The Key to Songs

Morton Subotnick

1986: New Albion Records NA012

    The Key to Songs (music for an imaginary ballet, based on A Week of Kindness or the Seven Deadly Elements (Une Semaine de Bonte), a novel in collage by Max Ernst)

  1. The Key to Songs
    Sunday—Element: Mud. Example: The Lion of Belfort. …POWER
    Monday—Element: Blood. Example: Oedipus
    Tuesday and Wednesday—Elements: Fire and Water. Examples: The Court of the Dragon. …WATER
    Thursday—Element: Blackness
    Friday—Element: Sight. THREE VISIBLE POEMS
    Saturday—Element: unknown. Example: THE KEY TO SONGS


    Return—A Triumph of Reason

  2. I
    Beginning of the universe
    Earth, the beginning of our solar system
    Decending Dance
    Chord Dance: Dance of Destruction
    12 b.c.
    D Major


  3. II
    D Major
    18th Century
    Five Chords
    19th Century
    Rag Enters: 1910
    CODA: Halley / Return / D Major

This CD is one of several I have because of brilliant choreographers. Actually I should just say “brilliant dance artists,” because not only do they choreograph their work *and* dance it, they are brilliant artists in general. In this case it was, oh good lord I can’t remember her name at the moment, but an associate of another of these brilliant choreographer/artists, Jennifer Carroll (Walker), and “The Key To Songs” was the music for a piece she created for a show called “2 • 2” at the Nippon Kan theatre in Seattle in April 1989 for which I did the lighting. Her choreography was extremely ennervating and evocative, and I responded with the best lighting I was capable of in that trickily limited hall—not as rustic as the light-bulbs-in-coffee-cans milieu I mastered a few years later doing fringe theatre on Capitol Hill, but if you’ve ever done lighting at the Nippon Kan you’ll know how justifiably proud of myself I was that I accomplished the artistry I did to complement the choreographer’s excellence.

Anyway, I still have her artistic presentation very much in my mind when I listen to this CD now, although many of the details have blurred and faded in my memories since those days. Thankfully I can turn to my journal from those days if I ever need a reminder of what it was like. The music is a bit repetitious, of course, if you don’t have either a stellar imagination or the visuals from someone else’s stellar imagination (as I did); coincidentally, the choreographer personified a few constellations in the Thursday/Blackness section—Libra, Cancer, and Sagittarius—in ways that still stick in my memory quite strongly (and, now that I think about it, it makes a nice parallel for the clock/statue Le Défenseur du Temps in Paris’s Quartier de l’Horloge).