mind is moving (IV)

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mind is moving (IV)

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mind is moving (IV)

Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said: "The flag is moving."
The other said: "The wind is moving."

The sixth patriarch happened to be passing by. He told them: "Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving."

mind is moving (IV) is part of a series of pieces composed by Michael Pisaro-Liu. It is a collection of 60 sounds for the contrabass, and any performance may include anywhere from 30 to all 60 sounds in the score, that may be played in any order. There is one sound per minute and all are played pizzicato and generally soft. After playing the sound the performer should hold her/his position for as long as possible before playing the next sound, allowing the sound to ring as long as possible. 

The Koan that inspired the title of this series gives us an idea how to approach this piece, both as a listener as well as well as a performer. What are we listening to: The bass, the decay of the sounds played or the background noise?  Sound is moving and we are observing the process of the birth and death (decay) of each sound and, of course, the empty space between each sound event. In Zen this is referred to as Ma.

Although being an early piece by Pisaro-Liu (1996), it is seldom performed and has yet been recorded. This recording took place in the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim in August 2019. As mentioned, the piece itself has no narrative as such, as the sounds can be played in any order and half of them may be omitted. Yet, the performer creates a narrative when interpreting and playing it.

There is also another possible narrative here to be listened to. The piece was recorded in one take around midnight, and by default an hour of sound was documented from inside the cathedral, telling a parallel story of its own.

Available as 2LP and digital with cover art by Keith Rowe.