SUAL Archives | 2014
Lukas Ligeti: Polymetric Choreographies for Drum Set — drums solo
Type: Recorded live at SUAL 2014
Credits: Audio recording by JF, editing by BG
Polymetric Choreographies for Drum Set
Soon after I began playing and writing music, I came across an article by the ethnomusicologist Gerhard Kubik about the traditional court music of the Kingdom of Buganda, located in what today is Uganda. This unusual and little-known music has several characteristics that completely changed my way of listening to and thinking about music and embarked me on a series of experiments with polymetric structures that continues to this day. Several musicians, mostly on xylophones, play together at the same speed and in complete coordination, yet without a common beat. This concept probably originated in lute music, wherein a musician plays two interlocking melodies, one with each hand. By transferring this idea to the drum set and playing seemingly independent, interlocking “melodies” (or codified forms of motion: choreographies, as I prefer to regard them) with my limbs, I can quickly build up polyrhythms that explode in complexity much like fractal images. This results in long, cyclic patterns that take hundreds or even thousands of beats until they repeat while conjuring up the impression of multiple, simultaneous tempos. The drum solo I will play today makes use of this concept, albeit treated in a spontaneous, improvisatory manner.
Ranging from through-composed to free-improvised, Lukas Ligeti’s music draws upon Downtown New York experimentalism, contemporary classical music, jazz, electronica, and traditional music from around the world, especially from Africa. Born in Vienna, Lukas has lived in New York City since 1998; since 2012 he has divided his time between NYC and Johannesburg. His compositions have been commissioned by Bang on a Can, Kronos Quartet, Ensemble Modern, the American Composers Orchestra, and Colin Currie and Håkan Hardenberger, among others. He frequently performs solo on the marimba lumina, an electronic percussion instrument designed by Don Buchla. As a drummer, he has performed and/or recorded with John Zorn, Henry Kaiser, Gary Lucas, Marilyn Crispell, John Tchicai, Elliott Sharp, Jim O’Rourke, and many others. He has created experimental music in collaboration with musicians in Africa for the past 20 years and co-founded Burkina Electric, the first IDM band from Burkina Faso; other projects have taken place in Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho. He has taught at the University of Ghana (lecturing jointly with composer-musicologist Kwabena Nketia) and the University of the Witwatersrand, among others. Among his recent works is a sound installation featuring field recordings made at soccer games, which was shown in galleries throughout South America during the 2013/14 season. His newest CD is a duo with pianist Thollem McDonas on Leo Records. He received the Alpert Award in Music in 2010.
[info as of 11/2014]