© 2012 by Sunny Knable.  Photo by Misha Kaufman

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Coming Together (1971) by Frederic Rzewski 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Political inspiration:
-Setting of letter from Sam Melville, inmate at Attica State Prison during infamous riots
-Same Melville - conspirator of 1969 bombings of 8 building in NYC in protest of Vietnam War
-Attica Prison Riots, 1971, Attica, NY; 2200 inmates took control of prison, taking 42 staff hostage 
     After 4 days, 10 officials/civilians and 33 civilians killed  
 
Lyrics:
I think the combination ... of age and the greater coming together ... is responsible for the speed ... of the passing time.   It’s six months now ... and i can tell you ... truthfully ... few periods in my life have passed so quickly.  I am in excellent ... physical ... and emotional ... health. there are doubtless ... subtle surprises ... ahead but i feel secure and ready.as lovers will contrast their emotions in times of crisis, so am I dealing ... with my environment.  In the indifferent brutality, incessant noise ... the experimental chemistry of food, the ravings ... of lost hysterical men, I can act with clarity and meaning. i am deliberate—sometimes even calculating—seldom employ histrionics except as a test of the reactions of others. I read much, exercise, talk to guards and inmates ... feeling for the inevitable direction of my life.
 
Musical elements:
-open instrumentation, preferred 8-10 players with piano, bass, or synth playing throughout
-bass line with speaking part and instructions about permuataions
-repeated 49-bar pattern slowly evolving: accents, inversion, articulations, dynamics, permutations, and instructions to vary each section
-just as text is repeated with altered inflection, left to the performer

Coming Together

IKTUS, NYC, 2010

gtr, synth

Coming Together

Brussels, (with Jan Rzewski, sax), 2012

mix of electric/acoustic

Coming Together

Mos Def and Brooklyn Philharmonic, 2011

acoustic, dedicated to Troy Davis 

Coming Together

eighth blackbird, arr. Matt Albert, 2005