathon

  1. Perry Garvin

    Oops. I called you “Matthew” instead of “Matt.” I’ll fix that.

  2. Mafoo

    No worries. Thanks though!

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