by Jackson Mac Low.
The Gatha may be performer by a single performer or by a group of any size. Each performer starts at any square & moves from there to any adjacent one, horizontaly, vertically, or diagonally, & thence to other squares. Each letter or group of letters (joined in any direction(s)) my be spoken, sung, or played on a musical instrument. All three ways of realizing the Gatha should occur in a performance.
Vocal possibilities include the speaking or singing of the letters' individual sounds (as they are pronounced in any language known to the performer), the letters' English names (e.g., "oh" or "tee"), any syllables formed by letters adjacent in any direction(s), & whole words. Any of these elements may be repeated ad lib. The name "Pete Rose" may be spoken or sung at any time, & the perfomer may then jump to a square not adjacent to the last one realized. In singing, the perfomer may either sing pitches assigned to letters for instrumental realization (see below) or freely choose pitches in accord with the performance situation. When playing an instrument, the performer moves from square to square as above, but realizes each letter as an instrumental tone, choosing the octave in which each tone is placed. The letters occurring in the Gatha are realized as follows:
P is played as B or B flat/A sharp. E " " " E " E flat/D sharp. T " " " D " D flat/C sharp. R " " " A " A flat/G sharp. O " " " G " G flat/F sharp. S " " " C " F.
The performer chooses between alternative pitches for each letter, or trills or wavers between them, & connects tones consecutively or simultaneously as their letters lie adjacent in any direction(s). Letter tones may be repeated or reversed. Tones may be connected by glissandi as well as being played discretely. Empty squares are rendered as silences of any duration chosen by the performer.
Each performer must listen intently to all sounds audible, including those produced by other performers (if any), by the audience, or by elements in the environment. Performers must relate with these souuds in producing their own, exercising sensitivity, tact, & courtesy, so that every performance detail contributes to a total sound sequence they would choose to hear. Virtuosity is strongly encouraged but must be exercised with consciousness of its place in the total aural situation. Perfomers must be both inventive & sensitive at all times. "Listen" & "Relate" are the most important "rules."
All parameters not specified above, including octave placement, simultaneous &/or successive grouping, repetition, duration, rhythm, loudness, tempo, timbre, attack, &c., are at the discretion of the performer & are to be chosen spontaneously during a performance.
A performance may be ended at any time within the limits set by the performance situation. A total duration may be set beforehand or arrived at spontaneously. A group may appoint a leader to signal the beginning, keep track of elapsed time with a watch, & signal the end of the performance.
Score and instructions copyright 1978, 1983, and 1996 by Jackson Mac Low. All rights reserved. Actual size of score: 8 1/2 in. x 11 in.
- New York, 11/12/77-5/30/78
Return to "Two Representative Works of the Last Decade: A Working Present for Jackson Mac Low's 75th Birthday" by Karl Young.
Return to Light and Dust Poets
Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry.