Mark Enslin’s “Safety Nets II” for one-man band

In August 2010 I was asking several composers to write a piece for udderbot, often adding a twist to make the request personal and interesting. I requested Mark Enslin, longtime teacher at SDaS, student of Ben Johnston, John Zorn, and Herbert Brün, collaborator, composer and playwright, to write a piece for udderbot as part of a one-man band.

Hard as I had tried, I did not anticipate the corporeal onslaught that followed. By October, Enslin had produced a piece for 17 instruments—udderbot, trombone, umbrella, tambourine, hi hat, bass drum, guiro, cymbal between the knees, flipper, plastic jug, police whistle, train whistle, harmonica, candy wrapper, finger cymbals, poem,  52-tube tubulon, and a poem by Indigo Crespighi previously used for Safety Nets I of 17 Tone Piano Project fame. That performance, I garnered an applause simply in the act of walking onstage. I didn’t get very far; the tubulon was especially heavy, and all the rehearsal time had gone to constructing the outfit.

By January, Enslin had completed a color-coded score made in Microsoft Word—avoidance of standard notation programs is thematic in his work—and I set to work learning the off-kilter melodies and decoding the complex rhythms, even making a guide track. By my estimation, performing this piece is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.  I don’t feel I have yet done it justice, yet I know that many of Mark’s pieces are foolproof in this peculiar way; no matter the impossibility of the score, the theatre of the attempt always fascinates.

The performance here is from a festival of Enslin’s work in September 2011. It is about the best I have managed to do…but I am far from finished with Safety Nets II.

Safety Nets II 9-17-11 from mark enslin on Vimeo.

2 thoughts on “Mark Enslin’s “Safety Nets II” for one-man band”

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  2. Je n’ai senti que tres vite en passant cette fleur de liane, je me rlaeplpe seulement que la ressemblance avec “un jardin apres la mousson” d’Ellena, que je porte de temps en temps, m avait frappee, mais cette description me donne envie de la connaitre mieux, d’autant que j’aime bien les aquatiques. La calone n’est pas une note qui me fait rugir de plaisir comme la feve tonka, la violette, le tiare, mais de temps en temps c est agreable. Par contre j ai le souvenir d un voyage cauchemardesque en avion avec une collegue qui s etait aspergee d’eau d ‘issey au duty free. Je ne pense pas qu il y ait aucune note que je deteste, ah si, celle fraise-tagada de miss dior cherie. Sinon, j’ai eu du mal a apprivoiser la tubereuse, c’est fait a present, mais j’ai toujours une reaction de rejet avec Tubereuse Criminelle, qui me degoute vraiment, pourtant je persevere, j’ai remarque que ce sont souvent les choses qu on a detestees au premier abord qui sont les plus delicieuses et les plus adictives une fois qu on a appris a les apprecier (je pense au gorgonzola et d’autres choses…). Je ne suis pas sure de faire le meme effort pour Flora de Gucci, Lola, Daisy, Eau Mega, The One et compagnie. PS. dsl pour les accents, clavier anglais aussi 😉

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