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R. Andrew Lee Posts

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Ramblings, etc.

My attempt to return to semi-regularly blogging is below, but if you are interested in some of my previous writing…

Here is a pdf of my dissertation, “The Interaction of Linear and Vertical Time in Minimalist and Postminimalist Piano Music,” a bit of which was turned into an article for the CeReNeM Journal, “Temporality as an Analytical Approach to Minimalist Music: Tom Johnson’s An Hour for Piano.”

I’ve also done some writing for I Care If You Listen and NewMusicBox.

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Let Them Come

I’ve a number of friends and family members in England, so I’ve been following the Brexit referendum with more than casual curiosity. In the wake of the vote, I’ve seen many, many posts on social networks that mirror the Guardian article, “Racist incidents feared to be linked to Brexit vote.” Of course, here in the States, there have been more than a few similar incidents in the wake of Trump’s candidacy, and it’s been heart-breaking to see such stories.

Now I do not intend to imply that those who consider themselves conservative or anti-EU are all bigots and racists. Rather, it seems that the rise of nationalist sentiments have emboldened those who are. And so, as a response to this current wave of racially-motivated “incidents” (what a poor word that is in this context), I wrote the following this morning. And as some of you will notice right away, I did steal a few lines from St. Ignatius toward the end. 🙂

Let Them Come

Let them come
The voices of hate
The voices of fear
The voices of false purity
The voices that declare war against Those People
Those people who are the wrong color
Those people who worship the wrong God
Those people who speak the wrong language
Those people who don’t share Our values
Who corrupt Our children
Who take Our jobs
Who strain Our system in Their weakness

Let them come

Let them step out from the shadows and spew their venom
Let them shout, “Go Home!”
Let them march and wave their banners
Let them crawl out from the darkness to reclaim Their land

Let them come

Let their voices be amplified
Let them be broadcast through every medium
Let their message be heard by all who have ears
Let them believe that this is their chance
That this is their time
That they no longer have to hide

Let them come

Let them come to scare us
Let them come that we might know their strength
Let them seem numerous
Loud
Overwhelming
Let them come to shock us
To make us worry
To make us hurt
To make us weep

Let them come

Let them come to rouse us from our complacency
To remind us that there are still foes to fight
To make us feel uneasy in our lives

Let them come

Let them make it impossible to turn a blind eye
To ignore those who are abused and oppressed
To retreat to our homes
Our entertainment
Our self-selected digital bubbles of confirmation bias
Our every attempt to drown out those in need of help

Let them come

Let them come and force our hand
Let them push us to confront their hatred
To spread a message of love and sacrifice
Of dignity and hope
To stand up for those who cannot
To devote our time
Our sweat
Our money
Our blood
For those who have been told their lives have less value
That they are less human than we are

Let them come

Let them come that we might find our voices
Let them come that we might stand
Let them come that we might be bold
Let them come that we might demand justice
Let them come that we might give and not count the cost
Fight and not heed the wounds
Toil and not seek for rest
Labor and not ask for reward

Let them come

Let them come that our lives may be changed
That our hands may seek new work
And our love may know no bounds

Let them come

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Recording An Hour for Piano

This post is the fourth in (what I hope will become) a long series of posts telling the stories behind my albums. An archive of all posts in the series can be found here: The Stories of Irritable Hedgehog.

My wife once asked me, as I was gearing up for a recent recording session, if I was anxious about the process. After all, if you mess up, you get a chance to go back and try it again. I though for a moment and responded that a mistake in a live performance, while annoying, is fleeting and can be forgiven. In a recording session, you have to be able to execute every note perfectly within a few takes; if you can’t do that, your imperfections become enshrined.

Intellectually, I knew this as I warmed up for my first recording session, but nothing could prepare me for that new type of performance anxiety.

AHfP Recording Session
Me at my first recording session, seemingly focused but mostly scared.

Continue reading Recording An Hour for Piano

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On Being a Deer Chaser

I was asked to expand on my post about my recent encounter with Felicia Day for NewMusicBox. The title of the piece is “Good Career Hunting: On Being a Deer Chaser.” Here’s a brief excerpt:

I experienced [a tipping point near miss] with my album Dennis Johnson: November. It was reviewed in publications around the world, including sources such as The Wire and Gramophone, we quickly sold out of the first two pressings, and it helped me get my first gigs in London and New York. The icing on the cake was making a large number of “best of” lists that year, including the #1 classical album of 2013 in Time Out New York. That in turn landed me a big award from my alma mater and an interview with Colorado Public Radio, among other things.

