Pandit Pran Nath La Monte Young Marian Zazeela Jung Hee Choi Charles Curtis Terry Jennings Angus Maclise Richard Maxfield Just Alap Raga Ensemble The Theater of Eternal Music Kirana Center Teaching Program



Jung Hee Choi
Tonecycle for Blues Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Ensemble Version with 4:3 and 7:6

Saturdays, December 14 and 21, 2019, 9pm
Thursday, December 19, 2019, 9pm

The Sundara All-Star Band

La Monte Young, voice
Jung Hee Choi, voice
Jon Catler, fretless guitar
Hansford Rowe, fretless bass
Naren Budhkar, tabla
Jung Hee Choi Tonecycle Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version

  MELA Foundation Dream House
275 Church Street, 3rd Floor  New York, NY


Admission $43. MELA Members, Seniors, Student ID, $37.
Limited seating. Advance reservations recommended.

Info and reservations:
tel: 917-972-3674

PLEASE NOTE: To prepare for the scheduled concerts the Dream House installation will close December 12th through December 21st. Doors open at 9pm for concert seating.
Doors will open at 9 pm for concert seating.

MELA is pleased to present three live performances of Jung Hee Choi�s Tonecycle for Blues Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Ensemble Version with 4:3 and 7:6. Her Sundara All-Star Band will perform again this extraordinary piece, which was listed as one of The Best Classical Music Performances of 2017 by The New York Times. The legendary vocalists�La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Jung Hee Choi�and the virtuoso just intonation fretless guitar and bass�Jon Catler and Hansford Rowe-will improvise harmonically related frequency ratios over Choi�s composition, Tonecycle for Blues accompanied by highly acclaimed tabla master, Naren Budhkar. This concert series will be presented in celebration of La Monte�s 83rd birthday and the 180-degree half cycle of Marian�s 78th birthday.

While traversing the common ground of improvisational phrases rooted in Indian raga, American blues techniques, Korean traditional folk ballads and musical Minimalism, this work creates a highly original sound that is based on intervals in just intonation. Over the seventy-seven continuously revolving sine-wave frequencies, six channels of vocal overlays will be set in ratios based on the harmonics 2, 3, and 7. The relationship of the improvisations to the continuous drone elaborates the musical meaning of the pitch, creating a harmonious construct and inviting the listener into a deeply contemplative world. Choi writes:

