Some years ago, Will Holder and Alex Waterman proposed to Robert Ashley that musicians and non-musicians might produce new versions of his operas, by way of typographical scores. The bulk of Yes, But Is It Edible?is a result of that proposal: scores forDust(1998) andCelestial Excursions(2003). These operas’ characters have, until now, been solely produced by and are the stories exchanged between Ashley and his “band” (singers Sam Ashley, Joan La Barbara, Thomas Buckner, and Jacqueline Humbert); and in landscapes produced by “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Tom Hamilton, David Moodey, Cas Boumans, and Mimi Johnson—the result of a thirty-year relationship.
The scores forDustandCelestial Excursionsare preceded by a selection of Ashley’s work, from 1963 to 2008, drawing attention to the varying relations between instruction and score, and the tones of instructional address. Working with these scores gave us a better sense of how each one produces a specific mode of decision-making, telling us what to put on the pages of the scores, for any reader who follows.
Yes, But Is It Edible?is the fourth in a series of publications produced with or by Will Holder and Alex Waterman that a musicological perspective on scoring speech, and the role of printed matter in collective forms of reading and writing:Agape(Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2007);Between Thought and Sound(The Kitchen, 2008); andThe Tiger’s Mind(with Beatrice Gibson; Sternberg Press, 2012).
23.5 × 29.3 cm 784 pages, Softbound ISBN: 978-1-927354-09-4 First Edition (2014)
“It is the multiplied voice of an ex-soldier who lost his legs in combat. We hear his thoughts and stories while he is under the influence of morphine. When Will Holder and Alex Waterman start declaiming different texts, answering each other, superimposing each other and catching up with each other, we are actually hearing the same person. Through the reading of these texts, we seem to find ourselves faced with something other than a simple collaboration between two artists who use different tools and forms of expression. Yes, But Is It Edible? is the result of a stronger operation: it is in fact a question of transmuting the voices of the typographic artist and the composer to the point of achieving a work that, though certainly polyphonic, originates in one breath.”