Yet nothing I’ve done since has been even close to that successful, and I’ve spent many hours since wondering what I might have done differently to make that less of a deer chaser moment and more of a tipping point.

If you’re wondering what I mean by “deer chaser,” well, you’ll just have to give it a read. 🙂

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Becoming a Human Metronome

This post is the third in (what I hope will become) a long series of posts telling the stories behind my albums. An archive of all posts in the series can be found here: The Stories of Irritable Hedgehog.

Quarter note equals 59.225 beats per minute. That remains the oddest metronome marking I’ve encountered in my admittedly short career. The reason Tom Johnson used that tempo for An Hour for Piano is easy enough to deduce—he wrote a piece that was 3,553.5 beats long and wanted it to have a final duration of exactly one hour (3553.5 beats / 60 min = 59.225 bpm)—but to understand why the tempo remains unwavering and why an hour is important, we have to turn to the man himself.

Andy Lee and Tom Johnson
Me and Tom Johnson, Kansas City, Second International Conference on Minimalist Music, 2009

Continue reading Becoming a Human Metronome

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Setting a Path for Irritable Hedgehog

This post is the second in (what I hope will become) a long series of posts telling the stories behind my albums. The complete series archive can be found here: The Stories of Irritable Hedgehog.

There must have been a point where David McIntire asked me if I wanted to start a record label with him, but for the life of me I can’t remember that taking place. I can recall several conversations we had concerning the logistics of our endeavor, but the initial question eludes me. I’m still debating what to make of that. 🙂

There are many aspects of starting a label that I could write about, but we continue to reevaluate many of those choices. Instead, at the risk of writing a less narrative-driven post, I’d like to focus on just a few decisions we made that have become essential to Irritable Hedgehog’s identity. My next post will get back to more stories with my quest to become a human metronome.

Irritable Hedgehog Logo
David’s daughter, Eileen, drew our awesome logo

Continue reading Setting a Path for Irritable Hedgehog

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I’m Still Learning From Felicia Day

A couple of nights ago I had the chance to meet Felicia Day in person. She is in the midst of a book tour to promote the paperback version of her excellent memoir. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the signing here in Denver, but everything worked out, and I got to meet the person whose work I have admired for nine years. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Me and Felicia Day
One of my most-liked pictures on Facebook. Only the births of my children have topped it.

Continue reading I’m Still Learning From Felicia Day

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Discovering An Hour for Piano

This post is the first in (what I hope will become) a long series of posts telling the stories behind my albums. The complete series archive can be found here: The Stories of Irritable Hedgehog.

On March 4 of this year, Irritable Hedgehog Music released my tenth album, Adrian Knight: Obsessions. It’s been less than six years since my first album came out, but hopefully you’ll indulge me a bit of retrospection after crossing this milestone. Over the course of the next several months, I hope to tell the stories behind each of these albums—from the joy of discovering and selecting repertoire to the errors and messiness of production. My hope is that this will help you hear these albums as more than cold, fixed products, because to me they represent so much more.

So without further ado, let’s begin with my first album, Tom Johnson: An Hour for Piano.

Continue reading Discovering An Hour for Piano

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Entrepreneurship, Success, and the Illusion of Narrative

 or How Felicia Day Taught Me That I Was Wrong About Claire Chase

In August of last year, I wrote a series of four essays for NewMusicBox. The first post was (provocatively) titled, “You’re and Artist, Not an Entrepreneur,” and the series spun out from there. Writing those essays absolutely consumed me. If I wasn’t writing or editing, I was mining sources, reading opinions, watching talks, and mulling arguments. Seven thousand words later, I was finished, and I haven’t written a word on that or another other subject until now.

Despite the numerous conversations that spun out from those essays, I had no desire to re-enter the fray. I was content to sit on the sidelines and see how things played out (if I payed attention at all). Then a book came along that challenged my thinking and forced me to reconsider much of what I had written. It was the newly published memoir by Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).

Continue reading Entrepreneurship, Success, and the Illusion of Narrative

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