Maverick Mixtapes: Joan La Barbara

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For Maverick Mixtapes, we asked musicians from different musical backgrounds to curate an hour of music that they deemed best fit the ideal of an "American Maverick." Today's featured musician is vocalist and composer Joan La Barbara.

"Henry Cowell's Banshee is still one of the most effective and experimental works for the piano that I know.  It influenced John Cage and probably still rankles piano teachers worldwide for its use of the insides of the piano.

"Porch is a piece representative of Meredith Monk’s early work which she once told me is her take on a particular folk song. 

"Harry Partch - Delusion of the Fury - master instrument builder, theorist, performer and outrageous individualist. 

"Morton Subotnick's Silver Apples of the Moon is the first electronic work commissioned for the record (LP) medium and an acknowledged landmark in electronic music.

"Steve Reich's Music for Pieces of Wood is a simple, elegant, primal exposition of additive process.  This work was inspired by Steve's trip to visit some Basque musicians in Spain and experiencing their music, dropping sticks onto planks of wood placed on straw bales.  A very visceral experience. 

"I also happen to believe that Miles Davis was an American maverick - especially during the period when he was playing minimal slashes and single spurts of sound framed by a great deal of silence (very Cageian!)

"Circular Song is an étude focusing on vocalizing the inhale and exhale in a series of repeating patterns, very much a "process piece" from that time in the '70's.

"John Cage’s Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs coupled with Nowth upon Nacht treats the piano as a sound source but does not utilize the keyboard in the conventional way."

-Joan La Barbara


Henry Cowell - Banshee
Meredith Monk - Porch
Harry Partch - Delusion of the Fury: Exordium
Morton Subotnick - Silver Apples of the Moon
Steve Reich - Music for Pieces of Wood
Miles Davis - Sanctuary
Joan La Barbara - Circular Song
John Cage - The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs/Nowth Upon Nacht