"Tonecycle Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version has been used as the underlying cantus firmus-like drone for the live performance. For Vocal Version, I used the sound generated by the 77 sine wave frequencies and their gradual development of distinctive melodic and rhythmic patterns and added six channels of the overlaid voices of three performers, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi improvising over the implied tonic in harmonic ratios based on 2, 3 and 7. The performers were asked to hold drones intuitively responding to the imperceptible movement of the tones and to each other. This combination of pitch material generated a remarkable array of harmonics. The relationships of the improvisations to the tones were constantly evolving since all tones are in motion and each melodic pattern is infinitesimally higher and faster or lower and slower than the preceding pattern, while the pitch relationships of the improvisations to the tones remain the same.
For the live performance of Tonecycle for Blues Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 with 4:3 and 7:6, I added two frequencies to the lower tetrachord:  the septimal minor third, 7:6, and the perfect fourth, 4:3, which yield the septimal second, 8:7 between the 7:6 and the 4:3 frequency ratios of the scale. These successive superparticular ratios, 7:6 and 8:7 make the lower tetrachord symmetrical to the upper tetrachord divided by a whole tone, 9:8, such that the tonic, the septimal minor third and the perfect fourth degrees of the lower tetrachord are symmetrical to the perfect fifth, the septimal minor seventh and the octave of the upper tetrachord. These musical proportions of the scale have a close relationship to the ascending form of Raga Bhimpulasi and America’s own Blues.
The Ensemble Version has a parallel structure to Indian traditional raga and consists of three sections that emulate the life and creation cycle based on Hindu thought: alap, ektal vilampit (12-beat slow tempo) and ektal madhyalaya (12-beat medium tempo).
Alap is the slow unmetered exposition section during which the introduction of the pitches and the intervallic ratios of the musical mode take place with subtle shades and characteristic nuances. As the performers improvise, they gradually work their way up the scale, and the mood is developed in a continuous procession to bring out the essence of the music.
The first composition of Tonecycle for Blues metaphorically venerates death and a new cycle of life. This composition was inspired by a Korean traditional folk ballad "Hanobaeknyeon".  The mood of the original song expresses the sorrow and mournful profundity of death and separation. I took a few melodic lines from Hanobaeknyeon and rearranged these lines within the Tonecycle for Blues modal scale, and structured the rhythm in the traditional Indian tala, ektal vilampit, slow tempo 12-matra cycle, which is a much slower tempo but also parallels a 12-bar blues.
The second composition is a typical madhyalaya (medium tempo) 12-bar blues. The performers improvise over a medium tempo 12-bar cycle with traditional blues licks. This has a very lively, uplifting swing feeling that celebrates life.
Even though the first and the second compositions are in the same modal scale and both are in a 12-matra cycle, they emphasize contrasting moods that complement each other. The first composition articulates the sorrow and longing of separation, but also accepts death as a part of life. The second composition articulates joy and happiness in the release of the soul from the body with the prospect of new freedom through a continuous life cycle.
Music is a relationship of sounds. In Indian music and all modal music, each pitch of a modal scale is determined in relation to the tonic. In Indian classical music, a pitch is not always a fixed frequency but its relationship to the drone determines the musical meaning of the pitch. This openness and wide range of possibilities allows improvising performers to have some control over the scale and to express subtle microtonal articulations of the pitches of the mode in which the raga is set.
The harmonic series extends beyond the limits of our perception and each set of harmonically related pitches produces a particular set of combination tones that together create a unique musical essence.  Amidst the infinite shift of tones in Tonecycle Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7, both the fundamental and its relative pitches in invariant ratios, can be considered isomorphic to the infinite possibilities of a unique essence." (copyright © Jung Hee Choi 2012, 2014, 2016)

