I am embarking on a three-year-long project in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, to explore the possibility of realizing David Tudor’s unrealized project Island Eye Island Ear as well as any by-products and side effects such an attempt might produce along the way. We are having our first launch-up conference on February 13 (16:00-17:30 Japan time = 2:00-3:30 am EST) which is supposed to be streamed on YouTube. Unfortunately, it looks like the whole thing will be in Japanese for this first event due to budget constraints, but I will keep insisting that the output should be at least bilingual from now on, so please stay tuned if you are interested.
I wrote a new essay for the recent issue of the online journal ECHO, dedicated to the topic of feedback. It traces David Tudor’s use of feedback in relatively broad strokes, especially in relation to his collaboration with Gordon Mumma, focusing on the period between Bandoneon ! and Island Eye Island Ear, and connecting the argument to my own works with No Collective.
“Reminded by the Instruments is not a biography per se, but rather an elaborately detailed consideration of Tudor’s music as a biography-of-sorts. This aim is pursued with full diligence by way of examining the many instruments (primarily electronic) Tudor utilized to achieve his works. […] While Tudor rarely left a totally clear indication of exactly what he did in every performance, or even precisely which instrument(s) he applied and how, Nakai’s relentless pursuit allows him to reconstruct much, if not all, of what Tudor was up to on such occasions. This required an impressive amount of backward-looking detective work, with Nakai drawing upon every clue possible, from receipts to audience/observer commentaries along with Tudor’s itineraries and his own (usually quizzically misleading) recorded responses to queries.”
Soundohm has chosen Monobirds: From Ahmedabad to Xenon as one of the best releases of 2021. A nice review is attached: “Stunning and creatively rigorous, allowing us to encounter an artist who was decades ahead of his time in our present – one of many possible futures the work itself imagines – Tudor’s Monobirds takes huge leaps toward dramatically expanding our understanding of one of the 20th Century’s most important, visionary creators. Issued by Topos as a double LP, complete with a 24-page large booklet offering an essay by You Nakai – When David Tudor Went Disco – an in-depth study of Tudor’s performance at Xenon and its relation to the sounds on the LP, this is Tudor at the height of his powers, and one of the most historically important records of the year. Highly recommended and not to be missed.”
Together with Julie Martin (E.A.T.) and Jacob Kirkegaard, I am releasing a double LP of David Tudor’s previously unreleased music from the label TOPOS. It comes with a booklet of 20 or so pages containing a long essay I wrote titled “When David Tudor Went Disco,” which you can also buy separately.
In December 1969, David Tudor made a series of recordings at the Electronic Music Studio at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, using Moog Synthesizers that he himself had brought from the United States and installed there. Ten years later, on March 1, 1979, Tudor used one of these recordings, which he now called Monobird, as the primary source track for a recording session at the New York discotheque Xenon.
This album includes two 33rpm vinyl records of these works and an essay by You Nakai, When David Tudor Went Disco, that provides an in-depth study of Tudor’s performance at Xenon and its relation to Monobird.
“Nakai visited the four major repositories of Tudor’s papers and instruments and strove to find the connections across the span of his career, presenting his findings in accordance with the way that Tudor would have approached his own work. That is to say, for a performer who became known in particular for his ability to interpret graphic scores during the earliest developments of graphic notation, there seemed to be a consistency of approach that allowed Tudor to excel at interpreting such works, and he seems to have applied that kind of philosophy throughout his life’s work. Nakai has distilled this approach down to a 2-step process:
“1. Observe the given material thoroughly in an unbiased way until it reveals its own ‘nature.’
2. Bias the subsequent approach to the material based on this nature.”
This seems abstract at first, but it turns out to be quite practical. Nakai used this approach on the collections and holdings of David Tudor to help focus his research, and we can discover both the hows and the whys of pieces throughout his career following this simple plan. Based on the research materials explored to create this book, it’s fair to say that this isn’t a biography. It really is a document of David Tudor’s music through and through, and to some extent David Tudor as a legendary or somewhat mysterious person will remain elusive as you read this book. But you will likely understand his work and his methods, and to the degree that he seemed so deeply invested in his work, perhaps this is enough.”
I am presenting a talk as part of the Archives Public Programs of National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. The series examines the activities of Experiments in Art & Technology in India in the 1960s and 70s.
My session will focus on one particular recording David Tudor made during his stay at NID in late 1969 using the Moog Synthesizer he had installed in India’s first electronic music studio. Although Tudor personally disliked the Moog, after circumstances pushed him to perform with the instrument, he recorded what he did and subsequently used the same recording as a sound source in various performances across the 1970s. Analysis of recordings, photographs, diagrams, schematics, and recollections, reveals the unexpected trajectory of this recording he called Monobird and may offer a thought or two about putting the archive to good use.