Long Song

by David Garland

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“Long Song” is a buoyant bit of folk-minimalism. It lives up to its title not by having a lot of lyrics, but by putting its few lyrics through a lot of permutations. I wrote it in 1979. I wanted to stretch my ability to create a long, integrated composition, and to explore a blend of simplicity and complexity. A little, one minute-long sketch for the piece was released on the memorably named “Just Another Asshole” compilation album of 1981, curated by Barbara Ess and Glenn Branca. This is the whole 14 minute-long piece, as it was performed at The Kitchen in 1981.

I remember someone at the concert commented that I must have been influenced by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but I'd never heard that English band then. Now I can see that the comparison makes sense, since both share a kind of hand-made, tonal, minimalist quality. I was probably influenced by recordings of Carl Orff's “Schulwerk” pieces, the textures of the burgeoning early music “period instruments” movement, my experience playing in the Brown University Balanese Gamelan a few years earlier, and of course the vital minimalism scene which was going on around me.

“Long Song” was first performed in 1979 in a Soho loft a few floors above the old Broome Street location of The Kitchen Center in New York City. In 1981 I rearranged it for a performance at The Kitchen itself, featuring the ensemble recorded here. The Kitchen was a crucible for adventurous music, dance, video, and performance at that time. I don’t recall the details of the concert, but I think it was a Sunday afternoon performance, and this recording was made before or after the public presentation. It shows the ambience of the place, with occasional passing trucks rumbling and honking. I remember being surprised by the somewhat lo-fi quality of the recording, but it’s a pretty zesty piece which seems to come across anyway, thanks to the talented musicians who joined me.

If anyone out there is interested in performing “Long Song,” I still have the score and parts! I’d even like to play it again myself. Maybe a choreographer could have fun with it. Inquiries welcome.

--David Garland


released June 7, 1981


David Garland: voice, bowed psaltery, soprano and tenor recorders
Sally Swisher: voice
Larry Lewis: banjo
Paul Henle: marimba
Paul Galasso: cello

Recorded June 7, 1981, at The Kitchen, 484 Broome Street, NYC
Produced by David Garland. © 2007 by David Garland



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David Garland New York, New York

Composer/singer/multi-instrumentalist David Garland has been steadily shaping songs in new ways since 1980.

"Like many great songwriters before him, Garland pushes the limits of acceptable harmony and dissonance, yet never at the expense of beauty. If it's not possible for popular music to reach the heights of the great classical masters, it seems no one has told David Garland."
--Sean Lennon
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