Michael Nyman – Nam June Paik, Composer (1982)

Michael Nyman – Nam June Paik, Composer (1982).  Originally printed the catalog of the Whitney Museum “Nam June Paik” show:  Nam June Paik by Nam June Paik , John G. Hanhardt, Whitney Museum of American Art Staff, ISBN 0874270375 (0-87427-037-5), Hardcover, Whitney Museum of American Art (1982).
  • ‘variability as a necessary consequence of intensity’ – Nam June Paik, interview by Gottfried Michael Koenig, in Nam June Paik: Werke, 51.
  • phases of Paik’s musical output: 
    • conventionally notated works and began in 1947 with the Korean folk-flavoured music of his youth; it continued by way of the strictly serial solo violin variations of 1953 and the non-serial String Quartet of 1955–57.  Part of
    • 1959 with Hommage à John Cage;
    • 1964 when he started his long collaboration with the cellist Charlotte Moorman.  Part of “american culture”
  • ideas of notation – mostly verbal – important aspect: Paik himself as performer
  • action music/ antimusic
  • Paik had a horror of repeating the same actions twice
  • Stockhausen on Paik: ‘sketch the actions of one evening without trying to concretize in words the important and individual elements of these moments’.
  • “‘variability as a necessary consequence of intensity” (Nam June Paik, interview by Gottfried Michael Koenig, in Nam June Paik: Werke, 51.)
  • “Americans need not be entertained every second, because they are so rich. America has in a way this very rich attitude that makes boring, long music possible. But I’m not writing boring music that much. The reason is that I come from a very poor country and I am poor. I have to entertain people every second.” (Nam June Paik, letter to Hugh Davies, 6 May 1967, collection of Hugh Davies.)
  • “Mary Bauermeister’s studio in Cologne in 1960, confronted with an onstage motorcycle with its engine left revving, and an absent Paik. After some minutes it became apparent that the perception of time passing and the expectation that something was to happen were rapidly being replaced by the perception of carbon monoxide filling the space and the expectation of asphyxiation. The engine was turned off and Paik returned some time later saying that he’d been in a bar and forgotten about the bike.” – Nyman
  • Collaborations with Moorman were technological, collaborations with Knowles were more conceptual / limited
  • Not to become overly concerned with the “what” of music – but the where/for whom/how

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