john luther adams and salmon



I don’t know that much about John Luther Adams. But I know more after reading a chapter on him by Alex Ross in Listen to This. I’m listening to the video above as I type. Ross mentions this work. It is quite beautiful. I keep reading about people who seem to be interested in large forms like this and lush sounds (Bjork). These interest me professionally and I do enjoy listening to Bjork as well as this piece by Luther Adams. But my own interests are more modest: chamber music, piano and organ repertoire. Here’s a live recording that is quite nice.

Luther Adams was born in ’53 making him two years younger than me. I mention it because I was amused to read that he also learned Varese’s name off a Frank Zappa album as did I. He also sought out work by Varese to listen to as did I. However, he ends up immersing himself in the music of Cage, Feldman, Harrison and others and turning his back on rock and roll. At one point he even disdains “classical music” according to Ross’s article and contemplates becoming an installation artist. I’m not sure what he meant by classical music but he did play in a rock band as a young dude.

the chapter I read this morning is available online, “Song of the Earth.” Like many of the chapters in the book, it was originally this article in The New Yorker.  And the composition that Ross describes in his article is suspiciously like an art installation.  Luther Adams has set up sounds that respond to “seismological, meteorological, and geomagnetic stations in various parts of Alaska.”

It sounds kind of cool. But why does so much new music take so long to listen to? It reminded me of Andy Goldsworthy’s nature installations.

Image result for andy goldsworthy

After reading about Luther Adams, Goldsworthy is a good analogy. His wiki article describes his work as “site specific.” This is also true of Luther Adams’s “The Place Where You Go To Listen” (the name of the installation in Alaska that Ross describes).

This is the longest YouTube I could find. It seems to be some sort of concert version of the installation. Since spoken voices are included and not mentioned by Ross I figure this might be not exactly what Ross experienced at the installation. I suspect the woman’s voice is reciting something related to the legend that inspired Luther Adams. You can read about it on one of the links.

I think this short video was shot on site and might represent more what the installation is like.



I went to the Farmers Market yesterday. The fish guy told us that he would have full dressed salmon for sale on that day. As you can see from the pic I bought one. I managed to butcher it, but I learned a lot doing it and could do better next time. I found several YouTube videos helpful. Little tips like don’t saw with your knife, make long shallow cuts, and when boning have a wet cloth ready to help get the bones off your implement as you work. I’m not a hundred per cent sure my knife was sharp enough despite trying to sharpen it up for the job. It took me quite a while to resist sawing with the knife. The long shallow cuts did work better when I remembered.


This is the salmon wrapped carefully in seran wrap. There were eleven fillets.  The next step in preparing them for freezing was to wrap these in tin foil and then bag them. I quickly ran out of tin foil. I had to stop by and purchase some when i went out to see my Mom and prepare for today’s service. Unfortunately, even with freezing, they need to be used within a month.


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