Wanna tickle a dragon tail?

By Laura Glick

Take a couple saxophones, violins, Korean holidays, guitars and a videoscreen, add graduate student composers and you get to tickle a dragon’s tail. Confused?

The Graduate Associate Composers Society will clarify it for you. On Wed., Mar. 15, the society will present To Tickle the Dragon’s Tail, an interdisciplinary presentation of new music including everything from traditional percussion pieces to experimental sound collections in the vein of John Zorn.

"Everybody has taken it upon themselves to take up composition as their profession," begins Cameron Harbidge, whose A Circuit in 4 Schematics will be the multimedia piece at Tickle. "We’ve all achieved a certain amount of moderate success. Everybody here is committed to being composers. This is a good chance for us younger guys and girls to get together and share works. The concert will be really varied."

Harbidge chose to incorporate multiple elements to enhance the individual piece and add more texture.

"I think [multi-media] is another voice that a person can add to their music. Once you collaborate with a person you get new ideas as far as structure. I believe in collaborative efforts within the arts," he explains.

Harbidge also hopes the label "experimental" won’t scare people away and instead will act as an enticing element and encourage novices to see it as an unknown territory to explore.

"Music is a language and language in our culture evolves and we consider that quite normal," he shares.

"Yet a lot of the music we learn tends to be something we get used to at a very early age and we don’t let it evolve quite the same way. This music does push the boundaries, I think it’s just a step in the evolution. We develop our own voices through our music."

Eight composers will add unique ingredients to the Tickle soup, hopefully culminating in a gumbo of improv and more traditional experimental music.

"In the arts, there needs to be dialogue with each other for things to happen," Harbidge continues.

The event was originally planned for last fall but was postponed due to time constraints and has given the composers a chance to further develop their pieces and ideas.

The gac also deliberately chose the title, To Tickle the Dragon’s Tail, to act as a metaphor for the experience they intend to give audiences.

"You can sneak up on something and grab it, but you don’t know whether it’s going to turn around and bite you," says Harbidge. "That bite is an experimental high, like an existential experience."

To Tickle the Dragon’s Tail is a free event Wed., Mar. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Eckhardt-Grammate Recital Hall.


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