The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Mar 29, 2013

Early Music Festival 2013

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

By Katherine Bergman, Zeitgeist With their third annual Early Music Festival, Zeitgeist examines the profound impact of the electronic signal on music-making, revealing electricity’s transformative power with regard to how we create, how we listen and how we perform.

The festival will include influential works from Steve Reich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Alvin Lucier, John Cage, and other electronic music masters. These works involve techniques which were completely unconventional at the time of composition and have led to the electronic music we know today. For example, Steve Reich’s “Pendulum Music” requires three or more microphones to be suspended above speakers sitting at floor level. The microphones are pulled back, switched on, and released over the speakers, causing them to swing back and forth as pendulums. As the microphones swing over the speakers, an overlapping series of feedback tones are created.

Zeitgeist rehearsing Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Mikrophonie I”

Other highlights of the festival include Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Mikrophonie I,” in which two players will tap on a gong using various everyday items, while the other two players hold microphones up to the gong to amplify and morph the various sounds they create. In Alvin Lucier’s “I am Sitting in a Room,” the performer records himself reading a given text, then plays the recording back into the room, and re-records it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself.

As a group of musicians unabashedly dedicated to the music of our time, Zeitgeist knows the most meaningful expressions of today are informed by the contributions of musicians of yesterday. In acknowledgement of this artistic debt, they travel back before the time of iPhones, email, and xbox to explore the powerful contributions of the musical pioneers of days gone by.

Zeitgeist Early Music Festival: The Electronic Age: Medium and Message

April 5-6, 7:30 p.m.

April 7, 2 p.m.

Studio Z: 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul

Tickets: $10

To view the full schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, visit

Shannon Wettstein of Zeitgeist plays the theremin, an instrument used in early electronic music.

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