The World of Music: David Harrington's Mixtape

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As part of the celebrated, Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet, violinist and founder David Harrington has commissioned some of the 20th Century's most influential works, including Steve Reich's Different Trains, the string quartets of Philip Glass and Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, and Terry Riley's Candenza on the Night Plain. For his mixtape, Harrington offers a playlist that jumps freely across time periods and continents, ranging from Erik Satie to Nam June Paik, Astor Piazzolla and traditional Scandinavian folk music. He describes his playlist below:

The world of music is an amazing natural resource, and certainly one of the most awesome creations of humanity. It takes a lot of music to make the world of music, and with its immense variety and sonic splendor this world can be an infinite source of wonder.

As a very young person, I decided I would be a musician and that the universe would have to get used to me in that role. I've had the opportunity to freely explore and to be able to be magnetized by whatever music I naturally am pulled to. One of life's greatest pleasures is to be able to share some of the results of my explorations.

My Q2 mix contains some of the music, performers and instruments that have give me inspiration and that have resulted in work that Kronos has been involved with, or that I hope will soon result in future work.

It's always fun to hear Kid America and the Action Figures. The sounds they manage to bring into their work are such essential building blocks of our culture and too frequently pass by unnoticed. And who are we to think other species are not musical?

Ritva Koistinen's instrument, the kantele, is one of the most purely beautiful I've ever heard, while her performance is off the charts, and Hans Reichel's multi-tracked daxophones give such unusual, almost voice-like sounds. Mahalia Jackson, singing with an organ and soaring like only she can do always leaves me in awe of her and the human voice. When Van-Anh Vo, whose instruments are the dan bau and the bass dan tranh, played me her Gnossienne #3, I realized that I had heard a new world of musical possibilities. Nam June Paik was so out in front that his 'Etude for Pianoforte' continues to lead in a certain way — totally refreshing.

Some of my favorite music comes from Central Africa, and the Banda people have a way of making their music where each performer plays a single note or a rhythm and all elements are perfectly interlocked. And so it goes — with Valentin Silvestrov re-imagining Schubert, Tanya Tagaq becoming more than one Inuit throat singer in real time, DJ Qbert revealing his virtuosity and thrilling imagination, the Sagye Kayagum Ensemble finding another way to imagine Astor Piazzolla, the Cleaning Women and all of their household instruments, John Oswald making a piece from the sound of one small bell, Triakel, taking us to a place of infinite sadness and poignant beauty with 'Tusen Tankar' and Staff Bendi Bilili with such a life affirming sound and story...

There is no place like the world of music.

David Harrington

August, 20, 2012


Bandy - (Kid America and the Action Figures) In-Stereo (from "Kid America and the Action Figures")

Team of Jeremy Roht. - (no title) (from "Animal Music/Tiermusik")

Arvo Part - Pari Intervallo (performed by Ritva Koistinen, from "The Tradition of Kantele Vol 3: The New Era")

Hans Reichel - Excerpt from Le Bal (from "Gravikords, Whirlies, & Pyrophones")

Mahalia Jackson - God Shall wipe All Tears Away (from "Complete Mahalia Jackson Vol.1 /1937-1946")

Erik Satie - Gnossienne #3  (performed by Van-Anh Vanessa Vo, Not released)

Nam June Paik - Etude For Pianoforte (1959/60) (from "Works 1958-1979")

Linda Music - Ndraje Balendro [Initiation song] (from "Central African Republic / Banda Polyphony")

Valentin Silvestrov -  "Hochzeitswalzer" from Zwei Dialoge mit Nachwort (performed by Alexei Lubimov, piano; Munchener Kammerorchester; Christoph Poppen, conductor, from "Bagatellen und Serenaden")

Tanya Tagaq - Ilgok (from "fRoots No. 20")

DJ QBert - 6 fingered Fury /inside-out body warp (from "wave twisters")

Astor Piazzolla - Oblivion (performed by Sagye Kayagum Ensemble, from "Sagye Kayagum Ensemble")

Cleaning Women - Speed-O-Machina (from "Pulsator")

John Oswald - Bell Speeds (from "Discosphere")

Traditional - Tusen Tankar (performed by Triakel, from "Triakel")

Coco Yakala Ngambali - Avramandole (performed by Staff Benda Bilili, from "Tres Tres Fort")