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John Cage and the Twenty-six Pianos of Mills College. Forces in American Music from 1940 to 1990. Nathan Rubin. 1994. Copyright 1994 by Sarah's Books, 101 Devin Drive, Moraga, California 94556. typed by Barb. Oct. 1995 556w

...Ramon Sender. In 1961, in the midst of his studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, he composed "Four Sanskrit Hymns", a work for four sopranos, instrumental ensemble and tape, anticipating the interest in East Indian culture which would characterize the music of the Beatles, the Grateful Dead and tape-center user Terry Riley half a decade later. (Robert Erickson, reviewing the history of the San Francisco avant-garde for "EAR" in 1975, said that the piece made use of a "polymetric complexity" the likes of which he had seldom heard before or since.)

"Kore", a work composed for two-channel tape and light projections during the same year, pioneered San Francisco's involvement in new music technology. (According to "Baker's Dictionary", the first work by Oliveros to use tape--or department store paraphernalia, for that matter--was "Pieces of Eight" for wind and octet, cash register and magnetic tape in 1965.)

"Kore" was followed by a variety of other works displaying electronic and theatrical devices: "Balances" (1962) put to use an amplified string trio, string bass, and mixer console; "City Scape" (1963) was a six-hour composition for ten actor-musicians, two trucks, a house and a pair of city parks; "Thrones" (1963) was performed at the University of Illinois in 1963 in total darkness except for flashes of colored lights and a revolving cylindrical star chart.

His best-known piece, according to Steve Rupenthal's biography in "The New Grove Dictionary of American Music", was "Desert Ambulances" (1964), a work written for Pauline Oliveros using amplified accordion, tape, a movie, slides and liquid projections. During the introduction, the performer activates any of twenty different pre-recorded tape loops.

Thereafter, he got a Mills MA degree in (1965) and became a leader of the "retreat" form technology: he moved to Sonoma where he did research in acoustic vocalization and comparative religion, taught hatha-yoga, meditation, and mantric chant (at the Morning Star Ranch, a Haight-Ashbury youth shelter) and wrote essays on the Open Land Movement in Northern California. He taught at Sonoma Sate University in 1971 and then traveled to South America and India where he studied Sanskrit and Yoga.

he received an NEA grant for prose n 1983 and between 1981 and 1984, did book and music and reviews for the "San Francisco Chronicle."

Other post-Mills works (prophesying a return to technology) include "O 'C" Can You Say" for children's chorus and so-called "loopies" (1976), "Great Grandpa Lemuel's Death-Rattle Reincarnation Blues" for amplified accordion and Dixieland band with Ampex PR-10 tape duplicator or equivalent (1981), "Our Mother the Earth", a setting of a Tewa Pueblo Indian text for chorus (1983), and "I Have A Dream" which uses the words of Martin Luther King (1984).

"Loopies" playing Tibetan devil-dissolving slogans "at discreet background levels over the presidential Muzak system" were also employed by Zero as a way of protecting the new American president from agents of evil, who appear throughout "Zero Weather" dressed as Santa Claus and Bobo the Clown.

True, it is but one of a number of alternate time strands in the Rope of Endless Possibilities. But I am a prophet by profession, a man who, sensitized by solitude, lives beyond our Consensus Reality. (Ramon Sender in "Zero Weather").


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