Organ and Silence by Tom Johnson. Review.

Some time ago some CDs arrived from Ants Records. Ants Records’ output is diverse and always fascinating. Here is a brief look at one of those CDs:

Composer Tom Johnson’s Organ and Silence (2000) performed by Wesley Roberts. I found this had an ‘edge of the seat’ quality throughout. Fragments, or bursts of activity, of organ sound are alternated with periods of silence. (sound and silence equally part of the music, of course). The regular pattern of sound and silence sets up some sense of certainty and an equivalent sense of anticipation.

We’ve had decades now to process and absorb the role, in music, of silence as a presence rather than an absence, but there are so many ways in which this understanding can be expressed or used. I’m making reference here to John Cage’s non-silent 4’33” of 1952 of course.

In Tom Johnson’s Organ and Silence I’m hearing music related to the late (1980s) piano music of Morton Feldman and from my point of view as a composer bridges a space between Feldman’s late piano works and my own Waterways of Lincoln composition projects begun in 2012, especially 5 Nocturnes and 5 Diurnes.

I hope these few brief comments engourage people to check this out as I highly recommend this CD. The notes on the linked page are probably clearer than my own. Ants Records:

Organ and Silence on Ants website

Organ and Silence by Tom Johnson. Review.

Waterways of Lincoln project

As you might know, I’ve been working on this extended project since 2012.

I’m currently researching two more areas of the city:
Sincil Dyke, towards the east of the city, once it emerges from the Siemens factory at Great Northern Terrace
Main Drain, towards the west of the city, just off Tritton Road.

More details to follow.

Waterways of Lincoln project

Complete Satie: Salabert/Orledge edition

SOUNDkiosk now has a copy of the new Salabert edition of the complete piano music of Erik Satie.
The new editor is Robert Orledge and the whole thing has been newly typeset and is printed on high quality paper in three volumes.
I’m going to post discoveries as I encounter them but my first observations are:
1. Titles. A number of titles have been changed from those of older editions. Robert Caby’s title ‘Petite Ouverture a Danser’ is quite rightly given the title of ‘Gnossienne’. It is so close to being a Gnossienne that this just seems obvious!
2. Vexations is included
3. Some previously unpublished sketches and pieces are included: Some exercises, a Sonatina and some other complete pieces from his time studying under D’Indy.
4. The preface and the notes by Robert Orledge are revealing and informative. Quite a number of the sources for the new edition are in RO’s private collection and the notes on individual pieces are innovative.
Performances and recordings and titles attributed to the individual compositions will change as a result of this new edition. All helping the public and private world of Satie’s music.

Distributed by Hal Leonard in USA. Difficult to find in EU. I found a copy on Amazon. Presto Classical also list the collection as for sale but was ‘out of stock’ when I last checked.

Complete Satie: Salabert/Orledge edition

9 Alerts – Preface

9 Alerts

Preface to the score:

9 Alerts is a set of nine, three second long, compositions.

Although I didn’t write them specifically for the platform, they may be used as mobile (cell) phone ringtones. WAV versions are available on request from SOUNDkiosk ( under a Creative Commons Share Alike licence.

In 1987/8 I defined the following forms with their corresponding durations:
3” – An Alert
30” – A Jingle
3′ – A Single
30′ – An Album (made up of 10 singles)
60′ – A Double Album

I created Alerts from that year but I didn’t fully compose (that is, notate) any until 2001.

From that period until 2001 I used the 30 second Jingle form to compose Jingles for People. The idea was to create advertising jingles for people rather than products and services. I wrote these for friends and celebrities (some of whom were both). *

* The creation of a Jingle involved a sitting at which I interviewed the person to find out more about them. I also asked about their musical and other cultural interests.

My 30 minute albums, comprising 10 singles, included some of my music for furniture exhibitions and several spoken word operas:
Traffic and Forest for Ikon Corporation.
Captain Lash, Cockahoop and A Complete Story of Numbers, operas.

I’ve only made one 60 minute double album; Oui/Non for Viaduct (Phillipe Starck retrospective). The two 30 minute albums were, however, played simultaneously in adjoining rooms.

I’ve since broken this formal set of structures, considering them to have served their purpose. I may sometimes nod in their direction or revisit them at some point in the future.

The instrumentation of the following 9 Alerts is free. There are up to three different pitched parts, with or without a drum (that is, unpitched percussion) part. All sounds are electronic and quantized. Different positions on the drum/percussion stave are different instruments. Also; same position, same instrument. Where indicated, pitch bend is free and may apply to one or all instruments in that Alert. All sounds used in my recording are Roland GM/GS sounds on a Roland PMA-5.

Jamie Crofts

Elm Tree Terrace, Lincoln.


9 Alerts – Preface