However, even though all 77 sine waves are continuously moving, and even though the 2nd, 3rd, 7th harmonics and their octave multiples from time to time demonstrate rhythmic and melodic permutations and recombinations in gradually changing tempi, there is absolutely no sense of pitch shift at all but instead there is a powerful auditory illusion to all listeners that the drone frequencies based on the harmonic relationships 2, 3 and 7 are absolutely stable. Both the listeners in the audience and the performers hear the illusion of a very stable drone chord with only occasional acoustical beats in the form of long, very slow phase shifts.
In the accompanying 2012 exhibition catalog, Young and Zazeela observed that through this example of auditory illusion, Choi has demonstrated that the Maya of illusion is continuously perpetuated as a result of the body’s self-limiting and locked-in modes of perception, analysis and cerebral cognition, outside of which perhaps we can never escape.
La Monte Young pioneered the concept of extended time durations for over 58 years, contributed extensively to the development of just intonation and rational number based tuning systems in his performance works and the periodic composite sound waveform environments of the Dream House collaborations with Marian Zazeela, and had a wide-ranging influence on contemporary music, art and philosophy.  As the first Western disciple of renowned master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Young has performed and taught the Kirana style of Indian classical music since 1970.  He accompanied Pandit Pran Nath in hundreds of concerts throughout the world.  In June 2002, Ustad Hafizullah Khan Sahib, the Khalifa of the Kirana Gharana and son of Pandit Pran Nath’s teacher, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Sahib, conferred upon Young the distinction of becoming the first Western vocalist to receive the title of Khan Sahib. "For the past quarter of a century he has been the most influential composer in America.  Maybe in the world." (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 1985).  "As the acknowledged father of minimalism and guru emeritus to the British art-rock school, his influence is pervasive" (Musician magazine, 1986).  "Young is now widely recognized as the originator of the most influential classical music style of the final third of the twentieth century." (Strickland, Minimalism:Origins, 1993).  "La Monte Young:  Le Son du Siècle." (L’Express L’An 2000 Supplement, 1999). 
Marian Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a medium of expression.  Expanding the traditional concepts of painting and sculpture while incorporating elements of both disciplines, she developed an innovative visual language in the medium of light by combining colored light mixtures with sculptural forms to create seemingly three-dimensional colored shadows in radiant vibrational fields.  Zazeela began singing in 1962 with La Monte Young as a founding member of The Theatre of Eternal Music, and performed as vocalist in almost every concert of the ensemble to date, in addition to creating the visual components of Dream House, their collaborative sound and light work.  Her major work, The Magenta Lights, has been described in Art Forum as representing "the subtle relationship between precision and spirituality.  [She] transforms material into pure and intense color sensations, and makes a perceptual encounter a spiritual experience."  With Young in 1970, she brought Pandit Pran Nath to the U.S. and became one of his first Western disciples.  She has since performed and taught the Kirana style of Indian classical music and accompanied Pandit Pran Nath in hundreds of concerts throughout the world.  She continues to perform with Young in their Just Alap Raga Ensemble.  Zazeela’s distinctive calligraphic style appears on many of Pran Nath’s concert posters and recordings. Zazeela’s Ornamental Lightyears Tracery has been credited by Glenn Branca in Forced Exposure #16, 1990, and by David Sprague in Your Flesh # 28, 1993, to have been the direct influence on Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The Village Voice listed the [Church Street] Dream House as the Best Art Installation in New York 2014, "A charge for the mind as much as for the eye and ear, the Dream House feels like a gift to our beleaguered city, where headspace is the most precious real estate of all."  
Jung Hee Choi artist/musician, works in video, performance, sound and multi-media installations. Choi’s work has been presented in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including FRAC Franche-Comté, France; Berliner Festspiele, Germany; Dia Art Foundation, Guggenheim Museum and MELA Foundation Dream Houses, NYC; FRESH Festival, Bangkok; Korea Experimental Arts Festival, Korea. Commissioned by MELA Foundation, her video sound performance and installation, RICE, was chosen as one of The 10 Best of 2003 in the December Artforum. In 1999, Choi became a disciple of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela in the study of music and art, with the classical Kirana tradition gandha bandh red-thread ceremony in 2003. In 2002, with Young and Zazeela she became a founding member of The Just Alap Raga Ensemble and has performed as vocalist in every concert, including those at the MELA Dream House, the five-concert Pandit Pran Nath Memorial Tribute Tour in Berlin, Karlsruhe and Polling, Germany in 2012, the Yoko Ono Courage Award ceremony, the Guggenheim Third Mind Live concert series and the Merce Cunningham Memorial celebration in 2009. On August 28, 2015, The New York Times wrote about Choi’s multimedia installation Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest IX at Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House, NYC, ”With extended listening, what at first seemed mechanically repetitious turns out to be a complex interweaving of different, slowly oscillating pitches. If you give in to it while watching Ms. Choi’s hallucinatory screen, you may find yourself in an altered state of consciousness, on the verge of some ineffable, transcendental revelation.” Choi graduated BA summa cum laude, and received her MA in art and sound from NYU. Her work is in the collection of Frac Franche-Comté, France and Dia Art Foundation, NYC.
