dark over light earth

Steve Roden w/ Jacob Danziger
edition: 1000
new plastic music

  1. dark over light earth

dark over light earth was created for the final weekend of the exhibition moca’s mark rothkos, which featured 8 rothko paintings from the museum of contemporary art los angeles’s permanent collection.

i initially made a list of every color in each of the 8 paintings, to generate a score. i recorded myself playing the score on harmonium and glockenspiel – the notes and their order pre-determined by my color notations; and the tempo, duration, and overall feel, improvised. some of these recordings were then processed electronically with filters.

i asked jakob danziger to listen to a recording of morton feldman’s rothko chapel on headphones and attempt to play along on violin.

the resuting piece was created by cutting up, layering, and re-organizing the harmonium, glockenspeil, and violin recordings. i wanted to let the conceptual ideas remain a skeletal structure, but also allow the piece to move beyond them… kind of like taking an early sol lewitt cube piece and absent mindedly wrapping twine around it until the original form is almost invisible.

  • reviews:
  • It’s been a while since I last heard something by Steve Roden. Perhaps he was too busy with his sound installations, but then much of his work was made with that intention anyway. Here he has one installation piece called ‘Dark Over Light Earth’ which he made for an exhibition of Mark Rothko’s painting at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. And if we think ‘Rothko + music’ we think of course of Morty Feldman’s ‘Rothko Chapel’, one of the contemporary highlights of modern classical music. For his piece, Roden divided the eight paintings in various color sections and thus made a score, playing harmonium and glockenspiel. He asked his friend Jake to play the Feldman piece on a pair headphones, while attempting to play the piece on his violin. Through layering and reorganizing Roden crafts a beautiful piece of music together, with a bare minimum of electronic sounds. Slowly changing, with the violin in a leading part, this piece moves in various directions, yet at the same time it doesn’t seem to move at all. It has the same contemplative beauty as Rothko’s paintings, as well as Feldman’s original piece. Overwhelming quietness. Great work.

    FdW/vital weekly #579
  • Accompanying the Rothko paintings on the final weekend of the exhibition was a sound work by Steve Roden entitled “dark over light earth”. Steve Roden’s sound piece enlisted violinist Jacob Danziger and added to the chapel-like feel of the space. While I was there, gallery viewers spoke in hushed tones. There was a spirit of contemplation in the room. I wished that the moment could go on forever, that we all could soak into the paintings – breaking the space between object and viewer.

    greg chadwick / speed of life (blog)