Jon Catler graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music where he performed the school’s first microtonal senior recital in 1979, featuring his compositions for solo and group in 31-tone and 19-tone equal temperaments. Since his initiation into the world of microtonal music performance, Catler has played with many music luminaries, most notably legendary Just Intonation composer La Monte Young with whom he has worked for over 30 years, touring and recording as a member of the Forever Bad Blues Band (Gramavision CD), The Theater of Eternal Music Big Band, and the Just Alap Raga Ensemble. Catler has also recorded and toured extensively with his own music, and has appeared as composer and performer on the Futurismo/Futurismi Festival, Manca Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Quebec Festival d’Ete, the Angelica Festival, the World Out Of Tune (W.O.O.T.) Festival, and the American Festival of Microtonal Music of which he is co-founder. Catler performed in the world premier version of Ives’ Universe Symphony at Lincoln Center, a climax of AFMM’s 30-year history. Catler also performed on the original Harry Partch guitars in a performance of Partch’s Oedipus at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Other notable performances include a residency at The Guggenheim with La Monte Young, shows at The Kitchen (NYC), the Knitting Factory, Avery Fischer Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and a live recording of Catler’s groundbreaking orchestral work Evolution for Electric Guitar and Orchestra at New York Society for Ethical Culture. As a recording artist and published author, Catler has released over a dozen critically acclaimed CD’s of original music, all in Harmonic Series Tunings. In 2002, Catler’s first book The Nature of Music was released, explaining his Harmonic discoveries and presenting a tuning system that sets the precedent of evolving our conception of consonance to the 13th Harmonic and beyond. Catler has been the recipient of numerous grants, including a grant for the MicroTime Tour, which featured an interstate touring ensemble that debuted the concept of Just Intonation Rhythm. Catler was also awarded a composer residency grant from Harvestworks in NYC. Catler’s music has been featured on radio shows worldwide, including numerous live interviews on WNYC’s New Sounds with John Schaefer, and on KPFK with John Schneider in Los Angeles. Catler has been teaching private students at his studio since 1982 and is sought out for his expertise in this field. In 2015 he gave a Harmonic Series seminar at Berklee College of Music, and released the second CD with his Harmonic Series jazz group Fretless Brothers.
Hansford Rowe, American bassist, began his career in the clubs of New York City. With French drummer Pierre Moerlen he reformed the jazz-rock group Gong. PM’s Gong is considered one of the great fusion bands of the late 70’s recording and touring with guests like Mick Taylor, Steve Winwood and Didier Lockwood. International touring soon secured Hansford a place among the world’s leading bass players and work with Mike Oldfield, Allan Holdsworth, John Martyn, Biréli Lagrène, La Monte Young, David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, Gary Husband, Jon Catler and many more. Hansford plays Warwick bass guitars and amplifiers and with them developed the first dedicated Just Intonation bass made by a major manufacturer. He also endorses DR Strings, Lehle pedals, Applied Acoustic Systems, Dangerous Music, Peterson tuners, Basswitch, Sommer cables and Source Audio pedals. He is a founding member of the band Gongzilla. Hansford is a funkulty member at the Bootsy Collins Funk University. 
Naren Budhkar was born into a musical family in Pune, the cultural capital of Western India; he later migrated to America.  As a tabla player, he represents a link in the global cultural bridge. Naren studied with Ustad Shabbir Nisar, the tabla wizard from Hyderabad and the son of legendary Ustad Shaikh Dawood.  From Ustad Nisar, Naren inherited a wealth of the rich centuries-old tradition of Indian percussion.  He has used this tradition to contribute to many world music forms creating a dialogue between music and people the world over.  As a classical tabla player Naren has performed with artists from all three categories of Indian music: vocalists, instrumentalists and dancers.  Notable among these artists are Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Dr.Alka Deo Marulkar, vocal; Ustad Aashish Khan, sarod; Pandit Ulhas Bapat, santoor; Pandit Barun Kumar Pal, hansveena; Pandit Krishna Bhatt, sitar; Pandit Ramesh Mishra, sarangi; Padmashree Kumudini Lakhia, Kathak. Naren has contributed to many different genres of world music including rock, as a member of the acclaimed group ’Alms for Shanti’ with whom he was featured on CNN; Irish-celtic music with the world famous ’De Dannen’ band from Ireland; jazz, with the group ’Jazzhole;’ folk through participation in the folk festivals of Canada from Toronto to Vancouver; and opera in a work composed by Doug Cuomo, the music director of Sex and the City. Naren has been interviewed by B.B.C. Asia, featured on the NYU and Princeton radio stations and has been cited by the New York Times, El Diario, Vocero, and New York Newsday.  He has performed in Canada, US, India, and the beautiful island of Puerto Rico with the dance ensemble fusion group ’Encuentro,’ led by Paulette Beauchamp and Carlos Bedoya.  He has performed in the NY Consulate of India, M.I.T., Columbia, Haverford and Kenyon; F.I.T., Aaron Davis Hall, Asia Society, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.  He appears on many recordings including Circle of the Sun (Jazz), Indofunk (jazz trumpet), Summer of thousand years (Kurt Reil), Seeds of bliss (Corina Bartra), Enchanted Evening (Deepak Kumar), Kashmkash (Alms for Shanti), Sarva Bhuteshu (Manorama), Sukha Shanti (Anandashram) (  Naren lives in New York City and is an active performer and teacher.  Naren became a member of The Just Alap Raga Ensemble in June 2004.

MELA’s programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and generous contributions from individuals and MELA Members.